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Posts Tagged ‘good choices’

Oldest Child is home on Spring Break. It’s not the first time he’s been home to visit, nor is it the longest that he’s been home since school started. Over Christmas, he was home for three weeks in between semesters. Each time he comes home, it’s a little bit different. And a learning experience.

The dynamics of our family life have changed. For instance, I’m a creature of habit. I like routine, for the most part. I like to know when I’m waking up, when I’m going to bed, what the schedule is for the day. Having an adult child come home for days or weeks changes all of that. He is no longer accustomed to the routine of the house. He likes to be up late, to sleep in later. His dinner schedule is erratic, I never know if he’ll be here or not and he often doesn’t either. His plans are up in the air and he likes it that way, things that would drive me crazy.

We argue some, too. His idea of a reasonable time to be home is different from mine. I need to know that all of my chicks are safe and sound before I go to sleep and when he’s out late, I lose sleep. It’s a totally selfish thing, to be sure, but all sorts of horrors go through my head as to what could be happening to him and I shudder to think that I could sleep right through it. To be fair, ninety-nine percent of the time he is home at the time we agree on and he is a level-headed kid, but things happen, especially late at night. Rationally, I know that he keeps this schedule at school all the time and that he doesn’t answer to any type of parental figure there. I really don’t worry about it much when he’s at school, but when he’s home, I like to know where he is. He doesn’t need to ask permission at his age, just clue me in.

Before you get the idea that I’m a totally suffocating mother, hear me out. Yes, I’m a wee bit overprotective. Marty Man balances me out on this. We’re a good team. He gives the kids a lot of leeway while I’m the one to tighten the reins on curfews and where they are going. I don’t think my kids have been stifled in any way because of it. I’m not the kind of mother that hovers over their teachers or coaches. They deal with those issues on their own, just like they deal with friend issues on their own. I’m here to listen and offer advice if they want it, but they need to make their own choices about how to handle their lives. I am a stickler, though, for where they’re going, what time they’ll me home, who they are with, and making sure that I know the parents. Again, I don’t think that they were adversely affected by my “meddling” ways. In fact, I think it was, and is, a good thing. My kids know that their parents care about them, as irritating as I can be sometimes.

But the fact remains that I have to let him go. I can’t always keep tabs on him. Oldest Child is legally an adult and I need to remember what it felt like when I went through the same thing. How can he possibly understand that I haven’t always been the way I am now, but that I was eighteen once, too? I also resented my mother’s rules, even though they were very fair, but I wanted to make my own. I used to stay out late most nights, not coming home until the early morning hours, and would sleep until eleven o’clock on Saturdays, my mother sighing over my laziness. My hours were also erratic, but I got myself to school and work on time (I always had one or two, sometimes three, jobs at once) and made my own schedule, even if it meant getting by on three or four hours of sleep. I could do that then. What he doesn’t know, what he hasn’t experienced yet, are the changes that happen when one becomes a spouse and a parent, the things that have turned me into this creature of habit. When I was eighteen, nineteen, twenty, I didn’t have anyone who depended on me to wake them up, get them dressed and off to school on time and then get myself ready for work. I didn’t run my own household, didn’t pay many bills. It was a wonderful, free time, as it should be. It won’t last forever, and I wouldn’t go back to those wonderful, yet confusing, days. I know myself now, much more than I did back then, hence, my preference for a routine rather than spontaneity. He is in that process, but he can’t see the future just yet.

It’s a bit surreal to watch him go through it himself, silently cheering his accomplishments and biting my tongue at some of what he does because he has to figure it out, not me. It’s amazing what hindsight does for you. Some of the decisions that I made at that age perplex me now, as they will him when he’s forty-something, but that’s all part of it. It’s what is supposed to happen. My job now is to be a support, not a keeper. It is taking some getting used to. We have hit snags in the road, to be sure, and we will again but, as I said, he’s a level-headed kid. Just as an example, he’s not spending Spring Break drinking himself stupid on some Florida beach. He’s a great kid, respectful (for the most part), loving, and personable. I have no doubt that he is going to be just fine. We’re learning together, him and me. It’s all good.

Hugs.

 

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“I’ve long since retired, and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you.”
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me” ~ Henry Chapin, “Cat’s in the Cradle”. 1974

Ouch.

I love this song for the very fact that it’s sad. I’m a sucker for sad songs. It oozes regret, a topic that is responsible for selling millions of albums, books, and plays, something that we can all identify with. Who hasn’t felt regret at one time or another over any variety of things: a breakup, a harsh word, a missed opportunity? But one often hears celebrities (usually the loud and brash ones) announcing to the world that they have no regrets, or that everyone should live their lives with no regrets. Easier said than done, I say.

I’m just going to come out with it: I think people who say they have no regrets are either lying or deluding themselves. Let’s think about it for a minute. I’d be willing to bet money on the fact that every person reading this has, at one time or another, said something to hurt someone else, either purposely or accidently. If you have a soul, that’s something that would register as a regret. I have many of those. Words spoken in anger or frustration, little (and not so little) white lies that pop out without thinking, a passive aggressive move. I’ve caused hurt in my life. It’s not something I’m proud of, but something I need to be honest about in order to be a better person. The never-ending quest.

Now, I do believe that there are choices that we may regret temporarily, but in the long run, those choices led us to a happier place in our lives. For example, I sometimes think that I regret not finishing college all at once when I was in my late teens/early twenties. I didn’t have anyone to pay for me, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I went to cosmetology school while working three jobs instead. As a result, I didn’t end up finishing college until I was 33 years old, which really kind of sucked professionally. On the other side of that coin though, graduating cosmetology school and going to work at Greenfield Village meant that I met my husband, we had our three amazing boys, I turned period hair into a business, and I met lifelong friends and business contacts. (If anyone wants a book on period hairstyles, please let me know!) Looking back now, I wouldn’t trade one for the other. That part of my life, while not the norm for college-bound students, worked out the way it was supposed to.

Old lovers are another thing that one can regret at the time, but later one realizes that it was all for the best. I don’t think that there will ever be a shortage of songs about that. “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks or “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts are great examples. Looking back as an adult, I sometimes have serious questions about what my younger self was thinking about some of those old boyfriends. I may have needed a slap upside the head. Of course, those can also be attributed to a learning experience. If I say it enough, I might convince myself that one or two of those really set me on the right path. (Disclaimer: I will never tell which ones they were.)

Then, there are those regrets that will probably sting forever. The time I didn’t spend with grandparents before they passed. The friends I let slip away because I didn’t communicate. Not calling the police on the step-monster. Not answering the phone when my friend, Moe, called to tell me that KISS was at the radio station and I needed to get my butt down there. Well, you get the idea. There are things that we can’t fix. We can’t go back in time and change it up, but what we can do is learn from the mistakes. We can spend time with those we love, think before we speak to our children, call that friend back. Wake up and answer the damn phone.

There are the hard decisions that I don’t regret: leaving teaching, staying home with my babies when they were little, starting therapy, deciding to write on the side. The writing thing opens me up to rejection, which is a scary, scary thing, but I have a therapist to help me with that.

In a nutshell, maybe there is something to the sentiment that one should live life with no regrets. Maybe, instead of boldly stating that we have no regrets at all, we should live with the aim of not being able to regret anything. Will we be successful? Not in a million years, but maybe we’ll think a little more, care a little more, love our neighbor a little more. What will matter on our deathbed: the date we got our college degrees or did our kids know that we loved them? That we had a big house or that we made a difference in a life?

Things to think about. What do you regret?

 

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Another new year is only a few days away and the thought of the dreaded New Year’s resolutions has begun to been bandied about on morning talk shows. That got to me to wondering about resolutions. How many people make them, as a rule? How many people keep them? Of course, there are the common ones that so many aspire to, losing weight being the biggest (No pun intended. Well, maybe.), then quitting smoking, paying off credit cards, the list could go on for miles.

I haven’t ever really made any hard or fast resolutions, at least not that would start January 1. I’ve made changes in my life at times: drink lots of water, exercise every morning, learn to dance, go to therapy. Some of them were fun, some were not. Water, as boring as it is, has made me feel a lot better. I even crave it in the morning now. I used to drink only coffee and 3-5 cans of Diet Pepsi a day, until I started reading all of the research on the chemicals in diet soda and the effect they have on the body. Since I began drinking more water, I feel less sluggish, I have more energy, and those debilitating muscle spasms I used to get hardly ever rear their ugly heads anymore. I still have an occasional diet soda, I can’t stand to drink my calories, because it tastes good but only once or twice a week. Water was a good, albeit not very exciting, choice.

So was dancing. A good choice and exciting! I wasn’t allowed to take dance when I was little so I’m doing it for myself now. I can be an absolute dunce when it comes to learning steps for the first time, but once they finally sink through my thick skull, they stay in there pretty well. I love how patient my teacher is and how supportive everyone else in the class is. Plus, it’s a total blast. I’ll keep it up.

I hate exercising every morning, really, really, hate it. I don’t work out like crazy, but while the shower warms up, I can do squats, crunches, and stretch a bit. Then it’s done and I don’t have to think so much about it. On nice days, when it’s light outside after supper, I like to powerwalk up to the corner store to get a newspaper and a Mega Millions ticket. The round trip is a little less than two miles and takes me about 20 minutes, all cardio. Again, I would much rather dance instead, but tapping all of that time on our hardwood floors really isn’t fair to Marty’s poor ears. Still, I’m healthier than I have been in a long time, so, again, a good choice.

Therapy was a good choice, too. It still is. Thanks to insurance, that’s an open-ended outlet for me for as long as I feel I need it. I think the stigma should be shed and more people should take advantage of it, honestly. It’s good for the soul. Not so fun, maybe, but worthwhile.

I don’t know exactly what I want to change this year. I have some ideas, but some of them are left to fate. I would like to take my career in a new direction, and I will try, but there are a lot of variables in that equation. I would like to be more toned and fit before I leave for Italy in June, but that is all up to me. I would like to clear my basement of all of its junk. I would like to replace our very old water pipes and to get rid of the ugly, temperamental, PINK, ugly, toilet in the upstairs bathroom. I would like to make a dent in my student debt. I would like to be more brave in my decisions. I would like to fix the broken, leaky, gutter.

None of these things are effective on January 1, but they’re all in the foreseeable future. I’ll have to see where the year takes me. In the meantime, what resolutions have you made? Maybe not for New Year’s Day, but in the future. What things do you want to change, accomplish, quit? Post in the comments below and spread around some inspiration. Until then, have a blessed, prosperous, and safe new year.

“For auld lang syne, my dears, for auld lang syne.”

We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet for auld lang syne

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