I love it when I meet a parent who owns the reality that comes with raising kids. There’s the family life that we typically display on social media (image above). And then there’s every other minute of the day that we constantly attempt to keep tucked away along with the rest of the crazy we are sporting (every other photo).
Are my kids the only ones who balk annually at first day of school and Xmas card pics? Where are everyone else’s crappy kid attitude photos? Let’s just go ahead and be honest with each other. Those are the ones most of us secretly want to see anyway.
Or again, maybe not. Perhaps I’m a twisted sister, and it’s just me and my photographically belligerent crew who can’t see to figure out a happy approach to these yearly rituals.
It all begins once more tomorrow. We went through the various outfit options, prepped the lunches and backpacks, and multiple kids got in big trouble before it was over. So all in all, it was a standard school night kind of evening. I already know that I will be terribly sad in the morning when I drop them off, and then I will be even sadder when I come home to the deafening silence of an empty home. Thankfully that pile o’ dishes and crumbs that will greet me upon my return will most definitely be awaiting me will remind me of their close proximity. Part of me is being sarcastic, but a bigger part of me is genuinely grateful for everything they leave scattered in their collective kid wake.
The good news is that if history is any indicative of future performance (which it is NOT in finance – please see attached disclosures), I may be luxuriating in the quiet after I get past my initial adjustment period. Although my favorite part of the day will always be when we are all together once more, maybe a few minutes of solitude won’t be the worst thing either.
Back to school Monday feels like a pretty crappy week starter at the moment, but I have a stockpile of work spreadsheets and truckloads of laundry that are betting otherwise. I guess we shall see.
Whether you are back to school, over school, past school, or just rejoicing in an endless summer, I send you wishes for a lovely Monday and a beautiful week ahead.
As one who tends to preach owning your individuality, I find myself feeling more than a hair hypocritical that I struggle with the concept of conformity when it applies to my children. On the one hand I genuinely want them to stay away from running with the herd and just focus on being themselves whatever that may mean. However the other parenting part of me – the part that (likely incorrectly) assumes that their childhood challenges will be the same as those I faced – worries that their exclusion from that group will lead them to being trampled by it.
In my mind, the word “conformity” has always taken on a shadowy pejorative connotation, but LA at wakinguponthewrongsideof50.wordpress.com/ at wrote a post that got me thinking (her posts have a fantastic way of doing just that). Is conformity really as bad as I have made it out to be?
Are there times when we should encourage some level of conformity for the sake of finding a moderate level of acceptance and comfort within one’s peer group? Could this be particularly true in the case of my comical kid (photos above) as she heads to middle school? If I said nothing, she would probably head of to school in full 80’s gym / wolf cub chic style. ***Please refer to this ridiculous yet true post on my primary blog for wolf cub reference clarification —> so-i-just-waxed-my-daughters-leg.
The honest truth is that I believe that my daughter would be more than okay with either photo opp kind of look because she would never be a conformist no matter what she might be wearing. The perception of others has never defined my kids, and ultimately, the issue is not theirs. It’s mine.
Quite ironically, I really do recognize the error in my thought process. I just can’t seem to get that mama bear protection instinct to go gentle into that good night. I look for in style clothes that they like but that they also find as cool as the mismatched hole-riddled outfits that they already had in their drawers. I try to get them to fix their hair in moderately non-dorky ways and bug them about taking care of their teeth so they won’t reek of monkey butt breath. The non-monkey butt breath mandate is one subject that leaves me with zero mom guilt because seriously – nobody wants in on your stank breath action. No. Body.
Breath funk aside, I do want my kids to feel free to be themselves fully. I just fear the pain that comes with their not being accepted and the hurt that is inevitable when you are ridiculed or excluded. Many of us still wrestle with these same social challenges as adults, but we also have greater control over whom we will allow into our world. We get to decide who we want to spend the bulk of our days with and release those who are hopelessly toxic (or let go of the icky as Mer the rockstar extraordinaire might say – merbearsworld.wordpress.com/).
But you don’t get to pick the kids who surround your children in middle school, and more often that not, a handful of big-mouthed self-designated mob bosses run that show like lord of the frickin’ flies. I am saddened by my own memories of that time period in my life, and I want desperately to keep my children from carrying those painful experiences throughout their own lives long after their school years have passed.
So I push more than I should. I nag about their needing to change their look instead of smiling and snapping another pic for the embarrassing wedding video down the road. I search for ways to help them blend in or try to direct them toward focusing on their unique characteristics that would be appealing en masse. My intentions are good, but I don’t know about the actual execution.
Parenting is an endless learning process, and you never really know if you get it right until you are past the moment when you get to pick your move. No matter what you read or whom you try to emulate, there is no conformity when it comes to being a mom or dad to your kids. We all do the best we can in our own funky individual ways just like our parents did with us. We found our way and our kids will, too.
As far as I’m concerned, the herd can stick it. My sweet-breathed kids are incredible individuals who are meant to shine in their own ways. No matter how much I worry, my well-meaning but off-kilter advice will never be able to hide their light. With that said, I still believe that the proper use of a hairbrush does go a long way. I’m just sayin’.
Do you ever get the feeling that the universe is sending you little divine winks to confirm that you are heading in the right direction? I think that I often miss them, but I suspect that this is not indicative of their absence.
I don’t believe in an inherently right or wrong path as there are innumerable choices we can make in every minute of each day. But even within those countless shades of possibilities that endlessly color our moments, I do experience times when I feel like I’m truly resonating with something important – like I’m making contact with the part of my soul that is so much bigger than my day to day life. I feel like I’m following a course that will allow me to spread the wings I innately have that are uniquely my own. The moments come and go in a flash, but when they happen, they leave a beautiful imprint on my spirit.
When I’m in that place, I find myself noticing funny little happenstances that only I would recognize. It can be a friendly text coming in from a person dancing around my thoughts. Sometimes it’s a surprisingly well-timed song on the radio. And this evening, it was bumping into a friend and having him unexpectedly share with me that he enjoys reading my writing – a surprising confession and a beautiful compliment.
Please note that I’ll be the first person to tell you that this isn’t earth-shattering stuff. Nevertheless those little unexpected moments reinforce the significance of the positive thoughts and actions we enact. They remind us that although we may be surrounded by a boundless universe and are mere specks of matter in the grand cosmic equation, what we do matters and who we are matters. These winks confirm in the most personal of ways that no moment of our existence is inconsequential.
So this is my little wink back to the universe. A hat tip if you will. Thank you for encouraging me forward. Thank you for reminding me once more to release more of the fear and place more of my energy in trust.
Thank you also to my friend for his kind words. I appreciated them more than he could possibly know and needed to hear them more than I could have realized. Truly – thank you.
I fall down when I walk. All. The. Time. Either my feet are mysteriously surrounded by unusually dense air or there is some kind of invisible trip wire system perpetually in my midst. These are the only viable possibilities as there appear to be no other culprits for my non-existent level of grace. Yes – having the inability to walk normally is yet another fabulous piece of the rockstar package that is Jo.
So given that the whole “one foot in front of the other” gig has proven to be a strangely complicated task for me, the idea of spreading my wings to give the wind a try is more than a little daunting. Admittedly I’m speaking metaphorically here, but I fall flat on my face in the figurative walk of life, too.
I worry about failure. About rejection. About judgement. I’m afraid that my time and effort will be wasted. That my words will fall flat. That I will flop. That I will crash.
These concerns afflict countless people. We focus heavily on endless negative “what if” scenarios that we conjure in our minds. Taking it a step further, let’s actually imagine what would happen if those worrisome maybes actually did turn into realities?
In the vast majority of cases, the world would keep turning, and life would go on anyway. Our personal anxiety or embarrassment would be a mere blip on other people’s radars and would quickly be forgotten. In the meantime, we would likely learn a lesson or two (or five), and we would then be that much wiser when taking a revised approach in another attempt down the road.
So what’s your worst case scenario? What if it (whatever your “it” might be) doesn’t work out the way you hope? What if you don’t succeed? Can you keep going? Does life go on for the rest of the world?
If we can say yes to those questions, (and in the universe of chasing your dreams, we almost always can), then we are our own obstacle.
You must overcome your fear of falling if you ever want to soar. Maybe we will find ourselves flopping back to the ground if we attempt to fly, but we definitely won’t be able to rise up if we aren’t even willing to try.
If you fall, you fall. But then you get up, you keep going, and you never ever stop trying.
Don’t allow fear to chain you down or keep you from sharing the beautiful gifts you were given. We are compelled to spread our wings for a reason, whatever those wings may be.
It’s time to release the fear, look to the skies, and give those divine beauties a run. ❤️
We returned from a our family tour de USA yesterday, and I could hear the end of summer clock clanging in my mind as we walked back in the door. Our kids have a few short days before school begins once more, so I decided to have a mini-meltdown today to maximize that time with them. While I could send you a list of reasons that would (sort of) rationalize that temper tantrum, the short truth is this – I just don’t want summer to end.
I love the flexibility that comes with minimal scheduling. I enjoy having my kids within hollering distance and appreciate sharing meals during the day during my work breaks. Instead of reading about the world, we have time to go experience it instead. Not that we actually do that very often in reality, but we could (if that frickin money tree would start sprouting).
So my goal is this – find a working money tree.
And my backup goal (because it’s wise to have a backup goal when your initial goal is dependent on a botanical that can produce viable currency) is to find a way to live with greater freedom. Before you suggest it, I would like to note that home-schooling is not in the cards at this junction. This restriction is not based on any negative perceptions on my part but rather a conflict with my sanity (because oh em gee I would go bazerk trying to get them to stay on task) and their safety (because when the bazerk happens, my inner Tasmanian devil appears). Also my work schedule keeps me way too much in the weeds to add schooling to the task list.
But I do feel like there is another way out there. A better way. An approach to parenting and schooling and overall living that is less focused on schedules and deliverables and more focused on enjoying the days we have.
Do I know what that way is? Nope. No clue in the slightest.
Nevertheless it’s there. I’m certain of it, and thus my quest for endless summer continues. I’ve already got the incessant heat (thanks so much to Texas for that contribution!), so there must be a way to keep the rest going, too. I want to keep dancing. It’s just a matter of finding the right rhythm. 😉
I am not one to push my faith on anyone. Simply put, it’s not my style. Furthermore, I believe that we are all given a chance to have our own journey and that includes our walks (stumbles / face-splats) of faith.
However I have no reticence about sharing my belief that you do not have to wait for heaven to experience it. My halo has yet to exit the angelic assembly line nor have all those harp lessons paid off to date (probably because I never attended or signed up for any). But I know when I’m in a moment that is so surreal and spectacular that I can sense I beautiful imprint of that moment on my soul.
This can happen when I see something extremely special to me like watching my husband and children walk onto the same little island that I visited as a child and that my father visited when he was young. More often than not, it will happen in the most insignificant and unlikely of times. Being together for a low rent meal. Laughing hysterically during family game day. Being collectively thrilled at watching the raccoons squabble over peanuts outside our window at night.
It’s the smallest of the small stuff, but the magic is immeasurably great. I want to bottle up those feelings so I can access them whenever I forget. And I do forget. Constantly. By the hour kind of constantly. Probably more often than that.
But when I get out of my way and can see the beauty of the moment, I can recognize that it’s there all the time. Clearly I don’t have the full deets on what will happen once I discard this sweet meat suit o’ mine, but I sincerely believe that any version of heaven would have to incorporate these moments of tremendous wonder and feelings of boundless love.
Feel free to plan to take up permanent residence in heaven after you are gone. Just don’t forget to notice the divine perfection that is all around you while you are here, too. You don’t have to live a life of perfection to be able to find the celestial magnificence that fills every corner of our existence. I’m a prime example of utter imperfection in action yet moments of paradise reveal themselves every day nonetheless.
Notice them. Appreciate them. Allow them to remind you if the spectacular soul who you truly are. And if along the way you do happen to find a way to bottle them up, please drop me a line. We could all use a little more Heaven ready and waiting in the wings. 😇🐆