Big School Changes and Big Anxiety

I’m looking at the clock and it reads 4:26. In the morning. Ugh. I did fall asleep for a few minutes several hours ago, but that was short-lived. Since that initial night nap, I have tossed and turned in bed, cleaned out some old emails, read a book for awhile, and then stared out my bedroom window for a bit in search of nocturnal animals (whom I’m certain are close by but apparently don’t feel like making an appearance on this chilly night).

I want to sleep and the upcoming day will surely prove that I needed to sleep, but so far, that’s just not happening. I can’t seem to get to that place of calm surrender. Instead all I am doing is circling through potential steps I need to follow to get started with the new schooling protocol – not that I would have any real way of knowing this information given that our meeting with the new school won’t happen until later this week. But mental list making and overzealous organizing is my go to OCD response to high anxiety situations.

On the one hand, I am now certain that I’m committed to making a solid attempt at a tremendous educational change for my children. Although the pitiful strained camel’s back snapped several moons ago, I felt the need to add one more beast of a straw to his load as I did a quick mathematical basics test with my children yesterday. Given that my daughter takes advanced placement middle school classes and has achieved solid scores on the state standardized testing over the years, it would seem reasonable to expect that my little experiment would have been a no-brainer for her. But it proved anything but easy.

In case you might be wondering about the kind of complex test that I followed to be able to discover the limits of her proven mathematical abilities, I’ll tell you what I did. I ran through basic multiplication flash cards that I purchased when the kids were in second grade. Fast multiplication facts ranging from 0-12. And she bombed them.

I’m not telling you this to bag on my daughter. She is brilliant beyond description, and she has an incredible capacity to learn. But had you watched our few short minutes of total flash card failures, you would have never known that.

The most basic foundational components of our childrens’ education is being discarded and exchanged for an excess of learning that is ineffective and beyond student comprehension. I called a dear friend to tell her about my dismal discovery. My friend shared that she received an email the previous week from her middle school daughter’s teacher that requested that parents please stop teaching the children multiplication tables at home. Apparently it was hindering the way the teachers were trying to convey new material. What the crap are they talking about?!?!? On what planet does know fast facts screw up your ability to execute a math problem???

It’s crazy!!! All of it. You should see the writing errors that go completely unacknowledged. My children bring home A+ assignments that are rife with misspellings, non-existent or incorrect punctuation, partial sentences that just. Yeah – they just stop mid thought like the preceeding non-sentence thing. Seriously that’s not a sentence people, and it shouldn’t be accepted as such!

So once more I find myself gaining further confidence in our decision to make this huge educational. It’s still extremely unnerving, but hey – maybe my daughter will know her basic multiplication tables if she ultimately has to return to those advanced classes should homeschooling be a bust.

For now, I pray that we are on the right path. I hope that we are making the best best choice for our family. And I really look forward to getting some sleep.

Wishing calm and peace to all of you. Jo

Screw the Filters

Writing your honest story can be a rocky mental path to take. When I first started blogging, I went the anonymous route. I never had to worry if anyone I knew might be reading my posts. I didn’t concern myself with thoughts about if this person might think that I was referring to him / her or that that person might pick up on the reality that yes I actually was calling him / her out as a total jackass. And even though I could be brutally honest from that black box, I felt wildly disingenuous. I felt like I couldn’t possibly be writing my honest truth if I couldn’t own the words in front of real people in my life. So I shared my writing with a few people and then a few more and ultimately many people started reading my posts. At first I was okay with that, but as more time passed, I found myself editing the entries in my mind long before I even began to type the first word. My comfort level with regard to speaking my own unsavory truths has become paper thin. I just don’t want to rock the boat on my already tumultuous seas. To put it another more delicate way, I already have enough shit to deal with and have no interest in adding more to the therapy heap.

If you’ve been following my mental meanderings for months or years, you have probably noticed that I sometimes disappear from the blogosphere for several months at a time. In the past, this has stemmed from a lack of time or straight up writer’s block. But that’s not what has been happening to me lately. I am busy as all get out, but there have been stories and inspiration to spare. The problem is that I am so concerned about hurting someone’s feelings, overstepping my bounds, or saying the wrong thing that my mental edits have been leaving the remaining words with a dull hollow ring. The raw emotion is stripped away, and I leave myself with puddle deep platitudes.

I’m tired of running circles in my mind about the imaginary thoughts of others. I’m over worrying about if someone might misread what I’m saying or, even worse, might not misread my words. For better or for worse, I have been given this voice and the call continues to throb in my mind. My mental censors have been on overdrive for too long and I’m utterly sick of it. I’m going to write whatever I want to write and no one else has to read it. If it offends you, read something else. If you think it’s about you, you’re probably wrong, but maybe ask yourself why you think that or, more importantly, DON’T. Don’t worry about it. These are my ramblings. They aren’t about you. This is about me. My crap. My issues. My journey. It’s the Jo Show and there’s enough happening in my one woman circus without bringing in additional side acts to manage. I’m over the silence. I’m tired of the gag. Screw the filters. It’s time to write again.

Parenting Reality – Back to School Photo Fails

MOJO - 2018 - first day reality1 - what you see

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).

MOJO - 2018 - first day reality2 - what you DONT see

MOJO - 2018 - first day reality3 - what you DONT see

MOJO - 2018 - first day reality4 - what you DONT see

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.

(But I don’t think so…)

😉  Jo

Back to School Anxiety (Mine, Not Theirs)

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.

Big hugs to all.  Jo

Keep Dancing

seal dancing1 - IG

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. 😉

Wishing a lovely week to you all! Jo

What I Would Have Missed

I originally posted this on my primary blog momentumofjo.com. My thoughts went to this entry earlier this evening when I read a post by Danielle at daniellemhttpsariecolucci.com/ regarding her own struggles with depression. If I could share anything at all, I would want her to know that there is always good stuff around you, but you simply can’t imagine the magic that will be heading your way if you can grant life the time to make that happen. All you have to do is stick around, trust that pain and anxiety won’t be a constant in your life (it really won’t), and let the wonders of the universe come to you. And you can’t fathom it now, but some of those wonders will absolutely melt your heart in the most unimaginably beautiful way. ❤️ Big hugs to you. Jo

Momentum of Jo

1a

Over the past couple of months, I have not written about my strong belief in angels.  I don’t ask or need for you to believe what I say in this entry, but I can’t share my experience without doing so here.  Not that I would want to anyway.  I owe them my life.

Twenty years ago, I almost died.  There was no accident.  I wasn’t suffering from a terminal illness.  I just didn’t want to fight against my tormented mind and my broken heart anymore.  It wasn’t worth it, and I wasn’t worth it.  I was lost, and I attempted to take my life.

1d

1b

When the roller coaster of emotions was climbing upward, I could recognize that everything would be alright.  I could see possibilities all around me.  But whenever the imminent crash would happen, my ability to perceive the relevance of my existence wouldn’t merely fade – it would…

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Is Our Parenting Style a Model of Dysfunction or a Reflection of a Normal Family?

We parent loudly. To be more clear, we yell. A lot. While I imagine that it would be wonderful to have more patience, I also know that my kids can be stinkers and oh em gee how many times did I already ask you to put away your personal mountain o’ laundry???

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad to be mostly okay with your personal family dysfunction, and what’s even worse is that I’m not fully confident that it actually is full-out dysfunction. Sometimes I think that we are raising our children to be permanent residents of Crazy town but then I get a peek into other people’s family lives. Based on those glimpses, it seems to me that everyone has their own version of weird.

My husband is from a family of master artists in the media of quiet anger coupled with overt passive aggression. My own family has always opted for outright hostility and total overreaction. Our approach is to get furiously mad but then get over it fairly quickly and move on down the road. As I won the parenting style debate, the screamy mom and dad approach in our household was adopted and has been in place for years.

At times I have worried that our open lack of patience would damage our children’s psyche as well as their hearing, but I have since recognized that public school and the local news will mess with their them far more effectively that we ever could.

We always try to become better, wiser, and more patient with each day that passes, and when we screw up, we say sorry and we mean it. Although I have no qualms with embarrassing my kids (in fact, I believe that you are leaving some major parent artillery in the discipline safe if embarrassment isn’t on your options list), but we would never physically harm our children. We aren’t perfect parents, but noise aside, I honestly feel like we do try. I have only had one “wire hangers!!!” meltdown this week, so life can’t be all bad here. We tell our kids that we love them constantly and we do as much as we can to show them that we mean it.

I wonder if this the way it goes in most of the families out there. I wonder if we are building stronger adults who are going to be more responsible or if we are just ensuring that therapists of the world will always have a job as long as my grown kids are around. Only time will tell.

But for now, my kids are asleep in an indoor tent in the living room. Maybe they are dreaming about the fireworks we took then to see this evening, or maybe they are just passed out into oblivion since we let them stay up waaaay too frickin late. All I know is that as much stuff as we get wrong, I think that we often get a lot of that right, too.

You can be critical of some of your shortcomings, but it’s healing to look for the positive side of that story, too. We aren’t perfect at anything, but we don’t tend to be all bad either. Release the guilt for the mistakes and focus on making more of the good stuff the main stuff. When you put more emphasis the positive side of your story, your tale will play out with a brighter tone altogether. Do better whenever you can and celebrate the good always.

Big hugs to you! Jo

*Thank you Janie at https://authentically50.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/7-day-bw-photo-challenge-day-four/ for tagging me to participate in the 7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge (7 days / 7 b&w photos / no people / no explanation / challenge a new person daily)

For day 4 of the challenge, I am tagging my partner in blogging friendship crime Maria at https://renewedhealingarts.wordpress.com. Maria and I have been blogging friends for years and began our new blogs simultaneously earlier this week. It was unplanned as always but that’s how Maria and I have always been on our coinciding random life choices. LLet’ see what you’ve got Maria!  😉

**The photo above was inspired by Cee’s Black & White Photography Challenge specific to birds. https://ceenphotography.com/