Arts Fest Umbrellas

Tuesday

When the 13-year-old comes out of her room and says, “Hey, let’s play a game!” you forget whatever else you were doing, and you play that game!

This is actually true of any of my children, but especially for Flora. Recently Michael asked to play the board game Sorry!, and so we did. Last night, Flora wanted to play Apples to Apples, so we did. Random requests for family together time should be delivered if at all possible!

One of the challenges of continuing to blog is that I started this when my children were babies. I needed a repository to complain, to write about babyloss, to capture the cute and frustrating things that my children did. From infancy through about age 4, I found parenting to be physically and logistically challenging in ways I hadn’t expected.

The tween and teen years, of course, are challenging in different ways, and ways that I cannot always share here. Because it’s not just about my parenting any more; it’s also about making sure my children’s privacy, safety, and dignity are also respected. Each of my children give me challenges every day — why won’t Michael do his homework; what can I do to get Flora out of her room; how do I help Kate navigate a drama-filled relationship? — and while I can allude to these challenges, I can’t always dive into them in depth.

They aren’t my stories.

Navigating the tween/teen years as a parent are challenging for me in the following ways:

1. Emotions run strong. I think the tween years are proving to actually be more fraught (although my teen isn’t far into the teen years, so everything is subject to change without notice — I think I’m going to make this my new bio). The hormonal, physical, social, and emotional upheavals that start around the ages of 10 and 11 are harder to deal with. Once a young person going through puberty starts to figure out what is up, they can temper their reactions. Mileage varies, of course.

2. “Your feelings are valid.” Even as the emotional roller coaster of puberty appears to turn already irrational creatures (i.e. children) into even less rational creatures with a side of eyeroll, this is something I find myself telling my children often. I think I’m doing the right thing by affirming my children’s emotions, the positive ones as well as the difficult ones. I do this in part to help them navigate the difficult ones. Anger, anxiety, sadness, grief — my children’s reactions to things that happen in their lives are appropriate. It’s what they decide to do after that needs to be examined and dealt with accordingly.

3. I want my children to DO stuff. At this point, none of my children are involved in any extra curricular activities, and while I think part of that is my responsibility, I also want them to be like, “Hey, Mom, I’m really interested in XYZ, can I take this class, course, sign up for this sport?”

And that’s not happening. Flora and Michael played soccer last fall, but neither was interested in soccer this spring. Flora doesn’t want to do anything extra (although there was one club at the library she was interested in, which never got off the ground due to a lack of interest); Kate was in drama club, but the faculty member running it had to drop it this year due to health issues. Michael wants to take karate or similar martial arts. But I haven’t taken the initiative to get him signed up for those. I don’t count playing instruments because that is part of their curriculum.

4. I want my children to just do what I tell them to do. My children know what I expect of them: homework, chores, practice instruments. I want them to come home from school, and be done with their “work” before I get home.

This does not happen. I get home, and I am ordering them around. It’s not very fun. I’m not sure how to help them develop these habits.

Anyway: Tuesday, we played games. It was good. (And, no, I don’t “let” my children win.)

What did you do Tuesday?

May

One third of the year is already gone. *poof*

I feel like I haven’t done anything, and yet I know that I’ve actually been very busy, which is why I’m looking around myself in May wondering where the time has gone.

But I guess that is part of the problem: I (we) have been busy with things, day in and day out, plus weekends. And thus, nothing has gotten done. It’s a conundrum. Plus, of course, dealing with my own anxiety and sleep issues.

So. May.

May-be, it’s time for me to slow my roll a little bit, and instead of focusing on busy-ness, focus on projects I want to get done. Flex different muscles than the ones I have been flexing.

1. Writing: What the heck, I’m going to try blogging every day this month. No idea what I’m going to write about. I’ll figure that out as I go through it.

I am also going to set a goal of finishing my next rewrite of my original WIP by the end of June. I may try Pitch Wars again, but in any case I have another project I’d like to start. I may try to do NaNoWriMo again for that one. I NEED TO WRITE I MISS MY CHARACTERS. I spend a lot of time up in my head with them. I need to get them elsewhere.

Plus, I have other stuff I need to write.

2. I don’t know what Two is. I want it to be my house. We just ended our car payments on one car, so maybe that can go toward the house.

I hate my house. Too much shit, and no time, no place, to move it.

3. I want to have more fun with my children. I suppose this in some ways gets in the way of 1 and 2.

All right, anyway. I’m going to get myself together here, and try to distract myself less. Wish me luck, and see ya tomorrow.

Thankful

#30DaysofJournaling prompt from Day 10: Make a list of 20 things that make you happy.

I deliberately did not put any people on this list. Given that the Thanksgiving table will have sixteen people at it for whom I am grateful, if I start listing people in my life, I’d have a lot more than twenty!

However, I will give a special place to this wee bairn, my niece. I am so glad we made the trip to see her (and my sister and brother-in-law).

Olympia and Kate.
Cousins!

20 Things that Make Me Happy

1. Coffee in the morning.
2. Chocolate.
3. When I write something well.
4. When someone recognizes that I wrote something well.
5. Good food, good friends, good drinks.
6. When my children are all getting along.
7. Kindness.
8. A good beer or glass of wine in the evening.
9. Quiet.
10. A good book.
11. When my husband comes home from work early.
12. When my husband and I can spend time together.
13. Compliments.
14. When someone thinks I am younger than I am.
15. Doing a good job.
16. When my children learn something I’ve been trying to teach them.
17. Good music.
18. Certain times the way the sun comes through the clouds, or the way the air smells, lifts my spirits even when I didn’t know they needed to be lifted.
19. When I can help someone.
20. When we have enough money to do what we need to do.

Happy Thanksgiving! Go write down 20 things that make you happy (maybe tell me one or two in the comments).

Message in a Body

Day 12 Prompt from 30 Days of Journaling:

If my body could talk right now, it would say…

Head: Please cut off these bangs.

Neck: I think a visit to the chiropractor is in order. That crackling sound cannot be normal.

Shoulders: We concur with neck.

Mouth: I’m thirsty. Also, brush me before you go out, please. You don’t want people to know what you had for dinner.

Stomach: You call that dinner? I hope they have food where we’re going.

Butt: You sat too much today.

Lower back: We concur with butt. A nice workout and some yoga tomorrow morning? Oh, and you should visit the chiropractor.

Neck: I already said that.

Left hip: I concur with lower back. Although if we do workout, remember: NO IMPACT.

Armpits: Maybe reapply some deodorant.

Nose: We concur with armpits. If not deodorant, at least some perfume.

Legs: Hey, we have no complaints! Maybe change shoes. We don’t want to stand around in these heels.

Feet: We concur with legs.

Arms: Also registering no complaint.

Hands: All good here. Right is starting to cramp up a little bit. How many more days of this journaling thing do you have left?

Heart: I am just filled with love for that baby girl!

Rest of parts: Don’t change the subject!

Gut: I feel a little gassy tonight. Not gonna lie. I apologize in advance if I embarrass you tonight.

Butt: Get it?? EmbarrASS?

Brain: I need a drink.

Woman getting back massaged.
Wish you were here? I do! Image credit: liza5450

The 8 Things I Learned During #30DaysofJournaling

1. I like writing every day. Even when I had to do it at the end of a long day, I appreciated the exercise, the discipline. It was in some ways a low-pressure exercise as well because I wasn’t racking my brain to come up with something to write about. The prompt was waiting for me in my email. It was akin to having a meal plan — it’s not stressful to journal when you have something that’s going to help you fill up a blank page.

2. I like writing something that is just for me. It’s possible that one or two or five entries from my journal will make it onto my blog as posts. It’s also possible that one or two or five entries will be turned into poems that will get around to workshops when I start doing that again. But in the meantime, the primary reason I decided to participate in 30 Days of Journaling was to just write for me.

Nearly all of what I produce in writing is seen, edited, commented on, consumed, judged. And that’s fine; I’m a writer, and that comes with the territory. But writing in a journal is a different way to write — it’s just writing. Whatever comes into my head comes out onto the paper. I can write things I would never say and never put out there for public consumption. It was very refreshing to write that way again. It’s been years since I wrote like that.

3. I like writing on paper with a nice pen. I have two very nice fountain pens, both of which were given to me by my husband. They turn journaling into a sensual exercise. Plus, the journals I purchased for this exercise were pretty! (I filled one and a half.)

Journal One.
Journal One.

4. It’s okay to feel while writing and let those feelings inform the writing. I was cranky sometimes, and let myself be cranky. One of the prompts had me crying afterward. Most left me in a meditative or thoughtful mood, but some of them sparked something deeper. It was an exercise in letting the feelings happen and even writing more because of them.

5. Grief, man. This 30-day exercise reminded me once more that it’s never ending.

6. The book that changed my husband’s life is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Which also, oddly enough, ended up on my “Books I want to read…” list.

7. I still got it, baby.

Which is to say: I still have an internal life. I still have a life worth examining in quiet space and writing about in a conversation with myself.

Some days it seems easy to be lost. Being a full-time, out of the home, professional paid writer, and a full-time in-and-out-of-the-home mom to three busy kids, and being a good wife to boot, and the invisible work — cooking, cleaning, collecting laundry, teaching my children to do all of the above as well — sometimes the urge is to turn off my brain with a book or TV show.

So it’s been nice to see that even if it was only for 15 to 20 minutes a day, I could write about NONE of that overwhelming stuff.

8. I like writing every day. I like writing every day so much that I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) officially for the very first time. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to produce a novel (about 50,000 words) by writing Every. Single. Day. That’s about 1800 to 2000 words a day.

Which I discovered last night takes me about two hours. November will be interesting. And exhausting, probably. But I’ve had a novel rattling around in my head for a few years now (what writer doesn’t), and this is a good exercise and a good opportunity for me to GET IT OUT.

So I expect I will disappear from social media for a little bit. I am going to aim for posting here at least twice a week, but don’t hold me to that. When you realize you need to put 2000 words on a screen, you tend to want to hoard them.

Did you journal for 30 days in a row? Or NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo for a month? Tell me about it in the comments! Solidarity!