I have not, as a rule been very good at taking care of myself. My energy has always been poured into squelching my feelings or wants and giving to and doing as much as I can for everyone else. After almost 57 years, I am finally ready to admit that the plan was flawed. While I believe that God wants us to be kind and generous and giving and loving and forgiving, I have recently been urged and told that this does not mean at all expense to my health. I am very fortunate that I have been a very healthy person, but I now wonder whether my emotions could have been healthier had I been willing to admit this years ago.
For years, I have exercised. There are plenty of people in my life who are overweight. It has effected me to the point that I refuse to get on the diet merry-go-round. I have worked hard to stay fit and relatively slim. It has taken me a while to learn to do that in a healthy way, but I am getting the knack. I exercised throughout the years of being a stay at home mom and even when I was pregnant to a reasonable degree. A few years ago, I got out of the habit of exercising and realized that I had made a huge mistake. My body and mind both missed it tremendously. There is something about exercise, not just doing physical work about the house, but actual exercise that lifts you up! That is one thing I have done for me and am back to doing it. Make the time!
For my last birthday, some of the kids got together and purchased a gift certificate for a massage. It took me six months to finally schedule an appointment. Actually, "Super Son" finally got tired of asking me whether I had done it and took charge. Now, I am not sure whether the kids bought this for me, or bought it because they are tired of me always asking them to rub my shoulders. Either way, I am okay with it. I do a lot of typing and definitely tense up when I get stressed. I have to admit that I have also grinded my teeth for years. There is nothing like having your husband smack you on the head, because your grinding is disturbing him! Anyway, I went as scheduled and absolutely floated home. I am now a regular there and go for a massage every three or four weeks.
Now I am not saying that a massage is the answer. Find something that pampers you. For some women it might be a night out with the girls, a manicure, a pedicure, a facial, or even a shopping trip. Find what works for you and make the time to do it. Schedule it, pamper yourself. You are the only one who knows what you need. You deserve it. You will be a better person and wife and mother for it. Speaking of wife, don't forget that you are not just a mother, you are also a wife. Make time to go out to dinner with your husband and enjoy time with him. Again, it was not an area that I was always good at. Don't busy yourself into oblivion. It is a pretty lonely place.
You have to take care of yourself and be healthy before you can help others!
There were three things that were drummed into the kids that were absolutely forbidden for them to do! These are not the logical ones like no smoking, no drinking, no drugs, no sex before you get married, don't get pregnant, don't drop out of school. "Doc" created his own list of taboos based on his experiences putting people back together who had violated the list.
Our gang has the list memorized:
1. No motorcycles.
2. No three wheelers or ATV's
3. No trampolines.
We have done well with numbers one and two. Number three, not so good. "Mini-Me" was good friends with "Mommy's" boyfriend's (now her husband) sisters. They had a trampoline. They were also outstanding gymnasts. My daughter was not. The girls put "Mini-Me" in one of there gymnastic leotards and the girls went out into the yard to play on the trampoline. The rest is history.
I distinctly remember getting the phone call. "Mini-Me" was on the trampoline with the girls and fell off. Her arm is broken, what do you want us to do? I told them that we would be right there, and then I had to tell her father.... It was not a pleasant conversation to say the least. We got in the car and drove twenty minutes to pick up "Mini-Me" It was the longest twenty minutes of my life!!! "Doc" was furious that she had disobeyed and now had a broken arm. "Doc" took care of small medical issues like stitches, but we had always agreed that sometimes he should be their dad. So, he was also furious that he was taking her to see his friend for medical treatment. No orthopedic surgeon's child should ever be on a trampoline! I listened to his "upset" for all twenty minutes of the ride.
We arrived at the future in-laws house. As soon as "Mini-Me" heard our voices she got hysterical. Believe me, that only saved her temporarily. We splinted her arm with a magazine and headed to the emergency room. "Doc" led the way once we got to the hospital. He knew everyone there. I still had to answer the registration questions like "are you both the mother and father?" The arm was "set" and she was put in a long arm cast. The real fun came once we got her out of the cast and had to get her arm back to full function. It isn't by the way, because of a bone chip in her elbow. Tough lesson to learn.
There were bad storms a week or so ago. The neighbor's trampoline was blown over the fence and into "Mini-Me's" yard. Kismet? "Max" immediately asked if she could jump on it. Her mother explained why she wasn't allowed on a trampoline. We can now have a conversation with her about it where she recites the appropriate information..."I can't jump on a trampoline because mommy broke her arm and had to wear a cast like "uncle Surprise" has and we don't want to upset Pops. If I hurt my arm like mommy did, Pops will get upset and we don't want Pops to be upset." I hope she listens, but she is a lot like her mom was as a teenager, so..... I hope Pops doesn't get too upset.
This past fall, I chose not to run for re-election to our local school board. My reasons were numerous. First, the local school boards have very little control over their District. Policies are written by companies and are dictated/mandated by state and federal laws. We had to pay companies to write policy to ensure that all laws were followed and that we were protected legally. The actual guidelines for education have also been essentially taken out of the hands of educators and are mandated by state and federal policy makers. As a school district it was our "privilege" to continually ask the taxpayers to increase their share of funding for education. Like many school districts, we had a large contingency of retirees as constituents. People frequently said no to having their taxes raised over and over again. It is one of the few areas that they can say no to taxes and they exercise that right. I can't say that I blame them. The government hands the schools all kinds of requirements but doesn't do anything to increase funding or help in a significant way.
It is sad to see some districts with state of the art buildings and programs, and others being held together with duct tape. There is a terrible inequity in the funding system. There is a terrible inequity in the educational system in that what works for or applies to an inner city school does not apply to a rural or suburban district. Rural districts do not need the inner city programs. Different areas have different levels of parent involvement which also changes the needs of the schools. All that being said, the schools are left to figure out how to get the job done and yes, a lot of the burden is placed on educators. I just read an article about teachers leaving early because they are overwhelmed with requirements and they cannot "teach".
Now comes the common sense or Mom-sense. We who are parents, need to parent our children. We should work hand in hand with the teachers when it comes to educating our children. We need to make sure they are achieving as much as the teachers should. We should not expect our teachers to feed our children, to clothe our children or to be their surrogate parents. We need to be parents, not friends and know what our children are doing socially and educationally. And, when it is necessary for a school to discipline and take action, we should be able to trust that they are doing the right thing and be supportive of the school. We entrust our children to them seven hours a day don't we?
On the other hand, teachers should teach. I have seen too many cases of teachers becoming involved inappropriately, and of not teaching. Part of the reason that some of these requirements exist is because of how many students were graduating and were not even able to read. Some were star athletes, and many times people forgot to care. Teachers need to be able to care about their students. The teachers who work with our children should work with the parents and the administration to help each child achieve.
The administrations and boards of education must start using common sense and start deciding what is best for their students. For starters, some states have already abandoned the "Core Curriculum". We need to focus on the students and learning not just tests and manufactured indicators and required levels of learning that are not based on individual needs. There are so many things that frustrate me about this topic. Statistics that compare the United States educational system to foreign countries are not legitimate. There is no other country that puts effort into educating EVERY child, even those with disabilities. Of course our scores will be lower. We are comparing apples to oranges. I am proud of our country's efforts to make sure every child has a decent shot at an education. Why aren't we asking what they do with disabled children in China? How many children outside of the U.S. with Down's Syndrome get to go to school?
Don't tell me that our system is failing. If it is, then you need to explain to me why there are so many foreign students seeking an education in our country. My son was in the minority as a white, middle class male in his medical school class. Seats in graduate schools, medical schools, etc. often go to foreign graduates first. If our education system is bad, why do they come here?
Is the Public Education system broken? I truly do not believe it is. I think it is misguided at this point and we need to get back to some basic concepts. There is no one group responsible for the state of education. Parents who don't parent, teachers who don't teach, governments that do not provide for the education of the children supported by taxpayers have all played a hand in making this mess. We have relinquished our own accountability for the educational success of our own children. Education and opportunities are there. You need to work at it, just like everything worth achieving. None of it is free, because it all takes blood, sweat and tears to finally reach any goal worth achieving.
Are there really any super powers any more? The simple answer to that question is yes! There is one super power in this world. I am aware of the higher power of God and that is not what I mean. I am referring to super powers on earth, and it does not belong to any country. Let's be real, Women are the ones who hold the key to world domination. If there are any men reading this, I am sure you are screaming right now! But let me explain.
Think of successful, highly respected Presidents of our country and also corporations. The most successful ones, have supportive, loving and happy wives! The old saying "if momma isn't happy, no one is happy" rings true. Happy women make happy homes and happy husbands. Think of any U.S. President that you did not like and think about the kind of wife he had.... There you go!
I believe that there is a conspiracy going on in the clothing industry. Somewhere, there is a man with an evil smile and sinister laugh putting random numbers on labels for clothing sizes. How else can you be a size ten one day and a fourteen the next? It is infuriating to every woman I know. Then come the insecurities. Am I putting on weight, and the ultimate question that no man ever wants to face, "Does this make me look fat?" Women everywhere are going crazy because one label puts me in a size four and the next label has me in an eight! The unhappiness that this creates spills over into the family and marriage. When women are upset about their clothing size,they may decide to diet or maybe they just get grumpy. Either way, the husband will take the brunt of the misery.
Forget about military invasions and diplomacy. Any country that really wants to dominate the world only has to mess with the women of the world. If you get all of them upset, they have the power to make their husbands miserable and ultimately unable to function at their best. Think about it.
I know I have mentioned multiple times that we sort of live on a farm. We have tractors and dogs and pastures. There is a local farmer who utilizes our fields. We used to have horses. We thought about raising cows. I make a pretty brave attempt at gardens. Our kids never got involved in 4H. I think it is a great organization and the kids that are involved in it are very impressive when you consider the work they do to prepare for fairs. Our kids went in a different direction with their interests. They were all excellent students and they all were involved in athletics. So, let’s come to an understanding right up front. If my family had to depend on me to grow food for them or raise animals for food, they would starve to death quite rapidly.
“Mommy” was always into animals. There were times as she was growing up that I was certain that she would pursue a degree in Veterinary medicine. But she chose to go into a career in Elementary Education. She loved doing Science Fair when she was in Middle School and all of her projects involved animals in some way, so I wasn’t surprised when one of her student teaching projects was hatching chicken eggs.
She approached me with the idea and as always I encouraged her to go ahead with it. Apparently, one of the local chicken farms was happy to give her assistance with her class project, but they did not want the chickens that hatched back. She would have to find a home for them. Now It could not have taken you more than a blink of an eye to figure out that we were to be the home. Why not!? We have a barn, we live on a farm (sort of), and we love eggs. We could raise our own chickens for a lifetime supply of eggs! This idea, like many of my projects was taking off pretty fast.
We had to start preparing for the chickens that were soon to join our family. The four eggs spent their time in the incubator and four adorable baby chicks hatched. “Mommy’s” class named the four babies and as the student teaching ended, we got ready for their arrival at our home. I grabbed “Calvin” and gave him the job of building a home for the Chickens. “Calvin” immediately enlisted the assistance of “Super Son” and with absolutely no information or research they began using one of the stalls in the barn to construct a chicken coop. Off they went for supplies that included nails and chicken wire. In a relatively short period of time, they constructed a chicken coop that would have put a concentration camp to shame.
Just so you know, chickens are like cats. They are adorable when they are small but not so cute when they grow up. And believe me, these chickens grew up! I could swear they were given nuclear food. I have NEVER seen such large chickens. They were close in size to a turkey – and they were mean. “The Surprise” would get pecked in the legs every time he fed them. We did start to get eggs too. I was concerned at first that we had roosters and not chickens but the eggs did arrive. Should I be concerned that every egg had two and three yolks?
After a few months, “Pook” and “The Surprise” would go to the barn to feed the chickens and we found one dead for no apparent reason. A few days later, the second one was found dead. Finally, as we came up the driveway at the end of the school day, we stopped at the barn to feed the chickens. I sent the boys in while I waited in the car. Both boys came out because the chickens were dead and headless. I told them to drag them out and we would get rid of them. They carried those chickens on shovels, barely able to hold them up. Of course, being the loving and helpful mother that I am, I rolled the window down and hollered “Don’t be dumb, use the shovels like a sled. They are too heavy to carry!”
The end of the chickens was also our first lesson on weasels. Every once in a while I bring up raising another animal for food or getting more chickens. There is a revolution brewing if I actually go through with it, so I guess I will just get my eggs at the grocery store like everyone else.
I am feeling very wise this morning, although I don't know why. At my age, I am still making plenty of mistakes and hopefully I am still learning from them. I am not quite sure what it means when you stop learning, but I am not ready to find out just yet. I developed my "style" as I grew up. There were things I liked in out household and things I didn't like. I am sure that my kids feel the same way, at least I hope so. I am okay with that. "The Ninja" pointed out to me last night that some of what I am and do is because of the things that I didn't like as I grew up and I chose to change those things. She is right.
I can get very forceful and insistent and stubborn with my kids. Especially when I see them making the same mistakes that I have made. I already know the outcome, and I desperately want to keep them from suffering those consequences. I want to save them from that pain. That's a problem. It is my problem.
So my wisdom and advice today is that you cannot save your children. You can teach them, but they have to choose whether or not they want to learn. You can advise them, but they have to decided whether or not to take that advice. The bottom line to that is, if you don't let them feel the pain of bad choices, you have deprived them of a very important life lesson.
On a very basic level, you can tell a small child not run by the pool. You can't stop them unless you hang on to them and don't let them play and move around. They are going to run, and they might fall, and they might not. If they don't fall, it is good. But if they do, they will scrape there knees, maybe bump their chin and they will feel pain. You can't take that away. Hopefully, they learn from it. But then again, they may not learn as quickly as you would like. The point is, they get to live life with all its ups and downs. That is life. It is not fair to take that away from them.
I tend to fix or try to fix and cover for the adult mistakes that they make. I was reminded last night that it is there lives. They must make and do make their own choices and they must deal with the negative consequences whether they are personal or financial or both. They also get to enjoy the positive consequence. I can hurt with them and smile with them, but I have to stop taking on the consequences. Love for your children can make you do great things and it can make you do dumb things with good intentions.
I hope that my children are able to learn from my mistakes. I will love them and hold them when they cry, but I will let them make their choices. I will smile and laugh with them, love them and hold them when they triumph. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. For not having her own kids, "The Ninja" gives pretty good advice about mine! Thanks!!!
When your kids get old enough, dating definitely becomes an issue. I believe we are like most parents who are pretty protective of their girls. "Doc" would often say "She will not date until she is 38." Well, you know that isn't realistic! With the boys, I preferred to believe that I had raised them properly and that they would be gentlemen on their dates with young ladies.
There are a couple of problems inherent in the above belief. When the kids were in grade school, either the kids themselves were interested in dating or their parents were setting up dates. Yes - I said grade school! Whatever happened to letting kids be kids, playing outside, riding bikes, drinking water out of the hose. Stand your ground! We had some old fashioned rules. No makeup for the girls until at least 8th Grade. No dating for anyone until age 16 with the exception of school dances. Don't let your kids rob themselves of their childhood even though like every generation, they all try to grow up too fast!
Once dating did start, we had some pretty old fashioned rules too. If the girls went out, we had to meet the young man first. He had to come into the house to pick her up. Most of the boys we already knew because we live in a small community. Any friend or boyfriend or girlfriend who could not speak to us or be courteous was not welcome in our home or welcome to go out with our children. Period! And I did enforce that rule. Our boys were expected to go out on a date with me, so I could show them how to treat a young lady. It carried over to other areas of their lives and as a side note I am proud every time they open a door for someone older or a young lady.
Not too long ago, I decided that they had lived by my rules with respect to dating and I was happy. I figured that I now owed them the courtesy of understanding "dating" in their world. The biggest hurdle was terminology. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a teen, it was all pretty simple. In middle school, your friend would ask you if you liked someone and you wanted to be his girlfriend. The first response was usually "Show me who he is. or "Which one is he?" If he looked good to you, you were boyfriend and girlfriend as total strangers. By the time you got to high school, you usually knew the guy first. You walked to class together, went out after football and basketball games, talked on the phone and eventually he asked you to go steady and he gave you his class ring to wear. Weird, huh?!
I had to learn an entire language to talk to my kids about dating. When they were in grade school and middle school they wanted to "Go" with someone. I didn't know where they were "going". At that age, they couldn't drive, and they were only allowed to take their bike with me going along because we live on country roads, not in a neighborhood. I certainly wasn't endorsing "going out", so I wasn't taking them anywhere.
Now, as young adults, we start out by "Hanging Out". This means they go to movies together, or spend time together at each other's houses. In stage two, we "Talk". I was under the impression that talking had been going on all along, but apparently I am mistaken. "Talking" is essentially the same as "Hanging Out" but with a little more commitment. NEVER call them boyfriend or girlfriend at this stage, they will freak out. After an extended amount of time, the next stage is "Boyfriend/Girlfriend". This is official and it is now okay to tell people that they are in this stage and dating. Please note that all of the above steps are exclusive of other people.
I don't know, it just seemed simpler when I was their age. We skipped all the steps in between and just went steady!
There, I said it. I admit it. I believe it is an hereditary condition, and I cannot wait for one of my children to develop the symptoms. My son in law, "The Admiral" has it too. How can you watch the info-mercials and not get sucked in?! I admit that some of the things are not so great, but they all have a money back guarantee. How can you go wrong!
I own a Showtime rotisserie - you know - "Set it and Forget it". That one is pretty darn good. The food cooks quickly and evenly and is very tasty. My only complaint is that mine squeaks a bit and it is not as "Pretty" once it has been used. For Christmas one year I got the "Pasta Basket" . Now that one is special. I am a proud owner of one of the original "Ginsu" knives. You remember, you can cut a tin can in half and then delicately and perfectly slice a ripe tomato with it. My dad bought that years ago. See, it is genetic! Recently "Mommy" convinced me to get "Wraptastic" as I do tend to make a mess of Saran Wrap. She owns three of them. Oh my god! She has the condition too!
I have tried a few of the pet items. The black light that seeks out pet stains on your carpet.... fun to play with but I don't think the cleaning spray worked. But if I ever become a homicide detective I already have the black light to look for blood stains. Our dogs bark like crazy every time someone comes to the door. I bought a "Bark-Off". Got my money back on that one. It turns out that a rolled newspaper works better. The dogs totally ignored the "Bark-Off". Although it was working - sort of. "Calvin" was visiting and helping with some things in the kitchen and kept asking what he was hearing. We all thought he was nuts at first, we didn't hear anything. But then we realized that he was the only one able to respond to the "Bark-Off".
Now, The Sham-Wow! That one is a gem. You just have to remember to read all the instructions. They don't work any more if you put them in the dryer. I distinctly remember pouring water on the floor to prove that they are as absorbent as advertised! I also tend to buy these types of items as gifts. "The Admiral" could never get off to work or school without three trips back into the house for things he forgot, so I bought him the key ring recorder, so he could record reminders to himself. Brilliant!
A few years ago, when I went to "Mommy's" for our annual Christmas Shopping weekend, she introduced me to the "As Seen on TV" stores at the outlet mall. Who would have thought?! An entire store devoted to late night info-mercials. She brought a tear to my eye. And now, more than I could have ever hoped for, most of the local grocery stores and specialty stores now have entire sections of "As Seen on TV" Products. There is not one week that goes by that I don't stop in that section of the store and consider a purchase. I am seriously looking at the Flex Hose. The only problem I have is that if I order on line I can get two for the price of one. What a deal!!!!!
Our kids learned at a very young age, that I expected them to at least try foods before turning their noses up to it. If you said, "I don't like it!" you had better at least have tasted it. All in all, it has worked pretty well. I respected their food choices and they tried everything at least once. That is, unless it was something like liver, that I hated. I would not even cook that, so they were safe.
"Doc" managed to blow my rules out of the water. (Now there is a surprise for any who of you who know him, right?!) We headed to his mother's one evening for dinner. Before we even walked in, I knew what was coming because he had informed me of his phobia early in our marriage when I had fixed something for dinner and he would not eat a bite! He looked at all the kids, and told them not to eat the broccoli casserole no matter what.
There are multiple reasons for this. My mother in law could be a very good cook, so don't get me wrong. She had her own garden, filled with fresh vegetables that looked delicious. However, over the years we had discovered that she stored and continued to use insecticides and weed killers in her garden that I am sure she concocted or had already been banned by the EPA. How would we explain to people that our kids could glow in the dark, because of grammy's dinner?
"Doc's" phobia started even earlier than that. When he was just a little guy, his mother who was VERY frugal about some things, refused to throw food away. Periodically for dinner, she would take all of the food in the refrigerator that she could combine and make up a casserole. Now, keep in mind that it did not matter what condition the food was in. A little mold never hurt anyone! That's what they make penicillin out of! According to "Doc" it did no good to argue about the taste, you were not going to win.
Like I said, I learned early in our marriage never to serve a casserole unless I prepared it in front of him and he knew the condition of all the ingredients. The kids learned never to eat certain things at Grammy's and they learned that it was one of the few times that we would get them fast food on the way home to prevent starvation! I wonder what my Grandchildren will say about me some day?!
For those of you who don’t know, there has been a “hot” group out there that has a program that they are selling for tens of thousands of dollars to school. They are promoting it as a bullying prevention program. The trouble is, it doesn’t work. Parts of it aren’t bad, but overall it just isn’t the complete program that they “sell” it as. There is NO “mom-sense” in it!
First of all, how many times have you told your kids not to “tattle”? The rule in our house is to settle your issues yourself. I really don’t care whether or not you like each other. Heck, there are times when I don’t like them. We know we love each other as a family. I require respect and the ability to live in the same environment. The only time I want my gang to “tattle” is when someone is doing something dangerous or if what is happening could physically hurt someone. Now that doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they want either or that they don’t need advice or help in handling something. My kids know that they can come to me and talk about what is going on and we will discuss their options in handling it. They always know that I am there for love and support.
This “Program” that the schools are buying teaches your children the opposite. They teach your children to report and “tattle” on everyone for just about anything. The idea is to cuddle the child being bullied and make them “feel good”. Who can “feel good” when there ego is shattered and everyone is saying “poor baby”, let me fix it for you. In my opinion, this is creating a whole new generation of victims, who will never be able to handle confrontation or difficulties in their lives.
People do need to know what is going on and understand that kids can be vicious. Kids who gang up on other kids can take the situation to levels we never thought of. With technology, bullying has escalated beyond belief.
People being bullied do not need to become lifetime victims. They do need the love and support of people around them. They need to know that they are okay and valuable. They need to be taught appropriate ways to advocate for themselves. They don’t need someone to handle all of their problems. The welfare system started out as a temporary assistance program to help people get back on their feet. It was never meant to be the lifestyle of dependency that it has become for many. This bullying program will create the same type of dependency. People get bullied as children, teens, and adults. If we teach them as children how to handle these types of situations, they become healthy adults. If we do it for them, we make them victims for life. Or worse, we turn them into frustrated teens and adults who carry out explosive and deadly retaliations.
Be very wary of these “cure all” programs that are being bought by schools. If you want to know what I think the best strategy is for bullying, ask me. I have been bullied, my kids have been bullied. We are healthy independent adults …..
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!