When Popularity Really Matters

Sometimes kids swear.  Instead of being appalled, Michelle Thompson, Ph.D., JDsuggests we listen and by doing so we just might get more of an answer to how our teenagers are doing than simply “fine.”

 

I just spent the week away from my family and all went well.

For Veteran’s Day, my 13-year-old son had some friends over to play games with him and alleviate the loneliness of being an only child. And come over they did, some friends from his school soccer team.

My partner removed herself from the room to give them space to play.

What a great thing!

And she was appalled at the language they used. Yep, his friends are swearing (lest she thinks any foul language is my fault . . .), and they’re not interested in anything else aside from video games and their phones. No discussion of girls, pornography, or drugs.

We’re safe for the next 5 minutes. Then again, most of them are still pre-pubescent.

My partner was a little upset though because she chafes at foul language.

I LOVED using foul language the minute I could when away from home when I was 12.

But that’s not the point. No matter how difficult it seems to have these young people over, it is critical. For a family who has not the patience to homeschool, this is the only way we get a more unvarnished window into their lives. What matters to them? Why does it matter? What are the challenges? What are the joys?

I know that I can’t get answers to these questions asking “how was school,” as the proverbial “fine” gets me NOTHING. He won’t swear like a sailor when checking in!

But hearing how they play with language, what they are focused on, what they love, and what they hate matters.

Right now, they love foul language.

We get to debrief with James about what they’re saying and hear what he’s thinking.

I told my partner to think of this as a big old research project. She’s an academic. We love research. Let’s do it!

The window is closing in terms of us getting to have James and his friends with us. I want to keep it open as long as possible. I want our house to be where the kids hang out. I want to listen in on what they’re doing and saying. This could be the key to heading off any future difficulties.

Michelle Dionne Thompson, Ph.D., JD is the Founder and CEO of Michelle Dionne Thompson Coaching and Consulting, a primarily coaching business that works with women in law and academia to set and meet aligned goals sanely in the midst of insane industries. A recovering lawyer and a historian, she also teaches college and is writing her first book, Jamaica’s Accompong Maroons (1838 – 1905): Retooled Resistance for Continued Existence.

Going on Retreat

Leaving my kids to go to a retreat.

 

Twice a year I leave my girls.

I go to a business retreat that in the beginning lasted two days and now lasts three days, so I am gone for two nights.

And I do this about every six months.

The first time I went to retreat which is usually about an hour and a half from my house I actually drove home for the night between the two days.  It was exhausting since I needed to be there at 9 am.

Ever since then I have stayed either with friends or sharing hotel rooms with other people at my retreat.

This week I leave again, and my parents have come to town to stay home with the kids.  Instead of my husband having to take time off of work.

And while my youngest is now four and no longer a nursling anymore, it is still bittersweet to walk away from my kids for three days.  They always grow up while I am away and vocabularies get bigger (I swear) and they have so very much to say and….

Meanwhile, at my retreat we do a lot of inner and outer work, understanding why we do what we do, making deep and meaningful connections, laughing, crying, sharing hugs and so I am usually emotionally wrung out by the time I get home.  And the girls are ready to be all over me, and I am ready for hugs from them.

But there is something special about coming home that first night, after all the hugs and stories, and we have finally gotten the kids sent off to sleep.

When the world feels right, and all I want to do is curl up with my partner

and go to sleep.

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup

If the saying “you have to put your oxygen mask on first” drives you crazy then read on as  Jodie Thornton shares some of her parenting experience from life as an Australian.

 

I really do worry that my eyes might roll right outta my head when I hear “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.

As if I don’t realise that having a full cup is more fun than being exhausted and exasperated.

Or perhaps that the sleep deprivation or parenting overwhelm might have wiped the very idea of self-care from my memory.

And I’m sure as hell it implies that I’m just not using my time well enough to make space for meditation or massage or manicures.

The phrase leaves me silently screaming over the web to the Super Judgey Parenting Expert that while you don’t know me buddy, I can assure you that I actually do like to look after myself.

These neat little servings of guilt in the “fill your cup” advice sneak their way into nearly every parenting resource.

Every time I came across it, I would search for a way to squeeze some more time to do the things that fill my cup.

But so often when I took time out it made things harder.

I would spend time with a girlfriend and then not have the laundry done and someone’s clothes for school or work weren’t clean or dry.

Or I’d take a long bath and fill that needy ol’ cup all the way to overflowing.

Then somewhere between leaving the peaceful bath and being greeted with yoghurt handprints on my beautiful pyjamas my cup was back to empty.

Again.

Like some kind of torturous Groundhog Day.

I couldn’t escape this crap-nugget of advice.

Even when I was looking for parenting advice that was completely unrelated, there’d be an article or paragraph about how you just needed to make the time to fill your cup by letting your partner do more, accepting that it’s not going to be done the way you like it, blah blah blah.

But you see, addressing my perfectionism and managing my anxiety through control is a big ass project and I’m not sure if you’re picking up on a theme here but…

I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT RIGHT NOW.

Never wanting to let an expectation go unmet, I focused on making the cup bigger, so I could last longer between refills. In theory.

I took up meditation, read all the advice about how it was so unnecessary to have a short temper with small children because the behaviour is developmentally appropriate, made daily mindset commitments – it’s exhausting just remembering it all.

Everywhere I turned, there was a list that went on and on about how the problem was always me.

That my kids could never be fulfilled if I wasn’t.

It was my inability to stay calm or my inability to make time for massages or my lack of knowledge about normal childhood behaviour, that my mindset was off, that I wasn’t grateful enough.

I realised the truth eventually.

There isn’t a finite amount of water for everyone’s cup.

It isn’t a zero-sum game.

Our cups aren’t filled by someone else’s cup being emptied.

Best of all, the fullness of my cup – or stark emptiness, as the case may be – did not make a single iota of difference to my ability to raise my kids with full cups.

I fill my kids’ cups by meeting their needs.

And empowering them to meet their own needs.

And supporting relationships with their siblings and relations and friends – all fantastic cup-fillers.

I finally learned that the choice isn’t limited to either their cup or my cup.

Sadly, it can also be neither.

And thank fuck it can also be both.

So many parenting experts implied or stated outright that parents simply must learn how to help themselves first.

And yet, I found that sometimes when I was profoundly sad that I had no freaking idea what I needed – just for me – that I STILL had the power to see what they needed, provide it for them and watch their cups fill alllll the way up.

Sometimes my cup is filled from seeing theirs fill. And sometimes it isn’t.

I am keenly aware that the more I learn to deeply know myself that I have more and more ability to help my kids to deeply know themselves.

At the same time, I also see that my kids aren’t as dependent on me modelling self-connection as it might be assumed.

Because I do a fucking good job of protecting their self-connection in the first place.

We’ve grown up in different times, with different attitudes to emotional awareness.

I have better parenting advice at hand than my parents did.

Their self-connection isn’t waiting for mine to be healed because it was never broken in the same way that mine is.

I sure am on my way to knowing who I am, what I need, how to serve myself and how to openly receive support.

My kids aren’t waiting for me to get there.

They’re further up the road, walking their own paths, at their own pace, in their own way.

And we’re cheering each other on.

Jodie Thornton is the Founder of Through It All. Her work is focused on connecting people to their power to change the world by knowing who they are, what they want from life and how to make it happen. Jodie works with parents and young people to provide them with the self-connection, communication skills and support they need to lead potent lives.

 

Jodie lives in Canberra, Australia with the love of her life and her four children, who are 18, 15, 3 and 1.

The Gifts of Healing

What gifts can breaking an ankle bring?

 

I broke my ankle on 6 August 2017 for the second time.  Different ankle, then the last time 17 years ago, but I still broke it.  And just like before, it still came out of nowhere.

The first time I broke my ankle I was 19 years old and taking my first real vacation from my first real corporate world job.  I was at a pumpkin festival with family swinging out on a rope swing and falling into a pit of packing foam.  I was doing it with an over 6foot tall guy and he wasn’t hitting bottom.  But of course, on the last time, I swung out, instead of swinging and landing on my back I managed to get a leg tucked under me and the only metaphor I can use to describe it was that it felt like someone had stepped on my ankle and compressed it like, when you step on an aluminum can.

That was a huge break, breaking both my tibia and fibula and needing surgery and a long recovery.  I still have a plate with 7 screws on the outside of that ankle and big long screw on the other side, and scars to show for it.  But I did eventually recover.

And there were gifts.  I read the first Harry Potter book in 24 hours and then proceeded to read the next two (all that were currently published at the time), I had the opportunity to “wake up” and realize that I did not want to stay working in the corporate world anymore and that I really wanted to go be a camp counselor or park ranger and have an adventurous life.  I left my job about six months after healing, got a job at my old Girl Scout Camp and then went to France with my Dad who was attending a conference, which in a long way around led to my visiting New Zealand and getting engaged.

So this August when I was hiking a local trail that my family and I have hiked many, many times before (including at least a half dozen times this year) while also with one of the neighbor kids, I was completely taken by surprise when I slipped on some wet rocks and fell, having first one ankle tuck under me and then hearing a loud pop from the other ankle.  I pretty much knew instantly that I broke it.  But there was getting down off the hiking trail that had to happen first.  Hiking boots saved the day.

This fracture has been much different from the first.  In part, because it is a stable fracture, the bone has stayed in alignment and so it has simply been a matter of providing support while my body works on healing the bone.  Did you know you can walk around on a healing bone?  My first broken ankle had required surgery and 6 weeks in a cast followed by 8 weeks in a walking boot.  So far I have skipped surgery, had an air cast for six weeks but was able to start walking without crutches about 3-4 weeks and am now spending six weeks in a lace-up brace that I can wear with or without my shoes on.

I know there are other gifts to have happened during this break.  I can’t see them all yet (hindsight truly is better for somethings) but I know the reorganizing of my fall has brought gifts with it.  One of which being that I no longer do the dishes or much to do with the laundry, that my older two girls have added that to their responsibilities.

As I heal more fully I expect to start to realize the other gifts have been given.  Healing comes in many forms and sometimes we have to break something first.

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Busy Bee Chase

 Katlin Puchalski  shares with us a picture of what it is like in her busy life, and how sometimes slipping into the orderly life of social gaming is just want she needs to put her oxygen mask on first before continuing on with her day.  Katlin says it better than me:

 

I don’t want to write. I don’t want to read aloud. I don’t want to cook dinner. I don’t want to fold laundry or clean the living room. I don’t want to harvest tomatoes or feed chickens. I don’t even want to pick up children from dance classes. I want to sit in my own clean, quiet, little bedroom and play Gardenscapes, or Two Dots on my phone. Yes, today has been a hard day; but aren’t they all? There is always something: a crisis, maybe big or maybe small, or a situation, an event, that needs my immediate attention.

There are so many shoes that need to be found or tied, homework that needs translation or to simply to be found, or some piece of missing clothing is necessary “right now” and nothing else will do. There are games and events to attend, as well as animals that need tending. Not to mention work, an actual paying job, that needs me to be able to focus and fix mechanisms and tools. There is wood to bring in and the lawn to mow, one more time. Oh, and there is a shower to be had, some time! I am in high demand all day, from my children, from myself, from the chores, from work, from the garden or the house. There is always SOMETHING.

I would like to retreat into my room, with my colorful wool blanket from Ireland. I would sit in the sunshine that is streaming onto the bed, or with the moon shining brightly through the picture window. I want to pretend there is nothing, (or not much), that needs my attention, if only for 30 minutes. I want to play mindless and ‘silly’ games, quietly, alone.

In my ‘silly games’ things are predictable and reliable, (even if that predictability is running out of lives). The outcome is easy to see and the steps fairly regular, (although with just enough twists and turns to hold my attention much longer than it should!). There are several ‘do-overs’, and helpful hints buttons. Real life doesn’t have those. Real life is messy and complicated and stressful. Real life goes fast and slow, and round and round, all at the same time. But real life also has love and cuddles and fairy kisses.

Real life has stories to read while snuggling all together, morning and night, in anticipation of the next plot twist. Real life is busy, but it is MY busy. My busy has moments of laughter and giggles, as well as times of quiet contemplation. I start my day with a cheerful breakfast, bonding with my 13-year-old. And at the end of my day is snuggling my nine-year-old, among all her stuffed animals and dolls and books. And the middle of my busy day is hearing about capture the flag at recess and the crazies of sixth-grade girls from my eleven-year-old, quiet, but steady middle daughter. Mountains are waiting to be climbed and rivers to be explored. Family adventures abound around here! One daughter has mastered a new piece of music today and another perfected a tricky dance step this evening, and a third is riding her ‘horse’, otherwise known as a bike round and round the house. And then there are so many bedtime stories and snuggles to be had, (before they don’t need them anymore). My day is busy and messy and crazy but full of energy and love.

Soon, I will go read the book, while helping with Algebra and cooking dinner. Then I will do some endless laundry, and drive somewhere for a practice pick up or drop off. And I will end the day snuggling each one and marveling at their growth. … But for now, I will slip away for a few moments, and plant some imaginary trees, or pop some bubbles or dots of varying colors, until I run out of ‘play’ lives. I will be refilled to happily rejoin the rest of my Busy Bee day.

Katlin Puchalski is a mother to three daughters, a professional gardener, a fixer of tools, a maker of dinners, lunches and intricate schedules (requiring cloning of herself), and also a worker of miracles. Over the past several years she has discovered the therapeutic healing in writing, honestly, about her daily struggles.
Like many mothers, she tries to do too much and often ends up struggling with balance, as well as taking time for herself. Writing, and then sharing that writing through her blog gives her the necessary time to herself, as well as a chance to reflect on the wonderfulness of her Busy Bee life.
You can find, and follow, her blog at Finding My Bees Knees.

Visibility

What does it mean to be visible as a parent?  Am I ever going to be able to go to the bathroom alone or put my makeup on in silence?

 

Visibility.

It is something I think we all struggle with.  Because we are women because we are mothers because we live in a society that cares so much about what we look like.  We are immediately judged and are judging everyone on how we look.

It is written in our DNA, we are supposed to find the people who look like us so that we can be protected as babies.  So we can be cared for and nurtured.  So that we can belong and therefore be loved.

Yet if you have any small part of you that is an introvert, if you have ever told a secret in confidence and had that confidence spread like wildfire, then you have met up with issues around visibility.

It is not always safe to be visible, as women we inherently know this, even if we fight against it, we have been oppressed in so many different ways for so long, that we know this.  We know this. We have been oppressed in so many different ways for so long, that we know this.  We know this.

It isn’t always safe to be visible as moms.  I remember having my young daughters point out the truth of things.  My butt was getting big because I was pregnant and they told me about it repeatedly.

They watch my every move, all the time, from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep and they have been doing this since the moment they were born, and they will always be doing this.  This was the burden I picked up when my first daughter was born.  This constant watching, and being the model for everything.  Because that is what our role is as mothers, there is no real getting around it.  We can deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist, but it is still there.

Because that is what our role is as mothers, there is no real getting around it.  We can deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist, but it is still there.

Lately, I have been noticing more gray hair.  It could just be that I inherited the early gray hair gene that runs in my maternal line.  Or maybe life has been stressful lately and this is the way my body is choosing to express it.  As a redhead, it is not as obvious as it would be if my hair was darker.

And so far my daughters haven’t commented on it.  But I wonder if my gray keeps coming if my youngest will remember me with red hair?  What gifts of visibility will I be handing off to her?

I constantly work with visibility in my business, in writing this weekly blog post and posting a weekly video on Facebook.  So far I am not going to lie and say it has gotten any easier.  What comes up each time changes, but easier.  Nope.

Being visible in the current world is not always easy or safe.

But the more we can be, the more we can shine our light in the darkness.  Which may help more women, daughters, mothers to shine their light as well.

How does visibility affect your parenting?

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.