Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Time Is It?

I have outgrown being a teenager.  In fact, in many ways, I don't think I ever really was a teenager.  The whole dating world totally baffles me.  And I don't recall being consumed with the need for name-brand clothing, shoes, etc.

But in some ways, I was born a teenager and never really grew out of it.  One of the most blatant examples is my sleeping patterns.

I love staying up until all hours of the night.  Some of my best inspiration comes at 2:00 am when I get that "second wind."  And socializing until the wee hours of the morning is my idea of big fun!

Conversely, I hate, hate, hate getting up early in the morning.  I know many people who get up to exercise, read or just get their morning started long before the sun streaks the sky.  Why?

Clearly my internal clock is on some other time zone.  And every year when we in the Central Time Zone "fall behind" and "spring forward," it takes a good month before I can get my sleep back on track again.

When I had to go to work in the real world, I had to get up and sit in rush hour traffic in the early morning hours with the rest of Nashville.  But I hated it.  And I had to go to bed early to be functional the next day.  And I hated that, too.  My favorite work schedule was when I waitressed until 1:00 am, and then slept until 9:00 am or so.  Unfortunately the pay and benefits of a waitress is not conducive to... well, living.

When I had children, the babies ruled the roost, and the clock.  They had no concept of the fact that real people don't sleep two hours at a time 24/7.  But, we all limped through the early years together.  And when the babies got older, their natural clock put them out like a light at 6:30 pm, which was a nice time for me to catch up on anything I couldn't do while they were awake.  But, then they also naturally woke up at 5:30 am, which to my teen-aged soul was the equivalent to some sort of military torture.

As they turned into children, hubby and I were able to mandate that they could not come into our room, without significant cause involving blood or bones sticking out of the skin, until a certain television show came on that corresponded to about 8:00 am.  Until that time, they were allowed to watch cartoons.  Out of self-preservation, they eventually learned to make cereal and poptarts to eat during the "black out" time.

Now my tweens are on my schedule, finally.  This is wonderful!  Except that now we do have more things to do than we have time to do them.  So, in order to fit them in, we must get up early (read: before 9:00 am).  This makes for an entire family of grumpy folks who long for a nap by lunch.  But at least we're in the same boat, all together.

This morning, I had to get my house daughter (our exchange student from Germany) from a sleep over at 6:45 am.  When she first told me what time she needed to be picked up, I simply blinked at her, refusing to believe she didn't actually mean 10:45.  She laughed at me and said, "No, really.  I need to be picked up at 6:45."

Ugh.  How I wished she could drive as I pulled a coat, hat and shoes over my pajamas and slid behind the wheel.  The temperature was 22 degrees and the frost on the windshield was an inch thick.  It took a good 10 minutes for the car to warm up.  I was happy- NOT.

Once she was in the car, I chided her, "Ready to get home and go jogging?"

She glared at me.  "I only slept for one hour last night."

I grunted something back and went back to concentrating on the road.

"How about we get dressed and go ahead out to the shopping malls?" I smiled wickedly.  Yes, I am grumpy AND immature when I'm tired.

She glared again and grunted something at me.

We rode home the rest of the way in silence.  She stumbled through the door, went to her room and immediately fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.

I didn't.

I was awake.  Unable to go back to sleep.  Unable to clean, because I'll wake everyone up.  Unable to watch television because of the same. 

So I got on my computer and fumed and pouted.  Then I thought, "Hey!  I'll bet everyone wants to hear my whining!" (LOL)  So, here I am, telling you my woeful tale.

I guess there are many stereo types of things, like teen agers, floating around that we buy into.  But every part of each stereo type doesn't necessarily apply to a person.

I'm not the stereo typical "soccer mom" to a tee.  I'm not everything people think about a pastor's daughter.  People don't look at me and automatically think that I'm an insurance agent.  And I don't think anyone who doesn't know me could guess I have teen aged tendancies when it comes to sleep.

But, now you know.  And now you also know not to call my house before 9:00 am on a weekend without it being a life-threatening emergency.  

I hope you all have a wonderful, RESTFUL, weekend!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Parental Angst

I know much has been said on the topic of Angst, particularly of the teen aged variety. For proof, just look at the money-making machine of the "Twilight" franchise. The whole story is based around a teen aged girl with a load and-a-half of angst that is almost palpable.

What the story doesn't share is how her parents must be feeling. I'm certain, as any parent can tell you, that their concern, worry and "angst," is just as real and just as painful.

As a parent, we do get the advantage of perspective. We know that time heals more than we know. We know that the future holds opportunities that we could never imagine today.

However, we also get the bad stuff in spades. We feel helpless against our child's feelings. "How can we "fix" this?" we wonder aloud to our spouse.

We know all the trappings of the "wrong crowd" or even just "wrong" decisions. We realize that actions done today can follow you for the rest of your life.

So, we parents experience vicarious angst for our kids, and then we have our own set of worries, as well. That doesn't seem very fair, considering we already made it through childhood ourselves.

And yet, here I am, worried when my child says she doesn't think anyone likes her. "Not like you?" I asked, jaw dropped. "How can anyone not like you? I think you are fabulous beyond measure!"

The obligatory sigh and eye roll is followed by, "Mom! You HAVE to say that! You're my mom!"

I'm concerned when my child says he feels bullied. "Isn't there a school policy against that? You need to find an adult!"

"Mom," he explains patiently, "If I don't fight back, I'm a wimp. If I tell on him, I'm a snitch."

I'm perplexed when my child tells me her friend can't play with her because she's mean. "Why would you be mean to your friend?" I ask.

"I wasn't mean," she replies. "I just told her I didn't want to play with her right now. And her mommy told her I was mean and she can't be my friend."

Ugh. The impulse to charge in and take over is almost overwhelming. But rationale jumps in and says, "Wait! Give it time. And train them to fight their own battles so they'll be equipped for anything."

Intellectually, I get that. Emotionally, I'm watching a child with tears rolling down their face and I would move the earth and the stars to make them happy.

What to do? What to do?

Fortunately for me, I have a close support group who allows me to bounce ideas around with them. I also have kids whose friends' parents are open to conversations, and who speak with me objectively and rationally.

Does this make it "all better"? Of course not. But it does make it more tolerable. And, I hope, it makes it easier to train my kids to stand on their own, and be their own person.

I guess only time will tell. But I have to have faith, trust myself and my kids and remember to laugh as often as I can. Because as far as I can tell, the opposite of angst is joy.

So, together, my kids and I look for ways to laugh and ways to enjoy life. Together, I know we can get through it all!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Power of the Written Word

I love to write. In fact, my dream would be to make a living at writing. I enjoy putting words together, creating, using my imagination.

However, it also requires persistence and consistency. Both of these skills and/or traits are rather hard to come by for me these days. I seem to have so much going on with the family.

But my family comes first. In fact, I am such a supporter of this rule, I prefer a half-clean house with happy kids, than a pristine house with miserable kids. (This also lends itself to my utter dislike for house cleaning.)

I have found that writing a short article in this blog each day whets my writing whistle for the most part. I also have a couple of projects I work on simultaneously on ( These tend to at least keep the dream alive.

I have several friends who are professional authors. And I know that they enjoy their work. But like in any job, there are days when they would love to bag groceries just to not have to look at their writing project any more.

But, in the end, they have a block of printed paper with an artfully designed cover that is a living, breathing piece of their imagination, come to life. How fulfilling that must be!

My dream would be to walk in to Barnes and Noble and see my book on a prominent display. I would hide out in the Starbucks and watch as people picked up my book, looked at the front, flipped over and read the back and then skimmed through a couple of pages. Then I would practically shimmy in my chair if they tucked it under their arm and took it up front for purchase.

I would be thinking, "Yes! I did that! No matter how long I live, that book will be around (theoretically) forever!"

I do have a similar feeling of pride in my children: my parenting and decision making directly impacts them and how they grow. However, my control over them is not very long-reaching after a certain point. They are very much their own people, as it should be.

As an author, my characters do tend to take on a life of their own, to some extent. And I do have to stay within a story line to have it be the story that was intended. However, I also have the power to have my characters think, do and say anything I want them to. A demure school girl can win a Rock Band contest. An elderly miser can find true love. An other-world beast can become the hero.

Someday my kids will be living their own lives. They will call me and tell me how they are and how the people in their lives are doing, as well. If I'm lucky, they will invite me to be a part of their lives, too.

At that time, I will have all the time in the world to write and write and write. And I hope I will.

For now, I'll grab moments, write small blurbs and see what I can build a little at a time. But, hopefully, one day I'll have my Starbucks moment at Barnes and Noble... Or maybe just an on-line count of the people who had downloaded my book for their electronic reader... Either way, I would really like to make my mark on the world with everlasting words. And I would love to have those words last and last...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Growing Up Is Hard To Do...

Tonight we were enjoying a family dinner, talking and laughing (when the kids weren't trying to beat each other senseless). Hubby and I began reminiscing over when we were dating.

We talked about the different things we used to do, like water skiing, walking around the Opryland Hotel Conservatory and talking until all hours of the morning about nothing at all. Then hubby started rummaging through his wallet.

"What are you looking for?" I asked.

"Our picture," he said.

"No way. You don't have our picture from the beach, do you?"

"Yep," he said, smiling victoriously, and pulling out a worn picture from the back.

He showed the picture of hubby and me smiling into the camera in 1989. We admittedly looked different. But, I still thought fondly that I still think hubby looks the same in my eyes.

Our German exchange student looked closely at the picture and exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! You look so good here!"

I laughed and said, "I don't know if I'm flattered that you think we looked good or if I'm offended that you sound so surprised."

"No. You look nice, now, too," she tried to back track.

"Yeah, yeah," hubby said.

"No! I mean it. You just look... different now," she laughed.

"You mean 'older'," I prompted.

"Yes- I mean- no," she stammered. "I mean, wow. Is this what kids do to you? You are bad kids!" she laughed, pointing at my kids. "Look at what you did to your parents! Look how good they look then. And look at them now."

Of course, we had to laugh. But at the same time, I wondered if maybe there wasn't just a touch of truth to it...

Ah, well, we'll always have 1989...

Touchdown, Titans!

Hubby is a HUGE Tennessee Titans fan. When we married, he sorta' cheered for Michigan teams because he was born there. But over the years, he has developed a camaraderie with some guy friends who love football.
These guys bought the original Tennessee Titan PSL's for whatever ungodly money they charged. They tailgate for a minimum of three hours prior to game time. And they make it on the jumbo tron and/or national television on a regular basis because they are so outlandish in the stands.
Today, my otherwise normal, loving hubby is watching the Titans play the Colts. In years past, he would chat with the family while keeping an eye on the game. Today, the family must walk on tip-toe, so as not to make any noise, because hubby is concentrating on the game.
My hubby has morphed into that obnoxious fan who screams his armchair quarterback coaching advice at the television screen.
It is especially bad because the Titans have not brought their "A Game." In fact, they are sort of sucking wind. He chants, cheers and carries on like a... man.
Football season is not going to be much longer, thank goodness. But, never fear, there will be the draft. There will commentary by sportscasters and talking heads. Then there is, of course, the pre-game (which I once made the mistake of calling "practice games"). And all the miscellaneous "stuff" in between.
For today, I hope that Titans can get it together to at least look like they are making an effort on the field. Otherwise this family is in for a veeeeeeeeeerrrrrrryyyyyy long day...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Like, Gag Me With A Spoon, For Sure...

When I was in school, boys thought gross things were cool.
Burps, farts and other bodily functions were pure gold and sure to get a big laugh. Vomit was awesome. And poop was the "big mack daddy" of them all.
As I got older, the boys turned to teen-agers, but their behavior didn't change much. They became aware of the fact that females, in general, did not share their enthusiasm for the whole icky mess. So they did turn it down a little in mixed company.
College males were even more sensitive to the fairer sex. But brought out their oh-so-disgusting "hobbies" and "games" when other males were around. I recall young men who would drink beer with the sole purpose of puking, so that they would have room for more beer. Yuck.

Something amazing happens when these very young men get married. Their inability to gross other males out on a regular basis takes away their ability to stomach it any more.
Suddenly, the more feminine sex is the one who has to handle all bodily fluids. When someone is sick, mom has to stand next to the "patient" with a bucket and a wet wash cloth. When baby poos in his diaper, mommy cleans up baby, and then cleans up the diapers, too.

This evening the cat threw up a hair ball. I calmly went over to clean it up. Hubby began retching at the mere sight. If I had thought I could actually torture hubby a little bit, I would have drawn it out a little longer, and even made some comments about texture, smell, etc.
But, ultimately, hubby would have heaved. And I would have had to clean that up, too.
The kids are keenly aware of this fact. If they are ill with anything that involves vomit, snot, poop or gas, they come to me.
Hubby can ask them, "Honey, what's wrong?"
They tell him nothing is wrong and come straight to me.
Maybe I should take that as a compliment. Maybe it's a mommy thing.
Either way, it is what it is, and I simply accept that I'm in charge of cat hair balls, doggy poop, stomach viruses, strep throat, snot, spit and other sundry and various forms of grossness manufactured by man and beast.

I will note that the exception to that is our physician(s). And I contend that they have maintained an uninterrupted exposure to the yucky stuff by nature of their work.

In our house, hubby and I have a deal: he takes care of snakes, and I take care of all the afore mentioned ickyness.
Oh, and spiders. I take care of spiders, too. I guess it can't all be fair...