Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day to Me

CAMBRIDGE, MA - JUNE 4: Musician Wynton Marsal...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeAll three of my children are extraordinarily bright. Academics are their "thing". They don't necessarily "love" sports. Of course they don't necessarily "love" school. But they excel at school & get really excited about learning and being challenged. In fact, they all go to an academic magnet school.

Hubby & I have sacrificed to make sure they are well-rounded and every opportunity. They've done dance, soccer, field trips, church activities, fencing, archery and just about everything else under the sun. We have wanted to prepare them to be anything they want to be.

To be honest, we believed we were preparing future doctors, lawyers, Congressmen and other such community leaders, as, I expect many parents believe. We even had our youngest boldly proclaim she wanted to go to Harvard. We could not have been more proud...

Then we had our aspiring Harvard academic tell us she wanted to be... a hair dresser.

How does that work? Does Harvard have a cosmetology school I wasn't aware of? Then the other two said they were planning on being a massage therapist and a salesman, respectively.

What about all the college prep work we've been working so diligently on? Do they need to go to college if they are going to trade school? Will they be able to live a lifestyle they choose with those careers? We have many friends whom we love dearly in those very professions, who have told us what a struggle it can be, and that they are not as lucrative as they had hoped. This compounds our worry.

However, when the kids talk about their (current) chosen professions I see them full of excitement because they are viewing them as ways to help people while using their creativity. And they see them as being family-friendly careers, as far as time is concerned- even if they don't make a six or seven figure income.

And I have to remember that these kids are still young enough that they could quite possibly change their minds a ton more times.

Of course first and foremost - as a parent I want my children to be HAPPY- regardless of what they do when they go to work.

So I have shifted my thinking. I will continue to make the sacrifices, continue to push them to do and be their best. I will try to promote well-roundedness and academic excellence. But I will remember my ultimate goal is: their happiness, which will make me a very happy mommy, indeed.
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Young at Heart

iPhone 4 showing the home screen.Image via WikipediaWhen my children were younger, they went through all the normal milestones: crawling, talking, walking, etc. I'm sure I went through them when I was young, too. The thing is- I don't remember them.

However, my children are beginning to hit the age where I have started remembering my own personal experiences. Now I have something to compare.

So begins the phrase every child hates, "When I was your age..."

"But, kids," I say, "You don't know how good you've got it." And I watch watch as they try to be respectful by suppressing the eye rolls, the involuntary twitches and the sighs.

But in truth, I don't know how my parents would have reacted to this modern-day world, where we have products never even dreamed of when I was growing up.

I grew up with a phone that had a rotary dial, a cord that stretched almost the length of the house, and no call waiting or electronic voice mail. Cell phones were only something imagined on Star Trek, and they were called "communicators."

So, how would my parents have handled cell phones? Well, if having my own phone in my own room was any indication of my communication privileges, I would say I probably wouldn't have had a cell until every last one of my classmates had one. And even then, I doubt they would have allowed the texting feature unless I paid for it.

Does that sound harsh? Well, to them it was about allowing a child to grow up slowly and not giving them access to friends 24/7. Or at least I think that's what it was about.

They were probably just feeling their way along the whole parenting thing. Just like I do today.

Our family rule now is that children are allowed a cell phone when they are 10 years old. Many would argue that is way too young. But with our busy family of five, it works for us. The unspoken rule is that "if mom calls, you had better answer."

And my kids and I use our cell phones to text and call each other. I have been able to talk more with my daughter via texts than I ever believe I would be able to face-to-face.

I know of people who have let their kids have cell phones at age 6. Now, there's no way I would do that. First of all, at 6, my kids would have lost the phone in 15 minutes flat. Secondly, what does one 6 year old really say to another?

I also know of people who wouldn't let their child have a cell phone until they were old enough to purchase it on their own. That, in itself, is not a bad plan. However, it's just not one that necessarily works for our family. But then, that's just me.

I guess a lot of my parents decisions could have been based on affordability, too. Because my kids don't have "data packages" on their phones. I don't know if they would if I could afford them or not.
But I do know that I also want to limit their access to the internet and the world (via the computer & said data package). Why? So they can maintain some of their innocence and grow up more slowly.

Besides the differences in phones, I remember growing up with a tiny closet, the ability to walk to the store six blocks over without having a parent with me and thinking how "worldly" I was because I knew people who lived in Georgia- a whole state away.

Today, my closet is probably as big as my room. I wouldn't let my child walk more than about three blocks by themselves- and they had best have their phone and text me to let me know they got there okay. And I have friends all over the world through the magic of the internet.

The point? There are many lessons I learned in my childhood that I wish for my children to learn in theirs. They may not learn them the same way I did, simply because we live in such a different world than I did growing up.

But remembering my youth helps trigger some of those all-important lessons so that I can know the approximate timing for teaching my kids. And it also gives me a place to compare and contrast to try to remember what worked on me and what didn't.

My youngest child is currently counting down the months until she turns 10. I'll be very interested to see how she handles the responsibility, and how many friends she has with whom she can actually text & talk.

I'm also anxious to see how things change in the future. I mean, my youth was great. But how can you compare a rotary phone with an iPhone? Like Billy Joel sang, "The good old days weren't always good. And tomorrow's not as bad as it seems."
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Soapbox: the Un-tied States of America

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: People celebrate in the...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeSo yesterday my hubby and I were trying to moonwalk because we had heard the news that Osama Bin Laden was dead. -Not that we rejoice in anyone's death. We were rejoicing at the end of the tyranny exacted by this particular man.

Of course we weren't naive enough to believe he didn't have some protoge' waiting in the wings to continue his work, and possibly even be worse (*shutter*). But it was still a day we had wondered if we would ever actually see.

Facebook & Twitter jolted to life, heralding the news that Osama Bin Laden was dead. The President and the Former President congratulated each other on each of their parts to make that day possible. And Lee Greenwood's career was resurrected once more with every radio station in America playing "I'm Proud to be an American."

And then... The "talking heads" chimed in.

Suddenly, what seemed like a celebration turned into a very ugly civil war. The Conservatives and the Liberals were baring their teeth at each other to show who was the Alpha Dog. And every bit of the hatred once reserved for Osama Bin Laden now turned inwards toward each other.

Americans who once actually believed the words that we were "one nation under God" were now rather gun-shy to utter those words. "Isn't that rather politically incorrect?"

People who saw strangers have differing opinions from their own slandered the other opinion along with the other person. We felt the need so strongly to be "right" that it didn't matter if we really "made sense," because the Talking Heads could put the correct spin on any opinion to make it sound "right."

And suddenly, I wondered: What have we become? Who are we?

Are we really a nation with a cause and a purpose? Or are we really just a bunch of whiny babies who are only in it for what we, personally, can get out of it?

What happened to our integrity? Our honor?

If a war was waged on US soil, would we be able to counter attack? Or would we be too busy being worried about who would lead the charge?

The fact is, the United States of America has always been a "melting pot" of ideas as varied as the fish in the sea. But, we have always come together under the banner of our flag and our freedom.

I now wonder if that could be the case any more? Would we be able to put aside our opinions and our differences in the name of the United States of America? Or are our individual egos too big to fit under one banner anymore? Has our sense of entitlement grown to such an epic proportion we don't know how to stand up for our fellow man (or woman)?

Today our country is completely polarized by politics, religion and entitlement. People see no middle ground. The rough and tumble promise of "proud Americans" has boiled down to "proud individuals." We fight for our personal rights, but not the rights of our neighbor-- unless it can bring fame, wealth or both.

I am glad to see one bad guy out of the picture today. However, I would love nothing more than to see a truly United States of America, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I would love to see us all just get over ourselves, our political parties, our religious persuasions, our lifestyle choices and our unspoken class system and just get along!

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