Monday, January 2, 2012

Between a Rock and Hard Place

Do you find yourself always in the middle of a conflict? As a mother, I am finding more and more that I am the “ go to” person whenever there is an argument or a source of tension.When we know its coming how do we deal it?

We all have conflict. It’s natural and it’s normal. Conflict is the stuff that makes us grow. Without it, we don’t know what our weaknesses are nor our strengths for that matter.

Well, I found myself in a recent conflict caught between my strong willed baby girl and my strong willed wonderful husband. As mothers, we seem to be navigating relationships and conflict all the time. At times, we handle it gracefully and other times ...well...not so gracefully.

Truthfully, I had a heads up and could see this particular conflict coming to “a head”. My daughter and my husband are so much alike they have some difficulty communicating. I am usually the person that ends up in the middle.

When my family was younger, I can’t say I was very good at this but as I have grown older, I have grown wiser. I have learned a few things about being the “ go to” person when there is a conflict in my house.

1. I had to learn to listen more. Sometimes the words are masking their feelings. Being defensive makes us look tough but it hides what we are really feeling. So I had to learn to listen beyond their words.

2. I have learned to be objective. I am the listener. I listen and if the person wants an opinion, I will give it. But I always ask "Do you want me to tell you what I see going on?” or " Would you like my advice?". Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it is no. If it’s yes, I try to talk about the positive stuff I see first, then areas of improvement. If the answer is no, I wish them the best and keep it moving.

3. I try to maintain a soft and trusting demeanor. I try really hard to not take anything personal. I realize in the heat of the moment words are said. So my goal is to control my reactions. If I am the source of the conflict, I try to listen. If I am caught in the middle, I try to not personalize it.

More than anything, I try to empathize with the needs of everyone. The stress of being a middle schooler, a high schooler, a parent, a provider, and a friend can add up quickly.

So I remind them and myself, as I am reminding each reader to remember family is your soft place to fall.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Escaping my life


As I sit here with my hands folded, I am refusing to be the kind and supportive mother and wife I have always been. That is how I feel today! Quite honestly? Lately, most days have felt that way.

So when my days feel overwhelming, over scheduled , and underappreicated, I shut down.Do I continue to function? Yes. I still cook, clean, wash, dry, fold, drop off and pick up.

But as I move in auto pilot, I am no longer connected to my children or my husband. Or not like I should.
I have conversations that revert to simple “ yes “and “ no ” answers because I am not listening. I revert to deep sighs in moments of frustration instead of teaching my children and husband how to treat me in those moments.

There was a time when I  have felt significant guilt about “auto pilot”. I can’t say I am proud of it,  but I am aware of it.

Dr.Phil moment: “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.”

For a long time I did not realize I was so “glossed” over and “glassy eyed” in certain moments of life. So my realization is a huge accomplishment.

I am not perfect and my goal is to have less auto pilot moments and to really be ” in the moment” of life . The task at hand is to find the appropriate coping skills, right?

That really is the purpose is to learn, to understand, and to grow. I will have a few bad days but that is okay. Right?

Having the bad days, as I stated earlier, is not the issue. But not knowing I am having a bad day and insisting that “I am fine” ( as I often do …clearing my throat) is the problem.

I now have to, with a deep breath, admit when  I AM NOT FINE.

Ultimately, it is MY fault if I don’t admit I am tired, scared, frustrated, or need a moment alone.

The blame falls on me for not being open, honest, and vulnerable enough to say what I need.

Once I say what I feel, I can then ask for what I need.  I can’t get on a plane and run away when I need time away. But I can take a moment to relax and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


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Finding my way back to you.

It is so amazing how I lost track of time. Summer came and it is now gone.

With a new school year comes a new set of "mommy fears" for us. With each fear, I over analyze then panic sets in and I worry.....only to realize I am the only one worried.

The children are not as worried about the new school year, teachers, or friends as I am.

With all the Lifetime movies, family specials and breaking news stories I forget that, at their core, my children are okay.

Once I reminded myself, I reminded them that WE are okay.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do you have GREEN eyes?

Do you look at the lives of others and wonder why they have “that” life? Do you compare your life to friends and family members? Do you ask “why can’t my children act that way?” or Do you ask “How did she get him?”

 If so, you may have GREEN eyes. Green eyes as in green with envy.

 Envy, for most is considered a bad thing, but I see that greenish tint in your eyes as an opportunity for growth. There are some people who want to be envied. They want you to wish you had their life. They are hoping you are somewhere “hating” on them.

 Then you run into people you genuinely admire….okay…maybe envy. These are the folks make you feel good about you when you are in their presence. They are hoping your life is as great as their life.
If you know others look up to you  it is important to be kind to others. You want to make sure you inspire others because  you never know who is watching you.

If you have GREEN eyes  you can have everything they have and more. REALLY, YOU ASK? Sure…..
 Being GREEN gives you the chance to dream.

 This a chance to re-evaluate your life. The purpose is not to be like that person but to be a better you.
Taking the chance to dream for a mother may include re-evaluating your parenting style. I have heard that imitation is the best form of flattery. GREEN dreaming can give you a chance to watch and learn about being a better mother, friend, or wife.

 Everyone has an area in life that you want to improve. Be it work, home, family, weight, parenting, or lifestyle changes. You cannot continue doing what you have been doing and get a different result. NO…NOPE…NOT GONNA WORK.

If this person is willing to help you, ask them to help you reach whatever your goal may be. Ask them how they got where they are in life.  Know that with all the success you see there have been great sacrifices made.You don’t have to recreate the wheel…walk in someone else’s footprints.

 Don’t be afraid to have GREEN eyes and dream. Reach beyond your comfort zone and try something different. Who knows…someone may envy you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Falling From Grace

All children are born loving their mother. Somewhere between birth and high school every mother will fall off that pedestal. It is inevitable. We will make mistakes. We will have “uh-oh” moments and “oopsies” along the way.

So when did I fall from grace?

Girls want to know the details. “What was your first date like with daddy?” “When did you have your first boyfriend?” ”Did you graduate from college?” ”When was your first kiss?” “Did you have fights with your friends in school?” and list goes on and on….

For example, I remember when my daughters began to realize I was a teenage mother. Once they learned to add and subtract, I knew it was coming so what did I do? I had to talk about how having a child changed me. And then there is the reality of sex. My daughters know that I was a sexually active teen. So then there are additional questions and talks that came with that reality also.

This is the mistake I made.

When my daughters began to ask questions and probe into my obstacles, I felt hurt. I thought they were judging me. I felt attacked and sometimes criticized. But now, I realize that it was none of those things. My daughters were trying to renegotiate our relationship. They were trying to get to know me. They were asking how I got over my poor choices and continued to live my life. They were looking for me to comfort them through their mistakes.

For my “girls”, as I call them, I am a women teaching them to be women in a very “real world”. I see things that a father can’t see. I make sure to teach and train. But in those times of teaching and training I forgot to tell them how I overcame and “kept my life moving” after I made a bad choice or hit a stumbling block.  They needed to see me as a women and not a perfect mother.

When you make mistakes in life, and I have made some big ones, you have to keep living. The same is true for parenting. When I make mistakes, say so but keep it moving. You may have to apologize and have a few discussions on the topic. That is just life. Is that not the goal- to teach and train?

I have to open the door for my daughters to be honest with me by being more open with them about my life’s experiences. I don’t share all the details but I do talk more openly than before.

For some people, it may be addiction or abuse. The list of obstacles can go on for miles but the need to understand who our mothers are is the same for every girl.

What did I learn?

I have not fallen from grace. I am still and always will be their mother. I am a human being and not perfect. I had to get over myself and all the fear, hurt and anxiety that comes with falling from my own pedestal. Once I forgave myself, I could really open up and talk about how I moved forward.

Talking about your obstacles allows your daughter to not expect to be perfect, permission to be human and make mistakes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When “Mean Girls” Grow Up

We have seen and known children have been bullied for years. But what about adults? Mean girls grow up and become mean women. Bullying boys become bullying men.

 When mean girls grow up they are the women who create hostile work environments. These same women are the women that dare you to be yourself at home, at work, or at play. The walk around  looking “mad” for no reason. They lie and create chaos. These women doubt everyone’s actions and motives.

Truthfully, can you blame them for being mean?

Mean women  are a result of what we don’t tell them when they are mean little girls. If this behavior is not addressed and corrected very early it only gets worse.

Are you a grown up “mean girl”?

 Do you watch other people and only find fault in them?
Do you look at other women and roll your eyes?
Are you irritated by people who are individuals?
Are you the person that others are afraid of crossing?
Do you apologize when you are wrong?
Do people feel comfortable approaching you?
Do others fear you or respect you?
Do you want others to fear you?

 If you are a grown up version of a mean girl, you are increasing the chances that your daughter will be a mean girl. Parents have to make sure not to be bullies to their children. Children are taught how to treat others. It is a mother and father’s responsibility to make sure that the children know how to be good friends.You have the power to change this behavior in yourself and in your daughter(s).

Try a few simple  changes:

Ask yourself “why am I mean?”- Be Honest!
Become more understanding
Respect people’s right to be different
Smile at people when they approach you
Speak in a kind tone of voice
Ask your friends for honest feedback
If you have “mean” friends, make new friends
Talk to your daughter(s) about what you are trying to change
Ask them to help you

We will never rid the world of mean people. But, we all have “light bulb” moments in our life. I have learned that making a few changes in my thinking and behavior helps other people treat me better.

I am constantly learning to self evaluate. It is okay for my daughters to see me growing and ever evolving as a women. It shows them I can be vulnerable and I am not perfect. Watching me tackle big issues and talking about it gives them permission to do the same.