Thursday, April 28, 2011
I found this and started to really reflect my time as a mother. I know it is far from over. Actually, it never ends. That is my new reality...it never ends. For some , when a child turns 18, the journey is over but for others the journey is really begining.
Having the chance to move from motherhood to friend, for me, is a really hard transition. It forces me to relfect on the choices I have made for my children and respect the choices they have made for themselves along the way- good or bad.
I am learning to hear the voices of the young women and young men deeply embedded in my four children. I am have to see them for who they can be while I am teaching and training even today. Although, I have an adult child, I must admit, it is even harder knowing that I can't make choices for her but I have to listen and hope she makes the choices that are best for herself.
My reflection is bitter sweet. I am both happy and sad. I would tell myself:
"Relax, this is a marathon not a race. You are doing your best. You can take a nap, not clean your house, and not have to worry about what others think of you."
In another ten or twenty years, hopefully, I can say, " you did it, they are as awesome as you thought thet would be"
But for now, I will relax and enjoy the ride.
What would tell yourself?
Posted by Life with Charlotte at 8:22 AM
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
In relationships, I am finding the same simple rule is true.
In marriage, you have to give as much as you expect. If I want my “honey” to know I love him, I have to say so and show him. To expect him to love me and make compromises for the good of our family, he has to see me do the same for him. It’s just that simple. We, together have to lay the foundation.I want a healthy and happy family so I have to put in the work that it takes to make a family healthy.
In finances, how can I be prepared for retirement if I have spent my money and not saved? I have to be disciplined and do my part to have the life I want.
In motherhood, I have to give what I expect to receive. I have to teach kindness and patience to expect my children to exhibit kindness and patience. The same is true for rules and behaviors. If I have not taught them to behave in a certain manner then how can I expect them to know how to behave? I want my children to be successful and they want to but if I don’t teach them about study habits and discipline, how will they know?
I know it’s hard and I get lazy and don’t feel like teaching. Yes…it is easier to do it myself than to wait for
them to learn it but that’s because I know how to do it. Now, I have to teach them so they can learn to do it. I know it can be scary as they make mistakes but I still have to teach it. I have to do my part to help them be who they need to be. I can’t expect them to know anything other than what I have been disciplined in teaching them.
For me, this is a lesson I continue to learn often. Or maybe I am not learning all there is to know about wanting to have something and expecting it to happen to me without doing my part completely.
It’s human nature to want what you want when you want it, right? So I have to fight that desire to just “wish” for something to happen without making some sacrifices along the way. I have to push away the thought that my children should be better at something when I have not invested any time teaching them how to do it.
It’s unfair for me to act as if I should have what I want and then pout when I don’t get it.
It’s not them….it’s me. It’s just that simple. I have to do my part.
Posted by Life with Charlotte at 10:21 AM
Monday, April 18, 2011
Each generation has it’s title based on their cultural movement. There are the baby boomers, the Gen-X, Y, and Z. My parents are more baby boomers and my children are more Gen Y and Z. My husband and I are Gen Xers.
Baby boomers are influenced by respecting elders and respecting job titles. As we grow older, I see more of the baby boomer mentality ingrained in me which I can feel my children fighting.But, Generation Y and Z see respect differently.
I could see signs of this shift in “what is respect and who is worthy of respect?” in my oldest daughter. But, at that time, I could not grasp it. Now, as I look at my youngest son and my two middle schoolers, I can see the divide a gaping hole.
This generation of children born near the millennium and into a more digital world do not respect relationships as we, Gen Xers were taught. On some level, through our rebellion of baby boomers, we taught our children to challenge the status quo authority.
I have found this generation of children requires constant communication. Where we played outside to have friends, they are connected constantly through technology.
They find it hard to accept “because I said so”. They expect to be respected equally- as adults and want an explanation. This is where it gets sticky. I am an adult and I believe in earned respect. That’s I was taught. That was the influence around me as I was growing up. My children can feel that influence and see it in me and my husband. However,my children expect respect just because. It is not just them but their friends too.
I know there is a careful balance to minimize to this conflict. But to do my part,I am forced to find new tools to maintain and develop a relationship with my children. I could hold on to what my grandparents did and what my parents did but I have discovered the world is functioning different. Different can be good or bad. I am the one who determines if the changes are used for good or evil. I am the teacher( mother). I am the person who will train them to navigate the traditions of family and the realities of a changing world.
This is what I have learned to do differently:
1. I understand and utilize “Teamwork” as part of home. We clean as a team and eat as a team. We support as a team. This is not a new concept. I just present it as a “the way we do things”. I have read over and over again that Gen Y and Z are motivated most when doing team concepts. So that’s what I use. We are a family (a team).
2. I listen and respect their opinion. We have respectful dialogue. We, as a team decide what we want to eat. My husband and I present the choices based on my budget and we go with the majority. I cook everyday and offer everything. But I allow them to decide what goes on their plates. I have one rule: At least one vegetable. I could tell them what to eat and how much but when will they learn to make decisions if I tell them everything? My goal is to empower them to make decisions and understand the consequences of their choices.
3. I am tone specific. I use a tone of mutual respect when I communicate with my children. In return, I get the same thing. I could use give directives, use sarcasm, and anger but I am trying to teach them how to talk to and treat others with respect and maturity. So I must exhibit control over my tone.
Yes, I know….I know…. I could make things very easy and tell them what to do all the time. But what I have discovered is as a mother, trying to teach and train, how can I teach you respect if I respect everyone else and “boss “my children around? I know my power and so do they but, like superman, I don’t use it unless I have to.
Got thoughts, ideas, advice and/or suggestions? Let me know. Leave a comment.
Posted by Life with Charlotte at 11:28 AM
Thursday, April 14, 2011
As I sit here, I am watching The Today Show on NBC. Meredith Vieira is doing an interview segment on mothers and daughters. The panelists on the show state that 80+% of girls feel overwhelmed by their life. Wow! Then they talk about how a mother can decrease that percentage by simply talking to their daughters. Good news for mothers? Maybe.
Mothers, our daughters feel overwhelmed and over pressured because we feel overwhelmed and over pressured. We have to teach our daughters how to relax and let go. As a former corporate fundraiser, I can see where I instilled this overarching “ go get it” attitude in my daughters. I have fiercely independent girls. But that’s what I taught them. The opposite of independent is dependent. That, in a woman’s vocabulary, is blasphemy. But, dependent can mean many things. I can depend on my husband to listen to me. I can depend on my BFF to laugh with me and encourage me. I can depend on my mother and father to help with my kids if I need them. I can depend on myself to remember to ask for help.
Somewhere between corporate
and housewife, I learned to stop being afraid of dependence. I learned to ask for help and rely on my support system. I stopped needing to be the person that can do everything. I stopped needing to control what I can’t control. America
I started allowing my girls to see my vulnerability and weaknesses. I talk openly about my failures and mistakes. I laugh at my feeble attempts to try new recipes which results in ordering pizza. I give my girls permission to be human. I apologize when I am wrong.Yes….I have some super mommy tendencies. But, I am learning…. Repeat….I am learning to let these tendencies go.
This is what I am learning: I am learning to do nothing with my girls on purpose. I am learning to sit in a room with them and just enjoy them. I am learning to have conversations with them. I am learning to talk more about friends and fears over coffee (yes…even with my 11 year old) or after movie. I am learning I have to stop planning their next move and pressuring them to achieve. I am learning no pressure… just time.
Mostly, I am learning to just relax and enjoy the ride with my girls.
Posted by Life with Charlotte at 8:11 AM
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
You know why I have grown to like Wendy Williams? She has honesty about herself that I can appreciate. She has been brutally honest about her love for wigs and makeup. We all know she had a boob job. Well, I can admit that I admire that honesty. Like Wendy Williams, there are a lot of women out there who get up and “put on” their best face for the world to see. I am included in that group as well. I change my look often from long sewn-in tracks to a wig to a natural.
Thinking about Wendy and hair, I am reminded of a saying I grew up hearing, “It’s just hair”. On the surface, yeah hair can be changed to fit any look or image. But much deeper, it’s not about hair. It’s about the things women, ALL WOMEN, do to impress on another but lie about it. We wear body shapers, wigs, make-up, butt lifters, ect. Now I am not one to criticize, especially on this topic because I have used all those tools at some point , but lets be honest.
Most of us use some tool to make us look a certain way to feel more comfortable. I know the self esteem gurus will tell you, “You don’t need those things to be beautiful”. I agree…. I don’t need them, I am beautiful and You are beautiful, but I want them. I want them without apology.
I am learning that my love for make up and dress up is okay. I don’t feel “ un- natural” or “not authentic” because I have on my gear. Being authentic is knowing who I am enough to be okay with using all these tools. No, I don’t rock my stilettos in the house. But when I go out I rock ‘em. I am learning to “do me” the way I want to without guilt or shame. Anyone can tell you I have a very high sense of self and I love me like nobody else, so I have no problem telling people how I achieve my look, be it a weave, a wig, a body shaper, or whatever. These things don’t define me but they do accessorize and enhance me.
Understanding me helps my children embrace their own sense of style and wonder. I am teaching my daughters to “be you” in whatever context that may be. Also, I am teaching all me children to not be afraid of new trends and styles but to embrace change in yourself.
Not everyone has the same sense of style. Not all girls are “girly” as in wanting lace and flowers or butterflies and bows. But whatever you are “do you”. Me? I am just going to relax and enjoy this ride.
Posted by Life with Charlotte at 11:17 AM
Monday, April 11, 2011
As I sit here at my desktop, I am looking at massive amounts of laundry and dirty dishes piled high. I know…I know…. I should be cleaning and getting ready for my children to get home but I want to write. Or maybe I want to avoid cleaning. Today as it is raining and pouring I am reminded of an incident I had as a new mommy.
It was raining like it is today and I needed to go to the grocery store. The cupboards were bare and my daughter’s class was waiting on the cupcakes for the class party that I agreed to bring so off I went. My children at the time were 9, 2 ½ , and 1(this was before my youngest son was born). My nine year old was at school and I took the other two children to the store. In the store, my beautiful and lovely babies began to act as if we had never been out in public. My 2 ½ year old started getting undressed ( shirt, shoes, and socks) and my 1 year old cried unmercifully through the store. I had to shop because I promised the cupcakes to the PTA and there was no food at my house. Mostly, I refused to admit I needed to regroup.
I was visibly shaken and began to cry. YES! I cried in front of Kroger on JFK as I saw the rain was not going to let up and I had to unload these groceries and babies, I was just…ummm… it was too much. But, I managed it. As we rode, the children fell asleep, wouldn’t you know it? I arrived at the school with the cupcakes. I unloaded my children and went to the classroom. I know you are wandering where are the groceries? I forgot they were in the car (oops!). I went to the office to drop off the cupcakes , walked them to the class, and to my surprise there were 100 other types of cupcakes there. What? Are you serious?
What did I learn? I learned to be organized when I go in the store every time. Even when I am organized I will overspend sometimes and there will be chaos if my children, even now, are with me so I remain calm. I don’t shop when I am in a hurry and have somewhere else to be. I later found that if my children were tired, sick, or cranky, we need to come back later. I also learned that I can say N-O. I can say no to the teacher and my children when I can’t do something. I am not the only parent who was called and now I realize I would not have offended anyone by simply saying “I can’t do it.”.
Use this: I found I can’t say no to people face-to-face so I learned a great technique at a conference I went to once upon a time. When someone asks me to participate I don’t say no right away if I really can’t participate. I say, “Let me check my calendar” or “Can I get back with you?”. I write it and their number down on a piece of paper, an index card, or put it in my phone. When I get home, I call them and politely decline. It seems shady but I really do ponder over it before I decide I can participate. If I can I say yes but If I must say no, I call as soon as I know I can’t do it.
What happened to the food? As I was sitting in the classroom, I remembered and jetted out to the car like a bat out of hell to run home. It all worked out but I learned to be organized and plan for cupcakes.
This is not a race….relax and enjoy the ride.
Posted by Life with Charlotte at 9:53 AM
Saturday, April 9, 2011
When I was seventeen and found myself pregnant, I don’t see how I could have been shocked- the writing was on the wall in huge neon letters. I was making choices that would lead to pregnancy. But nonetheless I still had that moment of “ Pregnant!? Who!? Me!?” I am too smart so how could this be? I laugh now because how could I be shocked? Even though we choose behaviors we still are surprised by the outcome. In our children, these are the behaviors and choices we suspect and see but won’t entertain nor correct. This is the teacher conference that leaves you speechless or the doctor’s visit that leaves you breathless.
In my life, I felt guilty because of the person I mourned the person I thought I could have been. I second guessed my decisions and constantly wondered if I was okay or qualifies to make the decisions I needed to make. This is what has consumed , I think, people the most. It is the most overwhelming feeling . This is the reality that what could have been.
Anger:This, in mourning expectations, is really about being hurt. When we hurt, as humans, sometimes it manifests as anger. So when we exhibit anger we have an “ attitude”. We walk around as though we have done nothing wrong, all the while needing to held and told that “ it’s okay”. Anger and lashing out is part of what helps release the pain we feel. During pain, we sometimes bargain asking for relief or promising to be different . Anger, for me, is knowing I have not done what I am supposed to do to prevent this from happening and now I have to answer for it.
In quiet moments, we feel our hearts ache and allow ourselves to know that this is real and we can’t change it. We feel at our lowest and sometimes refuse to move forward afraid of leaving what little of the current situation we have behind. This stage is when we have to really feel what anger only admits.
And then one day we wake up , for whatever reason, knowing it will get better. There is a definite change in attitude and understanding during this stage. It’s the most amazing feeling to know that life goes on and it gets better whatever the situation may be.
This is where the building blocks of the next dream or expectation comes to you . During this stage , we see life as yet another opportunity to dream. We create alternate ways of thinking to help us rebuild our lives. But the difference between this dream and the last is the lessons we have learned about dream expectations.
Acceptance and Hope:
This stage is just what it says. We accept whatever the loss is and we decide that we can continue to live life to the fullest . We can have more children, go back to school, vlounteer, or teach.
This is what I have learned: Dreams die and people live to tell the story. Everyone has a dream. I have seen my dreams and expectations die but I continue to live. I live my life looking through a different lens of life. I am looking at the lessons I have learned so I can teach my children how to handle life when dream don’t manifest right away. They can live their lives after they are disappointed and hurt. I have learned to love them for who they want to be and not who I think they should be. I have learned to celebrate the person I am and the people my children are instead of the who we are not.
I know as parents, especially as a mother,it is hard to see your child pull away from your dreams and have their own but I encourage you to relax and enjoy the ride.
Posted by Life with Charlotte at 8:03 AM
Monday, April 4, 2011
Somewhere between toddler and teen life happened . This is where plans go wrong…wrong…wrong .
While we are planning, life continues to happen. While my mother was planning, I got pregnant at 17 years old. While my friends were planning, their children were diagnosed with severe illnesses. While planning, my son had to have surgery that would change his life . There are Autism diagnosis’, Cerebal Palsy, Genetic Disorders, Lukemia, Brain Cancer, and list goes on and on for families all over the world. Then there are the routine issues of allergies and tonsils that cause us to worry day in and day out. None of this was planned and for some never expected.
What happens to a mother when the child you thought you, as if you have control, planned for is not the person you thought they would be? There are parents who find out daily their sons and daughters are gay, pregnant, dropping out of high school, addicted to drugs and alcohol or in a tragic accident which will change their lives forever. This is not the life they planned for their children. So now what?
Some will ask and others will wonder ”How did this happen?” or “Why is this happening to me?”
There will be times of fear and sorrow. There will be times of embarrassment and judgment. Then there is the ultimate guilt. Parents, when faced with these adversities will question themselves and every step and every breath of everyday of that child’s life. Some will wilt under the sheer idea of the death of what could have been. Others rise to the occasion like champs never missing a beat.
There is so much fear associated with difference. We forget to be there in the moment to help our children process their fear as they realize and embrace their own difference. If the diagnosis or prognosis is not what we planned, we freak out and from that day forward we find ourselves looking for all the things we somehow missed to make them “ normal”. We somehow become bogged down in the titles of our children's diagnosis or their issues. We use this diagnosis or difference to define them and our relationship with them.
We say things like:
”My child is____feel in the blank_________.”
”My child has________feel in the blank___.”
While paying careful attention to doctor’s appointments and teacher conferences don’t forget to say :
“My child is great and wonderful .“
“My child has brought me joy. “
Truthfully, I know how hard it is to take off that “ under construction” hat ,constantly teaching, training, and trying to fix them. It makes it difficult sometimes to see the foundation that we have already laid. It’s hard in everyday parenting not to mention under the most severe circumstances.
What I have learned is to focus on the entire family as change and difference can be very difficult for everyone to grasp. I had to remember to use available resources to renew and refresh my spirit. I have also learned to rely on the wisdom of elders while knowing what my child needs.
Most all I had to learn to just breathe, relax and enjoy the ride.
Posted by Life with Charlotte at 11:33 AM