Family, Life, Parenting

Hey Kids! The 80s Were Awesome.

We’ve been home for a long time. It’s only in the past two weeks or so that we’ve begun to emerge from, well, whatever this has been. During our time at home, we’ve given our kids time to simply be kids – no schedules, no entertaining them, no hovering. I remind them to pick up after themselves and turn the lights out when the leave the room. Not too different from my childhood in the 1980s.

My walk down memory lane was recently published by Her View From Home. You can read the full article here and full text is below. xo

My Kids Are About To Relive the Magic of My 1980s Summers

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When I was a kid in the ’80s, we lived a very different life. We often left home on our bikes and didn’t return until the street lights came on, or when we could hear my father whistling for us to come back. Whichever came first. His whistle could carry for blocks, which was important because we were usually blocks away from home.

All of us in the neighborhood would get on our bikes and meet up with other friends.  Some of us were school friends, some were just friends from the neighborhood. It didn’t really matter how we knew each other ­­­­­— what mattered was that we had lives that our parents never really knew about.

There’s been jokes that those of us from generation X are handling the pandemic so well, in many ways because of this. There were aspects of our lives that we lived fully on our own. As a child, I often spent the entire day at the country club by myself. Yes, I understand the optics of a country club, but the point is, when I was as young as 8 years old, I would spend the day away from home and my only real supervision came from the lifeguards and one bar tender who happened to be my cousin. It wasn’t until the monthly snack bar bill arrived at home that I was told that ordering 22 Nutty Buddy ice cream cones in one day was not a good thing to do. The point is, I have a lot of experience handling things on my own.

I turned out fine. I didn’t grow up having someone micro managing my childhood and I turned out absolutely fine. I navigated life, the ups and downs; and learned.

I never thought my kids would have a similar life, but here we are.

I know being on lock down isn’t all easy and fun. For me, though, on a personal level, it brings me back to my life in the 80s – I’m doing my own thing and not exactly hating it. In many ways, growing up as a kid in the 80s has totally prepared me for this and I’m grateful for it.

At the same time, I understand that this isn’t the 80s and things are not the same. What we are going through poses tons of logistical challenges for working families. The financial uncertainty can be terrifying. I’m a teacher and yet sometimes I hate homeschooling my own children. There, I said it.

But each day I continually focus on the positive. Trying to see the good in every day. Finding gratitude in the simple things. And honestly, under the circumstances, my entire day is made up of simple things, so there’s plenty to be thankful for.

After school is done around 11:00am, my kids head outside and we don’t hear much from them. There’s a sign on my back door that reads:

Not so fast! Before you head out, did you:

Brush your teeth? Your father and I are not dentists!

Pick up your plates and cups? I’m not the housekeeper.

Turn off the TV? Turn off the lights? We don’t own stock in Louisiana Power and Light.

Be sure and close the door behind you. We don’t want to condition the air outside.

Lastly, be sure and drink plenty of water! But not out of the hose, of course.

 

I grew up with a lot of unstructured time, and turned out just fine. They will, too.

I was often left to entertain myself, and turned out just fine. They will, too.

Some days I watched a ton of television, and turned out just fine. They will, too.

I learned to navigate collaboration and negotiation among friends on my own, and tuned out just fine. They will, too.

I didn’t have my adults involved in every decision I made or micromanaging my life, and turned out just fine. They will, too.

I’m positive my kids are still learning. I’m positive they are creating in new ways that they wouldn’t have done before. I’m positive that the bottom of my son’s feet may be permanently discolored because he gets so incredibly dirty every day. I’m positive that my daughter is learning a new sense of independence and self-determination.

I’m positive that is exactly what their souls need right now.

I’m positive that the slower pace is good for my husband and me. I’m positive that our house will likely be completely renovated when this is all over. The collaboration and time spent outside is good for us.

I never thought our kids would be living their best life in the similar way I did when I was 10, but here we are. Have fun out there, kids! The world is your oyster. Make good decisions, be kind, have fun, and hydrate. I’ll see you at dinner. xo

Family, Life, Parenting

If You Love Someone, Let Them Lead. Sometimes…

I swear sometimes I feel like the universe is laughing hysterically at me. Parenthood is the ultimate paradox — we are hardwired to risk our lives protecting our children from harm, and yet at the same time we can’t suffocate them from experiencing life. Whether we like it or not, we have to allow our children to feel disappointment. While I know that’s what we should do, it’s not always something that I want to do.

We have to let them struggle.

We just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas for Mardi Gras break. It was our kids’ first cruise and a much-needed getaway for our family. There is nothing quite like lounging poolside, basking in the warm sun, eating endless soft-serve ice cream. (By the way, I never want to eat again.)

Once on board, we saw that there was going to be a talent show towards the end of the cruise. Immediately, my son declared that he wanted to sign up for the show to play piano. We headed down on day two for him to sign up. We were greeted by the happiest Activities Director named Mauricio who sadly informed us that the show was for adults only. We were about to leave when he stopped us, “Look, let me get an idea of who will be performing and I’ll let you know.”

I put it out of my head. He had scribbled my stateroom number down on a scrap of paper – unlikely he’ll remember us and even more unlikely that he’ll ever find us.

Four days later while we were headed out of our stateroom for breakfast, the phone rang. (What? Who calls stateroom phones anymore anyway?)

“Heelllooo! I hope you recognize my voice! I have some fabulous news!”

It was happy Mauricio calling to tell us that William was going to be in the show! (holy crap) “Meet us in the theater for 10:00am today for rehearsal!”

Then he quietly whispered, “Ok momma, he can really play right?” (holy crap)

We show up in the theater, and as expected, William was the only child there. Mauricio went over a few logistics for the show that would be held for about 350 people later that day. (holy crap)

Brian and I asked William what he was going to play and encouraged him to practice on the piano on the huge stage. He sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’m okay.”

Oh my god small child, you are NOT okay. You are going to play the piano in front of 300+ strangers, you better start rehearsing.

Thankfully Mauricio asked William to come up and get comfortable with the piano.

BRRRING – BRRRONG – BLLLONG

He cranked out about three chords and came back down to our seats.

That’s it? What the hell is happening.

We encouraged him to practice an actual song but he just gave us a shrug and said, “I’m okay, mom!”

I was feeling a bit nauseated and Brian was on the verge of having a stroke. We calmly tried to encourage him to practice a bit more – in less than five hours he’d be performing in front of 300 strangers. Not to mention several friends we had made along the way and who William had joyfully invited to come to the show.

I could feel the mood within the family begin to tense up. We are the adults, and in may cases, we do know what is best. We know what it’s like to fail, to get hurt, to feel embarrassed, and feel regret. We have been through it all and want nothing more than to protect our children from experiencing these things. We know that sometimes we need to practice and prepare! We also know that it’s usually a horribly crazy idea to plan your performance in a big talent show by just winging it.

Maybe.

I turned to Brian and tried to get us to focus on letting go. Clearly William is comfortable with his choice and maybe we needed to follow his lead on this one. It makes zero sense in my adult brain, but the last thing I wanted to do was to make the experience a negative one for him. My gut, although I was questioning it, said to let go and let him take the lead. We’ll be there to help him over the bumps. No matter what.

Two o’clock rolled around and all I wanted was a really large margarita.

Mauricio open the show and introduced the first performer — William. (holy crap)

“Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome, all the way from Louisiana, with nerves of steel, William!”

(holy crap)

Brian and I could not have been more proud. (or relieved)

After the trip, I sent the video to William’s piano teacher to show him the performance. I was a little perplexed when he responded with this:

“WOW! That was awesome, love how he started with an altered version of the chord progression and slowly built it up until it sounded like Heart and Soul. Everyone knows it and the crowd loved it. He’s got a good sense for how to move a crowd!”

What the hell? Altered chord progression? Seriously, that’s a thing? And my kid knows how to do it?

I showed the response to Brian, then we asked William about it.

“You were playing an altered version of the chord progression??” As I read it from my phone.

“Yes.”

“You knew that all along?”

“Yes.”

“Without even really practicing?”

“Yes. Mom, I told you I was okay.”

And he did. And he was. He told us all along he was okay. Although it was not easy, I’m so glad we listened to him and let him take the lead.

I often hear people describe parenthood as a journey and I’d say very much that it is. A journey in which the line leader may change. The key to making the best of it, from what I can gather, is to know when to let go and follow along. xoxo

 

 

 

Family, Growth, Parenting

Dear Kids, I Hope You Never Thank Me for This.

You probably already know this but, parenting is not an easy gig. Well, let me clarify, it’s not easy as long as you are doing it right. My son and I were sitting on the sofa recently watching television when a commercial for a toy came on. He said, “Being a parent must be really hard, huh Mommy? I mean, kids always ask for things over and over and over and you’ve got to say, ‘no’.”

At almost 8 years old, he’s 100% correct.

This summer Brain and I had a decision to make about whether or not to give Audrey what she wanted. It was a tough decision but I think we definitely did the right thing.

It was also my first publication for Grown & Flown! You can read the full article here.

xoxo

For more content similar to this, check out: In Defense of Not Helping My Kids, or Finding Happiness Within Disappointment.

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My Sex Life Has Been Rescheduled

I  will surprise no one by saying my sex life with my husband has diminished since the birth of our daughter. Even two years later, still, sex is the last thing on our long list. We are both working parents and we are officially tired! Don’t get me wrong, we have/had a great sex life! There is much to miss when it is gone but to muster up the energy to even so much as take off my clothes can be too much to bear! If I’m going to completely disrobe, it’s going to be to enter a hot, steaming bath. Sad but true. Anyway, about three weeks ago I went to my husband with an idea. We had to fully to commit to protecting at least one day a week for sex. In sickness, health, exhaustion, whatever, on that day were are going to have sex and be happy about it! He agreed and we decided on either Saturday or Sunday. My vote was for Tuesday but he didn’t want a week day so we are making it work with the 48 hours of each weekend. All I can say is that I am a blessed wife! On our second week I was ready to give up! Saturday came and went and it was Sunday evening – do it or else! I was so tired I was ready to throw in the towel. Thankfully my husband urged and urged me. (That was really nice, actually) “Come on, Mel. We made a commitment. Now take off your clothes.” I did. I’ve heard that increasing the number of times you have sex by even one day a week will give you the same feeling as getting a huge raise. We shall see….we’re not hoping for the lottery just a little fun money. I’ll keep you posted!

Happy Mothering!

Melanie