Sunday, September 25, 2011

A question parents should ask often

   Years ago I heard comedian Bill Cosby talk about playing with his grandchildren.  Apparently his son was shocked, because he grew up thinking Bill hated kids!  I suppose if we are doing our jobs as parents, our kids often wonder how much we like them.  I decided to try and change that.  I wanted my kid to know that I would always love him, even if I didn't like his attitude or behavior at a given moment.  I began to ask Matt "Are you feeling the love, son?" whenever something good happened.  When I started asking, Matt looked at me like I had two heads.  By the time I had asked him about ten times, he started to shrug, and kind of nod in agreement.  I wanted him to acknowledge how many times we happily helped him.
   Let's face it.  The early teenage years are a struggle.  Kids desperately need us to help with cash, rides, and many different favors, almost as much as they want us to be invisible.  As parents,  sometimes we feel the list is endless, so  I think we should use it to our advantage.  When my kid asked if I could drive a carload of kids to meet the schoolbus at dawn, then pick them up that same night at midnight from the ski trip.  I said ''yes".  Hey, if it made life easy, all the guys could sleep at our house both nights.  I know the kids and parents were grateful, and everyone said thanks.  I wanted my son to understand that we did stuff like that because we cared about him.  I thought it would always be obvious, and I was wrong.  Before we had a difficult or serious conversation, I'd say a quick prayer.  "Let him feel the love that I have for him".  It really works!
  I believe that when kids feel loved, they take our criticism better.  Life gets easier when kids realize that their parents like them, even though we may be angry at a particular moment.  Kids remember getting yelled at and grounded for a long time.  I think we can balance that off by having them acknowlege  the many positive things that happen.
   This is one of my personal experiences so take what you like and leave the rest.  Have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mum's the Word

 As a mom, I've tried to learn from my mistakes.  I recognized early on that I would never be 'that perfect mom', and so my goal was to be 'a good enough mom'.  That took a lot of pressure off me, and I'm convinced that a relaxed mom makes better decisions.  Along the way, I found that the quicker I was to respond to a situation, the more likely I would be appologizing later for over-reacting.  I had to admit that my knee jerk reactions got me in a lot of trouble.  My solution was simple, although it took years to embrace it.  I found that if I took a few minutes, my better judgement would kick in.  I finally decided that I did not have to say the first thing that popped into my mind.  As a matter of fact, over the years I stopped feeling pressure to say any one of the first ten things that jumped across my mind.  We all know that counting to ten really helps diffuse many arguments.  As I counted to ten, I let my thoughts race.  My family has said that they can watch as I reject idea after idea. I'm told that I close my eyes, make a face like I just tasted something awful, and shake my head.  A picture can tell a thousand words!
  Today I can say things like "let me think about this", or "I don't know,  but I'll get some advice".  It was a huge relief to know that I didn't have to have all the answers.  I didn't have to solve everything in a few minutes.  My old plan would be that if  there was something on my mind, I wanted it resolved during a TV commercial.  I was shocked when a friend shared that it sometimes took her a month to approach a "sticky situation" with her family.  What a concept!  That's when I started to believe that less could be more.
  I no longer have to spend time figuring out ways to smooth over a hasty comment.  I can shrug and say "sorry, I don't have the answer".    Now I can simply ask "what do you think"?  Of course, the next step is to actually listen, and not react.  This was the most difficult for me, but as usual the idea with the most benefits.  I no longer spend three days making up for two minutes of bad behavior.  It's amazing how much calmer things were at home when I stopped 'biting heads off ', and 'jumping down everyone's throat'.  Now if I  just work on my facial expressions, my thoughts can be my own!
  These are my experiences, so take what you like and leave the rest...have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th - the Tenth Anniversary

 I remember 9-11-2001 vividly.  I turned on my TV expecting to see one of the morning shows.  I saw smoke coming from one of the towers, and then watched  as the second plane flew into the second tower in real time.  I was horrified because I knew that this was no accident.  I sat glued to the TV trying to make sense of it all.  We spent the day contactacting family and friends.  Over the next few weeks, everyone sang the anthem at sports events, and shouted "U-S-A ,  U-S-A !"  We were all Americans, and that was enough to connect us.  We donated to victims and their families through telethons, and concerts.
 Today I watched the ceremonies from New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville PA. The name of each victim was read, which reminded me of just how many innocent people gave their life .   I was struck with the number of foundations and other good things that came out of that terrible day.  Children spoke of their determination to make a deceased parent proud.  Parents will make sure their fallen angels are not forgotten.  Today, I believe that we observed a spiritual day.  The fountains, and memorials are beautiful, and yet the work will continue for years.  Many other states have built memorials to honor  neighbors lost from their communities. 
  Ten years later,  I still wake up and say "Thanks for today, I'm going to enjoy my day."  Through the years, I've  tried to focus on a solution, and not just my problem.  During difficult times,  I've prayed that my family would feel the love that I have in my heart for them, even when we disagree on things.  I've decided that life is too short to hold a grudge.  I give myself two bad days a year, whether I need them or not.  Today, I say things like "If I live to be 200,  my life will be too short to waste any more time on this stuff."  It's a healthy, more positive way to live, and I choose life!
  As always, these are my thoughts, so take what you like and leave the rest.
 Have a good week everyone... and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Labor Day Weekend

  It's hard to believe that this summer is ending.  In just a couple of days, our focus will change from summer fun,  to back to school, and a new routine.  As usual, I think the eight weeks between the 4th of July and Labor Day seemed to fly by.  I enjoyed myself this summer, because it contained the right mix of  company and cookouts, and some relaxation.  The last few weeks have been bittersweet.  As the nights cooled down, so did the pool water.  As much fun as it is to get ready for school and fall sports, it means that life will soon be getting more serious.  Baseball fans are agonizing over every pitch, and football fans are gearing up for the new season.  In New England, we love to support our teams, which  means that we may be  in for some long sleepless nights. 
  Sports always seemed to give us an opportunity to connect with our son.  I always thought that Matt talked more when we were sitting side by side, than when we talked face to face.  In the car, or in the TV room, sports gave us something to chat about.  We had some of our best conversations on the long ride home after a game, or preparing snacks to watch a game at home.  At first, I clipped coupons or skimmed a magazine, but by the time the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, I was a real fan.  Matt was happy to give me some insights, and teach me the terms and buzz words.  We were superstitious.  I bought the same ice cream, and other snacks.  We never had ice cream until our time took the lead.  It was silly and it was fun.  I made my tea in my "lucky cup".  We all had our routines, and we never deviated, lest we be the reason the team missed the playoffs.  We were in it together, and it helped us bond.  I knew I was lucky and I planned to enjoy it.  I still call my dad in Florida when good stuff happens in important games!
  The message is to find something that connects you and your kids, and have fun with it!  I know grandmothers who are reading Harry Potter with their grandkids.  They have something to talk about on the phone, or skype or facebook.  They have found a way to be close, even though they live far apart.
  As always, take what you like, and leave the rest.  Have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on...