Letting Go: They’re Growing Up—Part 2

Hi everyone. Hope those to whom this applies got to enjoy a wonderful Father’s Day doing exactly what they love to do. I know my hunny deserved a great day. Hope he feels he got one. 🙂

As we’ve all come to learn about Joanna Aislinn, she is not particularly good about creating—let alone sticking to—a schedule.

I am very glad, however, to have hosted Christine Warner as she launches her next book, Secret Love. (If you missed it, the link to last week’s post is below.)

I wanted to tie into Stacey Wilkes’ Life Lessons of a Mom posts one more time. (They’re quite interesting and very mom-relatable, or so says MHO.  Feel free to check them out.  I linked you to her most recent.  This one and this one are read-worthy as well.)

Ended my post-before-last on the topic of overprotective Italian mammas with a promise of a post about D-Day, a.k.a., the day Older Son’s acquired the dreaded DL. That would be the—scary music please—Driver’s License. (Thought I was bad the day the kid went on the ski trip.)

Joanna n baby boys  Older Son is on my right.  

Background: I always remember a day when Older Son was eight. I was standing on a neighbor’s porch, watching my boy cross the street alone. Out of nowhere a thought hit me: That boy is halfway to his driver’s permit.

Well, that stay of execution came, sooner than any parent wants, I guess. At sixteen-just-turned, the boy did his six-hours-behind-the-wheel course and practiced driving with his mamma every chance he could. (Talk about not feeling in control that first time the kid is controlling the car and mamma is in the passenger seat. The perspective changes big-time!)

DL Day came in December—on a snowy morning. He already had a car and went to school with it immediately after finishing his road test.

Aside: My Italian mamma didn’t let me take a car alone anywhere for the first six months. See? I’m much better at letting go than my ma was–and is. She’s an off-the-boat Italian mamma–and far, far worse than I. Just sayin’.

Back to the DL-Day: That evening, Older Son told me he was picking up his girlfriend at work, off a nearby, VERY BUSY highway. No way was that boy going onto THAT highway, and driving up a slippery, snowy and/or icy ramp in the dark w/o his mamma.

He did fine until after we picked her up. I knew where three lanes on that stretch become two; wasn’t sure the kid did. Not sure, either, whether he noticed the semi-trailer merging right to left—sans blinker—at that exact spot.

Mamma calls out: “Watch the truck!”

Older Son swerves left at the very instant a car flies by on the same side.

Don’t ask we didn’t get side-swiped. God was watching I’m sure.

We got out of there safely and dropped off his girlfriend at home.

Mamma promptly lost it, on the less-than-five-minute-drive between our houses. Older Son, in all his compassion, pulls over and hugs his mamma. “I knew this was coming.”

“I’m sorry! It’s just that I love you so much, and I know I can’t hold you back, but I’m so scared at the same time.” Sob, sniffle. Sniffle, sob.

The next morning, I got up and did the li’l old Italian lady thing—sobbed like a fool—while everyone else slept. The morning after that, the inspirational books came out.

By the end of that first week, people often asked, “How’s the driving going?”

“I’m doing much better,” I would answer.

I realized then I hadn’t texted the kid—for the first time in a week—to make sure he’d gotten to school.

I suppose I’m doing better, almost seven months since DL Day. I’ve survived his first snowboard trips with only a friend, and a spring-break ride to the shore. The next biggies: going to the shore with his friends and no parent(s).

The weekend-after-the-senior-prom deal is more than a year away.

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

photo (33)  This was taken on the first day of this school year. (Only they aged, right? Right??) The brute on my right is Younger Son. He’s training for a lineman position for his high school’s football team. (Now why can’t either one of these guys be into a nice safe sport like…uh..tennis? 😉 )

Check out Christine Warner’s virtual visit here.

Have a great parent war story to share? I’d love to read about it! Solidarity!

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for indulging me!

Joanna

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Letting Go: They’re Growing Up (Part 1)

Letting ‘Em Go: They’re Growing Up—Part 1

Since I’m still developing the posts I had hoped to get to this week—based on two written by Kristen Lamb at her awesome blog—I’ll allow myself to get sidetracked a bit. Hope you get something out of the next two weeks.

Really loving and relating to fellow blogger and fiction author Stacey Wilkes’ Life Lessons of a Mom posts. One of her most recent touched on her self-imposed role as overprotective mother (a.k.a. chaperone) on her 8th grade daughter’s upcoming trip to Washington, DC.

Stacey and I are both Italian mammas. My mom is off-the-boat, and her family of origin is one of the most loving crowds one could get to know. Unfortunately, anxiety—and hence the need to control their world—runs rampant. (I’m blessed enough to take after my dad’s side. Counseling in my younger days helped too—a lot.)

Not sure how much of this stuff is in-bred, lol. I consider myself a pretty laid-back parent—not to be confused with permissive. I work very hard at giving my kids their space while hovering near enough in the vicinity to be ‘hands-on’ if/when needed (or wanted).

Letting go when it comes to ‘big things’ is another story. Not saying I don’t, but that deep-seated Italian (?) anxiety, upbringing—whatever you want to call it—shows up. Every time Older Son (in particular) wants to do that next thing my mom would have NEVER allowed, I turn into a sobbing fool.

One quick example: In 7th grade, Older Son won a raffled snowboard. Of course I didn’t allow him to attend the ski club’s day trip that year! The thought of a 14-year-old on the slopes with who-knew-what-kind-of-supervision (if any) freaked me out. The next year, the moderator of the club begged me to let him go. She called, left me her cell number, etc. I finally acquiesced. (Hubby might have taken him to a local ski resort in the meantime, so we had a sense of what the kid was like up there in the fine, cold powdery stuff.)

Trip day arrived (a Saturday). Dropped the kid off at the bus in the winter-dark at 6:30 AM and waited a while. Since I was the only parent fool enough to hang out in the parking lot, I decided to go home and save Older Son the embarrassment.

Sat outside my house and sobbed like a fool. Every generation of Italian ladies that came before me channeled themselves through me that morning. Settled for texting Older Son at intervals throughout the day. Thank goodness the boy is kind enough to return his ma’s messages.

We’ll discuss the day said kid got the dreaded DL another time.

So: How do you let go? Are you naturally good at it, or is it a practiced skill? Are you an “Italian” mamma?

Have a great week, folks!

Joanna

Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right? (Part 5)

Happy New Year and Merry Little Christmas, everyone! Welcome to 2014 and the New Year’s first post at ‘da blog.’

I’m hoping to wrap up the parenting topics we dealt with prior to the holidays coming in and taking life over, lol. One li’l Christmas 2013 memory ties in, that of the bag of coal Younger Son (YS) got attached to one of his gifts. Several years ago, he was much more difficult to deal with, so we punked him, if you will, and wrapped up some coal Older Son (OS) found somewhere outdoors.

YS was very offended that Christmas morn. Jumped up, ran away crying—very dramatic. (Okay, we weren’t trying to be so mean. Nor did we expect him to react so, lol. And yes, we felt badly.)

He handled it much better this time. “Again,” was all he said, after I called his attention to the little red bag attached to another gift.

bag of coal

That brings me to where I left off last time: dealing with me when it’s time to dole out the disciplinary stuff.

In my last post I talked about letting Older Son (a.k.a. Dawdle Boy) show up at school in his PJs. (Details on that episode here.) As a parent, sometimes the hardest thing is getting past my feelings when the kids do something that requires some kind of addressing or intervention.

Okay, I’ll admit that during those moments when a kid frustrated me ‘til no end I was happy to dole out discipline, punishment, or whatever you want to call it. I. Was. MAD. At those times, it’s easy to ground them for life, take away TV or whatever—I’m guessing underneath it all, I wanted to get even for him for putting me in a position to feel crazy as I did (and still do sometimes).

Did I mention YS is my challenge-child?

Back to our originally-scheduled next point: Follow-through. It’s the hardest part, folks. Once I calmed down, I had to get past feeling badly that my cherub now has to deal with being punished or disciplined.

(BTW, this isn’t even beginning to touch on the host of sentiments a parent deals with when kids are whining, negotiating, screaming “I hate you!” and all that other fun stuff they dole out when  doing their time, if you will. That stuff, you tune out in any way, shape or form you can—assuming no one will be physically hurt by any of the behaviors going on.

One more thing: if you can’t calm that child–or yourself–down enough to get them to time out or whatever other consequence you imposed–wait. Impose it later, when things have cooled down. It really works.)

Back to feeling badly. That is my problem. Real life demands I deal with the consequences of my actions. The same is true for EVERYONE around me—no exceptions.

When I take a step back and let my kid off the hook I erase a vital opportunity for him to learn that for every action there is (typically) a reaction.

A (quick-Ha!) illustration:

YS was about 8 years old. Hubby and I went out and Nonna (a.k.a Grandma) babysat. As soon as we got back OS was at the door informing us that YS had physically pushed his grandmother when she told him once and for all video game time was up for the night.

Nonna gave OS a look, then admitted she would have kept quiet about the episode. She felt badly about YS “getting in trouble.” (Of course OS, the informant, had no problem insuring li’l bro suffered the consequences. ;))

Now I know grandparents tend to have soft places in their hearts for the grandkids—and y’all know I would never have gotten away with behavior like that.

So, YS had to apologize to Nonna on the spot. Next his video games went away for the following three weeks. (Nonna objected—again, she felt badly—but that’s the fun part of being the parent. My word now carries the weight, lol. And guess what: dealing with feeling badly was Nonna’s problem, not mine or YS’s.)

Was YS a ‘bad’ kid? No, just impulsive—very typical of kids, and of boys in particular. Although not formally diagnosed to date, my inner occupational therapist senses YS has a bit of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) going on; decreased impulse control is typically an issue with that crowd.

To wrap up that incident: YS spent the subsequent three weeks ticking off the days on the calendar. Chances are he whined and begged a bit—or more. (Kids do that! ;)) And yep, at times hubby and I felt badly (there’s that phrase again) but we didn’t give in.

Guess what: YS never pushed his grandmother again either. Plus, he learned hubby and I meant business.

(In case you missed them, links to the posts preceding this one are included in Part 4.)

What about you? How do you handle situations such as these? Do you follow through or fold? One more bigger illustration next time and then I should be done.

Have a great day and week, everyone. If you feel inclined, please SHARE. 🙂

Thanks,

Joanna

Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right?–Part 2

Hope everyone had a great week and weekend. Sorry for last week’s posting snafu. Funny. I made a mental note to change the date on the ‘inspired some more’ write-up, but forgot to check the note, I guess. 😉

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”

That’s where I left off last post. If you missed it, you might want to check it out. (Pinky swear: it ain’t all that long, and lays the groundwork for this one.)

As I stated previously, my coworker’s question really struck me, and I’ve been wondering about it ever since. Those of you who have been hanging around the blog for a while might remember a series of posts I did about Discipline vs. Control. (I’ve linked you to the first. Feel free to take it from there, for a total of five essays on the topic, and maybe a bit more insight into groundwork laid.) And before I go any further, please note I’m no magician who turned my guys into pretty awesome young-men-in-the-making. Yes, Hubby and I work hard constantly, but I also believe we are lucky, too. (Some folks do everything to the best of their ability and still run into problems. And that’s assuming there aren’t special needs or other issues involved.) 

Okay, back to business.

Not that Hubby didn’t help out before, but since he took on the role of stay-at-home-dad, he’s taken on many of the responsibilities involved in keeping a house running. He often refers to the house as “his job”. So, he models a lot of the cleaning behaviors and consideration. (These are important components, folks.  Akin to the subtext in a story: what’s not written but inherent and working on your psyche as you read.)

We usually all pitch in after dinner. On many occasions though, when Hubby knows I still have paperwork to do, or errands to run after work, he’ll offer to clean up on his own. (Most of the time, I try to move a little faster and make sure to employ everyone present. If every person does a small part of the bigger job, we all get done more quickly, and one person isn’t stuck with all the work, right?)

And this is a bit of an aside, but it ties in: years ago a friend and I were chatting. Something came up about her husband offering to “help” her do something home or kid related. My friend accepted his offer. She also took the time to point out that whatever had to be done was their responsibility—not hers alone with him jumping in because he thought it was kind, his duty or whatever other reason spurred him on to offer his time and efforts.

Back to subtext: this was a shift in perspective for me! Being a doer, I tend to lead and ask others to take on parts of the job. I quickly got the concept and passed it on to Hubby. Little by little, could it be the sons are getting this too? (Interesting too, how on the same day I write this, older son just happened to start filling the dishwasher while he, his dad and I were hanging out in the kitchen, discussing how his friend’s mom seems to create at least part of the conflict she complains about re: her son. It was like my guy was on auto-pilot, chatting and cleaning. More thoughts on this in a later post.)

Allow me one more take on this before I get back to the point please: When my full-timers were small and my part-timers (a.k.a., stepsons) were still children and spent time here regularly (i.e., weekends, overnighters, etc), the bulk of my time outside the day job—which never lacked for work to bring home—was taken up with two to five boys at any given time and paperwork when I wasn’t attending to a kid.

One day, Hubby got a little annoyed with this. He told me he felt as he was “at the bottom of the totem pole.”

I’m sure he got a look for that one. “Actually,” I told him, “I’m at the bottom. You’re probably the next step up. However, since we’re supposed to be equal in this relationship and family situation, I’m thinking you’re belong at bottom next to me.” (Chances are, Hubby wasn’t too thrilled with me at that moment.)

And all this, IMHO, brings me back to a single word: RESPONSIBILITY. Perhaps that is the “key” to the “foundation” Hubby and I may have laid “something like this to happen,” as my coworker put it.

We’ll talk about this more next week.

Have a great one, folks. And if you found this content share-worthy, would you kindly take a sec and do so?

As always, I thank you!

Joanna

Could We Have Done Something Right?!

Hi all–hope you had a great week and weekend. I’m actually trying to fathom what a break from tennis will be like. The men’s year-end final wraps up tonight. No tournaments until mid-December. Now how will I fill my ‘spare’ time for the next four weeks, lol?

“You realize we’re both hating you right about now,” said a new coworker, a few weeks ago. She, myself and a student’s assistant were discussing kids and getting them to do their chores without it being a struggle.

I’d happened onto their discussion, just in time to hear the assistant saying she was tired of “paying” her kids before their chores were done, then having to argue about it.

Interestingly enough, this conversation was taking place a few days after hubby and I decided to leave the dinner dishes and go hit tennis balls before dark. Younger Son (who is a few weeks shy of his 15th birthday) had cleared the dishes, but there were still pots to be washed, the counter to be wiped down…you know.

Aside: This Italian was raised to NEVER do the next thing—God forbid, something fun, lol—until the house is clean. Somehow, hubby got infected with this disease and looked at me like, You want to go now? Leave this mess? (I assured him it would be there when we got back.)

Well, hubby and I took off, had some fun and headed back home. (I happened to have an awesome day on the court–for me, anyway. Just sayin’.) It was still just light enough for a walk, so I opted to take a short one before it got any darker. “Oh sure. Leave me with the kitchen clean-up,” hubby grumped. (But not terribly.)

“I don’t know why we own Younger Son,” I answered. “There’s no reason we couldn’t have asked him to do it.”

Lo and behold, we entered a FULLY CLEANED KITCHEN. It was like the Cleaning Fairy had dropped in for a visit.

(This is pretty much the point where my co-worker expressed hate. And while I was mentioning it to someone else a day later—hey, I’m still every bit as amazed as the day it happened—another coworker overheard. She did the slow head turn, eyes wide and asked, “What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?”)

BTW last night, Younger Son did something similar—washed the few dishes that were in the sink without being asked.

And a few weeks ago, when I picked up my mom from the hospital, and it was 10:30 PM, and I hadn’t made it to cleaning the kitchen b/c hubby was away, and I was tied up helping my mom, I walked into the kitchen while Older Son (who is pushing the ripe age of 17) was doing what had to be done, without anyone asking.

And even this past week, when Younger Son had an orthodontist appointment at 6:30 PM—don’t ask why anyone would schedule that time when after school is so much more convenient at my house—and hubby wasn’t home, and both boys and I were scrambling to leave the kitchen clean before taking off, Older Son casually said, “You guys go. I’ll finish this.”

Mother does the glance askance at Older Son. Huh? (This is the same kid that would step out of his shoes in the middle of the doorway and keep walking. At least he slips out of them to the side of a step these days, with one shoe pointing outward every time, which is pretty much how the kid walks, and still proof that he literally steps out of his shoes, lol.)

“What foundation did you lay for something like that to happen?

She really got me thinking. Next time, I’ll share some of the thoughts her question provoked.

Your turn: if you have kids, have they left you flumgubbered enough to wonder what YOU might have done right? Take a minute and tell us about it, please!

Thanks and have a great week,

Joanna

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 1)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hope all is well in your respective worlds. (Somehow, I’m getting by without tennis but that might be a good thing, lol.)

So: Fall is in full swing and the chill is upon us! If there were one season I could skip, it would be winter. Don’t hate it but I don’t look forward to it.

         

Summary:  As the cold weather approaches, therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang, explains what Seasonal Affective Disorder is, symptoms of it, and 10 tips to prevent the winter blues so we can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days. 

It’s almost that time of year again — cold weather, snow, ice, clouds and days with less sunlight.

For parents, winter is a tough time — finding activities that are always inside, worrying about snow days and delays and making sure kids get plenty of physical exercise even though the weather is cold and the days are shorter.

On top of that some parents (and non parents) have to deal with a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This type of depression usually happens in the winter months due to the weather and shorter periods of daylight. Being that this type of depression isseasonal, the symptoms usually come back the same time every year and go away around the same time. The symptoms usually start late fall or early winter and the symptoms start to disappear when the warmer weather and longer days of sunlight return.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you are feeling under the weather during the cold winter months but not sure if you are havingseasonal affective disorder, here are some of the symptoms associated with SAD.

1. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety during the winter months.

2. Feeling fatigue, loss of energy, trouble concentrating and unmotivated.

3.  The feelings of sadness, fatigue, isolated, etc. start out mild and become more severe as the winter progresses.

4. Change in appetite and sleeping habits.

5. Social withdrawal – loss of interest in social activities and hobbies. I know a few clients who “hibernate” during the winter months. They don’t leave their house very often during the winter months, they stop socializing and enjoying their daily activities – they start feeling isolated, lonely and depressed. Watch out for this pattern.

The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is still unknown, but we know environmental factors plays a role. I have a client who lives in upstate New York near a lake and gets “the lake effect” where he gets so much snow and very little sun all winter. This client has had SAD at the same time every year since his move to upstate New York.  We also know that SAD can run in the family – genetics plays a role. SAD is more common in women and we usually see symptoms starting in young adulthood.

Think we’ll stop here for today, class. Thursday I’ll post Diane’s 10 Tips to prevent the winter doldrums. I know I start counting the days until spring beginning with the winter solstice! 

Have a great day!

Joanna

PEM: Diane Lang on Life Learned!

Hi all,

Welcome to a new week and another Positive Energy Monday. 🙂 Hope each of you is well.

We’ve had our fair share of challenges this week but are hanging in there as a family and trusting God with the reins. He always seems to handle them better than we do, lol. 

Funny. I always grab my good friend Diane’s inbox entries and share. This one truly applied to me this week–and especially on Sunday, when we got some unwelcome news. (Nothing horrid and totally deal-able.) Guess I can boil it down to it’s been a week of teachable moments. 

                

Every day is a learnable/teachable moment. The more I learn to live in the Now and create my day, the more I realize every moment is precious and can be learned from.

This eliminates the right and wrong. It just means what is… is what is.

It eliminates “mistakes;” instead of worrying about making a mistake I now realize that there are no mistakes,  just teachable moments.

Instead of thinking of “failures”, we just realize we need to adjust our path to fulfill our dreams and goals. Every day offers new opportunities. If you realize that, then you will realize there is no such thing as failure. A new direction has opened up.

If we think in the moment, we realize how great each moment is. You’re alive. The moment is all yours to do as you wish.

When you live in the now, you break free from control issues. In the now, we don’t worry about the future and why should we? We can’t control it anyway. We let go of the past because we realize it’s gone and we have the power to make each moment be whatever we choose.

When we live in the moment we actually stop and smell the flowers. We realize how many simple moments of pleasure we actually have each and every day. The small things give us the biggest pleasures such as my daughter’s laugh, my dog’s excitement every time I walk through the door, the warm sun and the lazy days of summer.

If we all could live in the NOW we could release a lot of our worry, anxiety and fear. Imagine life without those distractions.

For more information visit my website: www.dlcounseling.com or my blog at www.creatingbalanceandfindinghappiness.wordpress.com

Buy Diane’s books here: Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career and Creating Balance

Counseling Educator
www.dlcounseling.com

Thanks to Diane, as always, for allowing me to pass  her wisdom to you. The more I get to know her, the more I realize how much great insight she has and how blessed I am to be on the receiving end of it! 

My HMO about a book I loved later this week! Thanks for stopping in!

Joanna