Not the Momma…

the good ol' days the good ol’ days

Ok, so I am the Momma, but seriously….how did this happen?  I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so how the hell am I supposed to guide another human being? Am I doing this right or screwing up my kids for all eternity?  I could ask my mother, but then I’d have to hear her tell me exactly how I am messing them up for all eternity, so cross that resource off the list.  This parenting thing is a lot harder than it looks.

My oldest is a Junior in high school and was recently diagnosed with adult ADD and depression. Many people ask why he didn’t get diagnosed until now The truth is that he was so smart that he could mask it. When I look back at his childhood, there were probably signs, but they weren’t neon glowy signs screaming “GET YOUR KID HELP!” Instead, the signs were more subtle; like a soft warm glow.  For example, I’d receive a call from his teacher around March saying that he has spring fever and could I please ask him to settle down in class?  I would talk to him, and he would correct the problem. He never missed homework, always completed reading projects and was a very well-mannered kid.

Around his Sophomore year that all changed.  He couldn’t keep up with his work and at times was missing up to 20 assignments in certain classes. When I would ask him why he wasn’t doing his work, he would mumble “I don’t know.”  UGH.  So frustrating.  I had reached out to all of his teachers and begged for them to allow late work.  After getting approval, my son and I sat together, and I would watch him while he completed all of the missing assignments. It was exhausting. The next day, he would forget to turn them in.  I really believed that he was not turning work in to be spiteful.  We fought like crazy and it was ruining our family dynamic.  My youngest was starting to be affected by all of the fighting and we needed to find another way.

I had him tested for learning disabilities and he did not have any.  His IQ tested between 125-130, so we knew he was more than capable.  Throughout the testing process, I also had him working with a therapist to help him with his depression and anxiety issues.  Once that was corrected, and homework was still not being turned in, we were able to come across the ADD diagnosis.  He was put a daily medication and was literally better the first day. (sorry haters, I know you all think our kids are overmedicated, but keep that opinion to yourself….this kid needs it!)  He said the world felt clear for the first time. The guilt I had for not realizing sooner crushed me.  His grades improved, the fighting stopped and life went back to normal (as normal as it gets).

This year, I decided not to monitor him as much and see how he does on his own.  I hoped that he would appreciate the freedom and would keep working hard on his assignments. It’s also a way to stop the fighting. Here’s the big problem; if I don’t monitor him constantly, he starts to slip up again, and now I’ve put myself in the position where I allowed it to happen.  I don’t want to have to moniter a 16 year old constantly, but I also don’t want to see him flounder. He seems too old for any real punishment and I was raised with the theory if a kid fails, “oh well, that’s thier own fault”.  The thing is, I don’t really subscribe to that theory. I’m his mom and I feel that I am letting him down if I am not there helping and pushing every step of the way.  I always wondered why I wasn’t being pushed harder, and I don’t want my kid to wonder someday why I didn’t push hard for his success.

For the record, I am not a helicopter parent.  I don’t think all kids should receive participation medals and I believe that they should learn how to properly lose.  I also don’t believe that this is the same thing as allowing them to fail.  As a teenager, my mom would always remind me that if I failed it was on my shoulders.  I was even told time and time again, that they didn’t think that I would get through school. That message is dangerous and can become a self-fulfulling prophecy.  At times, I didn’t feel worthy of success, so I pretended not to care and she believed me. Of course, internally I did care and felt horrible most of the time.  I can’t do that to my kid.  He needs to know that he isn’t allowed to fail on my watch and that I will fight to help him succeed. So, now I have to backpeddle from granting my son some freedom and get back to the constant monitoring/nagging, and sadly, fighting…..sigh.

I was about to write that I hope we look back at his school days with some good memories and laugh about it, but that’s bullshit.  I know we won’t.  What I really hope, is that we make it through this last year of high school alive and without damaging each other’s pysche for good. In the meantime, I will fight for him and with him to get through this. He will know that I believe in him and will not allow failure. If nothing else, it will give him years of good stories for his future therapy appointments….

Biggest Misconceptions of Turning 40

40th bday with my greatest life long friends!

40th bday with my greatest life long friends!

Remember when you were a kid and thought about becoming a grown up? We believed certain things would be true: People will be nicer. Bullies will stop bullying. Money will be easily accessible. You will become totally confident and won’t care what people think. Now that we are all adults, we know that this is all bullshit.

People don’t become nicer. Jerks stay jerks. They might even grow up to be bigger jerks. At least in school, they could only ruin your day. Now, they can destroy career, become your boss or coach your kids tee ball team. Hereby, ruining any chance your kid had at liking sports. The mean girls of the suburban moms can stop you from meeting new friends or have too much of a say in who calls your kid for a play date. They ruled the school and now they rule the community. I think they still wear pink on Wednesdays.

Grown-up bullies are the worst. The mean girl in my office once told a co-worker that she wouldn’t hang out with them anymore if they stayed friends with me. True story. Can you imagine? What’s worse is the co-worker listened and stopped hanging out with me. They even thought it totally reasonable to explain the situation to me, as if by knowing the truth behind their sudden departure, I would somehow hurt less. Needless to say, that plan didn’t quite work. Sometimes, ignorance IS bliss. I know people like to say it’s jealousy, but I don’t believe that to be true. Some people are just assholes. They don’t need a reason. In fact, maybe as parents we need to change how we teach kids to handle bullies. Maybe, we just need to prepare them for the truth. “Some people are assholes, and you will have to deal with them every day for the rest of your life.” If anybody wants to help me start that campaign…call me.

And what about that misconception of financial stability. Did my parents struggle like this? If they did, I never knew. I assumed that if you worked hard, you then lived comfortably. When does that “comfortably” part kick in? Do we all worry so much? Maybe that’s the biggest shock of adulthood: so much worry.

Also, I’m still waiting for that grown-up confidence to kick in. You know, that confidence you read about in every woman’s mag, that states women over 40 stop caring what other people think? That is such crap. Of course, we still care about what other people think. It might be less extreme, I mean I’m not succumbing to peer pressure at 40, but I sure do hate being blatantly whispered about. Or left out of an office gathering. Or seeing that my friends are all hanging out without me. Or having someone sneer at my outfit. That all sucks! Who are we kidding….it hurt at 16 and it still hurts today.

The good news is we do gain a certain power as we grow up: the power to weed out the bullshit. Learn to spot the mean ones and do your best to ignore and avoid. They do still get under your skin, and even hurt your feelings, however, we can choose to be surrounded by love and true friendship,instead of the insecurities of fake people. That’s a powerful choice. The picture above shows my best friends from kindergarten and middle school. The great ones are out there and they are to be cherished. I love these fantastic ladies with all my heart and love that we have chosen each other as forever friends!

Would it have turning 40 easier to know that the cliques and mean girls never go away; that they just become co-workers and fellow soccer moms? I’m not sure. I do think my “people are just assholes” campaign is brilliant and might be the way to prepare our kids for the future!