Pieces of me

A blog for the warriors

Happy Blogiversary to pieces-of-me.com! Don’t you love made-up words? But it has been a year since I dusted off this website which I had opened in 2014 thinking I would use it to tell kid and gardening stories. I wrote This is Me, and just kept writing.

Inspiration

In the background, I was being inspired by Jen Sincero‘s book You’re a Bad Ass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Live an Awesome Life. It was therein that I found the permission I somehow thought I needed to do things I love, like write.

Then, I moved on to Mel Robbins’ The 5 Second Rule and that turned into a 30-day experiment in blogging every day in June. See #30daysofGrowth. In six months, I went from “I feel inspired to tell some stories” to “I’m going to push myself way out of my comfort zone.”

Second Half

At the end of the summer, I focused on getting published on other blogs, which helped me connect to a lot of new readers and find more quality blogs for my own reading enjoyment.

I had the following three articles published on three other blogs:

Don’t Push Your Embarrassment Down: Embrace the Burn

Dear Mothers of Tween Girls, There’s So Much at Stake

Why We Need to Stop Hiding and Share the Beauty in our Brokenness

The year ended busy and less focused on my writing than I would have liked. That’s clearly an area to grow as this year begins.

2019

Personally, my 2019 has started off less than stellar. In fact, some friends and I are planning a new, New Year celebration for this weekend. While we needn’t “start over” every time life deals a bad hand, the point, as discussed in The Fresh Start Effect, is that a temporal landmark is helpful in changing one’s mindset. But it can be as simple as a walk around the block, but drinks with friends is fun!

As I move forward this year I’m hoping to post on a more consistent time table. I’ve plotted out ideas for each month this year to help keep me on track. I’m also planning on publishing on outside sites again, as that was a great way to interact with more people.

Hands down, the best part of this past year’s blogging adventure has been the emails or private messages from friends and strangers telling me how something I wrote personally touched them. That’s what it’s all about. Connecting with others and feeling a little less alone in our struggles and joys.

Bring it 2019, or new 2019!

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Martin Luther King Jr. day has become very odd to me in recent years. People who rail against peaceful protests the other 364 days of the year suddenly quote the man who became the icon for peacefully protesting inequality.

On this 33rd year of this federal holiday, I’d like to just talk to the good white folk. I know, that’s a bit ironic too, but it’s because I don’t feel qualified to speak to people of color about racial inequality. I will gladly listen, though, and that’s what I want to say to those in positions of privilege. Listen!

Today is not a day to celebrate racial equality. Today is not a day to feel good about all we’ve “given” black folk the right to do. Today should be an uncomfortable day. While I am not the wokest person around (I’m not even sure that woke can be made an adjective, but I digress), let me be clear good white friends, we have not achieved MLK’s dream. We are not at the finish line. I think that is very clear these days, but I fear it needs to be said.

Moreover, we are in some of the most racially charged times of my life, at least. This is again, why I am so troubled by the disconnect I see with how we whites go about business the rest of the year and then pay lip service to this holiday celebrating a man of such radical ideals.

Here’s what I see is at least part of the problem. We still have these ingrained notations that we get to dictate what is equal “enough” for POC. We subconsciously thing we get to prescribe how they protest. We think they should be happy with what they have, i.e. what we’ve chosen to give up. And that’s not equality. That’s still supremacy, or at the very least paternalism. ….and it’s very uncomfortable to think that’s what we’re doing, but I think that introspection and sitting with these uncomfortable thoughts is more in line with the memory of MLK than just posting quotes on social media.

Personal trainers always remind us, we must get comfortable being uncomfortable. They say things like change only happens outside of your comfort zone. So, I’m encouraging my goodhearted white readers to not resist the uncomfortable truths that these tumultuous years have revealed.

We haven’t been listening when POC said, we’re not there yet. We haven’t seen their struggle. We have failed them. I know, I know we weren’t being malicious in our blindness, but now we know better. Thus, we can’t keep sitting back and quoting MLK’s words of love, patting POC on the head, and telling them to be thankful for what they have.

MLK’s legacy shouldn’t be one that makes us feel comfortable with “good enough.”

“I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.” – Dr. King

I’m a glass is half full kind of gal, or I try to be. So, I’m going to end on a positive, don’t you worry. See, I truly believe that these rough days are like cleaning out your closet. You know when you have pulled everything out to sort through the good, bad, and the outdated? Everything is out on the floor, and now your whole room is messy. You start questioning if you should have even begun, because it’s overwhelming and what was once a mess contained to the closet is now all over your floor and bed and there’s no going back.

I think/hope that’s what’s going on in our country. We hid away this awful history in our country. When a piece of it fell out, we kicked it back in the closet and hoped it would go away, but then boom, that ugly orange outfit that we never should have bought and tried to stuff in the top shelf came tumbling out. We’re going to have to go through this shit and determine what needs to be discarded and what “sparks joy.”

Let’s take today to realize we’re going to have to face this mess and get rid of some shit. Let’s take today to realize it’s not going to get better if we aren’t prepared to get a little uncomfortable and have uncomfortable conversations and write uncomfortable blogs and listen to things POC have to say that we don’t want to hear.!

Here are some words from the man of the day, which I cling to these days.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” -Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech.

In these racially charged days, I find comfort in many of the sentiments Dr. King articulated during his Dec. 10, 1964 acceptance speech. The above is most profound to me as I try to assure myself that we are simply in a time when right is temporarily defeated.

The full speech may be seen here: https://youtu.be/5r98tT0j1a0

As long as there are resistors to inequality, evil is not triumphant and we are merely temporarily defeated.

As long as some still believe in Dr. King’s dream, evil is not triumphant.

As long as some are willing to cross over and listen to the other side, right is just temporarily defeated.

As long as some are willing to examine themselves and consider others’ experiences valid, evil has not won.

As long as some recognize equality as superior to maintaining their privileged status, evil has not won.

As long as when we know better, we do better (as Maya Angelou taught). 

This may be a night “darker than a thousand midnights,” but evil is not yet triumphant.

“This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future.” – Dr. King

We are not there. We never were, and we failed people of color when some of us imagined we were.

I still believe that we can learn and understand and do better.  

Reading suggestions for those who are willing to get uncomfortable:

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/mlk-more-radical-than-we-remember

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Here are some articles about the fresh start of the New Year from blogs that I enjoy reading:

New Year, Same You?: In praise of positive choices

“A new year is a great time to make changes, make resolutions, set intentions, etc., but don’t let it be a time when you beat yourself up for all you’re not yet doing, forgetting about all the positive choices you’ve made (or are currently making). ” – Dani DiPirro @positivelypresent

New Year, New Me

“If you make a step toward your goal every single day, eventually you will get there, so don’t  wait until next year. Do it now.”   – The Nerdy Lion

January Goals: The Happiness Project

“Did you know that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down consistently?” – Jubilee Meyer

2 Magic Words I use Year Round – instead of Resolutions

“[B]eginning again with something new—having succeeded at last month’s goal—filled my self-worth cup in ways that a forgotten list of resolutions at the start of each year never could.” – Catherine Monkman

30 Days of Doable Change

“Lose all the weight. Never procrastinate again. Overhaul your life. Whew! Those are some ambitious goals (you’ll probably drop by February). Instead, why not crush 30 smaller self-improvement to-dos to feel kick-ass for the rest of 2019?” – TheGreatest.com

New Year, New Mindset, New Results

My world-traveling friend, Jen Byer shares “5 Ways to change our Mindset and bring more GENTLENESS  into the New Year”

Time to Dance

“I’ll not go into 2019 focused on want, or lack or what is “wrong.” But, instead, engaged with life, now.” – Jeremiah Stephen

starting line on a race track

Previously published here.

“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised.

“It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Life certainly can feel like it’s all just happening to us, though, can’t it? The washing machine breaks the night before your in-laws visit. You receive a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one. Your husband asks for a divorce. The baby has colic.

Living an intentional life and trying to be your best self doesn’t mean life won’t happen to us. It means we refuse to throw in the towel to the whims of fate.

There’s something about the beginning of a new school or calendar year that feels like someone has hit the reset button.

While there’s no barrier to starting a project on Thursday, it feels better to start on Monday. “First of the _____” feels like the time to make changes. There’s even some science to back this up.

According to research published in Psychology Science, people were more motivated to begin a new goal on a “temporal landmark.” Such events help the brain to distinguish between past actions and new intentions.

Makes sense, right? The researchers dubbed it the “fresh start effect.”

None of that may be news to you. Even if you didn’t know there was research out there, you likely knew that you start new things on Mondays or New Year’s Day.

Here’s the exciting part.

In one study, some participants were told to begin their goal on “the first day of spring,” March 20th. The other group was told simply to start on Thursday, March 20th. Framing the same start date as the first day of something, in this case a season, had a significant impact.

This is great news for those of us who choose to live purposefully, rejecting the lie that happenstances divest us of control over our lives. We don’t have to wait till Jan. 1st to start over and do better.

There are new beginnings all around us if we frame them as such.

There are fiscal quarters and moon cycles. Every week has a Monday.

Every day has a day break!

agriculture bloom blossom clouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What separates us from those who believe the “greatest lie” is not that we are immune to hardships, frustrations, or set backs. It’s that we know that whether we face a life altering blow or a daily inconvenience, there will be another fresh start.

As surely as the tides rise and fall, day will break, revealing a “first day of.” For every inhale, there is an exhale. For every end, there is a beginning.

At day break, we who warrior on get up and put one foot in front of the other. If we falter when the starting pistol fires, we find another starting line.

What may appear to be fate taking control can be a new beginning if you make it thus. Keep finding fresh starts and the world’s greatest lie will be another’s to believe.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays swept me away, keeping me feeling too busy to write, but moreover, too drained to be inspired.

I’ve felt like I was in a riptide being pulled out to sea since Halloween. That’s when my family’s activities go from 0 to 60 overnight. There are extra events at school. My son and I have birthdays during the holiday months, and every activity they are involved in has a performance or two in December. Oh, and I had the grand idea to sign my daughter up for a run club at the beginning of December. Who does that? Oh well, it didn’t work out anyhow.

But here we are in January. The fresh start month! Next week, the children will be back in school, and things will return to the normal level of crazy and clutter. That is if I get Christmas put away by then!

I’m truly excited, though, to get back to blogging on a more regular basis. I spent a good portion of yesterday mapping out where I want to go with the blog in 2019.

blog planner 2019
I made my very own, custom blog planner!

Because, look in 2018, I just started writing. I jumped on this site, which I started four years prior and quickly abandoned, and started writing what was on my heart. I had nothing but a desire to write and a motto to “Get Shit Done” in 2018.

GSDBecca2018

Yes, 2018 was the year of GSD Becca. I did take this blog from nothing to something. Not huge, but something, and I’m proud of that. I also got some debit and other personal matters under control and continued in my fitness journey (although with some bumps and changes, but that’s for another post).

There were failures. Some shit did not get done. I had a goal of organizing one room in my house per month. I don’t even have 12 rooms in my house, so I should have had months to spare. Alas, I organized one cabinet in my kitchen last January, and last month, I tackled my son’s room out of sheer necessity. He’s a 12-year-old boy. Let’s just say I don’t get awards for deciding that had to be done. A pig would have agreed…just not a 12-year-old boy, but I digress.

2019, however, is not going to be about GSDing. Not that I don’t want to tackle a second kitchen cabinet this year or grow the blog. It’s just that in reflecting on 2018, I realize that I threw a lot of stuff at the wall to see what would stick. A lot of my “failures” were things that didn’t stick. Some because I didn’t put enough work into it. Some because it didn’t feel authentic. Some because I decided those things weren’t a priority right now.

I’ve been working on my “GSD”-like motto for 2019. This morning Julie Stenberg, life coach who did this vlog for us last year, asked on FaceBook what your word for 2019 will be. I thought, ugh, I don’t know! Day 3 and I’m too busy tripping over Christmas storage boxes to think about that. But I did! I thought about it on my way to the gym and while I was at the gym, and I think I have it.

I had an idea before this morning, mind you. The idea was this vague concept of just not throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck. I thought about the word authentic. Because I feel like some of my trials and tribulations of last year resulted in trying to get shit done that wasn’t authentic to me. One mutual friend responded to Julie’s question with the word efficient. I thought, that’s good. That conjured up thoughts of putting my efforts into the truly important, which then made me think prioritize. But there was something wrong about those, and they were what was wrong with my version of “GSDing” last year. That was that they smacked of busyness and constant striving.

See, one thing I’m coming away from 2018 with is this: I want to work on self-improvement, while being content. I’m not sure I’ve ever been content. Whether I was working hard or slacking off, I’ve had this nagging undercurrent of ‘not-enoughness.’

I kept thinking, I want to focus on being content. I want to focus on working on the things I did successfully and meaningfully last year. I want to focus on that second kitchen cabinet, i.e. areas of improvement. I want to focus on what matters to me, and that’s when I noticed a word that was popping up a lot. Focus.

2019, I will be focusing. It’s a fresh start. I have learned so much in 2018 on what worked and didn’t work on my blog. I want to focus on doing more of those things that worked, but personally, I want to focus on accepting what isn’t a half-bad life that I am living.

I don’t know if you are into setting intentions or resolutions. Personally, I hate the later term, but love intentions and goals, even if it is just semantics. If you are, I’d love for you to share your intentions in the comments or how you are approaching the fresh start of 2019.

Happy New Year!

My family and I had a lovely Thanksgiving this past week with one small exception. I decided that I would bake with the children. Now, normally I’d gladly blame the resulting mayhem on my children, because what’s childhood without a good dose of mother guilt thrown in to build character? But no, the problem was that I don’t bake. I don’t like baking, and I’m not good at baking.

I like to cook. Now, for those of you who neither cook nor bake, you may not realize that there is a difference. Well, let me assure you there is. Some people are good at both, but some of us prefer one or the other. I’m a cooking gal.

If I have time and energy, I enjoy cooking a nice soup or casserole or sauce or saute. Anything on top of the stove is fine by me. It’s that damned oven that poses problems. Actually, that’s not true, I can bake meat in an oven just fine.

I think the problem with me and baking is the precision and measurements of it. I much prefer to throw spices together and give it a taste and adjust as needed. That’s cooking! It’s sort of the fun Uncle of the food preparation world, while baking is the nun at your boarding school with the ruler to check the length of your skirt.

But MY mother and her mother were those women who did both, cooking and baking. Of course, Grandma did both; there was not a lot of other options for getting food cooked back in her day. In fact, my grandmother was renown in the small community in Missouri where she raised my mother and her siblings for being an excellent cook and baker. Among her most popular dishes were chicken and dumplings and her pies.

Everyone loved my grandmother’s pies. My mother made lovely pies, and always from scratch, but no one could ever quite master Grandma’s pie crusts. The recipe was no secret. We all baked with her and watched her, but she just knew how much flour and how to roll the dough just right. She just knew….I don’t know what she knew, but she knew it! She knew how to make perfect pie crusts.

I had no illusions that my kids and I would make perfect pie crusts. I simply wanted to give them that experience which was as common to me growing up as it is now foreign to my children born to a baking-deficient mother.

So, I have my ingredients and one child is interested and helping and we cobble together two crusts and put them in the oven to partially bake. We move on to making the fillings. The plan was to make a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie. However, the pumpkin filling ended up filling two pies.

No problem, because my son has now decided he wants in on the pie-baking action. After all, this is a rare sight in this house. My son is far more enthusiastic about rolling out the dough than my daughter. So, while I had quickly convinced my daughter to hand over the rolling pin to me the first time she started getting dough stuck to the table, my son was not so easily displaced from his job.

Now, I did realize at some point that I was being a control freak. Further, I was cognizant of the fact that it would be a more Norman Rockwell experience if I’d stop telling the boy how wrong he was doing it or sighing so loudly when I had to peel the dough off the table AGAIN to restart. But that knowledge just added to my anxiety and growing feelings of maternal inadequacies.

Then, it hit me. I had been telling the children all morning how my grandmother made pies almost every day. How there were always pies in her house, and she always made them perfectly.

Of course she was good at it, she did it every day! A cousin reminded me on my FaceBook post complaining about our pie-making endeavor, that Grandma would say practice makes perfect and a little less mess every time.

It’s like those memes where there’s a picture of how a finished project turned out on Pinterest vs. how it turned out in “real life.” Of course, our first attempts don’t look like the pretty ones that someone who has perfected the project posts!

Pinterest "nailed it" meme

That top cake is not someone’s first attempt at baking a cake!

Look, I have no inclination to become any better at making pies than I currently am, but what I’m taking away from this incident is that I’m going to stop expecting to be good at things I rarely do. Moreover, I need to stop comparing my “practices” to someone else’s “perfects.”

Social media is full of everyone’s best efforts. Their 126th selfie looks divine and you’ll never see all the hideousness that came before! I’m not knocking the fact that we all do that on social media. I’m just knocking myself a little upside the head with the reminder that life is not a string of perfected projects or sultry selfies or perfect pie crusts. Life is the messy behind the cameras part that you can’t compare to social media depictions of it.

You can’t compare your normal, every-day messy attempts at life to those perfected portrayals on social media or to the memories of pies perfected over a life time.

So, live your full-messy, not Facebook-worthy life! Post your wins, but embrace the rest of it too, because there’s a lot of good stuff to be had in the mess and imperfection.

Pie making mess

Our pie-making mess!

 

 

In 2003, I married my husband and moved from Miami to work in a more rural Florida town. I was still practicing law, at the time, but was looking for employment that felt more rewarding. I thought I had found it working for a small firm which practiced ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) law.

The firm was so small, it didn’t offer health insurance. Nonetheless, I took the job offer, because my new husband (an ex-marine) had coverage through the VA, and I was healthy and could afford to buy insurance on my own….or so I thought. See, this was back when insurance companies could deny coverage for preexisting conditions. I knew that, of course. What I didn’t know was that as a recovered bulimic, I would be considered as having a preexisting condition. I thought a preexisting condition was something current and on-going like Type I diabetes. It never occurred to me that I could be denied coverage for something in the past.

I don’t remember how many applications I submitted. I know, however, that the number of rejections I received was equal to the number of applications I completed. They were all rejected because of my past treatment for bulimia.

Yes, I had a full-time position as an attorney. I was completely healthy and recovered from bulimia and willing to pay the outrageous premiums that I was quoted, but I could not get a single insurance company to write me coverage. I went two years without coverage, before I was back with an employer-sponsored plan.

On the eve of this important midterm election, I wanted to share how important it is that we not go back to the days when coverage could be denied for preexisting conditions. I now have two children with preexisting conditions that they are never going to “recover” from. One of my children has ADHD and the other is on the autism spectrum.

In fact, it was due to a conversation with my autistic child about preexisting conditions that I decided to write this blog. I’m a political junkie, and the closer an election gets the more my kids overhear political jargon. I was listening to a political rally via Twitter when I picked up my daughter from school Friday. The speaker was discussing the importance of protecting our current preexisting conditions law. My daughter asked what they were talking about, and thus, the obvious analogy was to her. So, with a lump in my throat, I looked my beautiful, highly intelligent, physically healthy daughter in the eye and broke the news to her that some would deny her the ability to purchase health insurance because she is autistic.

I always vote. I have never missed an opportunity to vote. My son was born 21 minutes before an election day. I voted early that year. My husband did not, so he left me and his newborn son in the hospital to go vote. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I don’t understand people who don’t vote, quite frankly, but if you are one, I encourage you to rethink.

My son with his daddy's "I voted" sticker.

My son with his daddy’s “I voted” sticker.

I know a lot of people don’t get off on watching C-Span like I do. I know politics is as off-putting for many as it is exciting for me. But voting isn’t just for political junkies like me. Voting isn’t just for the law nerds or wing nuts.

Voting isn’t just about politics!

It’s about real people like my daughter who just needs a bit more help navigating a world that is often overwhelming for her brain. It’s about a young, professional who had an eating disorder in college, but who was healthy and trying to start her adult life.

Even if you are still unconvinced that the law should protect those of us with preexisting conditions, go vote! Even if health insurance coverage isn’t what you most care about, go vote! Even if you think your vote won’t matter, go vote.

Like I said, I have never missed an opportunity to vote, and you know what? Nothing bad has ever come from it. No, my candidates haven’t always won. I haven’t always understood those wordy amendment proposals, and I certainly don’t always know who to vote for for mosquito control. Yes, that’s a thing in Florida! But nothing bad has ever happened to me from showing up to vote.

This is no down side. Go VOTE!

I ran out to a small store near my neighborhood this morning. I just needed a few items to finish up my daughter’s Halloween costume. As I was checking out, two middle-aged men got in line behind me. One of them reached around me to grab a Chapstick out of the display. I started to do what we women normally do, move out of his way and apologize for being in “his” way, but I didn’t.

No, I decided I wouldn’t be pushed out. I stayed in my spot, but that didn’t stop this guy. He stayed in his now way-too-close position. I couldn’t move for fear I’d brush up against him. He was standing over me, and I could feel his breath.

I’m waiting for him to back up and fighting the urge to move “out of his way.” I know one wrong move and his body is touching mine, and that thought makes my skin crawl. My heart is pounding; this is way outside of the bounds of appropriate social space. When it was clear that he was not going to move, I realized I was going to have to say something. He was plainly content being that close to me, but I was not.

So, I did it. Something I’ve never done. I asked, “Would you back up? You’re in my personal space.” I didn’t talk myself out of it by telling myself that I was being silly to feel uncomfortable. I stood up to this strange man who was being wholly inappropriate.

I’m so glad I did. His reaction said it all. His reaction made it clear that he wasn’t clueless or mistaken about what he was doing. While he did back up a step, he went on to joke and laugh with his friend about the “girl” needing her personal space. How silly and funny of me, huh?

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter.” – Christine Blasey Ford

The female clerk, on the other hand, gave me a nod of approval and understanding. I’m very proud of myself, even if I do still want to scald the feeling of his breath off my skin. It wasn’t all right. His behavior was not okay, and any man who wasn’t an ass when confronted wouldn’t have compounded the situation with jokes and laughter. He would have never done that to a man. He would have never done that if my husband had been there. Neither he nor anyone else gets to make me feel small and unsafe at the freaking dollar store!

Back up! I apologize to myself, my fellow women, and most of all my daughter, for never before saying “back up” to the stranger who thinks it’s acceptable to physically intimidate me or try to brush against me or whatever the hell he thought he was doing. Enough is enough. If you don’t know how to treat me, then I will tell you. Back up!

Because, you see, it’s not about that dude and whatever the heck is wrong with him. It’s about me. I exist and have these voices that we all have that say, this is not safe, this is not ok with me, I’m uncomfortable with this situation. Too often, I ignore that voice for fear of being rude, but that’s not an acceptable way to treat myself.

Several months ago, I found myself in a nonphysical situation where I was tempted, like this morning, to not respect my own discomfort in a situation. A married man started texting me. The conversation itself was benign, but for various reasons, I was not interested in having this conversation via text with this person. My gut kept shouting to stop, but “I didn’t want to be rude.”

I’m laughing a bit as I admit the following. I texted my older sister to tell her what was happening and essentially get her permission to end the conversation. Yes, I’m 42 years old and I needed my sister’s help to stop texting someone I didn’t want to text. I’m a little ashamed, but thankful I have women in my life to give me permission when I don’t feel like a warrior woman.

So, in case any of my readers (women or men) need it. I give you permission to listen to your gut. I give you permission to take up space. I give you permission to protect your sense of well being when you are in public. I give you permission to end an awkward conversation. I give you permission to say, “back up!”

I am your store clerk smiling and nodding at you telling you, don’t listen to their laughter, you did the right thing. I am your sister saying, you’re right, you can stop texting him. I am your fellow warrior who isn’t always strong enough to recognize her own self-worth who will understand you when fail to listen to your gut or use your voice.

We aren’t warriors because we’ve conquered all our foes. We are warriors because we are still fighting.

 “I see a woman may be made a fool, If she had not a spirit to resist.” ― William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew

I thought I would be better at this parenting thing. It’s not that it is harder than I thought. I’m not naive; I knew it would be hard! The issue is I thought I’d be better at dealing with the difficulties.

I’m a highly educated woman. I can read and google. I thought that anything that came up, I could research or ask around and figure it out.

Also, I had a lot of experience with kids. Babysitting in high school and college. My undergrad degree was child development. I had two nephews and four nieces. I was even a nanny one summer. I had been around a lot of small humans.

Ahh, but that was care giving. That was the what and how to keep children alive. The rub is the why. It’s all the decisions that you’re making consciously or unconsciously.

Not long ago, I made that introductory statement, I thought I would be better at parenting, to a friend. She’s recently rejoined the workforce and her kids are not adjusting to the new schedule as well as hoped. As she told me what was going on, I sat there nibbling on my gyro, nodding, listening, thinking, “I got nothing for her” in terms of advice. Nothing other than, yeah, why aren’t we better at this?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. The rules keep changing.

My outgoing son who had been in preschool for 3 years and never flinched about leaving me had to be physically drug out of my car every morning for the first month of Kindergarten. Why? Every day at pick-up, he was happy and reported having a great day. His teacher was amazing, and we keep in touch with her to this day. Nonetheless, he went through these fits for what felt like forever when he started kindergarten.

On the other hand, my daughter who quit a music lesson last year simply because she was terrified to be on a promotional video, signed up to be a news anchor at her school this year. I was flabbergasted, asking if she understood that that included being video tapped? She didn’t appreciate the sarcasm.

My point is, every time I think I have something about how this is all supposed to play out, these little turds change the rules on me!

Parenting is a freaking moving target! And now, my little targets are starting to have hormones, you know, the bad teenagery ones. The ones that made my daughter storm off to her room last night and when I went to talk to her about it, made her declare, it’s no big deal.

Ones that make my son impossible to get out of bed in the morning. I resorted to finding the Army bugle call on loop and playing it until he got out of bed recently. He still made us late getting out the door though, by deciding to change shoes at the last minute.

The rules change by child. The rules change by age. The rules change by the phases of the moon. I don’t know why some of the rules change. I just know I keep looking for rules, and I’m getting dizzy!

  1. On a lot of issues, there’s information on both sides.

Trying to research to find an answer is not at all helpful. There’s information on both sides of every parental decision coin. Unless, you are asking should I abuse my child or not, there’s rarely any shortage of information supporting something.

The care giving you can learn and figure out. It’s the parenting that’s hard. In care giving, I learned you promptly change a poopy diaper or the baby gets a rash, but how many extracurricular activities are too many or not enough. There’s no answer for that. It “depends on the child!” That’s the only answer, and what kind of an answer is that? I already said my kids like to change the rules on me!

  1. There’s a terrible shortage of down time in this parenting game.

Workdays and weeks come to ends, but not parenting. Oh, sure they go to sleep, but you never know when they’re going to have a nightmare or a sudden fever.

It’s all so exhausting physically and mentally, and I want to do it so well, and that just makes it feel harder.

I found this study in The Economist, which says parents spend twice as much time with their kids these days than 50 years ago. I would analyse what that means for us, but I’m exhausted. I’ll just say, I’m trying to let those stats relieve some Mommy guilt.

  1. Too many decisions.

Personally, I’ve decided it all boils down to this one. Parenting, as opposed to care giving, just involves an inordinate amount of decision making.

Moreover, we’ve made it harder for ourselves. 100 years ago whether or not you co-slept depended on whether or not you could afford a separate bedroom or whether you all needed to sleep together in the winter for warmth.

Now, we have so many gadgets to hold an infant, people have a couple in every room in the house. We have all these gadgets and now you must decide which ones are good, and hold long the baby can be in the damn thing, and can I put the thing on the counter without the baby falling off (no, the answer’s no, ding dong!).

Once you decide you want a gadget, then which brand? No wonder Ma and Pa Ingalls were so perfect, they never had to decide between a Bumbo or a bouncy seat or how much screen time a 10 year old should have!

We’re spending half our mental energy making decisions about what things to use, what events to go to, how much stimulation should the child get. It makes an already exhausting job harder.

I’ve heard that Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day because he had so many decisions to make that he wanted to cut out the “what to wear” decision. I want to figure out what the “Steve Jobs turtleneck” of parenting is. How can I streamline all these decisions that I have to make? And look, I’ve already quit deciding what to wear, it’s a tank top and leggings or shorts. But that’s a personal decision I’ve cut out. I want one less parenting decision!

Perhaps, the answer is the adage of “don’t sweat the small stuff,” but I can’t decide.

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