Can We Try a Little Kindness?

I’ve deactivated my Facebook account three separate times in the past couple of weeks, mainly because I got my feelings hurt. (If you’re new here, my feelings are hurt very easily. Let’s just make peace with it.)

In the bigger picture though, I did it because we’ve collectively forgotten how to be nice.

And I get it. I do. At the time of this writing, nearly 90,000 people have died. We’ve lost loved ones. People are worn down, and scared, and anxious, and staring at a whole hell of a lot of unknowns. People are losing jobs, businesses are going bankrupt, people are going hungry, our mental health is suffering. There are protests. There is violence. There are inequities.

We’re scared. We’re scared. We’re scared and we’re pissed off, a combination that is…. volatile, at best.

A few days ago, I posted a link to an incident at a Target in Van Nuys, California. There was an altercation over the requirement to wear a face mask, and an employee’s arm was broken. I guess the (positive?) thing is that the result was a broken arm, not a death like the case in Flint, Michigan. The truly terrifying thing, which I said in my post, is that I’m no longer surprised to see these headlines.

To say that tensions are high is a gross understatement.

In the course of ensuing conversation, I used the phrase, “lost their minds,” and I was promptly reprimanded. (Paraphased): You’re everything that’s wrong with the world today. We can disagree without name calling. We can be civil adults. What makes you think you’re better than everyone else?

Pot? I’m the kettle. You’re black.

Now, could I have used a softer phrase? Sure. Could he have been kinder in his response? You bet. But we’re skipping kindness in favor of being right, and it’s made me so, so tired. So tired that I immediately deleted his comment, deleted my post, and deactivated Facebook.

We’ve forgotten how to be kind.

And to be fair, there is a lot at stake here. Disagreements aren’t just regular disagreements anymore. These disagreements are quite literally about life and death. People have drawn clear lines in the sand, and whether the stance is a political one, a scientific one, a moral one, or just a gut-feeling one, we are all holding on for dear life.

But does anyone truly, truly believe that it’ll help someone else see our perspective if we’re beating them over the head with it? Because that’s really not how it works.

I am scared to click publish on this one, probably more scared than I’ve been on any post before. Both because of the, “did I say what I meant to say, and is it going to be completely misconstrued” fears, and because it is such a fragile, volatile time right now. More fragile and volatile than anything I’ve ever experienced in my 46 years on this planet.

But I’m going to publish anyway. And I’m going to hope against all hope that when we share/post/comment about our feelings about what’s going on (and to be clear, I do think we should be talking about it. It’s important.) that we can all – myself included – do so with a little more kindness.

Leave a Comment

Filed under hot topics, Uncategorized

Teens, Tantrums, and Stereotypes

Watch this first.

There is a video going around Facebook, basically making fun of middle schoolers.

Maybe you saw it. Maybe it made you laugh. I concede that parts of it made me laugh, because the guy who made it is funny. But I couldn’t finish it.

A few things, off the bat:

Are middle schoolers/adolescents/teens sometimes…. salty? Yes. Hormones do wacky things.

Are grown ups sometimes salty? Yes. Life does wacky things.

The difference is (and no, this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last) we don’t make videos mocking adults for their less than stellar moments. This is childism, plain and simple. To believe this video is to believe that middle schoolers are always sullen, and angry, and irritable, and uncooperative.

Are they those things sometimes? Again, YES! I have four children, three of whom are well past puberty, and one who is thick in its throes. Have there been difficult days? Yes. Have there been frustrating days? Yes. Have there been days where I’ve felt I needed to walk on eggshells a little bit? Yes.

But here’s the thing.

Videos like this play into the stereo-typically “bad” parts of adolescence, and there is so. much. good! Truly.

Kids this age are funny. They’re intelligent. They’re creative. They’re masterfully growing into their own unique skin. If we’re having trouble seeing that – and I say this as gently as I know how – maybe that’s an “us” problem, and not a “them” problem. Maybe we’re seeing what we want to see. Or what we think we should see. Or what society tells us to see.

Not too long ago, someone asked on Facebook how his fellow parents of teens were doing. I commented (like I always do when the subject comes up) that I adore having teens. Because I really do. His response? “Seriously???” What upset me about his answer was not the fact that he was having a different experience (because yes, absolutely, all dynamics and relationships are different, even within the same family) but the fact that he was so surprised that it could even be a possibility.

The common parenting trope tells us that teens are difficult. Rebellious. Disrespectful. Self-centered. But why? Why do we feel the need to believe it?

Because posts, articles, and videos like this one present it as truth.

BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY.

We can choose to see the good in our kids. We can choose connection over animosity. We can choose compassion over control. We can be the adults, and recognize that these young people are going through huge and confusing life changes, and that they deserve grace. Heaps of it.

What they don’t need? To be made fun of on social media.

Leave a Comment

Filed under gentle parenting, parenting, teens

The Anatomy of a Conversation Ruined By Mental Illness

These are strange and hard days. Even normally healthy people are having issues with their mental health, and when you have a mental illness and are already coming at it with a disadvantage, well, things are… well, they’re extra fragile. We’re too many days into quarantine to keep count, the threads that weave my emotions together are tenuous, and even simple interactions are leading to my undoing.

It’s a hard thing to explain to someone who hasn’t been there, but sometimes the simplest, most innocuous things can set off an ugly chain. And you see it, you see it happening as if you’re looking from outside your body. You can see you’re being irrational. You can see your mind is twisting things. But you’re utterly powerless to stop it. It takes on a life of its own, and it owns you, until it either burns out of its own volition, or you’re somehow able to recall some helpful tidbit from therapy that allows you to diffuse it.

Last night, I had the following conversation, which sadly, followed the same pattern of MANY conversations:

It started out well enough. YouTube, celebrities, tomato plants, desserts. Delightful. Happy. Random. And then for some reason (I never know the reason) I decided to unleash a tangled mass of word vomit, this time about how much I hated taking medication, and why did I take it anyway, and what if the naysayers were right, and what if I just stopped taking it? I was seeking reassurance I think, though the reasoning is often lost even by that early point.

What I got in return was not reassurance, but being (rightly) called out for being unreasonable. I promptly felt stupid, and embarrassed, and unheard. I could barely answer her. My friend ghosted then, for any one of a number of reasons. Maybe a kid needed her, or she got called away, or she had to cook dinner, or she needed to use the bathroom for God’s sake. I don’t know. But she was gone, and then my mind went into overdrive. Paranoia and abandonment issues are real. I felt stupid and embarrassed and unheard, AND now felt a desperate, frantic need to undo it. This is a big thing with me. ABORT! ABORT! Make the bad feelings go away. I tried to apologize (for what, I’m not sure. Also a big thing with me) all the while hating myself for it, because did I really have something to be sorry about? I was PANICKING. Pure and total panic, over… what? I never know.

She resurfaced after my bumbled attempt to apologize, after I was already certain that she hated me, because seriously, how long can I expect a person to put up with someone who flies off the handle at any imagined provocation? She told me simply, “You’re okay,” which, for some irrational reason made me feel ten times worse, because I needed to hear words. I needed to hear reassurance. I needed to hear – ironically – that I was okay. That WE were okay. That I wasn’t crazy. That she didn’t hate me. That she understood. (Though, how anyone could understand any of it is beyond me) I needed to hear something magic, and I don’t even know what it was. I don’t know that anything would have helped. When I reach that point, very little does.

So they stayed. The gross, tearing-up-my-insides feelings remained. I went to bed feeling stupid, and embarrassed, and unheard, and sad. I went to bed hating myself, because WHY DID I DO THAT? Why did I do that, AGAIN? What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be normal? The answer to that final question, by the way, is because I’m not. My brain is not wired normally. And it’s okay. Maddening and frustrating maybe, but okay.

Sleep was hard to come by, but it finally overtook me. I woke up feeling stupid, and embarrassed, and unheard, and sad. I woke up hating myself, this time because in my post flip-out hangover, I saw it even more clearly. I saw what I’d done, and I knew – I KNEW – that if I’d stopped and breathed and used any number of self-centering tools, it all could’ve been averted. But I never realize that except in hindsight. In the moment, I’m too blinded with… something. Something that takes over.

And now, 24 hours later? I am calmer. A little more rationality has crept back in. I feel a little more human, a little less crazed. But I’m tired. I’m tired of it catching me off-guard. I’m tired of the sudden and sickening tsunami of emotions. I’m tired of worrying that my relationships can’t withstand me. I’m just tired.

But I’ll move on. I’ll try to learn from it. I’ll try to do better next time (and, sadly, there will be a next time). When all is said and done, all I can do is try.

6 Comments

Filed under bipolar, BPD, mental health

COVID-19, 17 days later

*Warning: What follows is nothing more than a stream-of-consciousness, vomiting of words. It has no point other than to get some thoughts out of my head and onto the computer.*

Seventeen days ago (it was just 17 days!), I wrote about the Coronavirus. Don’t panic, I said. Let’s take a deep breath, I said. Let’s keep it in perspective, I said. While those things might very well still be valid, we are living in a very different world now, JUST OVER TWO WEEKS LATER.

Cases are rising. Rapidly. Schools are closed. Bars and restaurants are closed. Gyms are closed. Libraries are closed. Many retail establishments are closed. Events are cancelled. More and more states are implementing a state-wide “stay in place” order. People are being urged to cancel play dates, gatherings with friends, trips to the park, and to otherwise practice “social distancing.” We are living in a different world. Whether you agree with the restrictions or not, life is different now, and while this time will eventually end, none of us are coming out of it unchanged.

I’ll be honest. I’m about as big an introvert as they come, and at first the idea of self-imposed isolation sounded lovely. I get to stay home ALL THE TIME! I don’t have to see people! I can wear pajamas all day!

That elation was, however, short-lived.

This is surreal. I feel suspended in this state somewhere between reality and I-don’t-know-what. I’m scattered. I’m anxious. I’m depressed. (Note to those who read my Rock Bottom post: I’m okay. I’m safe. I’m just….. this is just unlike anything I’ve ever lived through before.)

I’m finding myself sort of wandering through my house, not knowing what to do with myself. I’m working my way through my current – and second to last! – college class, but I’m lucky if I can concentrate for 10 minutes at a time. I have books to read and projects to do, but for real, who can concentrate right now?? Even television, one of my favorite things, requires a certain level of attentiveness that I just don’t possess at the present time.

Mike is now working from home, which is weird in and of itself. It was one of the things that made this finally click into “real” for me. He was sent home under the edict of working from home “until further notice.” Not for two weeks, not for six weeks, just… indefinitely.

Paxton (19 at the time of this writing) is still working outside the house (which gives me its own sense of panic), because his job is considered essential. Tegan (12), our sole extrovert, is going absolutely stir crazy, and the other two boys seem to be handling all of this okay.

But none of this feels real. I feel like I can’t state that enough.

I think the hardest part, for me, is just the high level of uncertainty. There is just so much UNCERTAINTY. We, as a people, tend to like to be in control, and this is very much the exact opposite of being in control. We don’t know how long we’ll be isolated. We don’t know when the economy is going to get back to normal. We don’t know if we – or our loved ones – are going to get sick. We don’t know if the stores are going to be stocked. Some of us don’t know where our next paycheck is coming from. Some of us don’t know where our next meal is coming from.

I’m worried about my loved ones who are high-risk.

I’m worried about what this is going to mean for the economy.

I’m worried about the folks for whom this is a hardship, financial or otherwise.

I’m worried about the mental health of, well, everyone.

I’m just… worried.

And I get it. Some people say, “It’s not like there’s anything you can do about it. Why worry?” Yes. Sure. But that doesn’t change the uncertainty. That doesn’t change the anxiety. That doesn’t change the very real feelings of being out-of-control.

And so, I’m going to do my best to do the things I can control. It might sound silly, but today I put on jeans instead of staying in pajamas because I thought it might help somehow (the jury is still out). I’m going to keep writing, and journaling, and working on my class, and hopefully – if my attention span allows – being creative. I’m going to keep my nails painted. I’m going to keep listening to good music. I’m going to talk with my kids, and eat good dinners, and drink plenty of water. I’m going to take all my meds on time, and I’m going to try to make sure I get enough sleep. I’m going to keep checking on Everett’s garden, and playing with Tegan’s hedgehog, and trying to read good books. I’m going to make self-care a priority and an imperative.

And still, I’ll worry.

3 Comments

Filed under hot topics, Uncategorized

But How Will They __________, If You Haven’t Made Them ________?

It’s a question I get a lot, in various forms, from people trying to wrap their heads around radical unschooling.

“How will they learn to clean their house if you haven’t made them do chores?”

“How will they learn to get up in time for a job if you haven’t made them go to bed at a certain hour?”

“How will they get into college if you’ve never made them take a test?”

“How will they learn to obey authority if you’ve never made them follow any rules?”

“How will they learn to socialize if you’ve never made them go to school?”

While I won’t address all of those questions right now, two of my kids are doing some cool things that definitively answer a couple of them.

About a month ago, my 19 year old started working a full time job. He had no high school diploma (side note: if it were important to him, or to any of my kids, there are lots of ways to get one online), so we helped him make a resume. For someone who’d never gone to school or held a job, it was a pretty cool resume! It included desert cleanups we’d done with off-roading groups, work he’s done with the planning, organization, and execution of our unschooling conference, the years he’s spent writing and performing with various bands. We talked with him a little bit about the interview (be yourself, be polite, be honest) but that was more to be thorough than because we thought he really needed it. He was offered the job at the interview, and he started a few days later. Previously used to staying up late, he started using his alarm, and quickly shifted his sleep. He usually works 11-8, and had absolutely no problem adjusting to the new schedule.

Our youngest son, 15 at the time of this writing, recently decided he wanted to take some classes at the community college this summer. Again, no high school diploma (and he’s not yet old enough to have gotten one traditionally anyway) but that’s not an issue for community college. We reviewed the application process together, and he started working his way through the steps. The last thing he needs to do is to take placement tests to see what level math and English classes he would need to take. He’s never taken a test before, save for the driver’s license test for his permit – which he had no problem taking – so he’s doing what everyone does. He’s studying. The college posted some study guides, and he’s going through them one by one. He said the English was pretty easy, except for the grammar. (Which is fair. I like to call myself a writer, and I think grammar is hard too). He found the math easy too, except for when he got to the upper level algebra. So he’s taking his time and learning what he needs to know. He’s never taken a math class, or an English class, or a science class. But he knows a lot about all of the above, and more importantly, he has the confidence to learn everything he doesn’t yet know.

It’s a hard concept for a lot of people, simply because it’s so different from the norm, but I think that unschooling has given them a huge advantage when it comes to doing new things. They have no hang-ups about learning, no anxieties around certain subjects (math trauma, anyone??), no doubts that they can do anything that they set their minds to. The simple answer to all of the above questions? They decide they want to do something… and they just do it.

Comments Off on But How Will They __________, If You Haven’t Made Them ________?

Filed under Uncategorized, unschooling

The Coronavirus Is Simpler And More Complicated Than You Think

People are freaking out. Store shelves are getting emptied of toilet paper and bottled water and hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap. Events and travel plans are getting cancelled. People are being urged to stay home and avoid crowds. People are getting quarantined. Schools are closing. Proper hand-washing technique is touted over and over again. (Which is…. bizarre… to me, because I thought that people already knew how to wash their hands, especially during cold and flu season. I’m being told that that is not the case.) In short, there is wide spread panic.

Let’s take a collective breath, please.

Some numbers, for perspective:

At the time of this writing, 14 Americans have died from Coronavirus. All precious lives that should have been spared, to be sure, but in comparison:

12,000 to 30,000 Americans have died from the flu between October 1, 2019, and February 1, 2020

About 1 in 4 Americans die each year from heart disease.

About 600,000 Americans die per year from cancer.

About 130 Americans die per DAY from suicide.

About 40,000 Americans die per year in car accidents.

About 9 MILLION people, worldwide, die from hunger each year.

But let’s get back to coronavirus. According to nearly every report, the vast majority of people who will contract the virus will have mild to moderate respiratory symptoms and will recover on their own, The virus appears to be spread through droplets from the affected individuals when they sneeze, cough, and then touch things. (This is where the vigilant hand washing comes into play.) Like the flu, your best defense is keeping your immune system healthy, eating well, getting enough sleep, avoiding crowded places as much as you can, and yes, washing your hands.

Also like the flu, the coronavirus is mostly a concern for those who are elderly, already have underlying health conditions, and/or are immunocompromised in some way. I think it’s important to remember that we all know and love someone, or several someones, that fall into one or more of those categories, and that their lives have just as much meaning as ours. They shouldn’t be treated as though they are expendable, which is kind of what we’re doing when we shrug it off and say, “Oh it’s only dangerous if you’re over 70 or already sick.” Their lives matter, and for those who meet those criteria, this virus is scary! This is a great article that talks about the problem with this line of thinking. Those of us that are healthy should be caring about, and caring for, those who are not, which makes proper hygiene and precautions even more vitally important.

Another area that complicates the issue is the oft repeated advice of, “If you’re sick, stay home.” While that is good advice, it’s simply not possible for a large portion of the population. Many people don’t have sick days, or vacation time. Many people would lose their jobs if they stayed home. Many people NEED those jobs to put food on their tables and keep clothes on their backs. My husband has a good benefits plan, and could take as many sick days as he needed. He could work from home if it came to that. If his company experienced a shutdown, he would still be paid. It would be easy for me to say, from that place of privilege, “For God’s sake, stay home if you’re sick!” But many many people do not have that luxury, and that’s important for us to remember too.

All of this means that A) people with active coronavirus are going to be out and about in the community because they literally have no choice, and B) everyone, including our more at-risk loved ones, could potentially be exposed. It is not something to panic about, simply because panic never helped anything, but it is something to be aware of. It’s something to be prepared for. It’s something to be approached with the appropriate amount of caution.

In what was a first for my family, we did make a small, couple weeks’ stockpile of non-perishables, a package of toilet paper, a package of paper towels, etc. Not because we’re afraid of the coronavirus, but because the threat of shutdowns or mandatory quarantine feels increasingly real (And also, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared for any type of temporary emergency. There’s not too much of a chance of blizzards in Phoenix, but there are dust storms, there are power outages, etc.)

But I digress.

The coronavirus is real, and it’s likely not going away anytime soon. But panicking is not the answer. Taking care of our health, avoiding crowded places (if we can), staying home from work (if we can), and practicing proper and careful hygiene will go a long way towards tempering its effects, for ourselves, and especially for those who are ill.

P.S. Wash your hands.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I’m Not Afraid To Be A Kind Mom

I just saw an article come through my Facebook newsfeed with the title, “I’m Not Afraid To Be A ‘Mean Mom’, Because I Don’t Want To Raise A**holes.” Now, you might very well be thinking, “Haven’t you written about this before?” Yes, yes I have. “Do you really need to write about it again?” Yes, I really do. “Every time?” Yes, every time. Here’s why: the official parenting party line continues to celebrate meanness. It pats itself on the back over the fallacy that harshness begets well-behaved children (whatever “well-behaved” means.) It prides itself on “being the parent, not the friend.” And every time – Every. Time. – that message is put out into the world, it deserves to have a counterpoint. It deserves to have another voice, a voice that chooses kindness over meanness, connection over control, compassion over shame. Quite simply, people need to know, deserve to know, that there is another way… a kinder, gentler, more respectful way… to raise kids.

The article in question really just makes three main points, but they all need to be addressed. Dismantling what we believe and why we believe it is important, and it pushes us to be better parents. It’s easy to follow the status quo and be mean to our kids, but if we want a good relationship with our kids… if we want kids who are confident and capable and compassionate… if we want kids who are in turn kind to their kids… we need to do better.

1) Being mean is necessary. The author mentions several times that being mean is simply par for the course, an inevitable part of being a good mom. Sometimes it’s just a responsibility that one must accept if they’re to be a parent.

But being mean is not necessary. Let me start there. Much ado is made of the fact that in order for kids to learn to pick up after themselves, to help around the house, or to take care of basic hygiene, that there needs to be meanness on the part of the parent. According to this mom, being mean is necessary to prevent her kids from becoming Neanderthals, or “feral heathens.” Four kids and 23 years tells me otherwise. Children, like all people, respond best when they’re treated with kindness and respect, when they’re given genuine choice and control over their lives, and when they’re treated like people. Far too often, parents feel that children need to be trained as if they are dogs. But they are fellow humans, and they deserve to be treated as such.

As for chores and helping out around the house, there seems to be an either/or mentality that states that either mom needs to rule with an iron fist to get anyone to do what she asks, OR mom needs to be a martyr, gets walked all over, and does everything herself. But there’s a happy third option in which we work in partnership with our kids, a place where there’s mutual respect, a place where we can ask instead of demand. If you had a roommate who had a persistent habit of leaving his dirty socks on the couch, would you be mean to him in order to solve the problem? No. You’d have a respectful conversation. Shouldn’t our children, these young people still figuring out how the world works, be given the same consideration? At the time of this writing, my second oldest is 19. He recently started working a full-time job, and has to wear a uniform shirt. I do laundry on Friday, and I told him I’d be happy to wash any shirts that he’s put in the hamper. But he needs them done more often than that, so he runs his own load mid-week, without my ever having had to be mean about it. (He also sets his own alarm, gets himself showered, and gets to work on time, despite my never having been mean about any of that either)

2) Her kids are pretty perpetually mad at her. She says her kids are pissed off at her “on the regular,” and that there is whining and complaining and crying. Color me confused. For real. Is there any other relationship in your life where pissing people off is your barometer for success? If you were constantly pissing your friends off, or your spouse, or your co-workers, you would (one would hope) think about why it’s occurring and what adjustments need to be made. Why, if it’s your kids, would it suddenly be something to pat yourself on the back about? If your kids are constantly mad at you, something is wrong. Yes, we’re all human. Yes, people get mad sometimes. But if you’re deliberately causing anger, that’s something that needs to be addressed. It is not a sign of good parenting, and it’s certainly not a sign of a good relationship.

I look at it this way: Sometimes, as parents, we’re going to have to make decisions that will make our kids angry, especially when it comes to matters of safety. (I’m thinking of the toddler that REALLY wants to stick the paper clip in the electrical outlet.) Sometimes, because of their own personal issues, our kids are going to be angry at us through no fault of our own. Maybe they’re angry about something else, and we’re the safe ones to dump their feelings on. Maybe life’s unfair and they’re angry at everyone and anything. (We’ve all been there) Maybe their hormones are going crazy, and the fallout just happens to head in our direction. Both of those things are okay, and are even inevitable at some point in time. But constantly treating our kids in a way that makes them angry? It’s not kind, and it’s not something to celebrate.

And finally,

3) I’M THE PARENT, NOT THE FRIEND. True story: I was telling my kids about this blog post while we were eating dinner, and one of my teens said, “Why why why why WHY do people think that being parents and friends are mutually exclusive?” Indeed.

I’ve written about this before as well. Not only do I think it’s possible, but I think it’s hugely important to be both parents and friends with your kids. Parents are protectors. They raise, they guide, they nurture, they provide care. And friends? Real, true friends? Friends have your back. They’re your confidantes. They listen when you need to talk. They give honest advice. They make you laugh. They’re your shoulder when you need to cry. They call you out on your poor choices. They are your biggest cheerleaders, and your soft place to fall. They’re the ones who stand on a wall and say, “Nobody’s going to hurt you. Not on my watch.” Why on earth would anyone not want to be that person for their kids? For me, my friendship and my parenting with my kids is so intertwined, I could never separate the two. And I wouldn’t want to! In fact, my kids are some of my very best friends, and exactly the kind of people I choose to have in my life. They are kind, they are considerate, they are funny, they are intelligent. They inspire me to be a better person. If I took some sort of moral stance against being their friend, I would truly be missing out on one of the very best parts of parenting. Yes, I’m my children’s friend, and make no apologies for it.

—————————————————————–

My kids aren’t perfect, and Lord knows I’m not perfect either. We’re all just humans, doing our best, navigating this human thing together. But this much I know: if I always try to lead with love, kindness, gentleness, and respect, I’m headed in the right direction.

11 Comments

Filed under attachment parenting, gentle parenting, mindful parenting, parenting, Uncategorized

Dear Boys Who Want To Date My Daughter: No One’s Going To Be Waiting With A Shotgun

Tegan is a freshly minted 12 year old at the time of this writing. She loves her friends, her hedgehog and Stranger Things. She’s a singer and an actor and a story teller. She’s super into skin care, loves experimenting with makeup, and carries her ionic hairbrush everywhere she goes. Things like dating are not even on her radar.

But let me back up a little bit.

Yesterday a really lovely lifestyle blogger shared a picture of her little girl and her husband. Her absolutely precious daughter was wearing a set of pajamas that read, “Sorry boys, Daddy says no dating.” I generally get bored reading comments that number in the hundreds, but 99% of what I did read said the same things: “So cute!” “Adorable!” “So funny!” Always the odd man out, I didn’t find it cute or adorable OR funny. In fact, I find it kind of… gross.

The toddlers that these pajamas are made for are not going to be thinking of dating for several years. Let’s just start there. These are children, and to sexualize them in this way is creepy.

But that’s actually not my biggest problem.

Our children are not our property. Full stop. Shirts like this, as well as the common trope of dad scaring off the boys with a shotgun, suggest otherwise. My daughter’s future dating life, as well as her body, belong to her, not to her father. We might find it cute and funny to joke about dad and his shotgun, or about his beating the boys off with a stick, or otherwise intimidating anyone who dares come to the door. But it’s not cute. It’s controlling, and it contributes to the overarching problem of the male patriarchy.

When Tegan eventually brings a boy* to the house, he will be welcomed, not turned away. He’ll be talked to, not interrogated. He’ll be shown respect, not intimidation. In short, he’ll be treated like every other friend they bring through the door. Friends who I’ve come to love as my own children.

Does that mean then that there wouldn’t be a conversation if she were dating someone that was toxic or otherwise unkind? Of course not. Do I think it’s super likely that she will choose someone who is toxic or otherwise unkind? Not especially. She, along with her brothers, have so far shown a remarkable maturity in being able to set boundaries for themselves, and to distance themselves from unhealthy relationships. They possess a friend-picker that is far more refined than any I had at their ages.

Does that I mean I don’t think there will ever be problems? No. Will there be bumps, and hiccups, and missteps, and heartbreaks? Yes. Communication is paramount, and we’ll navigate the world of dating like everything else: as partners, not adversaries. I want my kids to be able to be open with me, about anything. Using controlling stances and scare tactics pretty much closes that door. Dating is just another chapter in the parenting playbook, one that we’ll figure out with time, patience, and mutual respect.

And it will never, ever involve threats of being met at the door with a shotgun.

————————————————————————————-

* I used the word boy because at this point in time, it appears to be the most likely. But a girl would be equally accepted. 🙂

3 Comments

Filed under hot topics, parenting, Uncategorized

Celebrities With Mental Illness

Billie Eilish is an 18 year old former unschooler who just won five Grammys, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year. She broke records in the process. Crazy successful by most people’s standards, she also has a close-knit, loving family (she co-writes with her brother, and calls him her best friend), and still lives in the same two bedroom home she grew up in. I think she’s amazing. Of course, being such a huge public personality also means she has her vocal detractors. Yesterday, I read one such detractor bemoaning how “dark” her lyrics were, and how she shouldn’t be someone to look up to, since she’s spoken about and written about depression and mental health. The best part? When she said, “ThOsE wItH mEnTaL hEaLtH iSsUeS aReNt SuCesSfUlL.” (Weird emphasis is hers.)

Now, I don’t want to spend any more time talking about an ignorant, and obviously categorically untrue, statement. But I do want to say that those with mental illnesses are absolutely successful, and that success doesn’t have to look like five Grammys. People working a 9 to 5 job are successful. People going to school are successful. People who are raising babies are successful. And sometimes? Sometimes just getting out of bed and breathing in and out is a lot of work in and of itself. And that’s successful too.

But because the world seems to like the “big” success stories, I wanted to share a – partial – list of some celebrities that have been vocal about working and living with mental illnesses. I share this list for 1) the people who have mental illnesses and may doubt themselves because of it, 2) the people who are afraid to speak up because of the stigma that still exists, and 3) the people who just need a little bit of encouragement. Anything is possible, and having a mental illness does not have to stop you from living out your dreams, no matter what those dreams might be. In fact, it may even help! I still maintain that the same part of my brain that gives me bipolar also gives me my creativity.

A couple caveats on the list: Many people fall into more than one category (as do I), but I only listed them in one just to make an already lengthy list shorter. Also, I only included the celebrities that have spoken themselves about their illness, not celebrities that have been speculated about / diagnosed by strangers. And finally, I only included a few of the possibilities. For example, there are no categories for PTSD, eating disorders, or addiction, all of which many celebrities have been open about as well. Mental illness, of any kind, is nothing to be ashamed of.

Without further ado:

DEPRESSION

Prince Harry

James Franco

Rick Springfied

Jim Carrey

Ellen Degeneres

JK Rowling

Hayden Panettiere (postpartum)

Jared Padalecki

Brad Pitt

Jon Hamm

Angelina Jolie

Gwyneth Paltrow (postpartum)

Brittany Snow

Lady Gaga

Miley Cyrus

Beyonce

Lizzo

Selena Gomez

Janet Jackson

Mayim Bialik

Ben Affleck

Chrissy Teigen (postpartum)

Ryan Philippe

Wayne Brady

Brooke Shields (postpartum)

BIPOLAR

Mariah Carey

Carrie Fisher

Mel Gibson

Demi Lovato

Russel Brand

Brian Wilson

Kurt Cobain

Jimi Hendrix

Ernest Hemingway

Ted Turner

Katherine Zeta Jones

Vivien Leigh

Sinead O’Connor

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jane Pauley

Patty Duke

Pete Wentz

David Harbour

OCD

Leonardo Dicaprio

David Beckham

Megan Fox

Lena Dunham

Camila Cabello

Howie Mandel

ANXIETY

Lili Reinhart

Olivia Munn

Kristin Bell

Ariana Grande

Busy Phillips

Amanda Seyfried

Emma Stone

Kendall Jenner

Gina Rodriguez

Elizabeth Vargas

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

xo,

6 Comments

Filed under mental health, Uncategorized

Meet Tegan

When Tegan was a toddler, I used to write a lot about her on my blog. In fact, her antics were what inspired me to write, Why I Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk, which is the post that brought a lot of you to my blog for the first time. Can you believe she is turning TWELVE in a few days?! I write about the kids less and less as they get older, partly for privacy reasons, and partly just because things change and seasons shift. But yesterday, I woke up to a Tegan message that made me laugh, and I told her she should write a blog post for me sometime (while she was eating chicken, as you’ll read down below.) She is still the same sassy, spunky, kid she was when she was three, and I couldn’t possibly love her more. Here is her original message to me, and her first ever blog post. I hope they make you smile.

that awkward moment when your brother freaks out about the expiration date on watermelon juice and your other brother said it was fine but he still sniffs it intensely for like 2 minutes straight and then has you smell it and it smells fine and then he pours it into a cup and drinks it and is like “nOpE tHaTs bAd” and he has you try it and so you take a sip and its like literal death in your mouth and you swear you’re getting poisoned and you’re about to die from death and you spit it out back in the cup but the taste of hell is still soaked into your mouth pallets so you have to force feed yourself water straight from the sink and you put it on blast mode so you’re just filling your mouth with water for multiple minutes and you’re dying and its bad and as you’re writing a facebook status the taste still haunts you.


um, hi. i was eating chicken and my mom asked me to write a blog post mid bite so here i am. she never specified what i should write, so you should honestly just keep scrolling and skip my pointless rambling that’ll probably go on for a long time. however, if you’re interested in my some what entertaining writing, then feel free to stay! if you’re still here, i’m proud of you. what’s up?? you must like me enough to keep reading! well, i’m not sure if this is qualified to go up on a blog page post account thing or whatever she calls it, but she never told me what to write about so i just continued to eat my chicken but still questioned why she wanted me to write this for her. well, apparently it’s because people find me “funny” and they want me to keep writing and all that chill stuff. that is wack, my friend. i’m still waiting on a call from jerry seinfeld to get me a gig with him, but he’s too busy eating lucky charms and drinking pepsi to call me back. shame on you, jerry.

regardless, i’m waiting for someone to hit me up with a nomination for “best blog post ever written by a crazed stranger things fan girl who also enjoys some good garlic bread” award! in my opinion, that sounds like something i would watch. and now would be the time that i have raging writers block, since this is literally about nothing in particular, so that’s fun. i’m just vibing with air, still traumatized from the death juice i almost consumed last night. i’m literally sitting here waiting for my brain to say “!!!!!!!!I HAvE SOMETHING INTERESTINg FOR YOu tO wRITE AbOUT” but there isn’t anything… so… great.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized