Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I'm Bored

Summertime and the living is easy - well except when you hear "Mom!!!!! I'm Bored!" .  Ever heard that from your kids ?  Really ?- stop it - of course you have.   I hear it from mine on a regular basis.

Summertime in particular should be a time where boredom is not only permitted but encouraged.  We have become a society, particularly in the US, of no downtime.  This is not kid specific only but it is all of us.  Downtime is high on the list things we seem to be good at shaming people on - social media is the new stockade.  As a world we easily brand people, throw virtual rotted fruit at, and of course pass judgement on many things.   It is slightly appalling and I try and control myself and apologize when I do it.   There is something so base and primitive at pointing at someone and feeling some sense of superiority over not behaving like they did.  It is the basis for much of faith based teaching and as someone who came to being an atheist by studying as much as I could about faiths in every one of them there appears to be a whole balance to that about not casting such judgement and leaving that to the deity.  That seems to be less easy to embrace from what I see vs the scarlet letter that we can steam on.   Boredom, downtime, lazying is frowned upon.

Boredom is up there in the social scolding category, as if for some reason we are not busy and entertained we are failing.  Our children are being raised very often, again my point of personal reference is what I see and experience in NY, to be busy.   They go to school, like real not just finger paint/recess/nap school, from 3 years old if not younger.  They are put on colorful mats and watched to pass milestones and be baby Einsteins and use sign language and be on schedule all from the time they come out.  As they get slightly older there are music, gym, sports, acting, STEM, coding, gaming, blah blah blah classes.  We do this because we are encouraged as parents and they each serve good purposes for our kids but for me they have never had to be all at the same time.  Our kids come home from school and go to devices to do their homework, go to practices and rehearsals, come home and go back on devices and at no point is there just plain old fashioned stare at the wall downtime for many kids.  We don't like it when they are sitting around twirling their fingers, we bemoan the fact that they just don't go outside and play and blame it on electronics.  You know the electronics we bought them and the fact that we are sort of scared to send them outside and have taught them that play is scheduled .. umm by us.  Not judging here, put down the tomato emoji, just stating what I see.

Boredom especially in the summer is a good thing.  I long to be bored and not have tasks to complete, I try and make time to watch some mindless TV,  or read , or do nothing but enjoy sitting by the beach or pool and watching people.  It is precious time where my mind can wander. My kids are learning that I am not going to help them with boredom.  That on certain days they need to find a way to entertain themselves without my planning, without electronics and maybe just to fill in some of that downtime.  I am not advocating that they are bored all the time, but let them be bored to the point where they can rest and then go on to be creative, fun, energetic, self-entertaining and be kids for a bit. 

Life is a weird marathon that we treat like a sprint.  We sometimes forget that in a marathon you have to go a little slower to make the length of the run, that we need to replenish our energy and that the finish line in life is the end of the line so really if we do not come in first it is a good thing.  It is the race that we should be enjoying and sometimes we just need to sit and rest in order to continue.

So next time you hear "I'm bored" smile and maybe be bored with your child for a while.  Let them be bored and enjoy that sprint part of the marathon of life which we know as childhood.  There is nothing better than those lazy, hazy days of summer after all.  Books were written about adventures, songs praise it, so let's not stop boredom for it often leads to creativity or just good recharging . SO go on be b o r e d!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

If I could turn back time

Starting my last year in my forties hurling at warp speed to 50 it seems like.   It is so easy to fall into the woe is me "nuh huh not me am not going to be 50" mind set.

After all pretty much all media tells me I have to fill them wrinkles.  Yet they are my reminders that my eyes wrinkle when I laugh and I have laughed a lot.  A LOT.   For me the people that make me belly laugh, snort at times, tears in eyes laugh are the ones that I am most comfortable with because I relax enough to know they will eye roll at my snort and give me a tissue for those eyes.   My wrinkles are from time spent squinting at the sun at  the beach, a place that gives me inner peace and always makes me happy.  My wrinkles mark the times I tried to look older when I was younger by putting on make up that I thought screamed sophistication ... it probably just screamed at times, many things but not sophistication.  My wrinkles are not many and mostly come when I am showing emotion - like displeasure at something said, like anger when I see something that is unfair, like a smile I give someone when our eyes meet and they need a little encouragement, when the area around my eyes is lifted along with the corners of my mouth because I have locked eyes on someone who is setting my soul on fire.  My wrinkles that hug the corners of my eyes when I look upon my sons and cannot help but sigh with pleasure.  They are not defining me as older I am defining them as memory holders.  Go ahead fill the wrinkles if it makes you smile and feel good but not because someone else is defining beautiful for you. 

I hear that I should have .. I should have done this or that or worse yet that I cannot do something. That I am too old for this fashion, that length of hair.  That I cannot be silly or try certain things.  That at my age I should know better.  I do - I know better - I know that I do not need to listen to all those things "they" say because I am getting more and more comfortable with the decisions I make.  I see opportunities to try things because I no longer care as much what people think and if I fail.  I lived a life of both accomplishments and tons of mistakes, I missed chances to try and go for things because of too many reasons, I didn't demand enough of myself when it came to telling people how I loved them and let them get away without demanding that they love me as I deserved.  I should have but I didn't and I regret it not at all because instead I found other experiences, learned from those mistakes. I started painting in my 30s, blogging in my 40s, being a mother post 35 and tennis on the down side of 47.  There is nothing I cannot do because of my age or the age I will be - it is freeing to know what I want, to learn to really think about what I deserve and to know whose advice and opinion actually matters besides my own. 

In my teens I wanted so badly to be noticed in a good way, in my twenties I wanted to prove that I didn't care but really I spent so much time caring so much about what others wanted of me, in my 30s I started to embrace parts of who I was especially as I became a mother and in my forties I started to understand that the person who has to like me most, who has to have confidence in what I need is me. In my fifties and beyond I think as a woman I will be that much more comfortable in my needs, my sexuality, my asking of others to be on the trip with me and not need them to buy me a ticket.

I plan on making my last year in my forties a celebration of life and really focusing on what I want for the next 50 years.  Yeah I need reading glasses, but boy are there some cute ones out there.  Yeah I need some more medical care but I met some new interesting some folks that way.  Yeah the world is out of it's fucking mind but I can be part of the solution of my sphere of influence. Yeah my body sometimes reminds me of some of it's limitations so I can remember to take care of it.  There isn't a No, Can't in there - there are yeses of how I adjust not how to avoid. 

I am not a marathon person, not a runner, hell I don't really like exercise but I love my walks, my tennis, my dancing around the house and of course my fabulous ability to belt out lyrics and sing along as if I actually had a killer voice to go with my kick ass dance moves.   I am a woman in my last year of her 40s  -- watch out world I am ready to roll.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

While my guitar gently weeps

It was hard writing a blog today because there is so much I want to say and the words seem choked inside of me.  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing " well I may be many things but I am never a do nothing woman.

I am raising boys, boys who are caucasian but who could very well marry or have children with lovely people (I hope they are wonderful partners to my sons) who are not caucasian.  I am raising the next generation who sees differences in people based on what their interests are but not in their race, religion, type of parents they have who love same sex or other or no longer the part of picture, who look like them and who look nothing like them.  They see people still for who they are -- people. Some are asses, most are fascinating, the vast majority are good and then there are the ones that they don't understand. How could they understand when I do not understand and I am an adult - how can they comprehend how someone could kill another living, breathing person because they find something they just simply can use to condone doing it?

It is hard writing a blog because we all may have healing words but have gotten better at using screaming hurts.   He did this to me - You are wrong - I know someone -- You don't see me - I can't breathe - officer down.  We hear these over and over and over.  Surrounded by a cloud of misinformation and memes that make it seem true when they are too often not.  Reporters don't report the news they make a story, one that draws us in, gets ratings because facts are no longer what we seek -- vengeance and justification is what we sells.   We have politicians who sole defense seems to be "well the other guy/lady did it too or did it worse".  If you did something wrong be held accountable as an elected official - I couldn't get out of ticket if my excuse was "well officer there was a guy last week who was driving way faster than me".

I have boys who could have children who look nothing like them, who look like the children that are getting killed for being people of color.  I have boys who could lose friends who choose to become police officers.  I have boys who have lived through the horror of Sandy Hook, Orlando shooting who do not know a world where 9/11 was just a date.   They live in a country that comes with a legacy of being an amazing melting pot of all the world has to offer, it's best and a place that carries the chains of wrongdoings that we need to acknowledge and move on from in a way that is not dismissive but like everything they have learned as children... you do something bad, own it and then learn from it so you do not keep doing it again and again.  Nationality means nothing more than being where you were born.  We should celebrate accomplishments not as that nationality but as humanity and condemn ills not because a certain belief drove it but because it is not acceptable to us.

I refuse to let this become a blog about all that is wrong with the world because there is much too much right with the world.  I have multiple comments from readers, both those I know and those I don't, from near my home to as far as Sri Lanka that agree with the fact that we need to take better care of our planet, that war and killing must stop, that they are us and we are them.  We are not different we are each novel.  We add to the mix not dilute it.   We can change but we must start conversations with our children who cannot keep being afraid of what they see, what they hear and of each other.  They need to teach us to listen to them - to their needs - to dispel the boogieman.  Our police officers are not bad but must hold accountable those among them who behave in a way that disgraces the uniform and brings harm to the communities they are there to protect and serve.  We all learned in "Shawshank Redemption" all men are innocent in jail, except they are not.  Our poor neighborhoods need to get support to break the cycle of poverty and not see the only options be those that put them in conflict with those very same officers.  There are poets, artists, scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers in every neighborhood and they must be what we nurture.

It was hard to write a blog today but how could I stay silent ?  There are plenty of things that want to kill all of us - climate change, cancer, illness, accidents - we need to fight those things and those who want to teach us to hate not each other, not the "us" across the world who wants the best for our children.  The question is not who was wrong but who will lead us all to do right!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

This is a guilty confession blog - no it is not about any extra ice cream or carbs or gluten thing I ate, those I eat with pleasure - nor is it about a bender or anything truly embarrassing I have done (those things are pretty much in my past).

No this blog is about something much less talked about - thinking of running away as an adult and more specifically as a Mom.  As a kid I thought about running away - twice.  My first attempt was done not out of angst or rebellion but because it looked kind of cool in some show I saw  Now I do not camp or like to "rough" it and apparently this held true from when I was a kid.  I packed a suitcase and was going to .. oh I don't know where I was going but it looked like an adventure.  I was home and unpacked before my parents got home from work.  My second attempt was a threat to which my mother rolled her eyes and told me to go for it because she recognized it for the teenage angst it was - I never left the house it was freakin' cold that night I remember and I do not like the cold.  OK so this is obviously a failure for me or maybe I am more of the passive resistance mindset.

However, as an adult and especially as a mom the thought has crossed my mind a lot more than I ever counted on.  I get the Bruce song more than ever.   It is the dirty secret I have whispered to other moms and they whisper back that they know, they get it, they want to know if I could come by and get them as I do it.

It is overwhelming in so many ways to be a mom - there is the physical exhaustion (especially when they are little) and then there is the responsibility.   Oh the responsibility they are just so needy, they want you to answer and deliver and know so much and there are times when frankly after a day of all day work and commuting I just want to walk in and have .... SILENCE.   Just silence, no one coming at me to ask or share or need or be hungry.  To sit as I did in my apartments and just do nothing but decompress for an hour or so.

It is also daunting that you have to give up so much of yourself for them - your activities, your plans, your time to blog or do whatever it is in the house that you wanted to do and goodbye spontaneity.  It is the constant calls of "mom", "mommmm", "mommy"... constant.

I love my kids and being a mom but there are times when I miss my me time and this is not my secret apparently but that of almost every other mom I have shared it with.  There are two approaches you could take to this - the one that I have found my friends and I have where you find a way to escape enough to recharge or the one that winds up Mommy Dearest style therapy blame the kid.  They are not at fault so not something I would ever go to, nor did the friends I have spoken to on this subject but we all witnessed it as kids and it is seared in our brains as cautionary tales.

You need you time and teaching your kids that they are worthy of doing same for themselves by modeling this is actually a good mothering technique.  I blog either in the morning when they are not up or frankly have learned to tell them that unless there is an emergency my allotted time to blog is mine not theirs to take away.  As a woman raising boys I want them to see women as individuals who have needs and who are amazing mothers (plug for me) but also independent beings who need other things to keep growing.   We live in a different time - a time when parenting is all engrossing and your time is spent with laser focus on kids' needs but that can be a bit dangerous too as we do not want them to think that this is the world - it is not, they may be awesome but they are part of a world not the entirety of it.

So go ahead - run away, to an activity where you do not do grocery or to do lists but immerse yourself in it, to a shopping trip of the kind you did pre-kids with leisurely strolls and not for anything you actually "need", to a movie, to dinner with friends or even to a mini break.   It is ok to want to runaway because as a mom the place you most want to run back to is those same kids.   After all the other side of this coin is less Thelma and Louis and more like Ferris Bueller's day off because we love our kids, we enjoy spending time with them and let's be frank we bask in the glow of being so needed.

In honor of the original Brexit and in the spirit of the 4th of July - I declare we are all entitled to the pursuit of our happiness.