Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

Mean Girls Redux

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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I may be 47 years old, but I can still remember the pain of adolescence very, very distinctly. It’s one of the reasons I wasn’t overly eager to have a children. I just wasn’t sure I could live through the drama all over again.Isurvivedthemeangirls-button

Thankfully, I did have children and discovered that surviving life between the ages of 13 and 15 not only made me stronger, it also provided extremely valuable lessons about life.

Take, for example, the lessons  I learned from the mean girls of my youth – the “pretty people” who took great pleasure from doing all they could to promote themselves and their social status while belittling others.

As a friend recently told me, “those mean girls just grow up and become mean women.”

I only partially agreed with her. Some change. Some don’t.

I still have to deal with the ones who didn’t, and my daughter is having to deal with the new crop of mean girls.

Sometimes we have to tolerate them because they have more power than we do. Sometimes we have to confront them because we aren’t the only one being hurt.  And sometimes we simply need to talk about them with our friends.

My daughter and I were both doing that last week.

I was angry about the adult versions of  the mean girls.  My daughter is still trying to understand the mean girls at her middle school.

I was venting to friends about how unbelievably selfish some women can be. My daughter was giggling with friends about how ridiculous burn books are. Yes, the mean girls at her school actually have a burn book in which they write hurtful comments about others.

I was ranting about women who are more concerned about their social status than helping meet the needs of the less fortunate. My daughter was making fun of how the mean girls at her school named their clique, demand special privileges and are  proud that they exclude others.

And that’s when it struck me.

I was wasting my time and energy complaining about women who will probably never change. My daughter wasn’t wasting her emotional energy but was simply viewing the mean girls as characters in a book or play. She finds them entertaining but not really relevant.

Since my daughter has a wide circle of diverse friends, she doesn’t care about a few superficial girls who want to exclude her. She’s much more interested in the people who do include her and how they enrich her life.

My daughter hasn’t yet turned 13, but she has already learned some valuable life lessons – ones that I’m still learning.  I like to think my own experiences have helped guide her, but I also know that she’s teaching me as well.

And she’s a very good educator.

The Rules

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
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If nothing else, I am a persistent person.

My husband and my children call me obsessive and tell me that it’s an extremely irritating trait.my rules

I prefer persistent, and being persistent is one of my rules for living.

Someday I hope my family understands. In the meantime, I simply hope they learn to appreciate my rules.

In all honesty, I’ve broken several of them, but the outcome was never good. In fact, those miscalculations only reinforced why the following rules are so important to me:

  1. Always admit when you make a mistake. If people already know what you did, they will respect you for the admission. If they have no idea you made the mistake, they will disregard you or believe you are covering for someone else. Either way, you spend a lot less time and energy owning up than covering up.
  2. Never believe you are smarter than those around you. There are multiple forms of intelligence, and having the facts is simply one form of knowledge. Knowing what to do with the facts is something else entirely.
  3. Make time for yourself every day. That’s not selfish; it’s maintaining your sanity. People who think they have no time for themselves are often the least healthy.
  4. Never make political decisions based on what will serve your personal interests. If you do, you will always be disappointed. Make your decisions based on the Golden Rule. If you consider how we treat each other rather than how you can get what you want, you will always be more satisfied.
  5. Don’t ever use your own life and circumstances as a frame of reference for someone who is struggling. You may have succeeded in difficult times, but your resources and support system can’t be duplicated.
  6. Always remember people in the service industry are individuals with their own stories. Listen to those stories. Not only do you have something to learn, they have something to teach.
  7. If you are counting hours at work, you aren’t in the right place. If you are counting the lives you touched in a positive way, you are.
  8. Remember that you are the only person responsible for your own happiness. External gratification is a simple substitute, but it always fails. Always.
  9. If you are going to talk about others behind their back, be accurate about the facts. We all need to vent. That’s human nature. But if you are more concerned with tarnishing someone’s reputation than with being truthful, your reputation is the one that will suffer most.
  10. Watching television isn’t necessarily a waste of time. Scheduling your life around television is.

These are my rules. They might not apply for everyone, but they work for me. My greatest hope for my children is that they can develop their own list of rules and that they can follow these rules down a road to true happiness.

A purple heart

Monday, March 31, 2014
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ava window 2In parenting, there are memories and then there are flashbacks.  One is of the sweet, perhaps even bittersweet kind; the other is similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I’ve been having flashbacks lately. I can only blame them on the knowledge that Ava is going to middle school soon, and the ball has started to pick up speed in that direction.  She registered herself, more or less, and I signed the papers on the dotted line.  She submitted a form to join “Beginning Band”, and she indicated that she intends to play the snare drum. She and her classmates watched “the video” that included “the talk” with the school nurse, and I gave her a check to pay for the patrol trip to Columbus, OH. I can barely keep up, and I’m fighting to hang on.

Things are different at home, too.  I haven’t helped her with a homework assignment since the beginning of the year.  She says she doesn’t need anyone’s help, and her grades prove it. She spends more time in her room reading novels and and listening to music, and she’s finally taking an interest in clothes. But this kid — this big girl — this tween — is less demanding of affection, too.  I used to call her my “Velcro baby”, because she was stuck to my leg like dog hair.  Ava was the most loving child I had ever seen.  Now, when I reach out to give her a hug, she braces herself. Sometimes she leans in from the side, and other times she stiffens so it’s impossible to give her a long, motherly squeeze.  We’re about an hour away from a handshake. Yes, she’s putting up boundaries. Hugs have become a courtesy; goodbye kisses have become obligatory.

Many years ago, I couldn’t leave the room without her dissolving into a puddle of tears.  And this is when I experience a flashback that I can’t shake.

It was a wintery day that called for a nap on the couch.  I was pregnant with our second daughter, and I was nauseated from the time I rolled out of bed to the time I crawled back in. Caring for a two-year old with unlimited energy and a 78-year old with uncontrollable dementia was taking its toll on me.  Both of them, including a bored cat, followed me through the house for the bulk of the day.  To some degree, Ava and my dad were of the same mindset.  I didn’t chase toddlers.  They chased me.

So on this wintery day, I was closing in on a meltdown from sheer mental exhaustion.  I needed a reprieve to get my emotions in order, and to let a wave of seasickness subside.  Ava wasn’t having any of it, and my dad didn’t understand most anything.

“I just want a short break to close my eyes, and then I’ll be right back,” I told her, going into a first floor bedroom so I could listen for trouble.

Ava protested.  “No, Mama! Please! Stay with me!”

It doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict that a child who had just eaten a full lunch wasn’t going to play quietly while I put my head on a pillow for a few minutes.  She wanted to romp and tickle and play and bounce on the bed.

I asked her to please wait with her granddad for about fifteen minutes.  Here are some blocks.  Build the tallest house in the world.

Fifteen minutes? Neither one of them could comprehend time.  Play together? That means someone would have to take the lead and organize this activity.

Ava started to cry. ”NO!” she begged.

Those precious fifteen minutes were spent on worthless negotiation. In fact, her pleading to “play with me” became more dramatic. Finally, I carried her outside of the bedroom walls, and attempted to close the door.

She screamed as though she had seen me for the last time.

I stood with my back to the door and sobbed. She pounded and begged me to open it. My dad hovered in the hallway asking over and over again what was wrong.

Ava started coughing and choking. Then…she threw up.

I opened the door and found my sweet girl’s face red and soaked with tears.  She sucked in little puffs of air and sobbed some more.  “Pleeeeease let me in.”

And now, as Ava sits in her bedroom scanning Pinterest photos of her favorite boy band, I stand at the doorway and silently beg, Please let me in.

How times have changed.

Last night, I sat on the edge of her twin mattress that is covered in sheets printed with little pink flowers. Soon, this set will be used to protect a couch so the dog won’t get muddy paw prints on the cushions.  I told her about my flashback, and how much I regret shutting that door in her face.  I was desperate for a break from the constant demand for attention, and I envied her ability to throw up to relieve a sick stomach.  Mine was hormonal.  But hers was pure panic.

Ava put her hand on my wrist and then gripped it.

“I don’t remember,” she said, as if I needed permission to let go of the guilt.

“Yeah, but I do. It bothers me,” I confessed.  “I can remember every second of it.”

I sat on the edge of her bed for a long time that night, talking to both of my girls about things of no real importance. When it was time to turn off the light, I stood up to straighten their blankets.  Ava’s hand was still circled around my wrist.  I hadn’t even noticed. I unwrapped her fingers and kissed her on the  forehead goodnight. I traveled across the hall to my room, slid under the covers, turned onto my left side — a habit from my old pregnancy days — and slept like I hadn’t rested in weeks.

 

 

 

Decision Times

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
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I was organizing old photograph albums on a shelf in the basement when I found a journal from my teenage years. I picked  up thedr-seuss-memory-quote spiral-bound notebook filled with sprawling cursive writing, but I only read a few lines before  putting it down.

I’d thought I would enjoy reminiscing with the author, but I realized that I didn’t even recognize her. I recalled the events and even many of the emotions she described, but I didn’t remember the girl.

Experience and time have distorted my memories of the teenage girl I once was, and even though I still have a great deal in common with her, we are now very different people. And in reading those few journal entries, I found myself wondering how that teenage girl could possibly have been expected to plan what she wanted to do with the rest of her life when she hadn’t yet grown into herself.

dr seussNow, 30 years later, that former teenage girl is fielding questions about what her son wants to do with the rest of his life, and I’m having a tough time believing that he can possibly know.

Maybe I’m a cynic. After all, I’m just as astonished by people who stay in the same career, much the less the same job, for their entire life as I am by people who are still married to their high school sweetheart.

In my world, that just doesn’t happen.

In my world, teenagers are just tall children who are exploring the world and discovering new interests and passions every day. They are young souls who are still learning that life isn’t about one decision that will lead them down the right path but about a series of decisions that will take them on an adventure.  And the are unique individuals who still need to determine how to use their gifts.

But I realize that’s in my world.

In the real world, teenagers are encouraged to identify their interests, decide on a college major and purse a career path by the time they are 21.

Maybe, if I didn’t have a son who was only a baby last week and is turning 16 next week, I might buy into that world.

But in reality, my son who is still trying to figure out who he is, and I’m pretty sure that the only way he can do that is through experiences – both good and bad. My job as a parent is to encourage him so he pursue opportunities that will allow him the time and the freedom to learn about himself.  And I hope he encounters some life-changing adventures along the way.places-ypu-will-go-quote

I also like to think that the teenager I used to be hopes for the same thing.

According to her journal, she does.

 

The Sneaky One

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
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One of the great advantages of having friends who are a few years older than me is that they usually have children that are older than my children, have more experience than I do and can offer an entirely different perspective on parenting.

One of the disadvantages is that they have every right to scoff at the pronouncements I make.Yellow_Dude__Sneaky_1_preview

Take, for example, my recent comment that I only have to worry that one of my children will take risks behind my back.

One friend warned me that any adolescent can make poor decisions.

Another told a story about cleaning around an object in her teenage son’s room only to learn years later when he was an adult that the object was a ladder he hung out of his two-story window at night to escape.

And one friend told me “You never know really know which child is the sneaky one.”

She was right. The sneaky one really fools us.

And while I will never admit to ever having my own sneaky tendencies, I know that at least one member of my family does.

Her name is Skitty, and she’s fat, furry and feline. She is an indoor cat who pretends to be afraid of going outdoors, but that is simply her sneaky effort to lull our family into a sense of security.

At times, she provides hints into her true nature when she lurks around an open door leading onto the back deck or stares longingly out the front bay window. But normally she pretends to only be interested in eating and sleeping.

We never would have learned about her true nature if she hadn’t repeated the same mistake on multiple times.

The first time she escaped, no one noticed she was gone until my son yelled, “Mom, I can hear Skitty, but I can’t find her. Since Skitty likes to hide, not being able to find her wasn’t unusual. But she normally only meows when she’s hungry and demanding food. Right in front of one of us. In a very obvious and demanding manner.

But after a search of the whole house, we still couldn’t find her. That’s because she wasn’t in the house at all. Instead, she was in the backyard and had apparently gotten quite hungry, hence her meowing.

None of us knew how Skitty had gotten in the backyard, but we weren’t too worried. We figured one of us had left the door open.

We hadn’t.

The next time Skitty escaped then meowed from the backyard, I started getting suspicious.

The third time she got out, I conducted a thorough search of the house and could find no escape route.

My daughter is the one who solved the mystery. She was in her bedroom when Skitty entered, jumped onto the window sill, pushed the screen out and jumped out of the two-story window over an asphalt driveway. She was able to survive because she still had a few of her nine lives left. That, and she jumped at an angle, landed in the bush next to the backyard fence then jumped over the fence into the backyard.

We fixed the window screen, and Skitty was once again confined to the house. But we were all a bit more aware of her whereabouts, the potential risks to her safety that she was sure to ignore and the outside interests she had worked so hard to hide.

In hindsight, I’m glad Skitty created that heightened awareness. It was good practice for me. As the mother of two adolescents, those skills will come in handy.

Fortunately, I have yet to discover any night-time escapes or truly bad behavior. But I am on the look out for it. Unfortunately, after my friends’ warnings and my cat’s escapades, I’m just not very confident I really know which kid, if either,  is “the sneaky one.”

Hashtag Nailed It

Monday, March 17, 2014
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Every mother wants to be known for something. Perhaps it’s knitting, fly fishing, running marathons…or perhaps it’s being able to peel an apple in one long, perfect spiral like Tom Hanks’ wife in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. We want to be famous for having a spectacular talent — a skill that no other parent can match. I assume my girls think of me as “the writer” when someone asks what I do, but I write so often that they’ve come to ignore it.  I decided to find a new flair so my girls could brag to their friends and teachers with renewed excitement.

“Yeah, my mom makes a mean macaron!”

Macaron? Don’t you mean macaroon? Or, have you dropped off the ’i' in macaroni?

Close your mouth! Let’s start at the beginning.

Macaron

Macaron is a French cookie made with almond and egg whites that are sandwiched around a cream-based filling. They come in a rainbow of colors and flavors, such as buttered caramel and Irish cream.

Macaroon

Macaroon is the American word for a version of a flourless egg-white-based cookie. Most often made with coconut, it can also include nuts or nut paste.

mac vs. mac

Courtesy: Pinterest

In other words, one is much harder to make than the other. And expensive.  Tres chic, not very cheap. 

With a little time on my hands this past week, I decided to try these beautiful macaron recipes pinned on Pinterest boards. I’m drawn to color, so I became obsessed with these puffy little pastel cookies that whistled springtime. However, I thought I should cut my teeth on a slightly easier list of ingredients and procedures, so I settled for a salted chocolate variety that promised minimal tears and maximum approval.

Here’s a summary of that particular day in the kitchen, as recorded in Facebook posts:

8:28 a.m.  Off to Lowe’s I goes for tools.

9:32 a.m.  Step ONE: Purchase a new, baby blue KitchenAid Artistan Stand Mixer, thanks to an AuthorHouse royalty check for “Sellie and Sam”.  I shall name her Julia.

mixer

10:28 a.m.  Step TWO: Stop at Kroger to purchase ingredients for “Double Chocolate Salted Macarons”.  Search for almond flour and Celebri-Kitty, but cannot find either one.

kitty kroger

10:34 a.m.  Step THREE: Play Pharrell’s “Happy” song to remind myself that THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. Then, search the internet for advice on substituting almond flour.

11:10 a.m.  Step FOUR: Return to Kroger after I learn that almond flour is stocked in the organic aisle. FIND ONE BAG left on the shelf (lots of macaron making today!), notice the price, and drive home to write another book to pay for it.

flour

11:16 a.m. This is major stress. I should have learned to ride a bike first. But no — I have to drive a stick-shift Ferrari.

11:27 a.m. …and if you’re wondering why I’m online, it’s because I’m waiting on three eggs to come up to room temperature. (Comment from a friend: Just run them under warm water.)

ingredients

11:36 a.m.  Step FIVE: Follow all instructions and worry about the humidity of the house, which is a cozy 67 degrees unless you’re standing beside the window, and then it’s about 50.

11:50 a.m.  ZUT ALORS! (Translation: THIS IS HARD!)

12:01 p.m.  Piping bag? WHAT? How about a gallon-sized Baggie? I have my limits!

12: 33 p.m.  “Pipe into circles. 25 total.” Oh. So we’ll have 6.

meringues

12:53 p.m.   “Bake at 350 for 14 minutes, or until little cookie feet appear.” Mine have toes.

1:34 p.m.  Step SIX: Wait for macarons and chocolate filling to cool, match tops of the same size (Yeah, right…); add a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, and let set.

Drumroll, please….

finished mac

#nailedit

1:57 p.m. Sing loud and proud!  BECAUSE I’M HAPPY!!!!

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do!

pharrell and paul

Pharrell (and Paul)

That evening, I presented Mike with one delicate, airy, slightly crisp, slightly chewy, chocolatey, velvety, rich, French macaron.  “Mmm,” he mumbled, biting into the little sandwich iced with salted ganache.

“That’s a $400 cookie in your mouth.”

Mike choked and sprayed the counter with crumbs.

Two days later (when he was speaking to me again), I decided to try another batch of my famous macarons.  This time, I paid more attention to sifting and mixing, and I cut a smaller hole in the corner of the gallon-size Baggie to pipe petite rounds of “lava-like batter” onto sheets of parchment.  Following the directions like Martha Stewart and forgiving mistakes like Julia Child, I turned out 26 salted chocolate cookies instead of six.

But I don’t have any to show you. The girls ate them all.

Want to try it? Here’s the link!

http://foodnessgracious.com/2013/04/double-chocolate-salted-macarons/

Five Truths

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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When my husband really wants to make my hackles rise, he tells me that I’m just like my mother.

He  knows I’m actually very different from my mom in many ways.  He also knows that the best way to get under my skin is to remind number fiveme that my mother and I aren’t as different as I like to think. We actually share some key traits.

The most obvious of these  is that we aren’t driven by a passion for materials possessions. Instead, we are motivated by trying to improve our imperfections. We are also attracted to other people who are trying to do the same.

That is why I appreciated spending eight hours in the car with a colleague last week on the way to and from meetings in another part of the state. During out time together, the two of us identified five truths about life:

1. Forgiving people who admit their mistakes is easier than forgiving those who don’t. Forgive them anyway. If we don’t, we are the ones who suffer.

2. If we only do the right thing in hopes for a reward – whether now, in the future or in the hereafter,  we aren’t embracing the true spirit of “doing the right thing.” Goodness comes from the heart  with the intention of improving the lives of others and the world – not improving our own lives.

3. We have absolutely no right to judge the decisions other people make based on our own circumstances. There is an immense difference between identifying ways to help and belittling or deriding others. People who grow up in any type of poverty, whether financial, emotional or supportive, haven’t benefited from the resources or support networks that many of us were fortunate to have. Criticizing them doesn’t add to their emotional reserves or their decision-making abilities. Helping them identify new possibilities does.

4. We can’t define ourselves by our jobs or our role in the community. Whether we are a business owner, teacher,  banker or  stay–at-home mom, who we are does not change based on our most successful venture or prestigious recognition. We can only be defined by our actions, how we treat others and how we  behave in the face of adversity and hate.

5. No one had perfect parents and no one is a perfect parent. We all struggle and we all approach the role differently. But if we had a mother who loved, cared for and challenged us, we were given a great gift. Like any gift, we should be appreciative and use it to as a model for providing gifts for others. We should also appreciate, rather than deny, when someone says “you are just like your mother.”

Chasing the High

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
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The guy behind the wheel of the truck wasn’t just irritating me. He was scaring me.

I was driving to my office on a snowy morning, and the road was icy and slick. The speed limit through the residential part of town was 25 miles per hour, and I was sticking to it. Since the announcer on the radio was warning people to stay off the roads completely, I didn’t feel overly cautious. I felt sensible.

But the guy driving the over-sized silver truck was pushing his luck and was therefore also pushing mine. He was following me so closely that I couldn’t even see the headlights of his vehicle. Traffic everywhere was moving slower than normal and backing off a few feet wouldn’t have gotten the driver to his destination any quicker, so there was no justification for his behavior.

I could only guess that he had something to prove. Maybe he wanted to show me that he wasn’t afraid or that his truck could maneuver over the icy roads just fine. Or maybe he was seeking excitement rather than accepting his circumstances.

I’ll never know if he arrived at his destination safely or if he was one of thousands of people in the Mid-Atlantic region involved in traffic accidents that day. I’ll also never know if  he’ll push his luck again the next time he’s driving in snow. My guess is he probably will because his behavior reminded me of drug addicts who are always chasing the high.

Drug addicts generally don’t start using large amount of drugs, but as their bodies begin to tolerate their substance of choice, they need more and more to achieve the same high. And they aren’t alone.

I know a significant number of people who do the same thing. Only, like the obnoxious driver, the high they seek isn’t dependent on drugs. It is dependent on their need to feel powerful or to have material possessions or to achieve a certain social status. And, like the drug addict, no matter how much they do or achieve, they are never satisfied and just want more.

If this was simply a personal issue or decision, I wouldn’t care. But, like drug addicts, some people’s selfish needs and behaviors have far-reaching implications.

I’m referring to the mothers who complain that they need yet another exotic vacation or the fathers who use their children’s athletic accomplishments to sate their own needs for accolades.

Every time that happens, our children are being taught to chase the high instead of being satisfied with having parents who love them or enough food on their table or heat on a cold day.

I’m not surprised that some people turn to drugs to feel better. We are all surrounded by people who turn to artificial measures of happiness that can never truly be satisfied.

But life isn’t about always being happy, always being entertained, always feeling important or always getting something new and shiny.

Life is about finding joy in the mundane, learning to accept failures, celebrating our relationships and laughing at our mistakes,

I can only hope that more adults, and their children, are starting to understand that.

If not, we will continue to encourage the next generation to keep chasing the high.

Whoops

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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The woman at the church picnic was looking at me as though I was raising the devil himself.

I wavered between the temptation to tell her off and the desire to disappear.

I didn’t do either.

Instead, I pretended to be oblivious to her indignation and the judgmental comments she was making to anyone who would listen. whoopsThere was simply no reason to defend my son, who was in elementary school at the time and had said absolutely nothing wrong.

But I seriously doubted  the woman would believe any explanations from me.  She was convinced my son had uttered a very offensive cuss word, and she was relishing her indignation the way others at the picnic were enjoying their fried chicken.

So I ignored her comments and finished our game of miniature golf as though nothing had happened.

But something had happened, and because I hadn’t addressed the issue, for months I felt guilty and angry.

That’s why the next time my son was accused of using foul language, I rushed to defend him. He was a year older, and this time I wasn’t present during the incident in question. Despite that, I insisted I knew my son and that he wouldn’t talk like that.

Actually, he would.

As the story unfolded, he readily admitted he used a cuss word, and I was once again felt guilty and angry.

Years later, my son told me had no idea what the word meant and had simply attempted to use it in the context he had heard others utter it. When he told me that, I laughed just as I laughed at how much time and energy I had wasted on the incident at the church picnic.

In the grand scheme of our lives, neither incident really reflected who my son is or my abilities as a parent. But they were important because they taught me two important lessons: 1) the opinions of other parents have absolutely no place in my family and 2)  I need to prioritize my concerns and my reactions to my children’s behaviors. As long as no one’s life is at risk and no one is being hurt emotionally or physically, I have no need to lose any sleep.

My son is in high school now, and the choices both he and I make are far more likely to have an impact on the rest of his life than when he was in elementary school. Prioritizing my reactions to his missteps is more important than ever.

Which is why, you might, on occasion, hear him cuss.

But if he does, you’ll probably also hear him catch himself and apologize then simply move on with the conversation.

Because he’s learning that moving on from his mistakes is far more important than never making them at all.

His mom is learning that too.

Thanks for Being a Bad Role Model

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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My grandmother was a Prude with a capital P.

Even though I spent most of my childhood living thousands of miles from her, I feared showing my true self to a woman who expressed immense disgust at even the slightest impropriety.

While I never inherited her decorum, I did inherit her inability to hide distaste. She wore disapproval on her face the way other womensimply be wear makeup.

But her high expectations for other humans and her limited tolerance for behavior that stepped beyond boundaries she defined as appropriate weren’t necessarily bad characteristics.

They kept me in check, because I often asked myself, “would I disgrace grandma if this went public?”

That’s not to say I never misbehaved or made really stupid mistakes. I did. Quite a bit. But when I said and did things in public, I often considered what Grandma would think.

Shortly after my grandmother died at the age of 96 in 2005, I started asking myself another question: “What kind of role model will I be for my children if I say or do this in public?”

Common sense tells me that all parents would ask that question, but once again, common sense doesn’t always prevail.

Times have changed significantly since I worried about displeasing my grandmother. Social media has allowed us to connect with people from childhood and to have a broad audience for our thoughts an opinions.

That shouldn’t give people license to be disrespectful, rude, inappropriate or self-indulgent, but apparently some people think it does.

Twice this week, I saw Facebook posts that would have had my grandmother shaking her head and my children questioning how people can talk about family values out of one side of their mouths while spewing venom out of the other side.

I don’t want to point fingers or to fall into the same trap, so I won’t go into too much detail. But I do have a few words of wisdom that could have, and probably did, come from my grandmother’s mouth:

You cannot call yourself a good parent while belittling other parents in the same sentence. Good parents don’t put down others to pull themselves up.

You cannot claim the moral high ground when you are calling other people names, no matter what the situation.

Never publicly tear down a child or adolescent. Ever. This is just as true for your own children as it is for the children of others.

Finally (and this definitely comes from my grandmother) using foul language in a public setting, whether written or spoken, will never impress anyone. The English language is vast, and limiting yourself to four letter words will never cause anyone to be  in awe of what you are saying. Generally, it just makes others feel sorry for your limited vocabulary and lack of anger management skills.

On the flip side, inappropriate posts and comments in social media do serve a purpose: they provide a great public service. They teach us how foolish we look when we act more immature than (most of us) expect our children to act.

And, even though close to a century separates the birth of my grandmother and the birth of my children, I have no doubt that they would both agree that I make them proud by saying that in public.