It would seem the number of posts I can write about the relentlessness of parenthood is infinite. Perhaps because parenthood is infinitely relentless.
And, if you’re spineless like me, you make it infinitely harder on yourself.
This past Friday, I folded like a dang card table when my kid begged me for a one night reprieve from his current grounded status.
Friends, when these kids of ours were mere pups; their dad and I attended countless hours of parenting classes, and I’ve read some books, and have just enough chutzpah to assume I’m intelligent to an average degree. So when I caved on Friday, I was armed with ample knowledge that giving in was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.
Right good fella that he is, my son took it upon himself to prove to me what a bad idea it was by making a series of super shitty decisions within less than 24 hours of my parental judgement lapse. Oh how I’d love to share every sordid detail here, but alas, I’ve likely already said more than I should.
Why, if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that caving was the wrong move, did I do it? Well, my reasons are plenty; but ultimately they are not reasons. They are excuses:
Junior’s persuasion and debate skills are well-honed. THIS is the thanks I get for placing my kids in a high achieving school district.
I was standing on the frigid sidelines of our third soccer game of the week. I was cold, my brain was frozen.
Chris had been gone all week. I was weary of being a responsible adult.
He agreed to clean his bathroom and in exchange for leniency. I am a total and complete sucker for a clean bathroom.
He also made some promises regarding church attendance sans complaining that sounded awfully damn appealing.
Short of it being someone’s dying wish, though, I can think of no good reason for not standing firm. Because there simply wasn’t one.
I dropped the ball, made a mistake, effed up. And ended up looking like a fool.
My attitude about being made a fool? Decidedly not a healthy one. I hate it. I’m embarrassed. I don’t like making mistakes, especially, when I know better. I’m a big believer in others, particularly strangers, deserving some grace; but don’t typically feel I deserve it myself.
This is an issue which is sure to get worse for me before it gets any better, for the consequences of parenting mistakes seem to become more and more significant as the years go by. Fallout from parental lapses, combined with the incompletely developed brains of teens could easily result in a criminal record. Or worse. I can’t even go there. Which is why I need to grow a spine.
My kids are in high school. My days of having meaningful day to day influence on them are numbered. So I’d really, really like to be better, make fewer mistakes, and increase the chances of turning out human beings who can function in the world as good people.
Factoring in my ineptitude and the state of the world, it feels as though the odds are not in my favor. Relentless, I tell you. This gig is relentless.
Grab those pearls, you may need to clutch ’em when you read what I’m about to write.
Have you come across this story? Before today, I hadn’t. If you click the headline, it’ll take you to the story. Go ahead and click. I’ll wait.
Then read this.
Did you click and read both of those? Probably not. Am I going to shame you for not reading the assigned material?
Why no shame? Plenty of reasons. If I were a reader, I probably wouldn’t have clicked and read either. And it’s possible you have a life beyond my blog (I might shame you for that I guess- KIDDING) and your time is precious and I have such a deep and abiding appreciation for the fact that anyone clicks on the stuff I write and reads it; so I really have no business assigning additional reading. And, I’m really, really, really very, very, very sick of the fucking shaming, especially of girls and women. Also, there’s no need for you to read either piece, because they are just the latest iterations of the same old shit.
For what it’s worth, I am trying to be mature and grown up and talk like an adult and quit cussing. I will be making zero strides in that endeavor today.
Anyhoo. The story: Girl wins a swim race. Referee (i.e. person in a position of power) proceeds to disqualify said swimmer. Somewhere in there the term intergluteal cleft was uttered. Judge could see “butt cheek touching butt cheek” and deemed it worthy of a DQ.
Intergluteal cleft. That’s a term I might have learned when I took anatomy and physiology in college (a class I excelled in, thank you very little, with the exception of the kidney test– Where my Max Thompson fans at???), but it had since left my gray matter. I’m going to use it, because I find it kind of comical. And frankly, I need a little comedic relief right now, because this story line may well raise my blood pressure to stroke inducing levels.
The judge who disqualified this girl has not been publicly identified. Initially, I assumed said judge to be a man. And then I read this sentence:
An official who worked at Friday’s meet at Dimond High said the referee who disqualified the girl said she could see “butt cheek touching butt cheek.”
SHE could see “butt cheek touching butt cheek.”
Y’all. I cannot. I CANNOT. A grown ass woman did this to a high school athlete. I was seething when I assumed it was a man. Now my mother trucking head is exploding.
I don’t know who officiates swim meets, but I’d like to presume it’s people who have interest in and enthusiasm for the sport. I’d like to presume it’s people who understand the time and effort put forth by student athletes. I’d like to presume it’s people who support female athletes, especially if they themselves are female. Why, oh why, have I not yet learned to quit presuming?
This photo of my daughter was taken in 2016. This ensemble was typical of her swimming attire for the entire trip. The shorts were not swim shorts of any type, they were simply athletic type shorts which she insisted on wearing over her swimsuit. And while I do understand the appeal of a swim shirt, particularly if it blocks the sun, wearing this stuff when you’re spending the day on the water is NOT comfortable. I repeatedly asked her why she felt the need to wear so many clothes while swimming. Somewhere along the line I even wrote something (I don’t think I ever published it) about being concerned that I’d somehow fat shamed or body shamed my then 11 year old daughter. Truth be told, she was probably emulating me, as I’m not terribly comfortable in my own skin, particularly when all that’s covering it is a swimsuit. My point here, is that I was wishing she felt more free and confident with her body.
I can confidently tell you this need for excessive coverage was a phase, and we have most definitely come out on the other side. And I will admit, I now sometimes miss it. I sometimes wish her swimsuits had more material, her leggings were a bit looser, her crop tops a bit longer. But I also know this is MY hangup, and I’m working hard to limit it to that; and not make it her hangup.
This exchange took place in a facebook group a year ago, and I’m sharing it for a couple of reasons.
What Lisa said. Please, please, please can we stop it, women?
My daughter picked out her homecoming dress while I was an ocean away. It’s beautiful. It looks fantastic on her. The price was right. And the cut is, well, a little on the low side. When pictures are posted, she’ll be judged; as will I. I don’t give a fuck, because there is nothing wrong with the dress! Had I been with her when she tried it on, I might have tried to talk her out of it, which would’ve been ridiculous on my part.
Let it be known that I am NOT posting it to shame these women. In the words of my hero Janelle Hanchett, fuck shame. These women are simply calling out what we’ve ALL been conditioned to call out. I’ve been as guilty as anyone else about judging other females’ attire. Did I mention I’m really, really, really very, very, very sick of the fucking shaming, especially of girls and women? Yes, yes I did. I know because I cut and pasted most of that sentence from an above paragraph. But we need to be aware of our behavior.
And, as a mom of a daughter, I beseech ALL (men, women, teenagers, adults, teachers, principals, referees) of us to just fucking stop it.
Let my daughter feel pretty in her dress with no shame, let swimmers compete without having to worry about whether their swimsuits are riding up their asses, shut up about the damn leggings, skirt lengths and necklines.
The story of the swimmer in had an acceptable ending. The disqualification was reversed. But as the author of the second article you probably didn’t read says, there was damage done (ok, I’m shaming you just a little bit- it’s really good- please read it):
Reversing that disqualification was the right thing to do. But it doesn’t begin to undo the damage inflicted and the unfortunate lessons learned for that swimmer and her teammates and all the girls watching this story unfold. We don’t do this to boys. We don’t worry that their skin-tight football pants are immodest and lust-inducing. We don’t fret that their shoulders show in their basketball jerseys. We don’t see their bare chests near a pool (or at a beach or a Cubs game or an outdoor concert, for that matter) and scurry into a panic.
I was concerned when my daughter was wearing too many clothes to swim in, then I tsk tsk’d a bit when her swimwear became skimpier than I would’ve liked. She can’t win. I can’t win. But we adults can work on our attitudes and reactions. And we can learn to support young women as they figure life out, WITHOUT shaming them for our hangups.
What is so special about 365 days? What is so special about a specific square on a certain page of a calendar? Why should any one particular date carry more weight than another?
These are the questions I’ve been pondering as the calendar marched relentlessly towards the one year point since my Pastor passed away. The first few weeks (months, maybe?) were unspeakably hard. I could barely enter the church without tears. And even if I made it through the door, and the first few songs, and the sermon; the tears would roll relentlessly as I took communion. My faith community acknowledged and embraced its collective grief. And I’d been there long enough to be comfortable breaking into the ugly cry in the immediate weeks and months following her death. And there were people in my midst, some I knew well, others not so much; who would hold my hand. Or hug me. Or hand me a tissue.
And gradually, it got easier. To walk into the building. To sing the songs. To partake of the bread and wine. We reluctantly found a new normal.
The one year mark, though, feels like ripping the scab off of a healing wound. Like poking at something better off left alone.
It’s painful. It will undoubtedly result in scar tissue.
There is admittedly a part of me asking the questions:
If there were no calendar, would these days feel so heavy?
If the church bulletin hadn’t been reminding me of this upcoming anniversary, would it not have been easier to move forward?
Is there no better word for referring to this horrible thing than ‘anniversary?”!!!
I know, though, that I am a human being. And I’m one who experiences seasons and memories and ebbs and flows.
So even if the church bulletin and calendar hadn’t mentioned it, my bones would’ve remembered the grief they felt the last time summer was moving to fall. A few weeks ago, when I was walking past the pub I’d been sitting in when I received the call saying she’d had a heart attack; my body would have remembered the trauma of receiving that information. Even sans calendar or church bulletin, my mind and body would never have let me forget.
And so, I’m once again shedding tears. I’m once again angry this happened. On a mom level, I’m beyond pissed off that she won’t be laying hands on Elise when she affirms her baptism in a few weeks. On a human level; I’m so, so saddened she wasn’t at the bus stop with her twins today as they headed off to kindergarten. And on a personal level, I feel very cheated to have not had her listening ear as my family has dealt with various tribulations over the past year.
And yet, there is gratitude. That I ever even got to sit in the same room with her. That she planted the seeds of ‘Beloved Community’ at ECLC. That both of my kids had the opportunity to experience confirmation education with her. That I got to share a room with her as we accompanied ECLC youth on a pilgrimage to El Salvador. That I was privileged enough to hear her tell me: You are enough. Take off your mask. I love you. ECLC loves you. No matter what! God loves you.
There’s no great way to wrap this up. This shitty thing happened. It’s been a year. I know we’re all going to be ok, but I’m still pissed it occurred. And I’m sad. And I miss my Pastor, my friend. I miss her truth telling. I miss her love, her guidance. And I miss having her here to tell me that all these emotions are known and loved and accepted by God. Not that I don’t still have people telling me as much, but I simply want it to be HER telling me.
I have been out of the work force since, well, forever pretty much. Or just shy of 15 years if we’re going for accuracy (BOR-ing). When employed, back in the day, I had a work email address, but I only checked it when I didn’t have better things to do, which was essentially never. I worked for a hospital system with thousands of employees, and the only emails I received went to everyone, were not typically pertinent, and never required action on my part. I worked in a hospital lab. If people needed information from me, they typically really needed information from me (think, WHERE THE F*** IS THE STAT POTASSIUM LEVEL I ORDERED or I KNOW THE TEST FOR CYCLOSPORINE LEVELS TAKES TWO HOURS, BUT I SENT THE SAMPLE 10 MINUTES AGO SO WHY IS THE RESULT NOT IN THE COMPUTER?); so they called.
Thus, I do not understand email etiquette. At ALL.
Thus, the <reply all> button is the bane of my mother effing existence.
It is admittedly likely due to a lack of understanding on my part.
If an email is sent to the soccer parents* (most of whom are highly educated and have important, prestigious jobs) about arranging a gift for the team manager, is it really necessary for multiple people to reply all thanking those arranging the gift and letting them know it’s a great idea?! Seriously, what is the thought process??
‘If I only reply to the sender, then the entire team won’t know I think it’s a great idea to arrange a gift for the team manager. That would never do. Everyone must know I’m grateful. Better reply all’
‘Maybe if I don’t express to the rest of the team parents that I think a manager gift is a good idea, no one else will contribute, so I’d better reply all.’
Per usual, my agitation over this is not reasonable. I’m certain no one was sitting behind their monitor, rubbing their hands together and laughing maniacally, thinking ‘I’m going to REPLY ALL, that will really annoy Anne.’ These are good, smart, well-meaning folks. And it is highly possible that people with actual lives and jobs don’t have time to weigh whether or not ‘reply all’ is necessary or not. I wouldn’t know. I don’t have a job or a life. I’m an anxious stay at home mom of teenagers. I overthink everything and worry constantly about inconveniencing people.
Also, I love sleep and didn’t get nearly enough last night (compliments of a snoring spouse, a whining dog, and an Xbox playing/yelling teen with absolutely zero self-awareness). And I’ve not been exercising as much as I should. And I’ve been eating too much shit.
I’m tired, crabby, and stressed. Just like the rest of the damn world.
Today I’m taking out my frustrations on the ‘reply all’ button. It makes no more or less sense than anything else in life.
*I’m currently not connected via social media with any of my current fellow soccer parents. If that should ever change, and you should happen to come upon this, I’m sorry. I’m pretty much terrible. Sorry it didn’t come out til now.
I could write 10,000 words on the topic, but I’ll restrain myself. Just this once, so don’t get used to it.
Ten years ago I didn’t know the difference between club teams and rec teams. I thought house league was a show on HGTV. I thought travel team referred to those crazy people on The Amazing Race.
Needless to say, I’ve learned plenty on the topic over the past decade.
And over the past year, my daughter has taught me how scary, hard, and worthwhile change can be.
Last year at this time she had lost all love for soccer. She was ready to throw in the towel. Long story less long, she ended up trying out for and ultimately playing for a new club- all new teammates, new level of play; and for the spring/summer season, a new position.
There has been plenty of angst along the way. Leaving your comfort zone, even if you’re not happy in it, requires some serious intestinal fortitude. The learning curve with the new coach has been steep. Figuring out the personality quirks of sixteen 14 and 15 year old girls hasn’t been easy.
She’s currently playing in her last league game of the season. She has endured the changes. Not always gracefully, but she’s rolled with everything that came her way.
We spent the past weekend at a tournament. There were, of course, plenty of team photos taken. And as I was scrolling through them on the drive home I admittedly had a moment– because her smile melted me.
Joy needs to be a part of the game. Last year it wasn’t. She needed a change and made it happen. The soccer smile is back.
There’s no way of knowing what the next round of tryouts will bring. Or how next season will go. Or how long soccer will be a part of her life.
So for now, I’m just going to enjoy the return of the soccer smile. I’m really damn proud of her.
It was a variation of a dream I have on somewhat regular occasion, where I’m running a little late for something, and super random weird shit keeps happening that causes me to get farther and farther behind schedule. Which leads to me becoming more and more stressed out. My deep in REM self always becomes super agitated because even though the things causing me to fall further behind schedule are at least somewhat beyond my control, I feel completely responsible. Like I have unquestionably dropped the ball and deserve zero grace or redemption. And yet, there’s another part of me that’s like, “Whoa there, back the em effing train up. My intentions were good. No part of me intended to keep falling further and further behind, but shit keeps happening and I don’t know how to fix it and the hole keeps getting deeper and deeper and deeper and I don’t know how to fix it, and now all hell has broken loose, and can SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME HOW TO WAKE UP FROM THIS DREAM because I’m certain there is no way this is real life, because ultimately nothing here makes any damn sense, which means I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIX IT. And then I wake up and I am hard core shook. The particular iteration which preceded the above text message had to do with me needing to get a pair of white pants for my daughter, who had a role in the school musical. Did I mention nothing in these dreams ever fully makes sense? I mean, my kid was in a musical once, but white pants??? I entered in a store and quickly found a pair of pants, which I thought were priced at $40. I wasn’t happy about paying so much for a pair of pants she’d never use again, but I was in a rush, so I took them to the cashier. They rang up at $120, don’t ask me why (because nothing in these dreams makes sense, that’s why). When I told her I wouldn’t be buying the pants at that price, she said, “Hold on, let me go call the manufacturer. Sometimes they’ll sell them for cheaper.” This is a retail experience I’ve had exactly zero times and I was hella confused. And it led to hours of waiting, and me trying to tell everyone involved (the clerk and who else?? I don’t even know) it didn’t matter. That I’d move on to a different store and find the pants at a more reasonable price. That I didn’t have time to wait to hear from the manufacturer. That I simply needed to move on and figure out how to get the damn pants to my daughter. And yet, I somehow ended up trapped, waiting for this clerk to contact the manufacturer. Then I somehow found myself in a car, where the person driving kept telling me she just needed to make a quick stop. I became more agitated, because I really needed to get back to the store and find out if the clerk heard back from the manufacturer. I had no idea who I was with, or how or why I got into a car. Or why I was still dealing with a clerk calling a manufacturer about giving me a better price on a pair of pants, when I told her I’d be getting pants somewhere else. I begged the driver to simply get me back to the store, but she acted as if I’d said nothing and kept driving to her ‘quick stop’. It became painfully apparent the ‘quick stop’ would be at least half an hour away. Farther and farther behind. More and more stressed. None of this making any sense. Adding: Is my voice broken? Why do I feel like no one is listening to me? I told the clerk I don’t want the damn pants. Why was the driver ignoring my pleas to get me back to the store? WHY???
Somewhere in the sequence of events, I became aware I’d mistaken the show times, and of the three performances scheduled on this particular day, I’d already missed the first two. Completely dropping the ball and leaving my kid high and dry with no white pants. Shit just kept getting weirder and weirder. And I kept getting more and more freaked out. And then there was a scene where my husband, who is about two weeks into a four week business trip finally came home, and told me he’d be leaving the next day for another two weeks. At which point I completely lost my shit, and knew I was completely losing my shit; yet really really wanted to be able to get said shit together and be normal and sane. But I couldn’t. I turned into a stark raving lunatic. I lost all control of my emotions. I kept trying to tell myself to simply be calm and take some deep breaths and that we could figure all of this out, even though nothing was making sense.
But I couldn’t stop yelling at everyone around me.
They all started exchanging glances so as to nonverbally communicate: What the hell is up with this crazy bitch?? I kept trying to explain to them why I’d gone bananas, but of course I couldn’t, because none of it made any damn sense.
Have I mentioned nothing in these dreams ever really makes sense??!!
This is totally normal, right? Like, everybody has had this dream, no? Maybe?? Probably not. I get that. I’m super extra mental, which probably plays more than a small part in me having these traumatic experiences while in the midst of what is otherwise one of my favorite activities: SLEEP. Gee. I wonder what’s going on in my psyche? For what it’s worth, I also frequently wonder if I’m using the term ‘psyche’ correctly. Anyhoo. There are some things I feel it’s safe to say.
My husband’s been gone since May 26 and won’t be home until June 21st. And actually he won’t even be home then. He’ll be flying to Green Bay and meeting us in Appleton, Wisconsin for Elise’s soccer tournament. It would seem I’m ready for him to come home. It would also seem he shouldn’t mention future trips anytime soon.
There are many things I’m feeling powerless over these days. Travel schedules, how the world treats those I love, choices my kids are making, soccer schedules, global warming, children in cages, the fact that my dog tore a gutter off the house in order to murder a ground squirrel, and the god forsaken biting gnat epidemic currently hitting Minnesota. Seriously, those little bastards are THE WORST.
And yet, like in the dream, I feel I should have power over these things, like I’m responsible. If I’d raised my kids better, their choices would be falling in line and they’d have nicer friends. If I were nicer to my husband, he’d travel less, if I’d quit eating so many damn cheeseburgers I could lessen my carbon footprint, if I’d have been paying better attention to the dog the gutter would still be attached to the house, if I’d done some door knocking or phone calling in 2016 perhaps Tsar Cheetoh Tiny Hands wouldn’t have become the figurehead of the USA; and for Pete’s sake, no one held a gun to my head when I signed my kid up for soccer. I’m not omnipotent, but Lord knows I’ve made some choices along the way.
This is the point in a post where a normal blogger wraps things up or tells why they’ve decided to write.
I’m not normal, we’ve established that. I have no conclusion. No reason for sharing this other than further self deprecation, and further evidence I’m completely and totally losing my mind.
The only thing I’ve learned by spewing this tripe is that Farther v. Further is kinda tricky. So I just used ’em interchangeably. Because consistency is for sane folks. Same goes for line spacing in WordPress.
We mercifully wrapped up sophomore year today, and I simply refuse to acknowledge the fact that we’ll be facing another sophomore year come September of 2020. Because the only word I can use to describe the 10th grade year we’re wrapping up is GODAWFUL.
As usual, there was plenty of good, and I should be focusing on that. We are all in stellar physical health. I believe a passing grade has been earned in all classes. We’ve battled a fair number of demons and enjoyed a couple of victories along the way.
But oh my heart, the lessons I’ve had to learn as a parent this year have put my heart and soul through a wringer. I have been bitch slapped by the reality of how many things I cannot control. I’ve tied my stomach into knots over the fact that I frequently have to let him make his own choices, even when they’re shitty. I’ve seethed with rage over the way other people parent, which is super rich considering I have no clue what the fuck I’m doing. I’ve shed tears over how incredibly awful kids can be to each other- knowing my kid has been on both the giving and receiving end of some truly abhorrent behavior (if you think girls have the market on being mean cornered, let’s talk). I have stewed over countless parental missteps I’ve made this year, some of which have led to aforementioned abhorrent behavior that my kid’s had to field. And of course, I’ve worried. Oh my God, how I’ve worried. About all of it.
I have next to no context for how standard issue all this BS is. My own sophomore year was also pretty dreadful. I was in a new town, a new school, and knew no one. I was entirely too shy and awkward to get into any trouble, which left me with plenty of time to excel in my schoolwork, which I did. And while I endured some incredibly lonely times while trying to find my way in a new environment, no one was ever overtly asshole-ish towards me. Regardless, I’d never want to repeat it.
I’ll say it again for the bazillionth time. Parenting is hard. I don’t know why I keep rehashing that fact, but here we are. I guess I’m the self-appointed president of the ‘WHY IS THIS SO FUCKING HARD’ club and will likely be calling next week’s meeting to order with sordid tales of the first week of summer.