Prozac (not so) Me

Do you ever get the feeling that God is speaking to you? Maybe sending you a sign?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not those kinds of signs, but the kinds that only you see.  I’ll give you two examples.

Wednesday of last week was Ash Wednesday.  My sister was watching an episode of Roseanne.  It was from either the last season or the next to last season.  Roseanne is teaching some rich white folks how to be white trash.  She said, “Women who yell don’t need pills.  Pills were invented by men to stop women from yelling!”

It struck me as funny, but it also lodged itself unknowingly into my brain.

Fast forward a few days, and my best friend makes this casual comment to me over the phone:  “I’ve heard you laugh more in the past few days than I have for a long time.”

This has all been foreshadowing.  (See how literary I am? Don’t you just want to throw money at me for my writing?) Last Tuesday was my last Prozac. Absolutely not on purpose! Don’t be impressed! No indeed–my prescription didn’t have any refills, and we got hit with a massive storm that knocked out power early Wednesday morning.  Power was out not only at the pharmacy, but also at my doctor’s office, so I couldn’t call in for a refill.

Now, if you can follow the Tarantino-ish order of this post so far, here’s what has happened:  I have inadvertently given up Prozac for Lent.

It just so happened my last pill was on Fat Tuesday.  I couldn’t get it refilled on Ash Wednesday.  When the day finally came for me to submit the refill because the doctor was going to be in the next day, I hear that very, very important comment from my friend.

She’s heard me laugh more in the last week then she has in a long time.

The week I haven’t had the Prozac.

If that isn’t food for thought, I don’t know what is.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  In old fashioned terms, I’m hyper, nervous, neurotic, etc.  This is not revolutionary news to anyone, I assure you. A few years ago, though, it was moving past the point of comedy routine material into the land of serious issues.  Sleep was nearly impossible.  When I did sleep, I had terrible nightmares.  My first panic attack prompted me to talk to a doctor.  I didn’t even have a regular family doctor up to that point.

The panic attack was a thing I cannot describe. It happened on the way back from a beautiful, stress free vacation.  That was the most upsetting part.  It came from nowhere.  It wasn’t  a “break” or anything like that.  I was just riding along in the car on the way home from the ocean, and bam.  Well, more like BAAAMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!

I started to notice the semi in the lane next to us.  It kept distracting me from the ongoing conversation.  It kept catching my eye.  Suddenly, I started to get afraid.  (Although afraid fails to truly describe the feeling.)  I sweated.  I cried.  I shook.  My mouth tasted like pennies.  I became convinced we were all (me, my husband, my kids, and my sister) were going to die in a horrific accident.  I saw it.  A good imagination is a blessing and a curse, let me tell you.  My throat closed up and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I had to fight the temptation to literally tear open the door of the car and jump out.  Really.

Well, I confess to you now that I took one of my sisters strong narcotic medications to knock myself out.  I slept for a couple hours of the ride home, and when I woke up, I felt a little better.  It’s hard to describe, but somehow, that event made me more aware of the feelings that I guess had always been there,unacknowledged,  hanging like some sort of poisonous snake around my neck.  It was ready to slither up any time to whisper in my ear all of the tragic and terrible things that could happen, that were happening, in the world, and in my life, every day.  I had to do something.

So, to cut this long story slightly shorter, Prozac galloped onto the scene like my White Knight, and I found I could deal with daily stresses without being quite so “hyper” or “nervous” or “neurotic.”  To me, this was a good thing.  To my family, who loves me and worries about me and, to be frank, is a little afraid of me, it was a miracle.

I short, I squashed the bad feelings.

Here’s what scares me: have I squashed all of the feelings?

I am a loud woman.  I am passionate and sometimes overbearing and sometimes overemotional.  My temper has gotten me into more tough spots than I care to recall.  I love to laugh, and laugh loud and hard.  I have a hard time keeping my opinion to myself.  I think all of these things are what makes me Janice.  They make me Mom, and The (not so) Special Mother, and the woman whose husband said, “There’s no one like you, babe.  One’s enough,” and he said it in response to my query as to whether or not he was sure he really wanted to marry me.

So here is the question (the one that is keeping the stars apart): Have I, and other’s like me, medicated ourselves right out of living?

Life is supposed to be hard.  The hard is what makes it good.  It’s scary and tragic and beautiful and funny and horrible and everything. It is anxiety causing!!  Is it possible we are taught to squash feelings rather than deal with them? Are we in a cycle of denial and repression that sucks in not only ourselves, but everyone around us?

I don’t know the answer to these questions.  I’ll be frank–they scare the hell out of me.  The thought that God is trying to tell me something so specific equally scares the hell out of me.  I’m not the best Catholic lately.  Maybe God is telling me to rely on Him, and on my own faith, rather than chemicals from a bottle.  Maybe God is telling me that my life is a gift, warts and all.  My feelings and reactions are a part of that life.  They are a part of me.  I’m going to give them a chance this Lent.  I’m going to try and deal with them instead of trying to squash them.  Not to get too deep, but I’m going to feel them, then I’m going to try to let them go and give them to God.

Pray for me.  I need it.

We all do.


 

 

Disclaimer: In no way am I suggesting that every person who takes some sort of depression or anxiety controlling medication should just toss those pills out the window and embrace the agony.  It’s a story about my own life, and if it speaks to you, then so be it.  Cheers!

 

 

 

Feminism? Yeah, about that……

When I was a much younger woman, barely out of my teen years, my mind was just full of green-girl foolishness.  I was a rebel.  I would march and shout and wave a sign around if the need arose.  I was all about no one getting to tell me what I could do with my own body, especially some rich, white, male, politician who probably had illegitimate children in all fifty states.

I guess you could say I almost drank the Koolaid.

My gifts are limited.  I can openly admit this about myself.  However, if I were to credit myself with something, it is my tendency to question everything with skepticism, and to think about everything with logic, reason and as open a mind as possible. As a result, a lot of the stuff I “knew” when I was 20 years old turned out not to hold water.  It’s a very painful thing to realize you’ve been backing the wrong team.

Incidentally, it was the wrong team who marched in D.C. this past weekend.  The wrong team has a ton of intelligent, brave, articulate women whom I admire. I understand they want attention, and they want to be heard and seen.

Well.

This is a picture of Kierra Johnson, a speaker at the march.  Love her shirt, don’t you? The tall blonde behind her is Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, who says that abortions only equal 3% of what they do.  Clearly anyone with any mathematical skills and the ability to think clearly knows that is bullshit.  But I digress.

Here are a couple of other gems from the women’s march.

 

 

 

Nice

 

 

 

 

 

How about this blasphemous image of a vagina turned into a supposed likeness of the Virgin Mary.  That, my friends, is so classy, I think I may have to vomit.

 

 

And my personal favorite:

 

 

 

 

 

There were, of course, the pussy hats, the vagina costumes, and various bare body parts.  All in the name, of course, of bringing respect and appreciation to all woman.

Yeah.

I believe in what feminism used to be.  I believe there should never be such  thing as a wage gap, and NO ONE has the right to put their hands on someone else without their permission.  We do deserve affordable and thorough health care and education.  We are equal to men as far as being humans and worth of respect and consideration.  This stuff seems like common sense.

Here’s what I don’t believe.  Abortion is not healthcare.  Holding open a door for someone is not sexist–it is kind and mannerly. Chivalry, though allegedly dead, did not necessarily deserve to die.

Here’s the poison core of feminism that I think needs to be excised if feminism is to have any chance: being a woman who is a little softer, a little more nurturing, and, God-forbid, able to carry a child in her womb, is considered  being less of a woman somehow.  Sometimes, when they really get going, it almost sounds like they hate being women. A pregnancy is viewed not as a miracle, even if it was unplanned, but rather a burden that keeps us away from work, or nights out on the town, and makes us unbearably fat. I’ve seen pro-choice people comment that a woman basically has to carry an alien or a parasite in her body for nine months.

That’s what is has boiled down to, you know? We are so selfish as women that we will not give up our feminine awesomeness even for our own child, not even if we can give our baby up for adoption to a family that desperately wants what you want to be rid of.

I’m going to hit you ladies out there with some knowledge.  I love being a woman.  The fact that I have an organ in my body which can grow another human being inside of it is AMAZING. I shouldn’t be punished for that! Not to break into science on you all, but reproduction is the only hope any species has.  That’s what our glorious female bodies are made to do.  It is not punishment or a burden.  It is an opportunity to bring a child into the world, and do everything in your power to give that child a fulfilling life full of potential.

You call yourself feminist, but it was men who were inconvenienced by unwanted pregnancies.  Ever think about that? They told us now was not a good time to be pregnant, either our boyfriends, finances, fathers, and maybe even husbands.  Woman succumbed to the pain and degradation of abortion to satisfy the protocols of a dominantly white male society. The fact that women have been brainwashed into murdering their own children should tell us just how deeply this brainwashing goes into the heart of feminism.  We should be marching to demand that this free country makes the appropriate adaptations to embrace womanhood.  We should not have to change the very fundamentality of our bodies to fit into a mold that was clearly designed with males in mind. True acceptance only comes when you are accepted for who you truly are.

Furthermore, feminists, don’t kid yourself.  I am not interested in your uterus, your ovaries, your vagina, or your body in general.  It is a scientific fact that the child within your womb is a whole other person.  You womb is the home of this person, and that’s all.  No one wants to control your “reproductive rights,” whatever the righteous hell that means.  What we do want is for you to consider the life of your child. We also think it would be great if abortion and feminism didn’t go hand in hand, so we could actually get back into feminism and take a break from mundane household chores.

The last thing I would say is this: try toning it down a little.  Now, I don’t mean to water down your message or anything like that.  However, I happen to strongly believe that a powerful message can only be delivered from intelligent people who speak carefully and respectfully. Speak with earnestness and determination.  Let them know you aren’t going to give up.  But do it so that you yourself garner respect from those who are listening to and watching you.  You want to make sure you getting attention for the right reasons, not because you are being mocked and ridiculed.  In short, don’t expect anyone to take you seriously when you look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

So yeah, go ahead and have your feminism.  It is your right to do that.  But I beg each of you to stop and think about what you really believe, and why you believe it, and consider how many facts you know about what you believe–and not just stuff off of memes and social media! I’m not world leader, but if nothing else, think about the words I’ve written here.

I believe them with all of my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

(not so) Tongue Tied

Here’s an unusual way for The (not so) Special Mother to start a blog post: with some Bible verses.  Check it out.

James, Chapter 3, verses 3-9

If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies.  It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions.

Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.  The tongue is also a fire.  It exists among other members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. {Emphasis in bold is mine.}

Martin Luther called Saint James the “epistle of straw,” but between you and me, I think it’s because James upholds so many Catholic beliefs, and we all know how old ML felt about the Catholic Church.

However, this post isn’t about the differences between Protestants and Catholics (which are far fewer than you think) or about theology at all, really.

It’s about tempers and tongues in general, and mine in particular.

I happen to love the whole book of James.  You seldom hear anyone quote him, or read from his letter. In reality, though, he pulls no punches, and I think he pretty much spells Christianity out in black and white.  My extremely brief synopsis of James’ letter is this–stop telling everyone you’re a Christian and start acting like one.

As much as I love reading James, and as much as I sit and nod my head, as much as the Protestant in me wants to jump up and yell “Amen, brother!” I find myself quite the hypocrite.

Do any of you have a temper?

I mean, everyone gets mad sometimes.  That’s human nature.  But I’m talking about a temper.  TEMPER.  The kind that takes a whole lot to trigger, but once it is triggered, look out.  The kind of temper that explodes and splashes molten rage on whatever poor soul might be in the vicinity.  The kind of temper that causes normally nice, kind hearted people–people who would never say hurtful things to anyone, especially someone they loved–to spew forth angry words and actions, consequences be damned.

You know, that kind of temper.

Guess what? Yours truly has that selfsame temper, and it has been a plague my whole life.  I had hoped, as a younger person, that when I become older, I would learn to “control” this unpleasant facet of my personality.  That it would somehow fade into little more than an unpleasant memory.

Well, it hasn’t, and I daresay it has only changed its ugly form.  Now it takes much more for me to lose said temper, but when I do, it seems as though I have less control over what I do, and more importantly, what I say, than even I did when I was younger.

I can make excuses about this, but I’ve had a hell of an examination of conscience over the past couple of weeks, and I think a “temper” is little more than an excuse to behave poorly, and to speak cruelly.  Aside from a small percentage of the population who may have some sort of emotional or behavioral disorder, do any of us really “lose control” of our tempers, or do we simply give up control, because it makes us feel better to say all of the ugly things that can flash through our minds in times of upset and stress, and of course, anger.

Chew on that one for a while.

James says our tongues are impossible to bridle, “a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Oh, the harm we can inflict with our words, but oh, how easily we allow them to “slip” out.  All in the name of anger, and our tempers.

I myself have spewed deadly poison on more than one occasion.  And I am no rookie–I know just the words to hurt and cut.  When I get mad enough, I can fire with deadly accuracy right into the heart of anyone, even my nearest and dearest.  Right now half the country is clamoring for gun control, but sometimes I wonder if we’d all do a little better with some tongue control.  God knows I could.

My temper is no excuse.  I am a fully functioning human being–I have absolute control over all of my faculties.  Why should the tongue be different? What excuse should allow me to say horrible things? Because I got mad? How foolish.  How childish.  If we can’t even control the words the come out of our own mouths (or that we type on the screen), how are we better than even a child? James says we praise God with our tongues, then turn around and curse the very people who are just like us–human beings going through the same struggles as all the other human beings on the planet–and, more importantly, all made in the image and likeness of God.

So the next time I feel a temper tantrum coming on, I’m going to try to do better.  I’m going to remind myself of all of my own shortcomings.  I’m going to think of the feelings of the person I’m getting ready to blast.  Even if it seems like they have no feelings, I’m going to think about the awful, hateful taste those anger-fueled words leave in my own mouth.  I’m going to remember that James says our tongues are full of poison, and then I’ll realize that our tongues are in our own mouths.

So who is the one really getting poisoned?

Think about it.


 

 

 

Hillbilly Strong

To say the State of West Virginia has had a rough couple of days would be a massive understatement.

To make a long and extremely depressing story somewhat shorter, suffice it to say we received record rainfall amounts across much of the state, and as a result we had record flooding.

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This is just a glimpse of the widespread destruction and devastation that struck our state.  Over twenty lives have been lost.  Homes were completely wiped out, people have been displaced and are staying in shelters, and everything has been just generally awful in every imaginable way.

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It’s the type of situation that you think only happens in “other” places, to “other” people, but in reality, it happened all around us.  Small communities that we grew up in, that we have vacationed in or simply just driven through on a regular basis have been reduced to so much stinking, muddy, condemned rubble.

We escaped damage, thanks be to God.  Our driveway washed out and there a little water in the low spots of our basement that seeped in through the walls, but that’s it.

But this post isn’t about that.

What I have witnessed over the past few days, besides destruction and loss and devastation, is something I forgot about.  It’s something that is special about this place I live, this place which I catch myself holding in disdain from time to time.  It’s easy to look around, especially in small towns (which is really all WV has), and see all of the stereotypical things that people associate with our state.  As a lifelong resident, I find myself frustrated at times with the small town mentality, the fear of the unknown, and the unwillingness to change.  I lament the poor school systems, and even sometimes wish I could live somewhere else–anywhere else, where the people weren’t so backward and trapped in the past.

And so I forgot.

I forgot that any state is basically just geography, just a place, the boundaries of which were drawn out politically a hundred or so years ago.  The boundaries and shape of a state don’t define its personality any more than a simple snapshot of your face can define your personality.  A state–this state–is defined by the people who live in it.  We, like all humans, have our flaws.  We may be backward and fearful of change.  We may stick obstinately to our small town ways, even in the face of these global times.  Yes, we do have a drug problem here that has arguably reached epidemic status.  We are hicks, and some of us are rednecks, and we may sound funny to you when we speak, and yes, we are hillbillies.

But we are strong.

Like everyone else, along with our faults come an array of qualities that shame the rest of the world.  Over these past few days, I have seen people rally together in a way that I never even knew was possible.  Shelters were set up and donations were pouring in before some people had even been rescued from their homes.  People have taken in complete strangers right into their homes.  We are a poor state, and I know some of the people who have given had little to give, but donations have literally rolled into all of the shelters and staging points.

The National Guard is here, but they can’t keep up with us.

In the midst of this disaster, I am reminded of what this state, at its heart, truly is.  It’s people who take up for each other, and help their neighbor, and give of themselves, even when they have little to give.  The heart of a Mountaineer is as large as the mountains we call home. Some of the people who have been on tv have had some missing teeth, and horrible grammar, and maybe they didn’t really look like the type of person you would associate with a “good” person, but that’s just what they are.  This has reminded me that people are not defined by how they sound or how they look, but rather by their actions.  And the actions of my neighbors over the past few days have served to remind me that it’s okay to be who I am, and it’s okay to be from where I’m from.  It’s okay to be a hillbilly.

In fact, it’s freaking awesome.

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#hillbillystrong

 


 

 

Voluntary Madness

As I sit here in my faithful, if slightly sagging recliner tonight, I am, for the moment, without my husband.

Where is he? At the bar? Working third shift? Coon hunting?

Nope.

He’s currently at the scene of two-car MVA.  That’s motor vehicle accident to the uninitiated.

My husband is part of our local volunteer fire department.  He, and his brothers and sisters, were all just sitting at home a few minutes ago, some probably in bed, when that shrill sound ripped through the evening.  The volunteer firefighter’s pager–a cold, unfeeling thing that dictates much of our lives.

As a teenager, I sometimes held volunteer firefighters in disdain.  Now, as VFF wife, I sometimes catch little snide comment and rolled eyes from people.  I know what they are thinking.  They have envisioned the Barney Fife types who just like strutting around with their pagers and giving people orders.  I guess there are some of those out there, just as there are always bad apples in every basket.

But what I have found is that these are hard-working, courageous men and women who voluntarily give up time away from their families to help others.

My husband spent days away from home while he was getting his certification.  He got further trained to drive the engines, because he is a naturally talented big truck driver.  He trains every Monday evening with his Station.   Mostly, though, he is always ready to literally run out the door and to the rescue of people in need.  It might be late in evening, like now, or it might be one or two in the morning.  Sometimes he’s back in an hour–sometimes not for five or six.

Sometimes he has to comfort people who are afraid, and hurt, and maybe even dying, all while acting as though he himself is not afraid.

He has been “toned out” during cookouts, birthday parties, holidays and family gatherings. He has missed his dinner and eaten a bowl of cereal, or maybe nothing at all because he was too exhausted to eat.

He has made lifelong friends, and so have I.  He has had struggles and frustrations and some scary situations, which he always downplays to me because he knows I worry.  He trusts his brothers and sisters with his life, and holds their lives in his hands.

So, take a minute to be thankful that there are men and women out there like my husband, who don’t do what they do because they are getting paid, or getting glory, or really even getting any recognition at all.  It’s easy to dismiss a volunteer firefighter because he’s the same guy you see mowing his lawn every week, or shopping in Walmart.  But make no mistake–he’s a hero.

And this one here, he’s mine.

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Spoiled (not so) Rotten

You have to be careful when you are talking about other people’s rotten kids.

Even to define what it means to have a “good” kid or a “bad” kid can be tricky.  It’s broad terminology.

Regardless, I couldn’t help but ponder a comment I heard about an obviously “bad” kid who had grown into a bad man.  The comment was that his grandparents had raised him and they had “always bought him anything he wanted.”

There was tons of heavy implication within this comment, laid on with a skill that only the elderly Southern lady possesses.  I, being skilled in interpreting this clandestine dialect, understood what was really being said.  The boy had been “spoiled” by his grandparents and so had turned out to be no good as an adult.

This got me thinking.  Does buying too many things for our children turn them into bad people?  I have always seen the clichéd images of the over-indulged child throughout my life.  The greatest and most recent, of course, being Dudley Dursley.  This is archetype of the “bad” child.  He has too much of everything.  He is bought too much, fed too much, simply given too much. As a result, he (or she) is spoiled.

I’ll be honest.  This comment hit me on a personal level.

I have always been guilty of overbuying.  I’ve never mortgaged my house to buy my kids something, but if it was in the budget and there was something cool they wanted, or even something cool I thought they might like to have, I probably got it for them.

I love technology and gadgets, so we always have the latest iPhones and iPads.  The Boy likes Nike shoes, and I got him a pair.  I guess I just never really thought of it as a big deal.

Now, The Boy is 16.  He got his first job this summer and is working hard.  He does very well in school.  So, we got him a car.  It’s cheap, it’s small, and it’s not at the top of anyone’s dream car list, but it is new, it gets great gas mileage, and it is his.

So I ask, have we been doing things wrong?

If I go by what society (and some family members) tell me, then we have spoiled children.  But the funny thing is, they don’t act like spoiled children.

Obviously, my daughter doesn’t really fit into a simple mold, be it spoiled or not spoiled or anything else, but my son is pretty much a typical 16-year-old boy.  However, I happen to think he is an exceptional 16-year-old boy.

He is compassionate and kind.  Little kids are drawn to him like moths to a flame.  He pretends like this annoys him, but I know he loves them and it brings him joy.  He is one of the most generous people I have ever met.  I honestly don’t think he has a selfish bone in his body. He works hard and is so smart.

I don’t think it is what we buy our kids that makes them who they are.  I think it is what we teach them.  You could buy them things and they could be little brats.  However, you could also buy them things but still demand that they treat people with respect, and do their chores, and behave a certain way.

Ultimately, it really isn’t anyone’s business what you do or don’t buy for your kids.  I think we are all probably guilty of overbuying, especially in this modern age of “stuff.”  But the responsibility of raising respectful, responsible children remains the same.

It seems to me blaming the “stuff” is taking the easy way out.  It’s easy to blame something superficial like “spoiled” rather than say, “his grandmother let him speak disrespectfully to her all of the time” or “he was never responsible for anything around the house.”

So yes, I think you can spoil your children.  But I think you spoil them not by giving them too many material things, but by not giving them enough of what we all need to be decent adults:  discipline.

What do you think?

An Open Letter to Teens

Dear Teens:

You don’t know shit.

Oh, I know, I know.  You think you know everything. I am (not so) sorry to be the one to tell you that, in fact, as I said, you don’t know shit.

Also, no one in this world owes you anything.  Did you get that? NOT. ONE. THING. If you want things, buy them.  That requires money, which requires a job, which generally requires some sort of skill set, along with basic personal hygiene.  Some of you seem to be struggling with this.

It’s all pretty basic.  Take a bath.  Brush your teeth.  Make eye contact when people talk to you.  And, God help us all, smile.  

Here is another pointer for you–learn English.  Like, for real.  I’m not trying to be mean, but you kind of sound like morons.  You can’t spell, you can’t speak, and to be frank, you’re making us look bad in front of the whole world.  Try not to add “uh” to the end of every word, especially if you are doing so in a particularly annoying, whiny voice.  Examples: stop-uh, don’t-uh, look-uh, what-uh. (For those of you struggling to understand, just draw those words out.  Come on now, draw them out niiiiiicccceeee and loooooonnnggg and force the sound through your nose and then tack that “uh” at the end. Got it?)

Lastly, get over yourselves.  Look around.  This may come as a shock to you, but there are other people in the world besides yourselves. Who knew, right? Take a moment to realize that your words and actions might have some effect on someone other than you.

I give you these words in love, because I don’t want to see you make the same mistakes I made as a selfish, stupid teenager.  I want you to realize that there are certain decisions you only get one chance to make. I want you to look around an appreciate the value of the other people in your life.  Some day they might not be there.  And they love you.

We all love you.

P.S. You still don’t know shit, though.

P.P.S. The duck face and the kissy face in every picture look absolutely ridiculous.  Really.  I mean, people are making fun of your behind your back.  It’s that bad.  Stop.  Please.


 

Driven to Insanity

My son is 16 years old.

For those of you who do not have children, this number may mean nothing to you.  It may not strike fear into your heart.  It may not ignite inside your soul the devastating fear, the agonizing terror that lives in the heart of every parent.

My son is nearly ready to get his driver’s license.

I stalled the inevitable by making the boy take Driver’s Education.  That gets you a break of approximately $0.00000004 on insurance.  (Incidentally, I think it is crap that insurance is more for a boy than for a girl.  So much for equality, right?) However, in spite of my many attempts to pretend that my children are still small, the boy is nearly ready to get his driver’s license.

He will be able, according to the law of our great state, to operate a motor vehicle on his own.

(Who made these laws? Someone without children, I guarantee.)

I consider myself a very adaptable person.  In fact, it is one of my strong suits.  I’m not one of these people who get bogged down by the fear of change.  I laugh at those people.  Ha!  But someone I find myself ill prepared for my son to drive.  It isn’t just him–all of his buddies are also driving.  A few of them are older than my son and have already received their operators license.  A couple of them drive themselves to school every day. I still visualize these kids as the same ones who couldn’t tie their shoes without assistance, and they are out on the same roads as you and me, with no adult supervision, in vehicles capable of many thousands of dollars of personal property damage.

God help us.

The worst part of it all is that I’m not sure if I’m upset because my son is 16 years old and driving (and he is a good driver, very cautious and law-abiding) or if I’m upset because this is just another reminder of my own impending geezer-hood.

I am not ready for this.  I myself identify as a cool young person.  I listen to cool music and drive too fast (in a minivan) and have tattoos and all of the other stuff that makes people cool.  But how can I be a cool young person when a human being that I grew inside of my own body is now old enough to operate a motor vehicle?

Okay, I’ll tell you the truth.  I’ve been sly about it and pretended like it was about so many things that it wasn’t.  It isn’t really about my son.  It isn’t about him driving.

It’s about the fact that I’ll be 40 in a couple of days.

You read that right.  I will be forty years old.  Conceivably half way through my whole entire life.  If I’m lucky, that is.

I cannot stand to hear about people having midlife crises, especially men with the sports cars and the blonde mistresses and such.  But honestly, I have to seriously ask myself if I’m not in the throes of a midlife crisis right now.  Why else would all of this be hitting me so hard?  What other explanation is there that the contemplation of my life and the life of my son and his friends should cause me such distress?

I’m sure the wine has nothing to do with it.

Regardless, my son is sixteen years old, and getting ready to get his license.  No matter how much I piss and moan (and drink), time just keeps on slipping by.  I thought I had lots of time.  I used to complain about how slowly time passed.

I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry.  I didn’t know.  I take it back.  Just please, please slow down a little.  They can drive now, so let’s just take a breath.  Let’s take a minute to get our bearings.

Let’s realize how precious our time is, and how much we take it for granted, okay? I swear, we’ll do better from here on out.

Okay?


 

The Split Second

I don’t know about where you live, but lately around here there seems to have been an increase in the number of child-related tragedies.

I won’t rehash them one by one.  They were depressing enough the first time around. Suffice it to say that some terrible, strange accidents have happened to some small children around the state.

Accidents aren’t really what this post is about, though.  What got me thinking was looking at and listening to some of the comments that people make about these tragic accidents.  Without fail, the parenting abilities of the parents involved with these accidents are always called into questions.  Sometimes people are downright cruel, saying that some people shouldn’t have children and that how idiots should be sterilized so they can’t reproduce.  You hear such mature, helpful advice as “hang them” and “arrest them for neglect.”

I have no doubt that some of the horrible things that happen to children are the result of bad parenting.  But then, these things aren’t really accidents, are they? What about the horrible things that happen that really are accidents? We are so quick to judge, so quick to pass sentence and shake our heads at these poor, foolish parents.

Haven’t we all been that foolish parent?

Nobody wants to admit it, but we have all had our less-than-stellar parenting moments.  The difference between me and the woman whose son died in a tragic accident is little more than pure luck.

Children are fast, and I don’t think any human on Earth can honestly say they are prepared for every possible danger scenario in the life of their child.  We try.  God knows we do.  We baby-proof and use car seats and door latches and we hover and wring our hands.  But sometimes stuff still happens, doesn’t it?

I know as the mother of two I’ve had some close calls.  One that stands out in my mind is the time my then two-year-old son found the switch that operated the automatic door we had so my sister could go in and out in her wheelchair.  The house was baby-proof.  But I noticed I didn’t hear my son, and when I went in search of him, I found him standing on the back porch looking through the door which had closed just as easily as it had opened.  He was so shocked that he had just stood there, and in reality, no more than a minute could have gone by, but what could have happened? What if, instead of stopping and looking back through the door, he had kept on trucking and went out to the road? Or down in the woods? Or, or, or, if, if, if.  I was lucky.  I grabbed him and mentally calculated the number of years that had been shaved off of my life, but that was it.  We were fine.

Another time, we were in DC seeing the sights.  We got on the elevator to go down to the Metro.  We were packed on there, and somehow I got shuffled behind my sister’s wheelchair.  My son was in front of her chair.  The door opened, and he stepped off.  For some reason, everyone else just sort of stood there.  The door started to slide shut, with me inside and my four-year-old son standing on the platform by himself.  I literally climbed over the back of my sister’s chair and hit the “door open” button.  Everyone shuffled off then, and I joined my child on the platform.  Yet another year or two off of the span of my life.  It could have gone down very differently, and been much worse.  Or, or, or, if, if, if.

So, what about you? Have you had those life-shortening, sphincter-tightening moments of parenthood? I know you have.  We all have. Go ahead, tell me about it.

I won’t judge.

 

 

 

The Thin Line

When you have little baby children, you think that things are very difficult.  You have to feed them, change them, and suck the boogers out of their noses with those little bulb things.  They cry and vomit and don’t sleep.  Life seems like one endless sucking maw of baby bodily fluids.  Oh, when will they grow up?

Then they become toddlers.  I’m far too tired this evening to recount the joys and horrors of raising toddlers.

Then they kind of go through a cool phase.  They get to be around, oh, seven or so, and from then up until around ten or eleven, or even twelve if you’re lucky, you get to interact with what appears to be an actual human being, in miniature form.  You do fun things together and talk about everything.  You are buddies.  You are best friends.  Furthermore, you are the coolest parent in the world.

Then they become teenagers.

Jack Sparrow Screaming

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly, you find yourself looking back wistfully on those diaper changing days.  Needs of the body are easily met, but meeting the needs of the teenage mind is a problem that is unlikely to ever be solved.

My son is fifteen years old.  I know the child I gave birth to is in there somewhere, but some days I wonder if that little boy hasn’t been replaced by some alien from Planet Attitude.

Teenagers know everything. I mean, when did I miss the class in middle school that taught literally every thing about every topic and every possible scenario in the history of mankind?  Because teenagers certainly seem to know it.  They can argue about anything. They can argue with you if you tell them it’s raining outside.

Now I am starting to run into the real difficulties of raising teenagers.  Sure they are obnoxious and know-it-all and they never listen and the eye rolling thing, oh LORD don’t get me started on the eye rolling thing, and they are so dramatic that they could give acting lessons to soap opera stars, and they think their lives are just so tragic and no one understands them and their parents are totally lame and old and —–

Whew!

Sorry, I got carried away there.

My point, in case you forgot, was that raising a teenager has to be the most difficult parenting stage, hands down. The issue that I have been struggling with lately is privacy.

I’m an advocate for privacy.  I love my own.  I want my son to be able to have his space and set his boundaries and know that no one is messing in his personal business.  I can truly see it from that point of view.  It’s part of treating our children like adults.

But…….

Where is that line?  I want my son to be responsible and be able to have his personal space, but I cannot allow myself to forget that this is a fifteen year old boy that I am talking about! His decision-making capability at this stage is right on par with that of a hamster, or maybe a really smart potato.  I’m not singling him out!  I’ve known his friends since they started kindergarten, and they are all the same.  Remember when I said I thought maybe they had been abducted by aliens from planet attitude?  Actually, I think they have been abducted by Hormones, and the Hormones don’t care about consequences or mistakes or grades or anything like the future.  The Hormones care about one basic topic–sex–with many sub-topics, such as jokes, tv, games, videos, movies, all related to the main topic, which was, in case you forgot, sex.

So, what do you do?  Do you read all the texts?  Do you stalk the email and the Facebook pages? Do you snoop in drawers? Do you hire private detectives to track your child’s every move? (Just kidding.) ((Sort of.))

Help me, dear readers.  How far is too far?  My job is to be his parent, and I am going to push into those boundaries all the time, much to my son’s distress.  At what point do I officially become a stalker?

I’m all ears.

 


 

 

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