My middle daughter Taylor, a senior in high school this year, came to me the other day expressing concern that we weren’t spending enough time together as a family. I swear to you this actually happened! I have witnesses. I had a flurry of emotions all at once; impressed, offended, sad, irate, proud, and motivated. The last 5 months have been a bit of a roller coaster. I have had multiple health issues going on lately and was currently on day 23 of a non-stop migraine.
I was hurt at first, to say the least. Not by her personally, and not because she brought up a legitimate concern. I was angry because after spending one night with her father and his current girlfriend for the first time in months, she came home acting like our home wasn’t good enough. I am here, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day through all the good and all the bad. I am NEVER not present. I am confident that if I only had to make a pretty picture on few and far between occasions, I would be able to make this shit look Fabulous!! That’s not the reality in this house! Everything is not seamless and perfect every day. There are bills I have to pay, appointments to get everyone to, sick days for when I’m not sick, and a bazillion other responsibilities I HAVE to do ALL the time. So yeah, sometimes one of those balls gets dropped. Usually, we can have a straight up discussion about things like this without drama. However, this talk started out more like a fight and I was NOT appreciating having one incident being treated as if it was the whole. I’m happy that when they go with their father they are actually spending time together, especially since that has not always been the case. What I’m not ok with is having a comparison with apples and oranges. At some point, the tongue biting has to stop. When it becomes an attack on what I know is a pretty great life they have, it’s time to get real. Age appropriate real, but real nonetheless.
We had an immediate family meeting and discussed how not one person is responsible for the lack of togetherness, we all played a part. We discussed how just because we don’t have nonstop activities planned everyday, doesn’t mean they don’t have a great home life. I talked about how I was using all of my energy just to get myself through the workday and by the time I got home, I was exhausted! I had nothing left. I knew it and I hated it! The hubby’s been working full-time and comes home to pick up the slack by doing the laundry, the cooking and the cleaning. Taylor has been making plans every single day from the moment she gets out of school. My son has been struggling at school and has been spending a lot of time studying or procrastinating in his room. Taylor is a senior this year so I have been giving her a lot of leeway as far as spending time with friends. I know it’s her last year, she works hard and is feeling a lot of outside pressure in regards to college, so I wanted her to be able to de-stress with her closest friends. Excuses and reasoning aside, she was right. We weren’t spending as much time together as we usually do. I love spending time with my kids. So we came up with a tentative plan.
Side note here: I think it’s imperative to teach your children to be adaptive. Shit happens people. A lot, and when you least expect it. Teach your children how to go with the flow instead of trying to kill yourselves because you don’t want to break a promise. Stop making so many promises, and start making plans that may or may not have to change. I would love to have a calendar outlining the five million things that need to be done on a daily basis –color coded and easily track able. My OCD would be very happy. However, life is crazy and unpredictable and we have to learn to be flexible or we will all get bent out of shape. We discussed, together, what everyone is dealing with…health issues, stress, school, chores, etc…. We talked about how if more family time is desired, then everyone needs to get off their butts and lend a hand in the not so fun stuff. We need to start writing down the important things that we each want to be doing so no-one is upset if one person can’t participate, as well as understanding we may need to individually pare down some of the wants to be able to hang out together.
My kids are old enough to understand that I have some health things that prohibit me from doing the things I want to, but it’s a whole other ballpark to have the emotional maturity to fully understand that. It’s beyond frustrating for me, so I can empathize with them on this one. If I could magically snap my fingers and figure all of this out, I WOULD! So, we had a talk about how they are going to have to trust me that if I am not participating in something, it’s because I truly can’t. I bounced between a 21st birthday party at a bowling alley (with very bright, flashing lights) and a CD release party last weekend, jacked up on two kinds of migraine medication, a pain pill, sunglasses and earplugs. I think that should paint you a picture of the lengths I’m willing to go to in order to participate in the lives of my family. There are some times, that none of the above helps, and I just need a dark, quiet room…..and hopefully not the ER.
The plan: Have dinner together. After dinner, do something like go to the gym, play a game, watch a movie or go for a walk. Bottom line, get back to doing things the way we used to do them.
The Rules: No refusing without a darn good reason or previously documented plans. Everyone pitches it with ALL the household chores WITHOUT being told. There is NO teenage pouting allowed; that includes eye rolling, loud sighing, door slamming, and mumbling under your breath….from anyone! haha
This is just week one, but so far, so good, considering my son is sick and I still wear sunglasses, inside at night. We had a little tie-dying action going on last night. I met up with my oldest daughter Ali and our cousins Becca and Kristina for lunch yesterday. We went to Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby to gather supplies for tie-dying, something I have never done before. We decided to meet up after 8pm when Becca was off of work and Taylor was home from school. That gave me time to rest up for a bit, which I needed after a few hours of running around town. We had a blast! It was a mess, that’s for sure, but well worth it. Ali’s boyfriend Alden stopped by after his night class and even the hubby tried his hand at tie-dying. 9 shirts, 5 headbands, 1 sweatshirt and 1 pair of shoes later we were all ready for bed. The next day was rinse out and wash time for all of our creations. The shoes and two shirts turned out pretty good. Sadly, the washing process faded everything else out pretty good. We decided that we just need to find a different brand of tie-dye besides the Tulip brand we used. Craft and Learn, right?! The real point was just hanging out together and having fun without spending an arm and a leg. We all talked about ridiculous nonsense and laughed so hard our cheeks hurt. My son didn’t participate due to being sick, but he told me today that he could hear us all talking and he thought we were all goof balls. He said he was half asleep and still laughing.
We have always been a pretty close family. We spend a lot of time together normally. We can’t afford family vacations and expensive trips. Eating out all the time is also not an option. We have bills to pay and the only money coming in is the money from our paychecks. None of that stops us from having quality time together, that doesn’t cost anything. Some months are better than others, but sometimes it’s tight. It goes to show that something little can derail the norm and you might not even realize the impact until someone is brave enough to speak up. I knew how I felt. I hated not being able to just get up and do what I needed and wanted to do. I was trying to compensate for that by letting the kids have more freedom in their personal time while not micromanaging their every move. I’m really happy Taylor opened up about how she was feeling. No-one wants to hear they are slacking, but maybe they NEED to hear it. I knew we were spending less time together, I just didn’t think the kids noticed. I think this is another proud parent moment here. I told you I have some pretty awesome kids.
I have said it before and I’m sure I will keep on saying it; Life is crazy, but you have to try to keep that crazy from getting your family life off track. Sometimes you just need to take a step back, have an honest conversation and get your shit together.
This is a very strange adjustment period for me. My oldest daughter is 19 and living on her own while going to college and working. Taylor is a senior and figuring out her path for after high school. I know she will be moving out soon and starting her life separate from here as well. My son is only two years behind her. I have spent the last 20 years being a mom. That’s over half my life. I have been raising my kids to become responsible, thriving members of society. I guess a little part of me forgot to think about where I stand when that finally happens. It’s all trial and error I guess. Luckily I have very open lines of communication with all of my children. Even when they don’t want to talk, I know something is up and I tell them they can spill it now, or I will come back later, but either way, we are talking about it. I have been ‘a duck’ for years, so I guess I will just keep paddling away and go with the flow. There are ups and downs, but we always seem to find our way through it together.
Here are a few funny pics from our tie-dying get together:
Kat Smith is a 39-year-old insanely busy mother of three fantastic young people. Married to an amazing hubby Jeremy, a man 7 years her junior (he had to be younger to keep up with the fun at her house).
She is a full-time working parent dealing with a sometimes debilitating nerve disease, and a part-time ex-husband. She has been writing for decades yet she is new to blogging. She writes to expose her truth, shares her hobbies, feelings, struggles, triumphs and daily survival. She loves a great gel pen, photography, DIY projects and she tries not to let her OCD make other people crazy. Learn more about Kat on her personal blog: www.mytaintedview.com Follow her on Twitter: @MrsKatSmith and Pinterest.