Anything Can Happen Friday: Distracted

Due to all sorts of things, I have become very distracted of late. The worst part is, I’m not distracted because of myself, per se, but how my family handles things. When my family is going through something I take on angst.

Why do I take on their angst?

Who knows.

Control issues?

Wanting to jump in and help and knowing that you really can’t help?

Wanting them to do things differently because I know better?

Probably a little bit of all of them. I see how they’re handling things, and I want to erase my daughters self doubt and angst. I want to make my husband wake up and actually look at the things in front of him. It’s hard for me to watch them have these periods of apprehension and unease and know that I am powerless. I mean, I’m the Mommy. I’m the wife. I’m the household Goddess with superpowers but apparently I’ve hit my kryptonite…

I hate it when I really can’t help the people I care about.

When I can’t help them I can’t focus on things- usually simple, non threatening things, but still- things get messed up…

I screwed up hotel reservations. I forgot to send a birthday card. I missed the deadline for a story contest I wanted to enter. I missed signing up for three classes I wanted to take.

Silly, inconsequential things, but still things that I was too distracted to pay attention to.

I have to remember that I can’t solve everything.

I have to remember to write things down and pay attention to my TO DO folder.

I have to take care of myself because if I don’t take care of myself I can’t take care of anything or anybody else.

So my goal is to try to focus better. To not let whatever my family is dealing with bring me to a point where I can’t get on with my life. I just wish I knew how to do that.

Love or Obligation

“I want kids so that I have someone to take care of me when I get older.”

Someone said this to me once. Flat out, the only reason they wanted kids was that they expected free help as they aged. They expected their children who were not born yet to care for them out of obligation.

I don’t believe in doing things out of obligation.

I do things out of love.

If I help you, it is not a tit for tat situation. It is because I really care about you and will do what is within my power to help you. When my friend G was diagnosed with liver cancer and had about three months to live, I just pitched in wherever I could help his family- take his kid home from school, pick up prescriptions, take him to chemo. Whatever he needed, I helped because he was my friend. No recompense needed.

When my parents became ill, I did not do things because of the things they did for me in the past. I did it because I love them. Period.

My daughter is stressed out now- lots of work and such for the final push towards graduation. I said to her “What can I do to help you?”. This wasn’t said because I screwed up and was a bad parent and I owed her, it wasn’t because I felt obligated because she’s my daughter: it’s because I love her and will try to help her in ways that she could use help.

I help out of love. Obligation is paying back money like my mortgage, or paying my credit card bills. Doing something for others is love.

Next time you are doing something for someone, or someone is doing something for you, think about why you’re doing it. If it’s for any reason other than love, think again.

Anything Can Happen Friday- The Scam

So my Mother called me the other day…

She received an email from one of her neighbors. The email said that this particular neighbor was having a rough go and needed my Mom to get her a gift cardfor either Amazon or Apple.

Now, I know most of you are thinking the same thing as I thought about this email…

But my Mom…

My Mom can be a very trusting and helpful sort of person. If someone is in trouble she will try to help. She has a sort of Capraesque view of the world, where good wins out over evil and all the other stuff. She assumes that people are good, and that no one tries to take advantage of another.

In theory I guess it would be nice to be that trusting. But you know…I’m a realist not an idealist…so most of the time I’m looking for the angle.

Is this real?

Can I trust this?

What’s the possible downside?

My mother emails back, asking how she can help. She gives her “friend” her phone numbers in case her “friend” can’t find them. And then she proceeds to try to figure out how to buy the gift card.

Now this is a time when I am glad that my Mother is not tech savvy. She couldn’t figure out how to buy the gift cards.

My Mother then calls her friend, to tell her that she can’t buy the cards…

You probably know that the friend’s email account was hacked.

My Mother called me, worried that these scammers have her phone number, and she responded to the email. She was worried that accounts could be opened up in her name using her phone numbers. Honestly, I don’t know anymore what people can and can’t do with information, any information, so I told my Mom to watch her statements and she uses one of those companies that call you when an account is trying to be opened, so I told her to just monitor things…

After I got off the phone with her I heaved a big sigh. While I have got over scams with my daughter ad infinitum, I never thought I would have to go through this with my Mother. I assumed that my Mother would just know when something seems off…But now I really have to worry that she will think the Crown Prince of Nigeria really needs her help.

I love that my Mom is trusting and wants to help others, but now this is a new worry that I have to contend with. Realistically I know that I can’t protect my Mom, but it sort of crushes me that I can’t stop bad people, bad things from hurting her. This is the part about being a daughter that no one really talks about- when the child becomes the parent and the protector.

I sit and try to figure out where to go from here. Is there anything I can do to help my Mother than I hadn’t thought of? Is there any way to prepare? I have to remind myself that there’s not always a solution to things: that there are things that I can’t write as a list and check off the things I’ve done and look ahead to what comes next…

I realize that this is where I need hope: hope that things won’t be too bad, hope that I can fix whatever happens, hope that life will be pleasantly uneventful.

Hope. Sometimes it’s the best option.

What We Miss

My daughter is about to go back to college (for her final semester if you can believe that!!!) It’s always bittersweet when I give her a hug as she lugs her bags into the cab to take her to Penn Station to catch the Northeaster to Union Station… There are parts of me that will miss her, and their are parts… not so much.

I love having my daughter around because she is intelligent and we have great conversations. She is well versed in current events and culture, and has a mind of a sponge because she remembers things that were taught to her in years past. Yesterday we were at MOMA and as we looked at an exhibit she recalled things her 8th grade social studies teacher did as a lesson that correlated with the work we were looking at.

When she leaves I miss the conversations.

My husband doesn’t eat cheese. When I say this I mean that he doesn’t eat nachos or cheese fries or a charcuterie plate that includes cheese. While sharing cheesy tater tots isn’t an activity to base a marriage on, his not eating cheese and most things dairy can be difficult to plan meals around and takes away some small things that I find pleasurable. My daughter eats cheese.

When she leaves I will miss having someone to snack on cheese with.

My daughter will pretty much try anything cultural. Off beat play? She’s in. Weird art? She’s in. Foreign film? She’s in. Golden Girls themed dinner? She’s in.

I will miss having her around to see things and discuss things.

My daughter likes to stay out late. She doesn’t do this every night, but one or two nights a week she is out late. If she’s not home I don’t sleep well. Just can’t.

I will not miss being bleary eyed because my daughter was at a club till 3am, and then had pizza.

While my daughter is highly intelligent, she is also mainly book smart. She lacks life experience and a certain amount of maturity that only comes with the years. Because of this she can be righteous. Oh boy can she be righteous.

I will not miss the righteousness.

She asked me the other day if I missed her being younger- she said there’s been a lot of TikTok’s about how parents miss their kids when they were younger, when they had trouble walking in snowsuits and mispronounced words and just generally the things we find endearing about the not so fully formed humans. She asked if I ever wished she was five again…I told her that while I have many fond memories of her younger years, I have appreciated every stage of her life: but, I don’t wish she were younger or had stayed frozen at any point in time. I have enjoyed the journey of parenting her from being pregnant (ok- not morning sickness) to toddler to preschool, elementary to middle to high to college, and now as an adult. The memories are wonderful but I don’t want to live in the memory. I’m ready to close out the undergraduate years and look forward to watching her as she encounters the next step on her journey.

When you say you miss your kids, what is it that you actually miss? Do we really miss kids as they were, or is it just a little wistful to look back at time and see how fast it really goes when you’re not paying attention?

Believe

As a child, when your Mother believes in you, you believe in yourself, and when that happens, there is nothing you can’t do. As a Mother, that is the greatest gift we can give to a child

Caroline Kennedy- She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems

The holiday season has just left us. You’ve recycled the environmentally friendly wrapping, or put away the gift bags to be used next year. The credit card bills haven’t quite hit the mailbox yet. But the gifts have been given. The physical show of love has been exchanged…

I’m all for gifts. I still remember when my daughter was seven and she received the Hannah Montana Malibu Beach House, the years of the American Girl stuff…This year the highlight was tickets to see Funny Girl on Broadway. To be clear, I like the idea of giving gifts. I think it’s OK to want something tangible, or an awesome experience.

However…

Even though I have given my daughter a lot of physical things…

The greatest gift I ever gave her was the that I believed in her- that I thought she was strong and capable and had the ability to set a goal and work towards it. I taught her that it’s is OK to make a mistake, to fail. I taught her that the greatest asset you can have is resilience…

Physical gifts are wonderful, but they won’t make you a better person. Buying something doesn’t give you confidence. Owning something doesn’t make you stronger. The things that really matter are the things that reside in your head and heart: confidence and determination and a thirst for knowledge. These are the things that a parent or primary caregiver can give a child.

So next time you’re with you’re kid, remind them that you think they are special. Give them the courage to try something new. Be there to pick them up when they fall, but then push them to try again. These are the best gifts to give a child- the gift of you believing in them.

The Fighting

My parents have never had the greatest of marriages: at best they had reached a sort of d├ętente that allowed them to coexist in the same unit. What kept them together was a strange mix of Catholic guilt, shared political ideology and fear of not having enough money if they were to operate two separate households.

Neither of my parents is without fault- my Father is stubborn and spiteful, my mother is pushy and a know it all who will harp on you until you submit to her thoughts because you just can’t take it anymore. She is also not so great at adapting. Add in to this the inevitable aging process, where sometimes your worst traits get amplified, and you have a situation set to explode.

My parents are not getting along. They fight constantly. Neither one of them is rational or willing to listen. And I am getting to the point where I just want to close my eyes and pretend that none of this is happening.

I do not know what to do about my parents, their aging and their fighting.

I have tried babying them. I have tried tough love. I have tried coddling. I’ve tried ignoring (which is my favorite method but probably least effective). I’m running out of ideas. I have talked to their Doctor. I have suggested therapy and anti depressants and anti anxiety meds.

I realize that my Father is ill, and his body has been through a lot. I realize that my Mother is annoying. I know that pandemic was not good for their mental health. I know all the big facts.

Yet, I have no clear path on how to help them.

It’s really starting to fray at my nerves. While I am coping, and making sure I take time our for myself, I still feel helpless. Part of me doesn’t want to even try to help anymore, because everything I try is futile. And for a can-do woman of action, who is the persona I am most likely to take on, this is not a look I want to wear. I am meant to solve problems, not to ignore them. I see a problem, I figure out what to do, and I act. The way I normally am is just not working right now. Part of me, a really big part, just wants to give up…to pass the buck to my sister and let her figure it out…But there’s that little piece inside of me that still thinks she has to protect her sister…and her parents… I’m really starting to hate that little responsible gremlin living inside me. Who knew being responsible would be such a travail?

After I end this post, I will look at my to do list and get on with my day. But there’s that nagging feeling that I should be doing something, doing more than I am to help out my parents, a nagging little bit of guilt and a nagging little bit of adulting…the unwritten to do that I just can’t shake…

Anything Can Happen Friday: The Best Marriage Ever

I recently bought a book at Barnes & Noble and the receipt showed up as BN/Paper Source. I had completely forgotten that BN bought Paper Source last year.

My very two favorite stores in the world got married.

Huzzah

My two most favorite browsing experiences are in stationary stores and book stores- the mere thought that all this paper and ink goodness has become a union is almost too exciting for me to handle. I am awash with glee!

Insert smiley face, hearts and exclamation points…

I don’t normally push recently married couples to have children, but really, I am anxiously awaiting the day when there is a BN/PS superstore… Can you imagine the planner section? The journals? The range of happiness and you go girl books on personal growth? And what about tea and all its accoutrements? Coffee table books about art and the color Pink, and maybe even the singer Pink…The possibilities are endless.

This is the marriage I am most rooting for- this is the marriage I really want to make it for the long haul…

So congratulations to my two favorite stores. Remember, communication, respect and an occasional compromise are key to a successful marriage. May the honeymoon period last forever.

The Car Ride

My parents used to live on Long Island, and they went to a Doctor in Brooklyn which was where my Dad worked. When they moved to New Jersey (twelve years ago), they continued to go to this Doctor, even though the drive was at least an hour. They would make a day of it…go to the Doctor and then meet up with friends in the neighborhood for dinner.

Of course, it’s twelve years later and they are twelve years older…

As of now, they are not supposed to drive long distances. Which means that the hourlong trip to the Doctor is a No Go.

Unless they ask my Husband and I to take them…

So on the condition that they seek out a general practitioner in their neighborhood, my Husband and I agreed to take them to the Doctor- which means us driving to NJ, getting them and driving back to the city, then driving back to NJ, then back to the city…

The car ride…

My Husband and I sat in the front. I had a tote bag with snacks, water, tissues, wipes and paper towels. You know, how you travel with kids. Of course, I should have brought car games and headphones, because they really did start to act like my sister and I used to do on long car rides…

He’s in my spot

She’s bothering me

I’m hungry

Why are we going this way

Are we there yet

They were bickering so much I thought in my head:

If you two don’t stop arguing and fidgeting I’m going to turn this car around and we will go homeNo Doctor for you

Because that is the lengths they had driven me to…

I really don’t like this reversal of roles…I’m already the parent to a daughter, and a dog, and a cat, and a husband….I don’t like this parenting of my parents. As I explained to someone else, I’m also doing a really bad job of parenting my parents…they don’t listen, they make poor decisions, and I am wont to leave them up to their own devices. I have yet to find a good way to have them listen to me and behave accordingly. It’s like they go out of their way to thwart me…

I’m presently trying tough love. I told them they have to get a primary who is near them. I said I will not drive them to their Brooklyn Doctor anymore. After the whole calling the police incident, I’ve considered putting a GPS device in my father. Seriously. I’m just trying to pay off a veterinarian to do it for me… I now have weekly conversations with their Doctor so that he is armed with information that they might not be willing to share, and I’m HOPING they get a new primary soon, even though I like the one they now have. And I read whatever articles I can so I can gain some perspective as to how to proceed.

And I wonder how to best prepare my daughter for when it’s her turn to parent me.

Anything Can Happen Friday: The Police Saga

Last week my Mother called me at about 9pm. She asked if my daughter was back from South Africa (as some of you know, she just spent three weeks there as a study abroad) and I replied that she was presently in flight somewhere between Cape Town and London. She asked me a few questions regarding my daughter’s experience blah blah blah.

She then proceeded to tell me the following:

Your father and I got into a fight today. He left the house at 4:30 with no money, no wallet, no phone, no medicine and no car keys. His parting words to her were “Have a nice life.”

Hmmm…

Talk about burying the lede…

I ask her if she’s checked the complex…she assures me she has…

I call the police, because in my mind, 83 year old guy with mobility issues, who falls at least once a week, a month ago that resulted in a broken shoulder is out without his medicine, has no money…you get the idea and my level of concern.

First thing the officer asks me is if he’s in the clubhouse of the development. I reply “No” because my Mother said she checked…

Of course the police go to look for him and he’s in the clubhouse playing cards with his buddies…

So now I feel like an idiot and I’ve sent the police on a meaningless search instead of allowing them to do their actual jobs…

I’ve been trying to help him keep his dignity as he’s navigated health issues the past year. Now that’s out the window…

My Mother told me that my Father is really mad at me- apparently I’m out of the will- and I can’t help but wonder if my Mother passive aggressively manipulated me into calling the police because she didn’t want my Father to be mad at her- that I was a good scapegoat…

I can’t decide if they are acting like toddlers, tweens or teens…

As I recounted the story to my friends, I told them that on a scale of 1-10, the angst of raising my daughter was a 1. The angst of raising my parents on the same scale is about 4,083.

When my daughter was born, people told me that parenting is a forever job. What they neglected to tell me was that when I stopped parenting my daughter I would begin parenting my parents…

The Problem is Us

Sign recently spotted on NYC mass transit

To set the record straight: I did not personally see this ad, but I saw an article that posted a picture of this ad.

I know it’s not a great picture, so for those of you who can’t make out what this poster says, I’ll give the basics:

“Don’t be ashamed you are using, be empowered that you are using safely”

Fyi- the thing they are talking about is heroin. You should be empowered because you are using heroin safely.

You should be empowered because you are using heroin safely?

You should be EMPOWERED because you are using heroin safely???

EMPOWERED?

EMPOWERED??

Ok- let’s think about all the strives we’ve made:

  1. Math shouldn’t have correct answers because it’s unfair to people who don’t know them
  2. Dr. Suess is bad
  3. We can no longer say minority shareholder
  4. Taking heroin is OK as long as you take it with a friend and you take turns

You can clearly see how we’ve made things much better for everyone.

I am so proud that we’ve established these things in the new century.

Next time you send out prayers, next time you write a righteous post about how bad politicians are, next time you argue with someone over the use of a word, here’s a gentle reminder of you much you’ve helped the youth of today: we banned nursery rhymes and made it so real estate agents can’t say master suite…

WE ARE THE PROBLEM

Go look at yourself in the mirror, or take a selfie, and admit that you have contributed to screwing up the youth of this country.

When did we go from “drugs are bad and you should avoid them to “start with a small dose and go slowly”?

START WITH A SMALL DOSE AND GO SLOWLY?

START WITH A SMALL DOSE AND GO SLOWLY??

HAVE NALOXENE ON HAND?

TEST YOUR DRUGS?

HAVE WE JUST TOLD KIDS IT’S Ok TO TAKE HEROIN AS LONG AS YOU TEST IT AND HAVE A DRUG BUDDY?

CONGRATULATIONS. WE HAVE FAILED THE YOUTH OF AMERICA.

Next time you go to complain about what someone else is or isn’t doing, take a good hard look at what YOU are doing to help empower kids and young adults the RIGHT way. Make sure the things you are doing actually matter in making strong, confident youth.

We are the problem. Say it. I dare you to take blame and responsibility for the ongoing crisis in the world. It’s is only when we all admit that we are individually failing to collectively help our children will we begin to solve the many problems that exist.

I’ll Start:

I, LA, have failed the youth of America by not having a stronger voice in what kids are learning today, and by allowing the agenda to shift to ridiculousness, and still not helping kids be confident and empowered from the inside, where it matters.

If you think that the spirit of the ad is good, that the point should be to save lives, then I suggest we consider the following:

  1. If you are going to text and drive, make sure you reduce your speed to 25 mph
  2. If you are going to drive after you’ve drank or used drugs, make sure you have a passenger with you so that they can wake you up
  3. If you are going to physically abuse someone, start small

If you think an addict is going to remember to take drugs with a buddy, or start small, or any of these things, give me a call- I have a nice bridge to sell you… This will not save anyone. It is a license to a death sentence.

We ask for laws…we enact laws…we say things are illegal….and then we manage to justify them anyway…that’s our legacy…hypocrisy and taking the easy way out.

Rant NOT over…