What’s The Lesson

A few months ago, my daughter and I got into a fight.

As many mother/daughter fights go, I can’t remember what we were fighting about. I also know that we were a tad nasty to one another.

When I left the house to errand/walk dog, I was still annoyed with her and she was annoyed with me. We usually say “love you” to one another when we part, but this time I know we didn’t.

We were exasperated with one another.

Now, you may remember a few months ago I told you that I was out walking the dog and I witnessed a man get hit by a van.

Well, that incident occurred on the day that she and I had our fight.

So after I returned home from errands, my daughter flew out of her bedroom and hugged me and told me how sorry she was.

See, my daughter has that “Citizen” app on her phone and saw the notice that a pedestrian was hit by a van in the neighborhood that I was going to. She knew I would be in close proximity of the accident and she got worried that it had been me.

So what’s the moral?

I guess there’s different ways you can look at this:

  1. Don’t fight over stupid things
  2. Never leave a loved one on an angry note
  3. You never know what the future holds for you

I’m sure there are a few other lessons and tidbits from this.

What do you think is the greatest lesson that we learn from this situation?

Let’s Hang Out

Now that we are all starting to have in real life social happenings…

I went to dinner with friends the other day- had a wonderful time. Great conversation. Lots of laughs. Always have fun with this couple. Totally enjoyed myself and look forward to seeing them again soon.

Last weekend went out with two couples. Day was nice. Nice. Is nice a great description though? Do you really want someone to say that it was a “Nice” time? Or do you want to use a better adjective? Is “I had a nice time” just another way to say that you were bored 75% of the day?

When you go out with friends, how do you want to describe the outing?

I don’t need the outing to be “Epic”. I am not an “epic” person. I don’t do “epic”. No one is ever going to spend an evening with me and say that it was the best night evvvvvver. I am never going to wake up somewhere that I didn’t intend to. I am never going to look at my wrist and wonder why I have a wristband on. There is never going to be an unexplained tattoo on my body…

So what words do I hope I say after spending time with friends?

  • pleasurable
  • entertaining
  • amusing
  • lively
  • hilarious
  • intellectually stimulating

So now you know my goal. No body art. Plenty of conversation.

But what makes it a “pleasurable outing”?

What is the difference between a “nice” time and a “great” time?

Think back to the last time you were with friends. I realize that for some of you this is over a year ago… What makes time with friends so special?

I know that I have a much better time with old friends. The couple we went out to dinner with we’ve known a long time. There’s a shorthand to old relationships. We know one another’s opinions on things- we can build onto the existing relationship. We know what topics to avoid. We know how far we can “push” one another. We know what makes our friends laugh. I am going to see my oldest and closest friends in a few weeks. To say that I am excited is an understatement. I guess there is a feeling of relaxation with old friends- they know your secrets. They were probably there for some of them. I think that when I am relaxed and feel safe I can have a much better time.

So, for me, familiarity does not breed contempt. Familiarity allows me to be me. When I am “Me” I have a much better chance of having a lively time.

But what are the other variable that go into having an “entertaining” evening or outing?

Conversation?

An activity?

Everyone being equally invested in the outing?

The last time you were out with people other than your immediate family, what made the excursion good or bad? Boring or exciting? Lively or dull?

What makes a for a good social interaction?

Does alcohol need to be involved for a group outing to be successful?

How do you define having a good time?

Obligation

My sister lives across the country. When she comes to visit, she stays with my parents. This is not an unusual family situation- out of town relatives often stay with one another.

But…

My sister and my parents have diametrically opposite views on just about everything. I mean really, everything…

And when my sister comes to town, they verbally spar. They verbally spar about 90% of the time. When my sister came to town a few months ago, her plane landed about 6pm. By 9am the next day she was already texting me about the arguments…

I understand my sister’s point of view. She is just trying to be herself. She loves our parents, wants to see them, yet…

My parents are not always easy to get along with…

And some of my sister’s ideas on life are a bit out there…

I clearly understand both sides in this situation.

I understand the cross words and raised tempers.

I just wish that all of them could be quiet sometimes.

I understand the need to get one’s point across. I understand wanting to be heard and not wanting to be marginalized. I understand that we are all allowed to have our own opinions. I get that opinions can never be wrong.

But…at the end of the day…my sister visiting is a lot of grief for everyone. I don’t know if my sister or my parents are actually happy during the visits. I receive calls from both sides…complaining…

I am very stressed out when my sister visits because I hate to be in the middle. I hate trying to broker peace.

So my question is thus:

If a visit to family causes angst, should you visit?

Do you continue the visits out of a sense of obligation? Out of trying to assuage guilt?

Is there a time when you shouldn’t visit your family?

Which regret is worse: not seeing your family because you drive one another crazy or feeling bad that you don’t see your family?

Discuss:

The One Where I Whine

I don’t even know where to begin this post, or even what I am going to actually write about. Consider this my least thought out post ever (and that’s in a world where I never actually think about what I’m writing till it’s on the page)

I am a pragmatic person. I am more emotionless than emotionfull. I usually see what’s in front of me and I put one foot in front of the other and I march on…

Obviously the past year and a half has thrown a big wrench in my carefully orchestrated thought process.

I remained pragmatic, but I began to let my emotions take center stage…My head and heart have been battling mightily this pandemic season…I was not the same OCD like person that I always was. I became a new and different version of this sort of crazy person…

I think I always appeared to be a somewhat strong person. I rarely ask for help. I just push on and get things done.

But the thing is, are strong people the ones who don’t ask for help?

Or are strong people the ones that DO ask for help?

All I know is that I asked my family (meaning my Husband and Daughter) to cut me some slack.

Did they?

No.

Not really.

Because I have always been the person who doesn’t ask for help. I have always just done what needed to be done.

And they had absolutely no idea how to help me. They only had the wherewithal to continue to ask me to help them. They didn’t actually think I needed any slack.

They assumed that I could continue to carry everything.

And I did.

I got up every morning.

I did what needed to be done.

But I saw myself becoming more insular. I started to shut myself off from everyone around me. I needed to take care of myself and I realized that o one else was ever going to help me. Scratch that. I realized my immediate family had absolutely not idea how to help me, even when I asked for it.

I’ve spent a lot of the past few months, since my ER visit, trying to show them that I am a vulnerable person. That sometimes I can’t bare the weight of everything.

They don’t like it so much.

Is there a moral to this long and whining tale?

I don’t know if I would have done anything differently if I had a time machine…I don’t think I would have changed my personality so that my family wouldn’t take me for granted…

But I do wish I had made them see that I was 150% human…and fallible…and scared…and all the emotions that I pretend I don’t have…

And as I write these words my Husband says he “needs me for 5 minutes just to make sure he has everything he needs…”

And I still wonder when anyone will ask what I need…

Thank you for listening…I needed to write and publish

Anything Can Happen Friday: Compassion

  • death of a loved one (including a pet)
  • divorce
  • loss of a job/business
  • bankruptcy
  • grave illness
  • debilitating accident
  • break up
  • assault- sexual or otherwise

The above list is just a small sample of tragic/traumatic things that can occur in a person’s life. Any of these things can cause one to feel a wide range of negative emotions. They can all cause anxiety. This list of things are not unicorns- most people will experience some sort of trauma in their life.

For the purposes of this post today, we will work with the theory that no one ever actually gets over a tragic/traumatic event. One will experience the emotions involved with any of these things for the rest of their lives. There is no timeline for when someone is supposed to be over it: you probably will never be over it.

Ok? No one actually gets over a traumatic event. Always inside them. Three months. Five years. Twenty five years- these events remain with us.

Now let me ask you a practical question:

Did you ever have a friend who broke up/divorced from a person. Did you ever think to yourself: Wow- it’s been five years since Morticia divorced Gomez. She still talks about him all the time. And his new wife. She seems so bitter. Is she ever getting past this?

Did you ever have a friends whose parent has died? Gee- Heathcliff still talks about the things his father did and didn’t do when he was growing up. It’s been ten years. He still seems so sad and angry. Is he ever going to get over it?

Have you ever had thoughts like this? It’s OK if you have: I’m not going to ask you to admit it here. I just want you to think if you’ve ever had thoughts like this.

If you have had thoughts like this, was your reasoning a lack of compassion? A lack of empathy?

or

Were you just worried about the level of sad or bitter or angry or fearful (insert negative emotion here) that your friend was facing?

Were you worried because your friend appeared to be rooted in place?

Were you worried that the negative emotion had taken over your friend mind, body and soul?

Had this negative emotion made your friend drink more? Eat less?

Had this negative emotion resulted in them engaging in less than optimal behavior patterns?

There’s an old New York story about the Collyer Brothers. They had been a very wealthy family at the turn of the last century. One brother came home from WWI with what was then referred to as “shell shock”. One of the behavior patterns that resulted was that this man, along with his brother, became extreme hoarders. Newspapers, things off the street, etc. It got so bad that I believe one of the brothers died when he was trying to crawl to his brother when a pile of junk fell on him. The other brother died of starvation.

Shell shock is now more commonly known as PTSD.

After effects of trauma and tragedy can be far reaching if they are not taken care of.

Anxiety should not be on anyone’s bucket list. If one is feeling inordinately anxious, one should speak to a mental health professional. Anxiety may not go away on it’s own- it may build and get worse.

If you had a tumor, would you not speak to a Doctor to see what you should do about it?

Why would you be more callous because you might have something wrong with your mental health.

We shouldn’t put a band aid on mental health. Didn’t we just watch Naomi Osaka and the French Open thing?

Anxiety is open to all who want it. There is no age restriction. Anxiety is color blind. It doesn’t care about socio economic status. Every single person alive has the ability to ride the anxiety train. The only question is, what stop do you want to get off at? Do you want to jump off now, or do you want to wait to the end of the line?

Compassion can be viewed from many angles. If you see your friend suffering, is it more compassionate to say something that might upset them, or is it more compassionate to ignore it?

R is for…

I’m thinking we need a primer for romance. So I’ve adapted my thoughts on what romance is:

R– Respect

O– Openness

M– Making an effort

A– Appeal

N– No Harping

C– Communication

E– Expressing feelings

So you see my ideas…

What word/word group would you use to describe romance? For my game, you must use the letters in romance.

What do you think are the keys to romance?

Begin:

Compromise

A couple is getting divorced.

Partner A would be thrilled to pay 1$ in child support. They would be OK with 2$, eh with 3, irked with 4 and downright hostile with 5.

Partner B would be thrilled to receive 10$ in child support. They would be ok with 9, eh with 7 or 8, irked with 6 and downright hostile with 5.

They go to a judge/mediator. It is decreed that A pay B $5.

Both are miserable.

Is that a good compromise?

Is it only a good compromise when both sides are mad? When both sides feel cheated? Think of my very simplified example: Neither side is happy with the result. But in order for anyone to feel happiness, one side was going to be really mad.

Is it better to have both sides mad as opposed to one side happy?

When’s the last time you truly had to compromise? I’ve been thinking of the last time I had to compromise and I can’t think of a specific example because we haven’t actually made a big family decision in awhile, but I know that people make compromises every day with their loved ones. And at jobs. And in a host of other ways. But the last time you compromised: how did you and the other person feel afterwards? Were you both equally happy or equally mad?

What do you think it takes to compromise? How do you think a compromise should be reached?

Give me 25-50 words on compromise…

Pandemic Lessons

As the CDC and Emmy Award Andy have released/relaxed COVID restrictions, what have I learned from the past fourteen months?

  • it’s smart to have an extra roll of toilet paper stashed away
  • the way to stop the common cold is to wear a mask
  • television really is a vast wasteland
  • arts and crafts get boring after awhile
  • pink gel pens add oomph to an empty planner
  • it’s ok not to rush

Let’s zero in on my last comment: the need to not rush. If pandemic taught me anything, it’s that life is not a race to sprint from one thing to another. It’s not about filling the hours. It’s not about the destination: it’s about the journey…

When you have no where to go, and no time to be somewhere, you learn to enjoy the walk. You begin to notice things you’ve never noticed before. You learn to pay attention to your surroundings. You learn to employ all your senses when you stand on a street corner, or amble down the block. You become engaged with your surroundings.

Once I let myself, I really began to enjoy the journey…the thought of just being…I was free. Wearing a mask and socially distanced, but free…

This is great.

For me.

For my husband…

not so much…

How do you learn to appreciate the journey when your partner doesn’t feel the same way?

My husband is always more rushed than I am. He is a super jaywalker: he will just decide to cross the street when he feels like it because it might make him get someplace ten seconds sooner. As some of you know, when we went to Zion in Utah, as we started our way down the first trail, my husband looked over his shoulder and said to my daughter and I “COME ON” and I asked him what he was rushing to: were we trying to beat that other family to the entrance?

When we vacation, he wants to be in the car at 6am on the morning of our departure. He doesn’t want to leisurely make our way back: he is entirely focused on the destination. We are supposed to be home on Sunday, so let’s see if we can make it back by 8am….

He’s about the destination. I like being about the journey.

How do you reconcile the two?

What do you do when one person wants to take the short cut, and the other is OK with getting lost for a bit?

Last week we were meeting friends for a movie- about a 40 minute walk from our apartment. I wanted to leave an hour for the walk, because I wanted to enjoy the walk. He didn’t have a problem with the hour timeframe: he just wanted to rush through it….every time I wanted to take a picture or read something he made a face….a face of this wasn’t part of the plan- the plan was to meet D and K at the movies….and that’s all he could think about…

Don’t get me wrong: you know I am a hyper organized planning crazy drill sergeant. I have a list and I’ll check things off…

But is there anything wrong with scheduling a few less things so you can feel the experience more?

Is there anything wrong with slowing down just a little bit?

Is there anything wrong with being lost in your thoughts for just a bit?

How afraid are we to just be?

Anything Can Happen Friday: Mother’s Day Edition

Rule of thirds: we talked about this yesterday. When you are trying to achieve a goal, you will be great 1/3 of the time, Okay a third, and crappy a third. (Alexi Pappas- Bravey) We debated if we thought this was a good ratio of good times to bad.

Somewhere in the discussion with Deb, I thought about Motherhood. (FYI- Deb has probably motivated more blogs than anyone else) As Deb and I were talking, I realized that motherhood is clearly part of the rule of thirds.

The great part? Well, that’s easy. Think about all those pictures on your phone, or in an album somewhere. Looking in my house is like a highlight reel of the great moments: artwork framed on my wall, pictures in cap and gown, certificates and trophies. These are all those moments that we think about when we decide to make Motherhood our goal.

I smile at the picture of “My first Haircut” where my daughter sits in the high chair and I clip her bangs. Who doesn’t love a “first” of something…it’s the beginning of the milestone. First day of school pics that my daughter stood patiently for every single year. Firsts, beginnings holding so much promise. I look on her window ledge and see a lifetime of trophies from things she has excelled at: Chess and and tennis and debate and law team. I remember cheering and crying when her little league softball team won the championship. I remember cheering and crying as she accepted the Pinstripe Bowl Scholar Athlete award at Yankee Stadium. The college acceptance letter. These are the moments you think about as you are carrying or adopting your child before they are even born. You can’t help but imagine the wonderful experiences that your child will have as they figure out who they are.

The quiet moments of reading “Goodnight Moon as their eyes get heavy. The tea parties on the living room floor. The times they add the chips into the cookie dough. Walking hand in hand with them as they skip a little bit. These are probably the greatest of the great moments- just you and your child and everyone is happy and you are just in the moment.

But on the road there, we have a lot of ennui. Sitting at the practices waiting for your kid to finish up. Rereading their opening statement for the Mock Trial competition a thousand and one times. Hearing them try to play “Smoke on the Water” first on recorder, and then on the clarinet, and then on the guitar….unless your child is a musical prodigy, there is no way you do not want to cut off your ears when they practice.

There’s the boredom that comes with the day to day, the rote of getting them out of bed, dressed, breakfast, make sure they have all their stuff, get them to school, come home and do homework, brush the teeth…rinse…repeat…how fondly do you remember reminding them if they have their gym uniform?

OF course…we have those moments that make you question why you became a parent. Colic….the dreaded hours between 4 and 6pm when they might just cry. Or the waking up in the middle of the night. The look of the new parent is a clever mix at awe in what they created, and shock at surviving on as little sleep as they do.

The toddler years. Who doesn’t love bolting down furniture and locking everything that opens. Ever try one of those toilet locks at 3am?

The years when your kid is struggling to find their place in the world?

When they lose a game or a competition or a friend?

When they hurt so bad that you feel like you are empty because you don’t want to see your child hurt so much?

The tween years….yeah…who doesn’t love the onset of puberty?

The teen years…rebels who think they have a cause?

Yup.

1/3 great

1/3 okay

1/3 crappy

But…

Wow…

It’s worth it.

Congratulations to everyone, whether or not they are a Mother, who has parented a child. It is not the goal of everyone, but to those who choose it, I salute you.

The Advice Column- Selectively Lazy

Dear LA,

Recently my husband and I got a puppy. We love the puppy very much, though she is not really trained. When we take the dog for a walk she tends to walk me instead of me walking her. When I was younger this behavior might not have bothered me, but you know, one of the side effects of aging is a sore shoulder after you’ve walked a very determined dog.

We did take the dog for training, and the trainer suggested things to do so the the dog stops this annoying behavior. The trainer says that when we are walking her (remember we are walking the dog not me) we should just stop whenever she starts to pull the leash. This way she will realize who is in charge (it’s supposed to be me in charge in case you were wondering)

.Walking the dog like this is very time consuming as one may have to stop after every step. It could take ten minutes to walk down the block!

I am willing to go through this process. I know that the end result is worth all the work. However, my Husband just does not see this in the same way that I do. After doing this for a minute he throws his hands up in the air and exclaims:

This really isn’t that important to me. I just don’t care if she pulls the leash.”

This is very frustrating to me. If all the people that walk the dog don’t practice the desired behavior, it won’t work!

How do I get my Husband to understand how important this is to me?

Signed,

Dog Tired

Dear Dog Tired,

I completely understand your frustration! My Husband does things like this as well. His desire to be selectively lazy wears away at my patience.

Sometimes couples have to be on the same page. They must present a united front, because if they don’t, things go awry. It is important to understand which issues are important to your partner so that you can help them achieve their goals.

The biggest problem of couples not seeing eye to eye on domestic duties is that one partner will end up doing more of the work. Think about laundry and loading the dishwasher. How many fights are started because Partner A likes things done one way and Partner B doesn’t do it the same way?

While I realize that there can be many ways to load a dishwasher, if A really likes it done a certain way, shouldn’t B try to hop on board?

Alas, what tends to happen is that A ends up doing the dishwasher all the time. A begins to resent B for not helping. Then fights begin about other things…

But wait…

You wanted advice, not reasons to be single…

OK- here’s all I got.

  1. talk to your partner about why you really need them to help you out on this issue- make them understand why it is important
  2. try not to control every aspect of domestic life. Let them do something their way. Make it something that doesn’t matter thought. For the love of all things good, make them replace the toilet paper when the roll is empty.

Walk on!

La

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  1. Do I have what it takes to be an advice columnist?
  2. Do you have arguments with your partner about domestic duties?
  3. How do you solve the problem of your partner not doing things the way you want them done?
  4. What does or doesn’t your partner do that drives you crazy?
  5. Should there be training for partners who don’t listen?
  6. Is every single person breathing a sigh of relief?
  7. Anything else that was touched on in todays column?