Posts Tagged With: parenting

let us out

Listen. We get it. We do.

We know: you or someone you love is immuno-compromised in some way and you really need us to take this #covid-19 thing seriously and #staythefuckathome. Please know that we are taking this seriously, we are aware of how quickly this thing “goes viral” as it were, and we know the possible severity of the illness. No one is minimizing your concerns; not trying to down-play anything; trying to follow the guidelines as best we can. I just need you to think about some other things for a minute.

You have probably seen the tweets, maybe even shared the memes about the appalling fact that millions of school-aged children may be losing their one main daily meal now that most schools have closed. There are groups popping up all over the place to help those who experience this kind of food insecurity; local restaurants offering sack lunches, mom groups cooking casseroles, etc. We all know that even these types of kindnesses will be ending soon, and that’s worrisome for sure.

What’s also worrisome is the fact that people are being bullied, judged, shamed, and threatened for meeting up with their neighbours or allowing their children to see friends; for heading out for groceries or taking their dogs for a walk. For years we have been getting pummelled with reports and studies showing us that “online” connections aren’t what we should be encouraging for our children. We have been bullied, shamed, judged, and threatened by “better” parents who limit screen or gaming time and force their kids to interact face-to-face vs. face-timing. It’s like we just can’t win. For some parents, and for some children, this current situation of self-isolation is not a viable option. Really.

I sit on the Equity Committee at my son’s school. Our biggest concern is the mental health and well-being of our students; we need to build and foster a sense of belonging within our school community. Teenagers are not doing well, y’all. Even if they have a “happy” home life, they are feeling burdened and stressed. They are lost, they are scared, and they are depressed. They are anxiety-ridden. Existential angst among 12-19 year-olds is a real thing. Nihilism is creeping in at ever younger ages. And let’s not forget, not everyone has a “happy” home life.

There are a good many kids for whom home is not a happy place, or even a safe one. What if school is the only place a child has a sense of belonging? What if their group of friends is the only real family they have? What if their English teacher or school social worker is the only adult in their lives that they can trust? What if a student’s friendship with the school custodian is the only thing keeping both of those people going? What about those kids who come to school to get a couple of hours of sleep because it isn’t safe to do so at home?

We don’t know how long this pandemic will last. Provinces, states, and countries are declaring us to be in a state of emergency. Moms and dads who are barely keeping it together on their best days will be unable to do so indefinitely. Parents who are already stressed about financial issues or worry about their job security will have those anxieties hit overdrive. Families who face food insecurity on a daily basis may fall into despair and feel nothing but hopelessness. Being in forced isolation or quarantine may make it exponentially more difficult to distract yourself from your worries or put your coping skills into play.

My mother, at 92, is more active and has a fuller schedule than many people half her age. On Mondays she has her writing group (cancelled), on Tuesdays she goes singing (cancelled), on Wednesdays she volunteers at the seniors’ rec centre (closed), on Thursdays the home nurse comes to help with her shower (so far still on). Fridays are “weekend” or her day off, and on the weekends she usually visits friends in care homes (closed) or goes to the cinema (closed) or concerts (cancelled). She is keeping herself busy with crosswords, youtube, facebook, phone calls and e-mails. She’s not bored yet, but enjoyment from those things will only last so long. She lives a two-hour drive from us and I don’t know whether I should go see her or not. I certainly don’t want to expose her to any germs, but loneliness is a bitch and I know it will set in soon.

There must be a happy medium. I think there is, I believe we can all survive this without passing germs and without going bat-shit crazy. And so, when I went for a walk yesterday and saw some neighbours sitting on their porch, I stopped and talked. Yes, we stayed 6 feet apart; no, we didn’t sip from each other’s wine glasses. When BoyGenius’ friends rode up to our house on their bikes and tried to entice him out I sent him; between the four of them these kids are dealing with anxiety, depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, a parent with cancer, ADHD (x 3) and many other stressors. They needed to get out, they needed to spend time together, and we’re only on day 3. I feel confident (enough) that they maintained a safe level of social distance while getting some social connection.

Nobody wants to spread the #coronavirus. We are not trying to kill you or your loved ones. But we may need to get out and interact. Humans are social beings. This is only the beginning. Please understand that some of us cannot simply #staythefuckathome.

For some people the virus is not the worst thing that could happen to them. Covid-19 may not be what kills them. Isolation and loneliness could. Despair. Abusive relationships. We are living in a powder keg.

If you need help during this weird and surreal time we are living in, please reach out.

#weareallinthistogether

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almost 12

Last night I was far too deep inside the “book” I was reading (it was an e-book, I can’t deny that I use those) and was long past tired, so it wasn’t until close to 1:30 am that I finally closed the iPad and pushed the switch on my bedside lamp. It took me at least 20 minutes to doze off and drop into a solid sleep. Not so solid, however, that I didn’t immediately awaken when my almost 12 year old son appeared at the side of my bed. “Mama, I had a bad dream.” I glanced at the clock before I scooted over against the wall and held the covers up for him to climb in beside me: 3:17. After a few minutes spent watching him, I felt confident enough in his slumber to close my eyes, trying to drift off. He moved about a bit and then, “Mama, my head hurts.” I asked him if he wanted a pill or just an ice pack and he decided on both. I checked the time when I climbed over top of him and back into bed: 3:43. Once he was lying still for 15 minutes I climbed back out and took myself and my alarm across the hall to his empty bed. I lay awake a while; listening in case he needed me; unable to settle because I was worried about not getting enough sleep. 7 am came fairly quickly. HardWorker was already gone, I had some time before I needed to get BoyGenius up and into the shower, and tried to plot out just when in the day I would fit a couple of naps in. My Fitbit app advised me that I had managed only four hours and six minutes of actual sleep — nothing I could do to change that. It was going to be a long Monday.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For a few weeks now, I’ve been getting hit with the realization that I am about to be the parent of a 12 year old. How did this happen? I didn’t really plan on this. I mean, I know that’s how it works, if you’re extremely lucky: your children grow up and you all grow older together. But seriously, my plan was to have a baby, maybe a toddler. A 12 year old? I never really thought that far ahead. He’s in grade 6. And the school year is more than half over. His birthday parties now consist of 3-4 friends, pizza, a movie, and some video games. To be fair, they’ve been like that for a few years already; he’s always seemed two to three years ahead of his chronological age. Not that we’ve rushed him, or anyone’s expected him to be more mature, or anything like that; he’s just always had this “presence” and common sense, logical thought process and a wicked quick sense of humour, an easy-going nature and a thoughtful need for fairness, all combined with a solid sense of uniqueness and self. While most of those character traits have stood BoyGenius in good stead over his 12 years, he has also had to put up with disparaging comments about his sensitivity, his choice of hairstyle or shoe colour, his apparent “know-it-all”-ness, his book and movie preferences.

I still look at him in wonder at least once a day. He makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he makes me worry, he makes me proud. There is still so much for him to learn, but there is sooooo much that he already knows. There are things he does that frustrate me, and there are things he does that make my heart swell with amazement at who he has already become in his 12 short years. And the thing is, the person that he has become, and that he still has to grow into, that person has been there since day one. That personality was already in place with the first wave of his hand and kick of his foot in utero; the good-natured-ness, the sense of humour — already there.

Sometimes I miss my baby. Sometimes I miss my toddler. Most times I know that the young man sprawled across our couch or searching for food 15 minutes after dinner is the same guy. When my almost 12 year old gets awakened by a bad dream and needs to snuggle with Mama I am absolutely sure.

I love you, Schnucki.

Categories: family, love, memories, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

trying all the things

When you’re a stay-at-home-parent, there are many fun things you get to do, including, but not limited to: dishes, laundry, picking up garbage, vacuuming, talking to the cat, and messing with telemarketers. I love all of these things. Okay, except for the picking up garbage part. And the vacuuming. I have done/do do (ha! I said do do!) all of these things. But realistically, one cannot fill one’s day with these things without going crazy (to say nothing of one’s soul).

So, I do other stuff. I write think of things to write, I take photographs, I bake. I read what other people have written (sometimes). I knit, crochet, tackle start various projects (both creative and household-fixative) and walk. I spent at least five years volunteering at BoyGenius’ school, for both regular programs and special events (I’ve even got my name on a plaque in the school trophy case). Over the last couple of years, though, I’ve begun to question just what it is that I’m doing with my life.

Sure, I’m raising what will hopefully be a fully cooked adult one day. Although I’m not really sure I’ve gotten to that stage yet and I’m pretty sure no one is raising me anymore. But what else am I doing? I can tell you what I’m not doing. I’m not saving the world. I’m not traveling the world. I’m not selling out shows in Vegas. I’m not winning the Master Chef competition. I’m not sleeping well. I’m not losing weight. I’m not experiencing more than 3 good-hair-days in a row. I’m not really getting any of the shit done that’s on any one of a myriad of to-do lists.

I’m trying. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing right and do more of it. I’m trying to eat better, even with two living, breathing obstacles in my way. I’m trying to get fitter, stronger (not to lose weight, per se, more to have something to do) — and as such I started walking after my knee surgery last year, I started working out with a personal trainer twice (sometimes only once) a week, and more recently I started seeing a massage therapist and taking yoga. [Let’s be clear … over the winter I didn’t walk much since it’s cold and icy, and I haven’t really gotten back into it yet … but I did recently get new shoes, so there’s that.] I tried taking a neighbourhood dog for walks every day (until her owners realized that even my ridiculously low rates were too much for them). I’m trying scrubbing the bathroom ceiling, because mould, y’all. I have spent a number of hours trying to rid my kitchen (and presumably my house) of carpenter ants. I’m trying getting paid for some of the time I spend at BoyGenius’ school (meet the new Lunch Supervisor). I tried having a best friend for a few years .. it worked out well, until all of a sudden it didn’t; I’m now trying to get used to not having one again. I’m trying to get out some … so yoga. And I also tried a “Paint Night” at my local pub — that was fun.

I’m not sure what else I can do … yes, yes, I can clean out my basement, I know. BoyGenius’ last day of Grade 5 is tomorrow and then I’ve got 2 months of limbo stretching in front of me. Here’s hoping I can figure some things out. And by the way, I’ve got LOTS to say about yoga.

Categories: friendship, parenting, Sleep, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

wisdom on a tuesday

I don’t often do this, but I am sharing a blog post I read over at Renegade Mothering. It’s important, it’s real and it’s something you should share with your friends. It’s brilliant, really. I get it. I think you’ll get it.

Oh, and, it made me cry. And laugh, too. Give it a look and tell me what you think.

 

The No-Bullshit, No-Drama, Friendship Manifesto

 

Thanks for reading.

Categories: friendship, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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