Dear Mom, You’re Ruining My Life

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I’m so glad my parents always make an effort to spread positivity about my day ❤

That was a post made by my teenage daughter today. OF course she was being sarcastic. One thing that is very frustrating about kids today is that they have a very difficult time sitting down and talking through a problem. It saddens me that they can easily air their problems through social media but can’t seem to be open enough to sit down and have a respectful discussion. How can I possibly respond to this. How can I possibly make her understand that sometimes you get what you give? 

As a parent who has given up my own freedom to raise and parent my children, it is disheartening for me to see my daughter lay in bed and read all day long for several days at a time. Sure, it’s not a bad thing but I have failed to teach my children responsibility and setting priorities. I have failed to teach them to do their part and not sit and watch me cook, clean up and do the dishes every single night. I haven’t taught them to be kind and helpful and to do something uncomfortable for the sake of another. I haven’t taught them they have to work for things in life like money for gas or even a car. They just expect things to be given without sacrificing or finding a way to get it for themselves. I failed to teach them to be respectful and not roll their eyes at an adult. I failed to teach them it is not okay to challenge and question every little thing. I taught them that laziness is okay and they should only do what they feel like doing. I failed to teach them to hold their tongues and not speak every single thing they think. I’ve taught them that phones are allowed at the dinner table and conversation isn’t necessary. I’ve taught them that a bad attitude is okay and mumbling under their breath comes without consequence. I’ve taught them they can get away with mean comments and hurtful words. I’ve taught them so many things I tried so hard to avoid.

Teens are tough today. They are hard to parent. Sometimes they are even harder to love. They build walls that seem impossible to climb and they act out negatively only to bring themselves the wrong kind of attention. Sometimes as a mom, I feel lost. It’s a different world than the one I grew up in. These are different times. Kids do things today that I would never even consider as a teen myself. They are cocky and self consumed, condescending and snide. They think they know it all. They have all the answers. They challenge everything their parents say. If I say a shirt is purple, they will argue it’s blue. They haven’t seemed to grasp the “It is better to be kind than to be right” philosophy but they have mastered the “I will always prove my point and have the last word” philosophy.

I have done my best but my best was never good enough. I have showed them by example many things that they simply reject. I have lost the heart and soul and energy to stay on them and follow through. Maybe I have done all I can and its time for them to learn the hard lessons on their own. Maybe they never will. Maybe time will teach them that life doesn’t always feel good. It is not about doing only what you feel like doing. Its not about escaping responsibility, or entitlement. It is not about sitting back and watching someone do your share and saying whatever you feel despite the consequences. Maybe someday they will learn you get what you give. Or maybe they will never figure it out at all. Maybe one day they will stop believing I am ruining their life and learn that it is their own actions and words that ruin it for themselves. I guess only time has the answers but at least something does. Does anyone else feel like they can’t do anything right while raising teenagers? I wish I didn’t come down so hard on myself.

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What I’ve Learned About Failure

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There is one thing I know for sure about failure, whenever we fail anything we become the failure. It is so much more than something we haven’t succeeded at. We internalize failure and it affects our self esteem. Today, my daughter took her drivers test. It took one bad decision to pull out in front of a vehicle that was speeding and she failed her test. She was angry at the man who gave her the test. Underneath the anger, buried someplace deep inside was the pain she tried so hard to hide. How disappointing and humiliating to say the least. I know because I have failed too. I have never talked about or written about how my failure has affected me but today is the perfect opportunity to pour it all out.

I went to a small university in Pennsylvania. By the time I took my nursing boards, the program was on academic probation. I remember running to the mailbox day after day waiting for my results. When the envelope finally came, I ripped it open and read the words in disbelief. I had failed. That was the day I lost the confidence to be a nurse. I took that test three times and failed every single time. Looking back, I know now that I never had a chance. That failure notice was stamped on my head and I allowed it to define who I was. Maybe I wouldn’t even take it again. I started coaching gymnastics and fell in love with building the self esteem of all the children I had the privilege to work with. The worse they were at gymnastics, the harder I worked to make them believe in themselves. I would never quit on a single kid and I realized if I built them up, over time, they would start to believe in themselves too. I never made the connection until now. Subconsciously, I knew how important confidence was. A test was just a silly test and it was whether I believed in myself that would make the difference in whether I would fail or pass. So, I over-compensated in these kids what I lacked in myself.

I met this crazy guy back then who was encouraging and carefree. He made me see that the test was nothing more than a simple pebble in my path and he built me up until I had the courage to try again. I took a refresher class and stopped on my way to the free Garth Brooks concert in Central Park to take that test one final time. Guess what? I passed and I knew it the second I finished the test. I went in more relaxed and this time I did not over think each and every question. I do that you know, read too much into everything. That was my downfall. This man made me so confident that I believed him when he told me we would find each other easily in the record breaking crowd. Can you believe I actually believed we would casually bump into one another? Needless to say, I did not see him that evening but on our wedding day, he was easy to spot, standing there, waiting for me at the end of the aisle. Sometimes, what makes the biggest difference is that one person who believes in us when we’ve lost the courage to believe in ourselves. That one person who makes us believe we are more than a test grade or a degree or a job and that none of those things affect or define who we are.

After I got out into the nursing field my confidence was still wounded and weak but slowly, over time, I watched how people would respond to me. I was making a difference and they looked forward to seeing me. Eventually, I was asked to move to the oncology side of the office where I had the privilege to work with some of the most courageous people I have ever known. It was by watching them die, that taught me how to live. Some of those lessons I have forgotten but today I remember. My attention, my time and my kindness made a difference in their lives and their courage to share their deepest thoughts and feelings with me changed mine. The mutual respect and compassion taught me it was not the number of relationships that was important but rather the depth of them. A touch, an understanding look and offering someone an ear to share their innermost fears and thoughts could grow a relationship big in a small amount of time.

Tests are necessary and important. Unfortunately, we have to get through them but eventually we will. What is more important is what we learn after the test has been failed and passed. The test itself is like a red light but the driving occurs after the light changes from red to green. That’s when the real learning takes place.

Monday, I will drive my daughter to take that test again, only this time we will go into it with a new perspective. The pain of this lesson will lessen over time but she will never forget. What I’ve learned about failure is this, it is hard, it is painful and it will leave a scar, but life will go on and time will erase how that failure, for a short time, defined who you are and eventually everything will be okay.

I’m Done!

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My heart really hurts tonight. I’ve been fighting a war with school policies for a while now and I am finally going to wave my white flag. I really wish I could be like most of the parents that don’t pay attention to what is going on with their kids. I know there is a large population that fall into this group because the teachers tell me. Yet, here I am trying my best to work hand and hand with the schools to try and make them better for parents and students. I am that parent that checks parent portal every night before I go to sleep. I am the parent that begs for better communication between parents and teachers so we can all stay on the same page. So, like a broken record I have searched my mind and soul for a good explanation of why these kids are allowed to have 6 missing assignments at one time. I am searching my mind and soul for a reason these kids don’t sit their butts in after school detention until they get their work done. It’s been explained to me time and time again and I understand the logic behind the policy. The fact though is I am exhausted playing bad cop and demanding and expecting my kids to hand their work in on time. If kids didn’t need guidance and consequences and a standard set of rules to follow than why don’t we feel it’s okay for them to live on their own. What good is it if the schools and parents have a different set of standards. I am so disappointed in my daughter. I am sick to my stomach that she has fallen victim to learned laziness and tardiness when it comes to handing in work or even doing it at all. If I said, go ahead and clean your room before the year is up at your convenience regardless of how messy it gets, would there be a lesson learned? This lax attitude that has become the policies of the schools we pay taxes for are teaching our kids bad habits and giving them an unrealistic expectation of reality. Do the work ON TIME or sit your butt in detention. It worked years ago and you can bet it would still work today. But, we want to coddle these kids and give them every opportunity to be responsible for their own demise. I seriously cannot fight it anymore. I am almost to the point where I am ready to sit back and just let my daughter fail. To let her do it her way and believe she knows best and take each and every privilege away until there is no hope in ever getting that grade up again. These teens today are spoiled, rotten, lazy kids and they really do believe their parents are too stupid or old fashioned to understand the new ways of the world. I understand this. I have never ever been failing a class, not for one week or even one day because my mother would have killed me and there would have been serious consequences waiting for me at school as well. But now, these kids learn to manipulate the system well and pit the school and parents against each other. It is hurting the kids who at one time did have a respectable work ethic. I will never understand it and I will never think it is a beneficial idea. Do the work or you fail the class. Period the end. Life doesn’t give us second chances. Life doesn’t hold our hand on a bad day. It kicks us so hard in the face when we are down that eventually we can barely stand. That is reality, and this misconception that these kids have all the time in the world to give their mediocre half-assed effort, will not be beneficial when they stroll their cocky little know-it-all selves into the world. What is happening and why do we continue to go in the wrong direction?

Because I am mom, I will hold my daughter accountable. I will take every privilege away starting with her phone and tv. There will be no twitter or hours of watching her favorite tv series. What we do need to teach our kids, if we really are serious about helping shape them into responsible successful adults, is that things are not just handed to them. Hard work and effort are required and privileges are earned not divided up and handed to everyone regardless of the effort they put out. It all sounds like a great plan on paper but it will never work. There are some lessons that need to do their own teaching. Sometimes, we have to choose to not fly in and save the world. It is so hard as a parent to show restraint, but sometimes failure is a necessary evil. I will always tell my kids what I expect from them and no matter who thinks its wrong, I will never stop expecting. Sometimes, it is only when someone expects something from us that we learn to expect something from ourselves.

In Between

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I stumbled across this quote today and the words seemed to scream at me as my eyes struggled to make sense of them all together in one sentence. I know in my life, I am often stuck between moving forward or starting over in something I initially failed at. Each time I make another attempt, my mind has already accepted defeat. I believe I get so caught up in initiation or end goal, that the enjoyment, or steps to get from one place to the other get blurred out of the equation. It is like that movie Ground Hog Day. I have to wake up and relive every day over and over because I stubbornly insist on doing things exactly the same way. How can I expect a different result if I keep sticking to the same equation? That is what is so frustrating for me. I already know this, so why do I waste time trying to kid myself in believing this time will be different?

I thought it was worth giving this reoccurring dilemma some time and thought. Maybe, now that it is in writing, it will serve as a reminder for me to still believe in achieving my goals. Only this time, the steps in between need to find new territory, a new path that I haven’t discovered until now. That old path is rugged, monotonous, and discouraging. Looking forward to the new path that lies somewhere ahead. I think the first step must be the one in my mind and then maybe, just maybe I will find my way.