Those of you out there with little children, I see you. I know your struggles. Worrying about if they will fall in the swimming pool. Wander out of the yard. Barrel through an intersection on their bike.
Just wait. Till middle school. Then you will really have something to worry about.
* * *
Our house is still a construction zone.
I’m behind in some work, so to flee the buzzing saws and clanging hammers, I took up a spot in our library.
It’s a wonderful new space for which I am thankful.
While I was sitting here amongst the books and crying babies, a gaggle of younger looking adults filtered in the building.
They broke off into packs of two and one of these bitty groups approached me.
“Ma’am, we are students from the University of Georgia, would you mind answering a few questions?”
I used to hate it when I was “ma’amed” but now I know that children raised in the South can’t help it. Those who were raised right anyway.
Turns out they were student teachers who were going to be interning at the middle school.
They asked me how long we had been living here. And what I liked about living in a small town. What I didn’t like so much.
Then they asked me about the middle school. What did I think about it?
It’s funny. Well, not really funny how much your children change from 5th grade in the elementary school and their 6th grade year at in middle school.
It’s like they become 12 and flip the numbers around. They think they are 21.
And most 21 year olds don’t like being told what to do all the time by their parents.
That’s what most surprised me as a parent. How that one who used to look at you with adoring eyes now thinks you are the most unhip, uncool — the mom least liked by all their friends — on the planet.
And that’s on a good day.
Talking to these future middle school educators, I realized how tough it is to be a middle school parent — and a middle school educator. We are fighting a tidal wave of data these children receive from the online adult world.
A world they are in many ways not prepared for.
Check your child’s texts. What they are doing on social media sites. I knew my daughter was on Instagram. I didn’t know she had 2,000 followers and was following over 5,000 people.
That was a fun day my friends —
The day I told her we were shutting down that account and creating a private one.
Come to think of it, I need to check how many followers she’s up to and what she’s been posting.
My daughter is a great kid. A smart kid. And that is part of the problem. We as parents get busy with obligations of our own and there is all this secret squirrel data transferring back and forth between the younger crowd.
I don’t let her Facebook. Or Tweet. Or have a blog.
I know she will have a blog one day — so remember, whatever you read about me — there are two sides to every story.
That brief conversation today crystalized my thoughts about middle school. It is the toughest water to navigate — in my non-professional opinion. I’m thankful for the school we have in Morgan County and for the teachers that come to make a difference every day.
As parents, we have to stay vigilant. Just the thought of checking all the texts and emails and social networks can be exhausting.
Come to think of it, I haven’t looked at my daughter’s phone lately.
I was stressed and running with him pulls on my arm, which pulls on my shoulder, which starts to throb.
I don’t want anyone pulling on me for one hour — my running time. Especially an 80 pound, excited Labrador Retriever.
“No. I’m not going to bring him this morning. I just want to run in peace.”
Kim frown a bit and drawled, “But he alwaaayyys comes. He’s just part of us.”
Tebow looking for Kim the other day.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my dog. I really do. But sometimes, he is like another child clamoring for me with more responsibilities. Sometimes I want to run just with my girlfriend and my 25-year-old newly married self.
Me 25 years ago. Before kids. Before gray hair and bad knees.
My friend was right of course. The poor dog stood at the door dying to join us.
“I’ll take him,” Kim volunteered.
There they go.
Notice who’s not looking back.
He’s so darn happy to be moving forward outside, no way he’s going to look back.
Notice who’s still not looking back.
We started to run and I enjoyed not having a stegosaurus tugging on my arm.
I felt a smidgen mommyzilla. Like when I had toddlers and was so relieved when someone offered to take them from my arms and give me a break.
Talking with friends yesterday, one very busy, working outside the home single woman mentioned she was headed to the beach with her children. She wanted nothing more to plop herself on a chair in the sand with her coffee in the morning moving only to follow the sun till five that afternoon.
But her children are not play-in-the-sand all day children. The girls want to shop the outlets and the boys want adventure. She reluctantly decided that this time at the beach it wasn’t about her. This time it was about her children. And she’s already planned a weekend trip by herself with nothing but a book, lawn chair and bathing suit.
Yes, sometimes we’ve got to leash up the dog when we’d rather go it alone. Because we love the dog, the dog needs exercise and we brought the darn creature into our home in the first place.
And a having a good friend helps.
(I made her take this goofy shot to post with our run on RunKeeper.)
Are there days when you just can’t take the kids with you to the store? Or times when you want to run off to the beach by yourself?
And I was surprised by how emotional I got this morning.
Even typing that I feel silly, embarrassed. Nothing has happened to him. In fact it’s all great. He’s away at a wonderful school. Enjoying his classes. Meeting interesting people. Having new experiences.
But the birthday flag sits in a corner and not out on the porch like it has on September 7 for so many years.
He didn’t tell anyone it was his birthday. Just like his father never did.
One year with a new job as a young law associate, I asked my newish hubby if he was going to tell anyone it was his birthday.
“No way. I don’t want anyone to know.”
Okay, if that’s the way he wanted it, I didn’t call a single co-worker. I certainly didn’t text them or even e-mail. No back then, I would have had to actually talk to someone on a corded phone.
His birthday came and he went to work. I called him in the middle of the day. “How’s it going?”
“No one knows it’s my birthday.”
Of course no one knows it’s your birthday. You didn’t tell them.
So this is a text I sent to a friend this morning. A friend whose daughter is a freshman at the same college.
It’s hard to not worry if you baby is having a good 19th birthday.
Of course it will be better if his friends know.
She will tell them, won’t she…and they will do something?
Who doesn’t remember their first beach crush? Or their first serious sunburn?
Sometimes talking to a tween daughter makes a mother wonder how she is going to keep up – but the folks at Gillette have designed the Venus Embrace, with five blades and a soft grip handle for gentle control. It makes getting the conversation started with your tween about shaving as smooth as summertime legs. My daughter and I are spending this week at the beach. What better time is there to talk about seashore beauty do’s and don’ts? Hannah: Mama, you grew up close to the beach. Did you cherish that moment? Mom: Cherish the moment? Well, it was part of life in Florida. When I was a little girl, my mother always put sunscreen on me – Hannah: Like every five minutes? Mom: Like every five minutes. And, of course, I couldn’t stand it. So I rebelled. As teenagers, my friends and I would put a drop of iodine in a bottle of baby oil. It turned light pink, attracting the sun to us like Edward was drawn to Bella – except, unlike Edward, we stayed in the sun with no protection all day. That’s an ENORMOUS DON’T. Hannah: I just HATE putting on sunscreen, Mama. It’s so yucky and gross. When I walk in the sand, it sticks to me. G-R-O-S-S! Mom: When you are my age, you will be happy I made you wear sunscreen. Hannah: No wrinkles? Mom: I can’t promise none, but not as many. And, btw, you don’t have to look so happy about not having my wrinkles. Hannah smiles
Mom: I can’t believe you’re wearing make-up, even if it’s only lip-gloss… and shaving your legs. Out of mom-curiosity, when I bought you a razor, why didn’t you come to me before trying it out? Hannah: Cause I didn’t need your help. Mom: You didn’t need your mama? Weren’t you afraid you’d cut yourself? Hannah: Nope. Every tween girl knows how to shave. Like brushing your teeth. Or riding a bike. Duh. Mom smiles Mom: Do your friends shave? Do you talk about it? Hannah: Yes, Mama. My friends shave and sometimes we talk about it. Some people are mean to other people — saying they don’t need to shave. That bothers me. Mom: Well, I’m glad you are not afraid to talk to me about it. And while we’re chatting, who is that cute boy you’ve been talking to at the pool? Hannah: You mean Zach? Mom: Yes, Zach. Hannah: Oh, mom. Insert rolling of eyes. Mom: How about next time we try a razor made for moms and tweens… Hannah: Like pink baby oil? Mom: No silly – just the opposite.
A great way to take care of your legs, leaving them silky smooth and moisturized after a day at the beach is with VenusEmbrace razors and Satin Care Shave Gel. Both expert and novice alike will embrace the Venus shaving experience. And Satin Care Passionista Fruit Shave Gel helps you get a smooth, close shave and leaves you feeling sleek and silky, babying sensitive skin with extra moisturizers leaving your legs ready for summer fun.
For more tips from Gillette on how to talk to your daughter about shaving click here.
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You go bopping along 30 years of life and then someone puts a newborn in your arms.
This same baby you felt kicking and scratching inside of you a day ago.
What am I supposed to do with you?
Once again I’m linking up with MamaKat’s Writer’s Workshop and I’m choosing prompt number 1) Share a parenting moment where you really began to realize what this mothering thing is all about.
* * *
I had this baby.
I figured out how to feed him and change him.
I never could figure out to keep him from looking like a dead baby bird in his car seat. (Looking back, I think it was because I kept the seat at too steep an angle for his little weak neck to stay upright.)
I was mostly going through the motions.
Oh, I loved him. But I felt as a baby sitter, a caretaker — wondering when some professional wearing a green smock would put a hypodermic needle in my body (still carrying 10 plus pregnancy pounds) and shoot me with the Mommy virus.
Then one day I was leaving Kroger pushing my new little charge/dead baby bird in the cart to the car.
A car whipped around a corner and down the aisle of cars lined as Dominoes.
“SLOW DOWN!” thundered out of the depth of my quaking torso.
I hated that boy driving that car. If my eyes shot out lightening bolts, he would be a pile of grey ash.
What just happened?
An awareness started oozing all through my body feeling all warm and tingly as if someone had just injected me with dye for a MRI.
How care that young fool race around in a 2000 lb. death mobile endangering my child!
Not the cute, wrinkly producer of dirty diapers. Not the crying, scrunched-up red face. Not the baby bird with the broken neck.
My son who I cared whether he lived or died more than I ever thought humanly possible to think about myself much less another being.
The last time I wore pantyhose was sometime mid-1990.
It was some variation of flesh-tone. Certainly not blue.
Men wear blue hose. It’s like a Scottish Thing. Think Mel Gibson in Braveheart.
When I see picture of Mel with that flowing tangled-mess of hair and blue face it almost makes me forget how really bizarre he ended up.
Welcome to Whoville?
We went to see the Presbyterian College Blue Hose play on Saturday. It was a visit for prospective football players and after a few minutes there having a school team called the Blue Hose seemed well, not so odd. Go figure.
First, we went to a meeting with the coaches. Head Coach Harold Nichols gave a very inspiring talk. I didn’t take pictures. I thought about it — lots.
But I chose to forgo taking pictures at that point in lieu of having my son acknowledge me as his mother for rest of my life.
Finally, I said darn it. I’m a mom with a blog. I have journalistic momblog integrity to consider.
* * *
I started snapping away.
Their lockers were all pretty neat. And I didn't notice any locker room smell but my sinuses have been rather irritated of late.
We toured the campus then had a great lunch with the Homecoming crowd. I should have taken a picture of my plate. EXCELLENT barbecue, fried chicken and everything else.
I ate it all.
The day could not have been more beautiful. I was so very full.
I wanted to nap.
But we went to the game. Go you Blue HOSERS.
Jake hung out on sidelines before game.
Yawn. I tried to stay awake.
Then the cowbells started. We sat behind Number 16’s loved ones.
Lots of scoring by the Blue.
Number 24 had awesome game. Kind of like I used to for the Thetas.
The SMU Thetas. SMU Ponies 5 and 1. Woo.
The Blue Hose beat Gardner-Webb 28-14.
And after the game all the families went on the field to see the players — which I thought was pretty cool.
That Number 24 again. Just like they used to interview me after intramurals.