Sunday, January 30, 2011

Failure to Launch

As I struggle through parenthood.. hoping oh so hard to get it right and knowing that I am inevitably causing irreparable damage when I, on occasion, I don't know, lose it with my kids..I've come to some fairly deep revelations about differences in parenting style and what might cause such differences... and I've made some correlations.

You parent with one of two objectives (if you're honest): A) Giving your child the life skills they need to go out and make it on their own in this world or B) Encouraging your child to be dependent on you (on some level) for the remainder of his or her life.

With either objective, you clearly love your kids. You want the best for them. Your vision of what's best is just slightly skewed depending on your objective.. the one that is buried deep within you. Don't get me wrong, when I think of an empty nest or taking Cole to college or financially cutting him off in the event he chooses not to go or the worrying that will inevitably come with the "launch" I tear up. But I want my kids to have happy, fulfilled, successful lives and for them not to be dependent upon me. I don't want to raise grandchildren (though I certainly would if I had to). I want to enjoy them. I don't want to be financially supporting four kids after we've kicked their butts all the way through college... and after a while, I don't need any of my adult children living with me. They should go forth and prosper.. and prosperity shouldn't include my pocket book.

On the other end of the spectrum is the parenting style where on some level you always want your kids to need you. You always bail them out. You don't expect them abide by the same rules as other kids... You're the parent at the parent teacher conference who when the teacher says "____ could really use some assistance with_____" that answers that statement with : "well perhaps you could do a better job of teaching" Of course there are times where this is absolutely true, but also times where you as the parent have failed to give your kid some sort of skill and will make excuses for the rest of his or her life rather than looking in the mirror.

I've been told in this life that I have unrealistic expectations of people. And at times, that I am wrong to have expectations of my children.. Frankly, I admit my short comings freely, but if I don't expect my kids to behave, be mannerly, functioning and expect respect- tell me, who will?

Here's the cold, hard, truth in parenting (in my humble opinion). You can't protect your child from every heartbreak.. They'll never learn to move forward. You can't protect them from the sinful nature of this world. You can only talk frankly with them about it and instill a different moral boundary. You can't always fix their problems- they'll never learn to take responsibility. You can't always make excuses for them... Sometimes they need to suffer consequences. You can't always bail them out... They'll expect it the rest of their lives.

I've been pretty frank about becoming a step parent and dealing with that transition. Jay has the opportunity to parent his kids approximately 40% of the time. We have expectations in terms of behavior, manners, respect, & contributions to the family unit.. Our love is not a dependent one and it's a struggle. Frankly, their mother who moved back in with her parents and is re-evaluating the need for a career by returning to school- touts frequently "My Children are my life and my first priority.." And she certainly parents to this extreme. She's their friend, not always a parent and is raising them to be extremely dependent. It's frustrating. Abigail and Hudson are amazing kids and they have to bounce back and forth between the different expectations and I'm not sure who is right?

Hudson is the natural athlete in our family and as such, we try to boost self esteem by playing this skill up. Last year at his soccer game, he was kicked in the shines... Trust me, it was painful.. He decided to sit out. He ran directly to his mother's lap where she coddled, stroked him, babied and re-assured him for the remaining 45 minutes of the game. Jay was pacing saying "Why isn't she sending him back in?" Hudson is one of the team's best players. It's awesome that Hudson is so loved... But there was a lesson here for Hudson to learn: When life knocks you down take a minute, re-group, but get back in the game..that's mine and Jay's expectation, but when your love cripples your children to complete dependence and a an athletically gifted kid is sitting in his mother's lap like he's still a dependent toddler... I wonder, are you failing your child as a parent? How is this example any different than a grown woman, running directly back to her parents to take care of her when the divorce is final?

Time will tell. By no means am I perfect parent and I frequently get it wrong, and while I love my kids more than anything..I also love them enough to be tough on them. To have expectations and to invest the time in teaching them life skills. Because, I honestly couldn't handle a failure to launch and when you sign up to be a parent, you give up the ability to take the easy way out. Holla!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hello 2011!

And she's back. So I realized today at work, it's really 2011. I think it takes me a week of typing dates and communicating it for it to actually sink in...there are still 354 days for life to change in 2011 and trust me it will.

As I reflect on the last several years of life, I think about where I've been and how much I've accomplished and better yet where I want to go. I think I want my blog to take a new path this year but before I talk about that new path I guess I need to cover some of the past. Those of you whom I call friend, already know so much of this, but for those of you just finding my blog let me bring you up to speed: I am crazy (but in a good way hence the title of my blog) and several years ago I wondered through the darkest valley I'd been through this far in life: it's called Divorce. I blogged a lot about starting over and being a single mom and how completely and totally terrifying it was.. I call 2008 the "rip cord" year. I turned my life and my son's upside down on shear faith that once I lept and pulled the rip cord that we'd land in a better place and we did.

When I started 2009 I'd met someone... he was dubbed Marketing Boy for the purposes of this blog and to protect the innocent. I've blogged a lot about our relationship and our story...I got a new job and started finding my way. I call 2009 the Recovery Year...

In 2010, Marketing Boy and I embarked on a whole new kind of journey: we sold both of our houses..we got married... and because we're both divorced we wanted to make sure it stuck, so we got married not once..but twice (just to be on the safe side) We bought a house, and we learned in August that we would add another baby to our brood. I'm dubbing 2010 the Moving On/Building the Foundation Year.

Right now I'm affectionately looking at 2011 as the "Holy Crap" year.. and I'm at peace. Our son (God willing) will be born in April. We are still not at a place where the blending of the proverbial "His" and "Mine" child situation is super easy so adding "ours" seemed like a brilliant idea. Both of our careers (like most of America) are somewhat questionable.. so we have three soon to be four kids, a whole lot of Faith that God never gives us more than we can handle, and each other. "Holy Crap?" you ain't never lying. As in "Holy Crap" I hope the foundation is sturdy enough to hold up the dreams of all of these kids, a new marriage and questionable careers??" My prayer time and Jay's blood pressure have gone up infinitely since August. But we remain happy, still together, and hopeful that all the sacrifices we made financially, emotionally and logistically for our family in 2010 will start to pay off.

New Direction

So when I started this blog during the rip cord year, I did it mostly as a therapeutic outlet for my situation at the time. I never thought people would actually read it.. Many of my posts were also about my son, Cole, so it was sort of a place to keep all the notes I'd written about him. When I started receiving comments, the best ones, were generally letting me know I was doing ok at not being a bitter divorced chick. This made me think maybe there was something to all of this blogging stuff and in hind site, I remain proud of the way I handled it for Cole and myself. I've met bitter divorced chick since that time, and trust me when I say, I'm definitely not that stereotype.

As I think about the Holy Crap year, here's the truth.. Marketing Boy and I are in the midst of blending a family... and it's not easy. I don't suppose family and raising kids is ever easy, but we're getting through it and there are highs and lows. So as I muddle through my Holy Crap year- I will share the story because blended families are everywhere around us and they aren't always painted in the best light. We have remained dedicated to seeking a great deal of coaching to get this right and when a lot of divorced parents resort to bad mouthing the other parent, we've chosen a different path when it would certainly be easier to join in the mudslinging. So if I can share that story (or at least some of it) and it helps get me and my family through, well then I think that's the benefit of the social networking world we live in...maybe it'll give someone a laugh or someone out there will let me know they've been there too... only time will tell.

In the coming weeks, I'll be revamping my blog site, introducing you to some new characters, and Random Ramblings of a Crazy Red Head will be less about me and Cole "the solo mission" and more about my crazy blended family, new baby, and new marriage.

But Holy Crap it's 2011 and I have a feeling great things are going to start to happen.