Category Archives: Self Care

Because I Can

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Because I Can

I am quietly sitting in the main level bedroom of a nicely appointed house that dates back to the 1890’s. It’s insulated well enough that air conditioning isn’t required despite the high summer temperatures outside. The windows are open and I can hear the chatter of cows from the farm that borders the back yard. I can hear those same cows from my own home which is within walking distance. Here though, I get to eavesdrop on the more nuanced conversations, beyond the distressed mooing that occasionally travels to my patio. The cows are conversing in more hushed tones.

Each room in this house has been lovingly filled with precious items.  Long ago gifts, remembrances and highly sought after antique flea market finds that probably took months, perhaps years, to procure. The individual pieces are meaningful, eclectic and likely filled with sentimental value. A lot of love went into decorating this home and perhaps a twinge of obsession, the result is a timeless casual elegance.

The items themselves are a bit worn around the edges. Faded like the lingering scent of fabulous meal after the dinner dishes have been cleared. It seems more poignant with some of the newness ebbed away by time, longevity has it’s own allure which, something shiny and new can’t quite grasp.

After several minutes Thelma, jumps down from the bed and visits me at my corner chair. A petite orange tabby, she sniffs my feet for a few minutes. I attempt to pet her which yields a do not touch look so I stop myself and decide to ignore her. After a few minutes she bites my knee because that’s what cats do. My involuntary jolt sent her scampering away for the remainder of my visit. Her sister, Louise, is out in the yard somewhere planning her next kill or rolling in the grass, sunny side up. I won’t hear from her unless she wants to come in which, she will announce by jumping 4 feet up, onto the screened porch door. Thelma & Louise keep things interesting around here.

During the olfactory interrogation, I can hear the Serena Williams match on the TV in the kitchen. A man’s voice is giving an unofficial commentary of the match…”Oh no, Geezus!” and “Come on Serena!” are on a repetitive loop. I’m happy that he has a distraction even if the end result isn’t what he wanted. He is passionate about something separate from the care-giving which likely consumes him. In this small way he is reclaiming something important for himself and I wish more caregivers would do that.

Before he leaves for the gym he stops by the bedroom. He tells me that they just got back from vacationing at the beach where they got married decades ago. I wonder if his wife has any recollection of that now as she lay snoring, midday, in the bed they still share. He gives her a long, gentle, emotional hug as he prepares to leave and I try to become invisible in that moment.

I see the hospital bed close by and I wonder which one of the two beds she will pass in. Probably the hospital bed, it will likely happen before the unofficial end of summer. I push against the inclination to imagine a similar scenario in my own life as I silently ask God for another 20 (pretty please make that 30) years of health and happiness with my husband. I am momentarily engulfed in the absolute knowledge that this is all temporary. I’ve seen this situation play out about 100 different ways in the ten plus years that I have been a hospice volunteer. It’s usually some diabolical form of cancer with the wife caring for the husband or the daughter caring for a parent. It always leaves a print of sadness on my soul which gets absorbed and gently tucked away.

When I prepare to leave, I notice the fireplace in the bedroom has writing on the header. “Fairy Tales Really Do Come True…” is painted in pretty cursive. A swirl of emotions courses through me. I don’t believe in fairy tales, I had to rescue myself and yet, my life is blessed beyond anything I could have imagined as a child. For the thousandth time I question why I do this…why do I place myself in the center of someone else’s heartbreak. The answer is always the same, because I can and those that can, should.

 

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White Tower View

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White Tower View

When I was a teenager I spent several months living in an all female group home. The ages ranged from 15 to 65 and anyone that was within childbearing age was taken to the gynecologist and put on birth control. It was explained as a way to keep everyone on a regular cycle and minimize mood swings. I didn’t fight it and went on the pill like most of the other residents.

For the next fifteen years I took birth control pills, the lowest dose at the time (ON777). My menstrual cycle was consistent, nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Not painful like some of my friends and the pills didn’t seem to cause any side effects. When I became sexually active, I was grateful for their effectiveness. I went to Planned Parenthood for my annual exam and purchased my birth control pills through them at a discount until my late 20s.

I never had a bad experience. The place was clean, staff was professional and no one shouted “whore” as I made my way into the clinic. Never once did anyone try to sell me on an abortion, I never needed one thanks to those little pills. I had access to effective healthcare, physical and financial accessibility, without which, I could have had a different outcome.

When I got to my early 30s I was starting to get concerned about the long term effects of birth control pills. I decided to give my body a break and go off of them. I discussed this with my long term boyfriend. By this time I had a good job and I owned my own home. My guy was doing well and we were in love, 5 years into our relationship. We were pretty relaxed about the possibility of becoming pregnant and let the universe guide us. We eventually got pregnant….I say we because I don’t know any female that has gotten pregnant on her own (an immaculate conception is pretty rare). We decided it would be a good time to get married and have a kid.

We got married and the pregnancy was going well until 39 weeks in. I felt a dull ache behind my left knee. Turns out I had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which can become fatal if a blood clot breaks away and goes to your heart/lungs/brain, scary stuff. I was fortunate to be within 3 miles of a trauma center hospital. A retractable filter was inserted through my jugular vein and was placed below my heart and lungs to break up any potential killer clots. The fact that I’m typing this lets you know it worked.

It turned into a fairly dramatic birth including me being induced, 5 hours of pushing and a sideways baby that wasn’t budging (I’m happy to say he’s become much more compliant since then). Eventually it was determined that I needed to have a cesarean section. Two weeks later, the retractable filter was removed and I was put on blood thinners for 6 months. I had all kinds of terrible reactions to the medication which caused me to have numerous tests for Lupus, MS and enough blood draws to satiate an army of vampires. It was rough and we didn’t plan to have another child.

Because of the blood clot issue I could not go on BC pills or have any kind of hormone based birth control. IUDs freaked me out, I heard too many horror stories. So our options were a diaphragm, condoms or pull out. We failed at those options and I got pregnant soon after our son’s first birthday. When I told my husband I was pregnant he said – “congratulations, are you sure you want to go through with this?”

It was a fair question given the unexpected complications of my first pregnancy. My husband was traveling internationally on a frequent basis. Most of my pregnancy would be spent with a toddler and no local family, just a handful of friends that I made in the 6 months since we moved. I didn’t hesitate though, I wanted to go through with the pregnancy.

My gyno had become very close with me since the birth of my son. The kind of closeness that comes from a near death experience. I could see the concern on her sweet face when I went in to see her to have the pregnancy confirmed. She contacted the hematologist and gave me the name of a good perinatologist, I was going to be closely monitored.

I did the best I could to not focus on what could happen. My biggest fear was driving or being alone in the house with my son and having a pulmonary embolism or a brain aneurysm, these were not far fetched concerns. I kept thinking of Steel Magnolias when  Shelby dies while making dinner with her young son crying next to her body. The possibility was a shadow throughout my pregnancy.

Six and a half months into the pregnancy I felt that familiar dull ache behind my knee again. I called my gyno she asked me to meet her at the hospital.  Sure enough I had a clot, not a monster DVT like the first time, but a clot which could have been fatal to me or my baby girl. I was put on a heparin drip and remained inpatient for a week. When I was sent home I was given medicine that I needed to inject into my pregnant belly twice a day for the remainder of my pregnancy.

My gyno and my hematologist were getting twitchy. I could see fear in their eyes with every interaction, I was a ticking time bomb. I told my gyno that I wanted a tubal ligation after the baby was born and I could hear her exhale as she expressed gratitude over my choice. To be clear, my husband was also onboard with that and he respected the fact that ultimately it was my decision.

This time I had a planned cesarean and the now familiar retractable filter was inserted just prior to that. They decided to do a c-section at 35w6d and I got my tubal ligation immediately after. Two weeks later the retractable filter was removed followed by a year of blood thinners and more blood draws, so many blood draws. I went to a blood clinic at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey to see if there was a genetic reason for my issue. After more tests and many more blood samples it was determined to be pregnancy related and having no plans for further pregnancies, I was released from care.

I was fortunate to have two healthy babies, now teenagers. I had a caring partner with both pregnancies. I had assistance with child care when I had to go to the hospital. I had good health insurance. I had a vehicle to get myself to the necessary appointments. I had money to pay for gas, pay for a sitter, pay co-payments, I had a network of support. I also lived within reasonable proximity to excellent reproductive healthcare.

What if I couldn’t get birth control as a young woman? What if there was no clinic, no sliding-scale fee, no access? What if I was a woman of color? Would my seemingly minor medical complaints have been taken seriously? Would that dull ache get the attention it deserved? Or would I just be another sad anonymous number in a case study?

I understand how the pro-life movement can seem like the high moral ground when you are looking down from an ivory tower. You can’t see deep enough into the brush to see what is happening there so it simply blends into the background, it’s just scenery. I would ask you to take those long steps down and see what is happening outside of your limited view.

Have you ever gone with a 15 year old girl who was getting an abortion? I have, it was devastating. She made a mistake, she was so scared, just 15. I held her and cared for her and listened to her when she told me about the recurring nightmares of her unborn child. This was not an easy decision, she was gutted.

Have you ever seen the bruises of domestic violence on a pregnant woman? I have and I wanted to kill the guy. I threw a baby shower for a dear friend when we were both 20. She married her long term asshole of a boyfriend when she got pregnant. Fun fact – domestic violence often escalates during pregnancy. She got changed in front of me and her chest was covered in bruises. She and her baby eventually got out of that situation, it took a long time.

Have you known anyone who had a late term abortion? I knew someone who had a late term abortion. It was heartbreaking. A co-worker of mine found out that her fetus died in utero in her third trimester. She was given the choice to abort or wait for her body to naturally go into labor and deliver a stillborn baby. Can you imagine living with that trauma?

Do you know any females that have been raped in a manner which could have resulted in an unwanted pregnancy? I expect every hand to be raised at this one. Has the #MeToo movement taught us anything? Sexual violence and molestation is rampant – at work, in the military, college campuses, church, school, pretty much everywhere including home for some unfortunate victims. These women should go to jail if they abort an unwanted zygote? Should they be denied a morning after pill? What if the trauma has them so horrified that it takes them a few weeks to come to terms with the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy? What if the victim is also beaten badly during the rape and is in a coma – does she get a f*cking pass then?

We all have strong feelings about this topic and I’m not trying to isolate anyone, truly I am not. I’ve seen some horrible stuff up close and in person. My own personal experiences and those of people close to me have helped to form my opinions and I’m sure the same is true for you. There is a lot of gray area for me and in the end I always circle back to individual choice. I can’t know the fine print details of each individual situation. I’m not a medical professional, psychologist or social worker. I’m not pro-abortion, I’m pro-choice.

 

 

 

Invest in Yourself!

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Invest in Yourself!

Last night I posted the featured photo on my Facebook page to see if people could guess what it was. My friends did not disappoint and some of their guesses were quite fascinating. Here’s what they suggested:

Back massager, sleeve iron, sweater shaver, head trimmer (for the bald), can opener for old people, vibrator, hair diffuser, electro laser face treatment (sounds fancy), steamer, sex toy (specifically designed by aliens), toilet bowl (hand held?), portable bidet (again, hand held??), kale tenderizer (is that even a thing????), hand mixer, clothes steamer, portable branding iron (for those inclined to body modification and/or ranchers on the go), a vagina warmer/steamer (ouch), and other assorted guesses for an ionic thingamajig.

Now we did have fun with those guesses. I may have over indulged in “No” GIFS.

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If you’ve been keeping up with my blog lately (Thank You & God Bless) you may have noticed that I have been curious about making some aesthetic improvements. I don’t mind being 50, the only problem is my brain which thinks I should look 35 (spoiler: I don’t). I suspect that the Google Gawds of Algorithm (GGA) and AARP (together they makeup GGAAARP and doesn’t that just roll of your tongue) have joined forces to send every ad for modern day snake oil my way.

Women over 40 know what I’m talking about, the ads are relentless. I still go on Facebook and my demographic gets the same ads on a constant loop. Now some of these products are probably good, in fact I can vouch for Rothy’s Shoes.

I happen to own three pairs and they are fabulous and slightly addictive. Now this is more than I typically spend on shoes and I don’t care, I like them that much. Super comfy and they are made from recycled bottles AND they’re cute as hell. I finally got myself a pair of leopard flats – I have wanted leopard flats for 10 years!

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Other products have me more skeptical. Those jeans that come in three size ranges, are you kidding me? If I lined up 10 of my closest female friends there would be at least seven different size categories – short/tall, thick/thin and every combination in between, I laugh at your three sizes.

The magic eye cream that promises to shrink your under eye bags. First of all, f*ck off. Seriously f*ck all the way off with your lies. I haven’t clicked on that infomercial yet because this is a particular sore spot for me. I suspect the jars go for about $3billion each because eye of newt and unicorn blood is really flippan’ expensive. Hard pass, full stop.

Which brings us back to the mystery featured photo. Big reveal (insert drum roll……..still drumming……….little more drumming……damn my imaginary drumming arms are tired). I present to you the –

Ultrasonic Cavitat RF Fat & Cellulite Remover

Yes friends for the mere cost of $99.99 which is a never been seen before fabulous discounted price to end all discounts, the mother of ALL discounts. For under $100. you can “invest in yourself” and rid your self of fat and cellulite (& $99.99). It also cleans your house, picks up your dog’s poop and if you’re single, it’ll find your soul mate. Your SOUL MATE! The only thing it can NOT do is make middle school car line more manageable because that mess is unfixable. Oh and it won’t cook dinner either so basically, useless.

 

It Burns!

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It Burns!

Midlife has a way of saying f*ck you on a daily basis. Today I woke up and the right side of my neck hurts, bad. Don’t know why, perhaps I slept on it wrong, angered the midlife Gawds, total mystery. I recently gave up sugar for Lent and I’m pretty sure I’ve gained weight (dafuq?). I’m not trying to stop the age train, I would like to slow it down.

If you’re like me, you still have kids at home and at least one elderly relative to check in on. Midlife is a balancing act on all fronts. Drifting away from our younger years and aware that things will likely deteriorate at some point. There’s a constant stream of advertising that comes your way via mail, telemarketing calls and those damn pop up ads that have a direct connection to my thoughts (Minority Report anyone?). The general message is you’re getting old, no need to look that way, we can fix it!

The messaging isn’t subtle. The day you turn 50 I guarantee AARP will send you something to acknowledge it and say “join us, we’re going to age gracefully with vigor like some Stepford midlifer”, it’s implied. Step off AARP, I’m not interested. In my brain I think I look 35, the mirror on the other hand, tells a different story. Today I went for another consultation to see about minimizing the bags that have taken up residency under my eyes. If you follow my blog (and thank you if you do), you may remember another recent consultation Work it (or Not)

I arrived at Les Crap of Zee Bull (not the actual name, it was equally French and fancy) eager to see what non surgical options could fix this mess. I was whisked upstairs to the waiting salon by a 20 something staff member. She did the obligatory model hand wave toward the refreshment table and promptly got me a questionnaire to fill out. I may have lied about my weight on the form, that is classified and it’s going to the grave with me. I filled out the form and waited.

While I was waiting I noticed a client who was sitting across the room with an ice pack on her face, she may have been writhing in pain or perhaps she had to pee. There was a water wall in front of me which made me think there was no way I could afford this place. I texted my friend Kristy about the water wall and she suggested that it was there to muffle the screams. She attended a prestigious university and studied science so maybe she’s on to something.

After a few minutes of listening to the melodious splash I had an urge to go. On the way to the bathroom I walked past a ginormous advertisement which proudly displayed several large photos of before and after ass pictures. In that moment I was grateful that I didn’t have an issue with my backside because the idea of having my before and after ass on display was a little too much to bare (intentional typo calm down grammar nerds).

Things didn’t improve in the bathroom. Everything was fine until I went to wash my hands. I got some soap and waved my hand under the faucet, nothing happened. I did the magic wand wave a few more times, approaching from different angles, adjusting the speed in the hopes that water would be released, nope. I looked at the faucet for clues, nothing emerged, it just stared back at me with a steely gaze, unyielding. There were no handles, no sensors, nothing obvious. After approximately 90 seconds of me waving hands frantically and muttering  “Oh for f*ck sake!” repeatedly, I figured it out. The cube at the top of the faucet pushed up to release water. I did have to chant (thanks for that tip Paul) and wiggle my ears while simultaneously applying enormous pressure in an upward motion to get it to work. Nevertheless, I emerged with an empty bladder and clean hands.

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Sure it looks simple enough. Trust me without the chanting, ear wiggling and upward motion, total desert.

A few minutes after that ridiculousness, I was ushered into an exam room by a pleasant middle aged woman with a stylish hair cut and cute glasses. Did I mention that I came from the gym so I was sweaty, potentially smelly, not even a hint of make up and my hair was dripping with sweat? My new friend put down a cloth barrier on the chair that I was later guided to sit on. I’d like to think they do that for all the clients….in retrospect, I’m not so sure. I was also told to remove my hat which was providing shelter for my sweaty pony tail so you know, sexy as hell.

She asked me why I was there and I told her. A few minutes later a nurse practitioner came in the room and asked the same questions I just answered. She gave me a hand held mirror to hold while she pressed on various parts of my face to demonstrate how fillers could possibly help. The lighting in there wasn’t doing me any favors, I felt like a vampire seeing the sun for the first time, it burns! Let’s just say the nurse was honest, brutally honest. The take away was “Honey, we can’t fix that. Go back to the surgeon or else you’ll waste gobs of money and be miserable.” So, that went well at least it was a free consultation – free of dignity, confidence, pride, ego, totally free. I may just get a stylish hair cut and some cute glasses.

 

 

Work It (or Not)…

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Work It (or Not)…

Confession whenever I say work it, I instantly think of the Missy Elliott song. If I wasn’t too cheap to pay for premium WordPress I’d drop a link here, sorry about that. I have to save my money, I’ve been thinking about getting (coughs quietly) “work done”. I suppose everyone has their cosmetic Achilles heel, mine is the bags under my eyes. They aren’t full blown moving-across-the-Atlantic-and-putting-everything-in-trunks size yet but they aren’t casual weekenders either.

A big chunk of me feels guilty and stupid for even considering making a change. The world is one big dumpster fire and here I am wanting to hold on to the pretty a bit longer. It seems like such a shallow and frivolous preoccupation. Then again, if it makes you feel better about yourself…welcome to my internal tortured dialogue. If a friend told me they wanted to do something, I would be their biggest cheerleader. Perhaps I need to befriend myself because apparently I’m not above all this shit just yet. I’d like to be, I’m just not.

The other day I went to see a cosmetic surgeon for a consultation. It cost a fair amount just to discuss the options and the office is about an hour away. I lost half a day to this expedition. After the worst photo session EVER (“before” pictures are a horror show, they want you to look bad) they asked if I had any pictures from my 20s. I laughed because the only pictures I had on my phone were ones that I used for an 80s party a few years back.  I was in my early 20s at the time and now I don’t even look like I’m related to this chick –

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It was the 80s baby! 30 years and about as many pounds ago…

We discussed three options 1) Surgery 2) Injectables or 3) INTRAcel Treatment. I won’t lie the first option is not unappealing – aside from the anesthesia, recovery and OMFG costs. You do it once (the right way) and you’re done, the eye bags are packed and out of there, bah-bye. As tempting as that is (if I won the lottery and wasn’t a chicken shit), that was a hard pass for me. I have a teenage daughter and the last thing I want to do is be a role model of physical change via cosmetic surgery. Perhaps when she is away at college….

I thought about the second option. The doctor I saw is one of the top doctors in his field,  he is an ophthalmologist and board-certified cosmetic surgeon in four specialties. If someone is going to be poking needles near my eyeballs, he’s the guy. Alas, this is also a pass as it is temporary and expensive for something so short-term.

That leaves the third option which is some combination of micro-needling, radio frequency and voodoo of some sort. I almost pulled the trigger on this one. The cost is somewhere between ridiculous and stupid expensive and there could be some side effects. The first thing that freaked me out was a script for Valtrex. Apparently it is standard procedure to take it before treatment to avoid the possibility of a Shingles or a Herpes outbreak. Let’s just be clear, I don’t have Herpes. I did have Chicken Pox as a kid and Shingles is no joke. So hello GI distress and possible yeast infection, good times.

The treatment itself consists of a machine that pummels your face to the sweet spot of pinpoint bleeding and (fingers crossed) NOT 8th round in the boxing ring and you just lost. Swelling, bruising, blood, possible scabbing, scaring small children, wear large Jackie O sunglasses for a week after AND this was the most tempting of the three options. Wow, when I type it out it seems rather insane. Beauty is pain bitches (and expensive as hell).

I got as far as scheduling an appointment and filling the script, then I cancelled it. I’m going to do some more research and see if there are other more cost effective options. I did like the office staff and the doctor but the doctor would not be performing the voodoo, a technician would. With that in mind, I may be able to find another option closer to home for a more reasonable rate. Or maybe I’ll just say f*ck it because we’re all going to be dust soon enough.

Curious if any of my readers have considered making a cosmetic change – big or small. Obviously self-acceptance is the ultimate goal, is it wrong to get a boost?

Grief Fog

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Grief Fog

Apparently there is a Mercury Retrograde phase right now which means we are all ripe for disaster my friends. Mercury is a bit of an asshole whilst in retrograde and this year March, July and November are on track to be awful. Here’s a link if you want your head to explode with all the retrogradey stuff….OHSHITMERCURYRETROGRADE

Mercury aside, I have been feeling all the feels today. You ever find yourself driving and suddenly realize you can’t remember the past 15 minutes? You’ve been on the road so many times that you slip into autopilot and you aren’t really aware of your surroundings. The past 10 months have felt like this for me. First my Father in-law got sick and passed away, then four months later I lost my own father. I’ve been in a grief fog ever since. Sure I do all the things that need to be done but I’m a muted version of myself.

During this process I haven’t been fully aware and in tune with the world including my small community. I know I’ve missed some important stuff and I haven’t been present in my usual capacity. Last night I found out that a local parent has been having chemo treatments for several months, I had no idea. Year ago me would have set up a Sign Up Genius and initiated a meal train, the current version of myself found out haphazardly in a group text. I’ve clearly been out of the loop bogged down in my own muck. I’d beat myself up about it a little more if I had the energy, I don’t.

Grief is a process, it isn’t a stage or a series of milestones that you pass and then it’s behind you. It becomes a part of you…sometimes it’s a tiny speck and sometimes it envelops you. If you are grieving, I hope you are patient with yourself…you deserve that.

 

 

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The Lonely Middle Years of Parenting

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The Lonely Middle Years of Parenting

Parenting kids in middle and high school is such a complicated and lonely space to be in. When our kids are little we tend to share a lot about them. Holiday cards, social media posts, small playgroups, sports teams and parent clubs. The little cherubs happily pose for the camera without a whiff of self consciousness.

Somewhere around 5th grade things start to shift. The kids no longer want you to go public with what you think is cute. Concerns about privacy, social status and damage control start to creep into your thoughts. The kids disappear from your social media feed and you keep things under lock and key. The difficult stuff is whispered to your closest friends, a very limited set of eyes and ears. Even with those confidants the experiences are exhausting and isolating at times.

I’ve had days this past month that have absolutely gutted me. Pain for my child which housed a kaleidoscope of emotions; profound sadness, love, pit of my stomach fear, impatience and resignation. Fortunately the low points have been transient, replaced with more hopeful experiences, it goes in and out like the tide. I can only imagine the despair of families that reside in the muck for extended periods of time. I’m sure those parents are around me, they just aren’t talking about it.

The why of the reasons for not discussing things openly are a complicated stew of ego, protection, shame and insecurity. Shame that maybe we failed as a parent somehow – gave too much or too little. We were too involved or not vigilant enough. We haven’t properly adjusted the sails, we hit the gas when we should have braked and now we are spinning out of control.

The first inclination is protection. Protect the child at all costs from labels, embarrassment, bullies, the boogeyman, mistakes or misunderstandings that can negatively impact their future. That’s a tall order and some days I feel so small, minuscule, a speck of dust, insignificant. At this phase in their lives, your kids generally care more about friendships than family, at least temporarily. Another jagged pill to swallow, the person you want to help most in the world doesn’t necessarily want your assistance or your opinion. They will however, happily relieve you of $20. or the car keys when they start to drive.

Insecurity is the ghost that haunts us all whether we care to admit it or not. Insecurity is married to shame maybe not officially but they are at a minimum shacked up together. If I’m honest, this is the piece of parenthood I feared the most before we had kids. Knowing that I would make mistakes as all humans do. I also knew that making mistakes as a parent would cause me intense pain. Mind you I haven’t had colossal failures, just the usual varieties; having a more impatient tone than intended (this is called yelling), being a few months behind on the dental check up, and not being a constant shadow on their social media.

I’m sure some parents and kids skate through this phase without a pimple or a tear shed, I think those are the unicorns. Most of us take a deep breath and remind ourselves to have a friendly tone when we knock on our child’s bedroom door. We worry about over/under scheduling, setting reasonable expectations that neither diminish goals nor create neurotic overachievers. I’m still searching for that sweet spot of challenging my kids so they can bend without breaking.