Parenting Tips For Surviving The Teen Years With Grace, Dignity and A Little Less Drunkenness

Adolescence, otherwise known as the slow descent into madness, or those lost years mommy raided the liquor store in search for more wine, or when the little darlings morph into bigger versions of Teletubbies gone awry, is a trying time for everyone; parents, teens, grandparents, teachers, babies, the dog, the mail-delivery person, the librarian with the big ass mole, the nice policeman who escorted you home after being caught outside the liquor store after hours banging on the doors pleading for them to “PLEASE OPEN I NEED WINE! I HAVE TEENAGERS!!!”….

The brains of average teenagers are still developing and pushing the limits. It’s one of the many fun and interesting ways they determine their place in the family; their role in the world and their intimate social circle. It’s also annoying as hell.

Limit setting and parents sticking to them is the key element to any good survival during this emotional roller coaster. They will yell, scream, slam doors and then use the ever favourite “Jan’s mom let her do it”. “AGAIN WITH THE JAN’S MOM?! I’m not Jan’s mom! I don’t care what Jan’s mom let her do! WHO THE HELL IS JAN?! Jan’s mom can stick it!! “ Natural and understandable responses to an illogical and peer-pressure kind of tactic that only ensues argumentative combative behaviour. BAD FORM, TEEN. But that’s what they know. Knee jerk emotional responses to having their asses slammed into a room with nowhere to go but to a ‘Jan’s mom’ kind of response. Stick to your guns! Not literal guns, but your limits. Stick to your decisions. You get it. DON’T CAVE!  

I could say here that communication is the key to any good relationship and speaking in quiet tones and providing a caring and open environment for them to participate in mature dialogue will assist in curbing the emotional upheaval….but that would be utter bullshit. Seriously. Teens are a ball of emotional crap wrapped up in a brain-fugue ire that speaking at all will only escalate the already shitty attitude they possess. I tend to throw my hands in the air and say “Jesus, help me with this child! Give him the necessary good sense that he needs to see the light!” and then proceed to speak in tongues. This generally confuses the shit out of the teen and he is so freaked out he turns around and goes to his room to try to call his father saying “Mom has lost it! Come home now!” And will never ask to go to another party/borrow the car/jump off a bridge, again.  

As a mother of three teens who are now adults, I can say you will survive. Motherhood be damned, the adolescent years are the most trying times; following of course after toddlerdom when the word ‘no’ was the prompt to put more toys in the toilet; the righteous pre-teen years where buying the right shirt was a major meltdown affair and of course the roaring twenties where there’s university exams, classes and staying out all night. Actually, now that I read that statement, being a parent kind of sucks. There is no decade safe where you can really sit back with your feet up and relax and say, ‘yep. We did it. We raised our kids.’ A parent’s work is never done and even now that my kids are no longer ‘kids’, I can say I still worry. We still argue (yes, Miss H even with Son), we still have to set the limit and toe the line and all that parenting lingo you read in all of the Parenting 101 books that kinda only work when the kid is already well-adjusted, graduated with a PhD and on his way to his own wedding. All those nice parenting books you bought will surely serve better as a nightstand where you can lay your bottle of wine after an afternoon of endless pleading and begging with the mail-delivery-person to please rescue you from your torment only for him/her/neutral to pry your death grip from his/her/neutral arm and run madly up the street….damned mail-delivery persons! (being politically correct is wordy, but not expensive)

Suck it up, Mommy/Daddy you’re a lifer now!

Ahhh, think back to the day when that adorable little pink baby was first placed in your arms and you promised him the world! And now, well now, he’s still kinda adorable and you would still give him the world if he wasn’t so damned stubborn like his father and have the intelligence of a snail. Then he comes home with decent grades and you think “Yesss. Finally, he has turned a corner. He is growing up” then he dents the car, or floods the basement with the garden hose or goes bowling with a frozen turkey and throws it through the front door.  

Yup.  

A teenager. The universe’s way of reminding you that young people can be stupid. We are the force that guides these young impressionable teens into adulthood with common sense, values and a wealth of information to make solid decisions; like bowling with a frozen turkey is way better suited in the basement using the hockey net. Duh…ANYONE KNOWS THAT.  

That’s why we also have wine. For when those guidelines are a little skewed, those decisions are a little off the mark and we struggle with guilt, ire and Jesus.

Good luck, fellow parents. You are not alone during this traumatic and challenging time. Remember, they will be around FOREVER. Also, the liquor store is open daily until 11pm. Make sure to get there early.

You. Are. Welcome.

 

    

 

My Fitness Journey

By the time this post is published, I will be standing at the foot of the starting line of a 10 mile road race. This starting line isn’t just any starting line. It is the culmination of two years of work. I also will be turning 51. Yes, I’m running a race on my 51st birthday with 5,000 of my closest friends. Yay!  I decided to do the race, not because I was bored, but because it will mean something. The past year has been a roller coaster of health issues, growing pains and disappointments, and by starting this race and finishing it, I’m hoping to continue the journey of health and fitness into the coming year.

Two years ago, I was doing the same thing. Standing at the same starting line, wanting to do the same race, having the same idea to be healthy and fit. Then something happened. I did the race, but barely. I didn’t feel I did my best. I didn’t have the ability to bounce back from it the same way. I struggled. I was missing something. Hubby, suggested I join a bootcamp. I guffawed. I protested. Reluctantly, I joined.  

A great decision as it turns out. I hate it when Hubby is right. Ugh.  

BUT, it wasn’t always easy.

Getting up at 5am SEEMS like a great idea. All the excitement and novelty of starting a new path to a healthier you wears off at exactly 5:05am that first morning. Then you suddenly hear a voice screaming at you in your head to STAY IN BED!!! DAFUQ WERE YOU THINKING, LADY?!! YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET UP TODAY!! YOU DESERVE A BREAK!!  

WRONG.  

That voice in your head is wrong. All kinds of wrong. Your break is the exercise. Your break is the bootcamp class that gets you moving. Your break is the coffee after class, after you’ve worked your butt off doing Burpees and push ups and sprints and high knees…

You DO deserve better. You deserve being a better you. A healthy version of you. And getting up at 5am is what it takes.

That’s how I changed my thinking. I deserve a better me. So does my family.  

So the journey began. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5am without stopping, without quitting (which was a regular thought at 5:05am every Friday morning) without verbal complaints, in snowfall, high winds, rain and sunshine.

I. Went. To. Class.

I showed up. I worked. I learned.

The entire first YEAR of bootcamp was about learning. I walked in to my first class not being able to do one single push up. I couldn’t jump. I couldn’t do a chin up, a burpee…nothing. I watched. I learned. Then I watched and learned some more. I practiced. I fell down. I got back up and tried again.

I kept telling myself to just get through class. Just try again. It will come.

I also had the task of quieting that voice in my head that said ‘People will laugh at you. People are looking at you’. That voice? That voice is an asshole. Tell her to shut the fuck up and move on. NOBODY CARES WHAT YOU ARE DOING. I work out with women who are supportive of each other. NOBODY JUDGES. BEST. Find that. Go where that is!

TWO YEARS. Two years of work. That’s what it took. Not six weeks. Not six days. Not six months. Years. If I read one more time on some magazine how you can change your body in only six weeks or less, I WILL SCREAM.  

WRONG. ALL KINDS OF WRONG. Don’t listen to that.

Years of showing up and practicing. No one is perfect right away. Or ever.  

Two years later I can do 25 push ups in a row. I know because I counted. I can do box jumps (which are the bane of my existence, but I force myself to do them. I just turn off that voice that scares the shit out of me by saying that I’ll fall), I can do battling ropes, I can lift weights, I can squat and I can do Burpees.


Don’t listen to the naysayers who keep telling you it’s not worth it. Or you can’t do it. Or just walk more.  

Do what’s right for you. Show up. Go to class. Do the work. And eat right.  

But don’t expect to change everything overnight. Or in six weeks. It may take less time than two years, or it may take more. That’s up to you, but staying committed is the key.

So, here I am today. At the starting line of the ten mile race on my 51st birthday. Stronger than two years ago. Thirty pounds lighter. A little achier (thanks, 95year old hip) but so much more appreciative of how I got here and still on the journey to a healthier me.

I may fall down and I’m still learning. But I show up. And I practice.  

Cheers, Peeps! The finish line may seem so far away, but really it’s where you need it to be. Ten miles or two years. It’s all what you put in. Enjoy your journey. I still am.  

 

*EmpowHer is my bootcamp. You can find my Coach here. She’s awesome. One of my cheerleaders that keeps me going.   

Find your cheerleaders. Everybody needs some. I’m lucky to have quite a few behind me!  

Good luck!  

 

  

  

My New Job is Going To Be As An Obituary Writer Because Who Doesn’t Want a Snarky Obit?

I read a funny obituary online today. That sentence in and of itself sounds morbid and creepy, but really it isn’t. This woman who passed away, had the best obit written by someone close to her who knew her so well and appreciated her individuality so much that he or she took the time to write something that reflected her personality. It wasn’t sad or sappy. It wasn’t flowery or artsy. It used plain descriptive, and named her children and grandchildren who were going to miss her. It then plainly stated they weren’t going to obey her final wishes to ‘be propped up in a corner with a gin and tonic so I would look more natural.’ I laughed out loud.

That’s how I would like to be remembered. Having a sense of humour and making people laugh out loud even after I’ve…gone on to the great vineyard in the sky; passed on? Kicked the bucket? Crossed over to the ‘other side’? Died.

Is there alcohol in the sky? Or Heaven? ‘Cause I think I’m gonna need some. Think of all the other people who have ‘passed on’ who will be crammed up there waiting for the big arrival and if they don’t have a bottle of wine and glass in hand. There could be trouble.

I mean, really. You go through life and all of its struggles and tragedies and heartache and your big reward in the end, the big finale is a bit of cloud and a family reunion without alcohol?! HAS THERE EVER BEEN A FAMILY REUNION WHERE SOMEBODY DOESN’T END UP FACE DOWN DRUNK IN THE POTATO SALAD?!  

C’mon Janice, get it together!

If it’s a true family reunion, there’s lots of beer and wine and dancing. Gotta be dancing. And in my family, all the guys are golfing.

I think a good obit is important. It says who you are to people like me who randomly read obits to get a sense of the person who died. The person had a life, a family and a history. There’s questions like, how did she die? Was her family around? What did she do for a living besides drink gin and tonic and do crosswords? (that was in the obit) Kids? Dogs? Did anyone else want to be propped up in a corner with a drink to look more natural, too? That’s sounds way better than being laid out for show.

I’m with her.

Also, I think I’m going to pen my own obit in advance so my kids don’t have to go to all the trouble of trying to think of something witty to say about grandma, without sounding cruel and uncaring. I mean, I did just die. Nothing says ‘love’ like an obit that has a personality. And brings laughter to the couple of people who actually scan obits to see what the hell happened to the old lady who wreaked havoc in the seniors’ home. (life goals, peeps) That way, I won’t end up with something that says I was loving and generous. Or liked reading. And throwing dirt over the fence. Or the line “mom had a penchant for using salty language in her blogging days” because that’s not necessarily true. I wasn’t salty, I was sweary.

Wait. Am. Am sweary.  

I guess I’m just fearful of leaving something that could be so epic to other people. Maybe I’m a control freak. Or just particular about words. Or what’s said about me in the public. Or know the kids will shoot for words like ‘loving and giving’ and not ‘sweary and snarky’.

It should be a little entertaining, shouldn’t it?  

I think I’ll stipulate in my will and last words, that the obit is included and should be published with a picture of me with a drink in my hand, sitting in a corner smirking.

Life. (Death?) Goals.

 

Love this… 

 

 

The Unrelenting Echoes of Summer

The ‘hood battles are raging and the summer days are stretching onwards and upwards. No one is immune to the reaching fingertips of ire and impatience emanating from cranky neighbours who refuse to admit their age is getting the better of them. If one is to listen to them, the kids are running amok flailing wildly among heathens and hoodlums destined to dethrone the king of badness. Nothing good happens past nine- thirty peeps, and children left to pillage and plunder the village into the abyss of indifference and permissive dismissal are future adults destined for the Presidency of an American nation. Alas how are we to survive the madness?!Calm down, peeps.

The children are children playing in the backyards of responsible professional adults paying their taxes, abiding the laws of society and contributing to the well-being of community and ‘hood alike.

There is no crime here, only that of youth being restless and young on summer nights that have magically become windless and warm. The days where summer seems to last forever, where any kid of any age can dream of digging for buried treasure, swim in the depths of a backyard pool and savour the taste of s’mores and burnt marshmallows on a backyard campfire. Tents, giggles, sleeping bags, practical jokes, stolen garden gnomes (oh, my poor Norman where art thou?) all a big part of childhood and growing up in a safe environment surrounded by loving parents and committed neighbours to raising a generation of well-adjusted, educated, intelligent, compassionate and community minded young people.

That’s what my idea of a neighbourhood is.

Watching out for each other against the rallies of the occasional late-night thievery, lost dogs, wayward cats, and kids out past the boundaries of the park at the end of the street. Local spring clean-ups, bottle drives for hockey trips, Mummering Christmases, barbeques and the fence raising- shed building- deck erecting- construction that brings friends and neighbours together.

We connect to support each other in times of confusion and debt reduction, lost jobs, raised taxes, sky-high grocery bills and illness and heart attacks and even the death of someone’s parent or relative. It’s what they mean when a neighbourhood becomes a small village.

We become each other’s indirect relative.

A communal leaning post.

Friends. Allies. Fellow compatriots in a world where we embrace differences and stand up for the underdog. Where we denounce bullies, raise up kindness and understanding and assist at all costs.

It’s in the DNA of every Newfoundlander to have this innate sense of community; to feel responsible for each other because, hey, don’t I know yer father? At least, that’s what I was led to believe.

Let’s see more of that. Community. Fellowship. Understanding.

AND FUN.

Hey kids! Your loudness behooves me!

The kids running around playing spotlight after dark, the fires in the backyard pits, the barbeques, the late night dog walking, the chatting…

There is no room for fear of being loud or obnoxious. The sounds of laughter and squealing from children should be a sign of a healthy happy environment fraught with joy and the unending bounds of childhood activity.

It should be lauded as the epitome of strength of home and family; not sullied as unnecessary and appalling.

As the summer progresses, let the children play in the streets and wreak havoc in the backyards. Soon enough they will be grown and gone and our yards will echo with their lost squeals of fun-fueled delight from summers past. Youth is fleeting.

Let’s not wish it away.

 What?! I can’t hear you! Whispering sucks. 

 

 

The Fall

Sometimes I feel like the worst mother in the world. I don’t seem to ever have enough to give or I just don’t seem to give a damn. It’s brutal the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that plague me. And that guilt! I think it’s a universal feeling. Mothers often question their ability to make logical decisions in the face of chaos and drama. Are we doing the right things? Are we making the right decisions? Is there enough wine in the world to get me through the next few years/decades/century?  My answer is probably not.  

Being a mom is hard.

Every time there seems to be a major catastrophe in one of my kids’ lives, I internalize it and blame myself for their struggles. If only I gave them this or if only I warned them about that or if only I was better at being a mom…it’s never ending.

Watching one of the offspring struggle with a life event is heart breaking and standing around waiting for him or her to come to his senses about it is even worse. I’m knee deep in that now and I can’t seem to get myself out; to convince myself it will all be fine in the end, it’s just a few more weeks and things will turn around. We’ll all laugh about it later.

Nobody is laughing right now.

I’m too busy stopping myself from giving in to my tendency to help; to come to the rescue; to bail him out.  

That’s not my job, but it sure feels like standing around waiting for her to grow up is taking way too long. And he sure doesn’t understand why I’m just standing here waiting and not putting out my hand to help.

I am helping. Just not her version of help.

I know what the issue is, but if I give in what would be the learning life lesson; the character building experience; the chance to grow from struggle?  

There wouldn’t be one.  

The child/adult needs this to happen. Consequences from actions. That’s how life works.

I just wish I didn’t have to be the eye witness to the fall and the struggle to climb back out.

But that’s my job.

I’m a mom, after all.

Summer Days Can Be Noisy. Bring Your Headphones. And Gas Ovens. 

The summer is spinning on and I’m trying desperately to hang on without randomly sticking my in the oven…It just occurred to me that even that wouldn’t be effective, as I have an electric oven. I guess when you see the old lady-with-her-head-in-the-oven gag, she actually owns a gas operated appliance, which obviously would do one in. An electric one would only be harmful if it was simultaneously touching water…or plugged in whilst out in the rain. But then, why would you have an oven OUTSIDE IN THE RAIN. No one would need to bake a cake outside during a monsoon. Unless you wanted to have a baked goods sale on the side of the road instead of the usual lemonade stand and having the oven outside is both convenient and a sales pitch, and people would be too excited and cause mass riots in the ‘hood since, BAKED GOODS.    Then some people would think y0u are trying to sell the oven instead of the baked goods, which would cause more discussion and chaos.

No oven outside is what I’m saying. Totally useless and makes too much noise in the ‘hood which apparently, is an issue what with all of the children home from school because ITS SUMMER HOLIDAYS AND THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SUMMER.

And no need to stick one’s head inside it, since it would also be pointless. And kinda creepy looking. Unless, cleaning. Ugh.    

What was I saying?

Right. Summer.  

It’s happening and really I just want to sit outside in the sun. It’s the best.  

Unfortunately, there are people in the universe who are not happy well-adjusted human beings who, for some unknown reason, decide that living in a neighbourhood full of children and families is a great idea until the children decide to, God forbid, laugh and play then it’s all STOP THOSE CHILDREN FROM HAVING FUN I’M TRYING TO BE QUIET HERE! And we’re all like YOU LIVE IN A NEIGHBOURHOOD WITH FAMILIES. And they’re all WELL THAT’S NOT MY FAULT. GET THOSE CHILDREN TO BE QUIET. JEOPARDY IS ON AND I CAN’T HEAR ALEX’S QUESTION! And I’m all like IT’S ACUTALLY THE ANSWER, YOU NEED TO COME UP WITH THE QUESTION GAWD DO YOU NOT WATCH JEOPARDY ON A REGULAR BASIS?! And they’re like NO BECAUSE I CAN’T FREAKIN’ HEAR IT WITH ALL THE FRIVOLITY AND FUN GOING ON!  

Hence, the oven.

Maybe I will have a baked goods sale with ovens and children and lemonade stands and garage sales and carnivals in the streets. Mags can be outside and bark at all the joyous crowds gathering then we could have firetrucks and police cars sounding their sirens and in the evening have fireworks and a bonfire and…

DID SOMEBODY SAY BLOCKPARTY??!!  

 THIS LOOKS AWESOME.  AND SCARY.  HANG ON KID! But don’t scream. That’s way too much noise.  

18th Birthday Story – Rock Star Edition 

Today is my son Kyle’s 18th birthday. A milestone in any young person’s life, I thought I would re-post this story in honour of him. AND, for purely motherly love and embarrassment, because nothing says HAPPY BIRTHDAY better than an awkward story about when you were 3years old.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KID!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is a special story about the first time my son learned to speak. It’s all very dramatic and tears at your heart strings so get out your tissues…okay, it’s actually an embarrassing tale of music and Walmart, but still. It was traumatic for one of us. Maybe two of us. The innocent lady who witnessed my child’s descent into the debauchery and the morally deficient world of rock music and was probably scarred for life and myself, who led him there.

Once upon a time, in a land called Grand Falls Winsor, lived a nice little family with a mother, a father two daughters and a young son. They all lived happily in their house playing and frolicking in the meadows. ( okay, there were technically no meadows in GFW. AND we don’t frolic as a rule. Only on very special occasions like Christmas, or when some of us are really drunk. No pointing any fingers, just sayin’. ) Anyway, the boy, who was three years old, had not begun to speak any language intelligible to any human life form. The mother, being very concerned, took said young boy to a Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist was a young woman of very good bearing and simply stated “There is nothing wrong with the boy. He will speak when he’s ready. Go home and rest your head, lady” 

So, the despairing mother took her young boy home and after a lengthy car ride listening to the young son speak something akin to the Cantonese and Ancient Tibetan Mongloid tongue , wearily escorted young child into the house. It was during this phase in the young mother’s life that she began experimenting with music. Music she adored when she was young and single and had somehow lost in the day-to-day tedium of Barney and Caillou episodes (it should be noted here that Caillou was seen as an evil child full of whininess and annoying shit that led the mother to bouts of anxiety and desperate pleas of “LET’S ALL GO OUTSIDE AND GET SOME FRESH AIR BEFORE MA HEAD EXPLODES!” ) Yeah.

One day, while playing her music very loudly, she noticed her young son sitting very attentively. The daughters, heard the rendition of Bryan Adams’ “I Wanna Be Your Underwear” and asked repeatedly to hear the ‘underwear song’. Mother was happy to appease her young daughters as she found this tune particularly humorous, obliged…often. After the young daughters had ventured off to school, the mother took young son to Walmart for a bit of shopping in the afternoon. The son, being very sleepy and ready for his nap at that time, was readily dosing in the cart and humming a tune the mother recognized as Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”…Joan rocks. The mother, knowing the son was unable to speak, allowed the son to sing the song at will, while all the Walmart staff looked on adoringly saying how cute the little boy was singing to his mother. Yeah.

As the mother approached the checkout line, she noticed a woman behind her who seemed particularly taken with the young boy. She was smiling and cooing to the child as the mother flung her intended purchases on the conveyer belt. Knowing the young boy was securely occupied, the mother paid close attention to her groceries when suddenly she heard a most familiar sound. “I WANNA BE!” being sung behind her. She went swiftly over to her son. Could it be? Was that him? Had the spell of the Cantonese speak been broken and replaced with the x-rated lyrics of an old Bryan Adams song? The lady who had been occupying and smiling at the young boy thought the boy to be speaking to her. So, she replied “What do you want to be?” The mother, knowing the son was merely repeating the words to a raunchy song, attempted to intervene by pointing to a random balloon and distracting the boy. Alas, the boy could not be sidetracked. Again, he sang out “I WANNA BE!!“. Full of fear for the next line, the mother hurriedly began to throw her groceries onto the belt all the while, the nice lady said again, “What do you want to be?” and leaned closer to hear the boy. The young boy looked innocently up at the woman, his sparkling blue eyes dancing with joy as he sang, quite in tune I must say, “YOUR UNDERWEAR”.  

The lady, aghast and shocked by what she had just heard, recoiled in horror and glared at the young mother. Washed with embarrassment, and stifling a laugh, the mother simply retorted “Oh, it’s a song his father taught him” and pushed the cart out of the store, praising the child for his speech and promising to teach him more ‘appropriate’ songs. Like more Joan Jett, whose song son repeatedly sang henceforth as “I hate myself for lubbing you….” yeah. 

The son, now thirteen and three quarters has had a varied singing career. I have been called regarding his poor song choices including the popular titles “My Humps” by the Black ‘Eyed Peas, “I like Big Butts” and the infamous “Save a Horse Ride A Cowboy” which I am totally not responsible for. That last one was definitely Hubby’s country music influence. I did teach son how to do an awesome rendition of Blue Rodeo’s Bad Timing when he was four. I wish I had recorded it. 

Brought to you today in honour of son’s 18th birthday, and to all the women and men who care for their children everyday unconditionally, allow them to sing dirty rock songs to stranger and endure endless episodes of Caillou all in the name of love. 

Speaking and not singing. So proud!