life, motherhood

Parenting adults: is it the high road or the low road?

Answer: it’s both and it can be beautiful and bumpy, so buckle up!roughroad1

If you had asked me a few years back whether I thought parenting would be harder when our girls were young adults, I would have chuckled and said no. Then I might have wondered why you were asking…

One of my biggest parenting challenges has been to sit back and watch as our daughters navigate the harder life lessons that come along with #adulting. I labored through those years under the notion, that once they reached adulthood, all the lessons I taught would have a trickle down effect. I know that does actually happen. It’s just not happening all at once.

Like every other parenting stage, much of it has been really rewarding, but truthfully, there are times when it feels like I’m herding cats.

Where is the owner’s manual, or at the very least, that big red “easy” button, when you need it?

My job is to teach. To protect them while also allowing (age appropriate and non-life threatening) mistakes. There is no definitive rule on how to do this. It’s not always as simple as it sounds.

Maybe dodgeball is a better comparison? Remember that movie with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller? “Just remember the five D’s of dodgeball: Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and…dodge.” Parenting adult children is like a dodgeball game. Except you don’t always feel like you’re dodging. The lines are blurred. It’s harder to get out of the way, and just like in the movie, you often take one to the gut, the head, or both.

It starts when our children are small and we are new to the parenting game. Our first inclination is to “fix” whatever is wrong. They cry; we pick them up. We kiss all the boo-boo’s big and small; even the ones we know we don’t need to. Maybe we want to give them all the things we didn’t have as a child, or we feel some guilt when we go to work and try to compensate for that. Maybe they sleep in our bed when we really don’t want them to, or we’re tired, so we let it slide when they misbehave.

I don’t believe you can ever love your babies too much, it’s simply not possible, but as they get older, we have to learn to separate the boo-boo’s. Hovering like a helicopter to keep them from experiencing pain, or spoiling them just because you can, doesn’t benefit you, your people, or anyone who has to be around them for an extended period of time.

Fred is running by the pool after you have asked him not to. SallyJane is out of bed for the umpteenth time, for no apparent reason, and now wants to sleep in your bed. Every child and every household is different. How do you manage it?

Me? I was a young mom “with everything to prove”. There were many things I was steadfast on. Sleeping in our bed wasn’t a regular thing at our house. I use this example because I have been asked this question dozens of times over the years. They could sleep with us if they were sick. They could fall asleep with us when they needed the extra cuddles. That was it. I always felt our kids needed positive separation from us and that quiet time with my husband was very valuable to me. We all know that having one child in your bed is like having a whole herd of them in there! Who could possibly be well rested after dangling precariously from exactly 1.64 inches of a mattress all night? While they might only be three feet tall, those little stinkers spread out, into all four corners of the bed, like a giant octopus. Their head is angelically placed on the pillow, but their knees and feet are somehow wedged in your sternum and kicking the small of your back simultaneously!

Uhhhh, no thanks.

“Please don’t run by the pool Fred. It’s not safe. You could slip and fall.” Suddenly, there is howling and skinned body parts. I clean up the knee, or elbow, or chin (or all three!) and Fred is poolside, marinating in sunscreen and consequences.

That said, I certainly doled out more than my share of kisses for those questionable boo-boo’s. The key? Find the balance between their currency and your own and choose wisely.

You’re not always going to get it right. Sometimes we’re just too overwhelmed, or too damn tired to dodge the ball! I’ve said before that parenting is about using the tools you have to put your best foot forward 99% of the time. If you missed that post, you can read it here. The remaining 1% is reserved for the days when that last nerve is on the brink of nuclear detonation. It’s OK, we all have them.

mary_poppinsAs hard as it is to separate, I am learning that I cannot allow parental guilt to be a factor, at any stage. We are allowed to make, and then reconcile, mistakes! It’s expected really. Life can wear out even the most persistent “Mary Poppins”, and I guarantee that the spoonful of sugar she sings about won’t save you!

Besides, Mary was never a parent, remember? She just flew in, solved the household problems of the moment, and then drifted away on the breeze.

Whatevs Mary.

I can tell you the scenarios only become more challenging as kids get older, but I have discovered the basic principles are the same.

So how do you know when to dodge? The truth? Sometimes you don’t; sometimes the answer is really easy, whether you want to see it or not; and sometimes the answer is to draw a line in the sand and not step over it.

f2fbc252bd8ca74e10e043ac02134355Staying connected: Adult children are often focused on themselves. Do your best to keep your lines of communication open. You want to know everything that is going on in their lives, but you don’t want to know everything. Parental guidance should begin to take a back seat to the opinions they are forming on their own, but they continue to need the emotional and moral compass provided by parents.

Finding the balance: This has been one of the most difficult for me, but stepping back is vital to their success as adults. Sometimes they take the scenic route. You won’t always agree with their choices, which may be vastly different from yours. Express your feelings without guilt. Let your child know that, even when you don’t agree, you accept that their opinions and choices might differ from your own.

8a6f11e53fe5eb41cc197a374f64465bTrusting your choices: Remember that the word NO is a complete sentence. Successful parenting includes setting standards for behavior while fostering love and mutual respect. Taking a hands-off approach, in order to avoid conflict, will leave children without clarity regarding what is expected of them. This can breed a “victim” mentality and a child who cannot see fault in their actions. That behavior isn’t beneficial to anyone.

Setting expectations: Young adults need to learn to take responsibility for themselves. Allow them make their own decisions and live with the consequences. This is often easier said than done.

Setting limits: It’s easy for parental guilt to jump in the driver’s seat. No matter what mistakes have been made in the past, if you have done your best to reconcile those mistakes, move forward. You are not a doormat. Boundaries should move to the forefront. No more blurred lines. Be clear and fair. Don’t be arbitrary in setting limits. Explain your reasons. They may not understand all of it right away and that’s OK. In the long run, the relationship between you and your child will benefit.

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I feel like I have taken more shots to the gut in the last two months than ever before, but I am determined to turn good people out into the world. What is most important to me is that our daughters continue to develop into strong and independent women. Women who among other things; love themselves and their families, work hard, surround themselves with a circle of wonderful people, and understand the importance of paying it forward and giving back to their community.

I’m still learning. Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge.

-Kim

 

life

The difference between a father and a dad…

They say you either gravitate in the direction of a partner who is very much like your father, or you choose someone who is the complete opposite.

I grew up with a semi-absent father and when I was young, I had no idea what kind of impact that would have on my life choices.

When I was old enough to understand, I didn’t walk, I ran, as fast as I could, in the opposite direction.

Looking back, I know now, that my father did the best he could with a very limited set of tools. I have made peace with the past and I wish him peace as well.

When I first met my husband, we were teenagers. There was something about him. He was intelligent, funny, devastatingly handsome, outgoing and just a little shy (it was his friend, not him, who came back to ask for my phone number).

His smile still gives me butterflies and I’m not exaggerating!

We were young when our first daughter arrived. When you have children with someone, you hope they will be a good father. I didn’t have to hope. I already knew. It was something deep within my soul. I can’t explain it.

He took on fatherhood with every ounce of himself. TT was his little sidekick. In the beginning, we worked opposite schedules so that we could be home with her. I started work at 6AM and he worked a swing shift. We were like ships in the night, but agreed we wanted to do what was best for our baby girl. When Fred came along to complete our family, his love spilled over in buckets.

My husband is a dad.

He loves and lives for our family. He is brilliant and funny and ambitious and stubborn and supportive and tender. I can close my eyes and vividly picture our future. I can tell you exactly what he looks like when we are in our 90’s. His work ethic is inspiring. He ducks life’s monkey wrenches like a ninja; he can figure it out, fix it, make it happen, and presses forward through everything. He is the voice of reason when PMS takes over our house. He hugs and protects like a bear, but you can still breathe. He is witty and his laughter is contagious. He is generous with his time. He hates the limelight and will brush it off as though he’s no big deal, but trust me when I say, HE IS EVERY BIT A BIG DEAL! I am regularly in awe of him. #soluckytohaveyou

So to my husband, with all my heart: Thank you for being the best dad to our girls, my best friend, everything I knew I needed in my life, and so many things I only hoped for.

I love you. Happy Father’s Day!

-Kim

 

 

 

 

dessert

Dessert: Raw Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Friday!

Earlier this week, I was looking through a recipe book my mom created for my sister and I when we set out on our own. The book is full of all the dishes she used to make for us when we were growing up. I love it and it has been my go-to for years. Even after our dog, a Boston Terrier named Yogi, chewed it up and the book finally had to be re-printed. Seriously, that dog drove me bananas! (Sigh)

One of the recipes in particular holds special memories for me. When I was little, my mom would make Raw Apple Cake for my birthday. Interestingly enough, I’m not actually sure why it’s referred to as “raw apple”. The apples are obviously cooked when the cake is baked? Anyway…

I have only made this cake a handful of times as an adult. Sadly, my family doesn’t particularly care for walnuts and I really don’t think it’s wise to have a 9″x13″ cake, just hanging around, for me to snack on, all by myself!

I love using #Gravenstein apples for this cake when they’re in season (late summer here in Northern California).

Raw Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

APPLE CAKE:

  • 4 cups Granny Smith or Gravenstein apples (unpeeled and diced or VERY thinly sliced)rawapplecake
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I reduce the walnuts to 3/4 cup)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of butter (softened but NOT melted)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 cups of powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1/8 tsp (or less – it’s really just a dash) kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add apples and stir until well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to apple mixture 1/3 at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in walnuts.
  4. Pour into ungreased 9 x 13 pan and bake 55-60 minutes.
  5. While cake is baking, mix up frosting. Cover and set aside in refrigerator.

Notes: Be sure to allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. You can also use two 8″ cake pans, or make 18 cupcakes. Adjust baking time accordingly. I like to use the directions on the back of a boxed cake mix to help adjust baking times. Two batches of frosting may be needed depending on how thick you prefer the layer(s) to be.

Frosted cake should be stored in refrigerator.

Enjoy!

-Kim

 

life

I work hard, but I’m not ambitious

Happy Friday! Whew. It’s been a whirlwind since finals.

I spent last week in Texas, with our youngest daughter, to surprise her best friend for graduation and then celebrated my birthday yesterday.

I’m 44.

My husband asked me if I woke up feeling any different. Nope. I looked in the mirror; no new wrinkles or age spots, so that was a relief. Still, it’s funny how some birthdays sneak up on you.

It’s not a monumental number or anything. It’s just 44, but it comes with the acknowledgement that 50 really is just around the bend, and frankly, I have a lot of things on my personal “before I’m 50” to-do list!

I have been tossing around what the future looks like for awhile now. Dangling ideas in front of myself and allowing each one to hang in the air for a bit. I kept wondering why it’s so difficult for me to pinpoint. I’m the donkey with the carrot on the stick, but the carrot isn’t working its magic. Mostly because I’m stubborn and (beyond carrot cake) I’m not a huge fan of carrots.

Then, while visiting Texas last week, my friend Kim made a comment about working hard vs. being ambitious. Our husbands are both very ambitious people. Their brains are always working on the next great idea.

On our flight home, I realized it was how I had been trying to explain who I am for years.

I work hard, but I’m not ambitious. Does that make sense?

Ambition is one of the qualities I admire most in my husband. I also think one of the reasons our relationship thrives stems from the balance we bring each other. It’s not that I don’t have hopes and dreams. I definitely do! There are many things I want to accomplish and experience during the remainder of my (our) life, but I don’t aspire to be Bill Gates or Oprah.

Maybe that’s why I have only ever been able to clearly picture myself as a mom and not the CEO of a major corporation. I work hard, but I’m not ambitious.

Maybe that’s why I can’t always understand my husband’s point of view when it comes to taking time off, or saving instead of splurging. (He’s really good at saving. In fact, he’s too good sometimes.) I work hard, but I’m not ambitious.

I think it’s ok to be someone who is willing to work hard, but doesn’t necessarily feel the pull to work 80 hours a week and climb the corporate ladder. There are plenty of people who want the corner office with a view. It’s just not me. I’m “too old” for that now.

I want to be successful in my own right, doing something that allows my husband to take some well deserved time off. I want a career that brings me joy 90% of the time. I want to help reach our life goals, while still having some flexibility to enjoy time with my husband, daughters, and eventually, our grandbabies.

I want to find the balance. Is that too much to ask?

Around this time last year, I set out to reach some goals. My theme was “You can do this”. I am well on my way, so I decided that this year the theme will reflect how I feel in this moment.

whynot“Well why the hell not” seemed the most appropriate.

I plan to figure out my career path and take some of the financial pressure off my other half. I want do more things that scare me. I want to travel to places I haven’t seen. I want to continue learning. I plan to spend more quiet time and go on more adventures with my husband.

I want to make balance a priority.

And I WILL have it all.

Here’s to 44!

 

-Kim

life

I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten…

I feel like I have writer’s block this week. I don’t know why. I took the last of my finals last week, and Monday was my last class for the semester. I should be buzzing around my house, gleefully singing pop tunes at the top of my lungs!

But I’m not.

I tried to put my finger on what was nagging me for a few days. I had a list of possibilities. Nothing fit until just now! I sat down to write this post about feeling uninspired, but I actually believe I am having some kind of weird homework withdrawal. I laughed out loud just thinking it. Is that even a thing?

I think it is.

GASP! Uhhh, what? Surely, you can’t be serious…iamserious

I guess what I mean is, for the last five months, my life has been structured around the classes I was taking. I got used to checking the website for my assignments each Monday and blocking out time during the week for homework.

Now, I suddenly have all this “free” time. It’s not actually free, it’s easily filled up with life – errands and laundry and the scrubbing of bathrooms, but for the moment it sure feels like it’s free.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I am ready for a break. By the end of the semester I was exhausted. I nixed summer school, but it still feels a little strange to not have any homework. You know that feeling you get when you’re sure you forgot to turn off the flat iron, the bathroom light, or the oven? Or when you can’t remember if you fed the dog? (Maybe that’s just me…) At least once a day, I feel as though I have forgotten something.

didnotseeitcoming

I really didn’t see that coming. I was so worried about getting started that I hadn’t given any thought to what would happen at the end of the semester. In fact, in the back of my head, I just assumed there would be relief. And there is, just not the type, or level that I imagined. I have already planned out my fall semester. Don’t judge me. Or do, I can own it!

If I’m being truthful, I wasn’t always a great student. My kids don’t read this, so it’s OK for me to say that. (I reserve the right to edit as needed!) When I was younger, if something really interested me, I was all over it. If not, well, let’s just say there might be one or two classes I need to retake.

We have a rule in our house that if our girls get anything lower than a ‘C’ and need to retake a class, they have to pay for it themselves. It was designed to keep them from traveling the same path I did. With the exception of one class for our oldest, it has worked out pretty well. That is part of the reason I feel so damn proud finishing with two A’s and a B. Back then, when I realized I didn’t have an interest in anthropology, I would have checked out. I make it a point to remind our girls that the general education can be tedious, but while there will be classes they dread, some of them will result in interests they didn’t realize they had. I wish someone had taken the time to tell me that.

So 595 words later, it appears that there’s no #writersblock here. I just needed to let it all out. My husband calls me his “hot nerdy wife”. Who’d have guessed!?

-Kim

 

 

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