Just a Little Jealous of the Kids!

Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic” comes to mind. I have an extra verse for her… Only child status without actually being an only child.

The story of my life given that my sister came 19 years before my appearance in to this world. My only sister, my only sibling lived outside of our home, already a parent to her own child by the time I was born. I surely couldn’t compete with her own offspring for attention. As a parent myself now, I know she couldn’t just drop being a mom to be a sister to a little girl. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want her to. Oh, how I yearned for the relationship some of my friends had with their own siblings, fights and all. I wanted to have a doubled wardrobe. I wanted to sit crossed legged in the dark with her talking about boys. I wanted shared secrets, and a secret language. Well, as we all know, we can go ahead and dream our lives differently, but that doesn’t change a thing. So you grow up, you acclimate and you move on.

Fast forward to my 40’s. I am now a parent to three boys, three brothers, three different types of personalities and hence three different types of relationships. But when I look at my two youngest boys, which are closer in age, I find myself fascinated with their dynamic. You may even say borderline jealous. No, no, not in a dysfunctional, weird mom kind of way. And no, I don’t have “sibling issues”. What I do have is a keen eye for the little meaningful things, the details, and that’s due to my endearing flaw of observing everything and everyone. That includes primarily my kids.

My two youngest, 8 and 5, will love each other to annoyance. I am constantly yelling at them to shut it, to be nice, to give it back, to stop the name calling, to stop tattling, to stop blaming, and to not hit each other. Sounds dreadful? Not really, since more than that are the moments I catch them chatting about “kid” topics, having shared interests, playing Nerf tag or air hockey. The eight year old helping the 5-year-old get through a video game level. The 5-year-old reminding me he needs to give his brothers a goodnight kiss before going to bed. I watch the two of them laying together in bed laughing about nonsense. They build forts together. They even share the same neighborhood best friend, for now at least.

 

I pride myself in having instilled in them the importance for closeness, the need to be there for each other, to share themselves, to defend each other against the world and to be “brothers” in both flesh and spirit. So yes, when I encapsulate the beauty of these two boys, I am an itty-bitty, teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy jealous. Deep down wishing I had this same type of relationship with my own sis. Imagining what it would have been like had we been close in age, growing up together, experiencing things within the same household, driving our poor mother crazy. I would guess it would be somewhat similar (female version of course).

Hey, if you’re a parent and you take stock of your kids beautiful life and have gotten just a little green, don’t be so hard on yourself, albeit of course lovingly, functionally and sanely. I certainly don’t feel bad about it. We are giving them more than what we had. We are providing them with opportunities we may not have had ourselves. We are teaching and guiding in a way more suitable to them. And isn’t that what every parent wants for their kids? More opportunities, more love, more laughter, more fun, more adventure and more growth? Absolutely!!!

I’ll leave you to the rest of your day, since now I’ve got to go investigate what that sound of breaking glass was. I’m sure those boys will blame each other. Ah!, brotherly love.

— The Pretty Platform

Fear Life… Not GOD

When we’re kids, the norm is to be taught by our parents with regards to what’s right and wrong. Along with that, teachers seem to also have a hand in how our psyche evolves toward these two elements given how much time we spend under their influence. I’m no doctor, but I was definitely a kid, and as kids, we are vulnerable and modifiable to the standards by which we are raised.

Right or wrong. Yes or no. Stop or go. If you’re a kid, you hear these CONSTANTLY. As an adult, you hand these out like hotcakes to your own kids.

And with these standards come the dreaded consequences. A smack to the hand, a timeout, no gadget time, parental disappointment. Temporary stings that adults hope will be enough to teach these little people cause and effect.

What happens though when you’re all grown up?

In most cases knowing the difference between right and wrong can be simple. It can be logical, so as long as the adult, for argument sake is of sane mind and emotion. As for the scenarios where the line between the two get a little fuzzy, for the most part, it’s an ethical stand that begins to trump logic. But the logical aspect of even those blurred moments still hold the foundation of the argument in question. “Sure, it’s still wrong to (kill, cheat, steal)… although (A, B or C, fill in the blank with self-defense, true love, poverty)“.

And what is our punishment as adults for these infractions? Again, logic comes in to play here. If the offense is one against a set governmental law then we get court time to be then handed our sentence accordingly. Not difficult folks. Depending what that judge and jury dishes out, the “sting” can be either temporary or fatal.

Cause and effect.

Now take the two; childhood and adulthood and add the FEAR OF GOD to the equation. What happens then? Does it change anything? Does it change people? Without thinking it through, you may instantly say that it does, but I can tell you with all certainty that it does NOT change a thing. Don’t be too quick to get offended. My statement is not one of blasphemous or critical nature. That’s just reality.

Growing up, as many other kids, I was initially taught about a heaven and hell. An eternal hell-fire that waits for anyone, man or child if disobedient to god. A place of torture as the ramifications of going against his written rules. Other religions do not teach about this place of torture, but it does provide eternal death as the consequence. Long term punishment. From a higher being. Your creator gives you life and he can easily take it away or make you pay forever.

Cause and effect.

What I have noticed is that the knowledge of someone more powerful than yourself does NOT deter someone from taking a certain path. Knowing the possible consequence of a Hell or eternal death is not enough. Even those that are “god fearing” do not take this as their foundation of determination. I was raised in two different religious organizations, and although they are filled with some very spiritually righteous people, they are also filled with the spiritual inversion of that. Sure, you find that everywhere in the world, but my point though is that being closer to god, or neck-deep in religious activities, or truly believing in a god does not change your desire to act differently. People don’t truly fear god. If they did, they wouldn’t  “serve” god and sleep with someone before being married. If they truly feared god, they wouldn’t smoke. If they truly feared god, they wouldn’t gamble, or swear, or get inebriated or secretly celebrate events that are against their organization. They wouldn’t consult psychics, masturbate or watch porn. They wouldn’t allow women to teach (I understand your reaction to this last one, but hey, it’s actually in the bible). They wouldn’t try to justify their actions with their “imperfect” ideas. They wouldn’t minimize their god’s standards with human reasoning. They just don’t fear god.

What have I seen though? That many of these very same people (myself included) do actually fear, but it’s life and the consequence their actions have in ‘learned’ effects that they (we) fear. Smoking can equal cancer and other ugly and painful health issues. Constant inebriation can lead to alcoholism, blackouts, cheating. Sleeping around can lead to diminished dignity, disease, unplanned pregnancy. Cheating will most likely lead to a broken family, lost trust, and in many cases violence (a partner scorned is a dangerous thing). Drugs can lead to brain, heart and organ damage along with crime, violence and even death. The smaller stuff like swearing like a truck driver is usually perceived as unprofessional (although I occasionally curse too).

As a kid, I watched my nephew, who I adored make some very bad decisions in life. And with those decisions came a life that I definitely did NOT want anything to do with. So with each of his actions, I did the complete opposite. We used to joke around how he paved the path for me and my “better” life. He used to claim all the credit as to why I avoided the “expected” life of a young Hispanic girl being raised by a single mom in the hood. We joked about it… but it was entirely true. His life became unnecessarily difficult, lonely and dangerous. I FEARED his life although I was taught to fear god.

More kids today need to be exposed to this unwanted life, to the reality of a decisions outcome within their lifetime. Kids and teens alike need to understand, up front, in their face what can happen to people when they make the wrong decisions. Not through a TV screened commercial. Not through a FB article on their phone. Not through a YouTube video. And certainly not through a supposed “on paper” teaching of a torturous flamed destination.

Will this help with everyone? No, but it will up your chances as a parent to avoid heartache if your child feared real consequences. If they truly learn and grasp other people’s suffered consequences. If they see where they can land in life, and talk to the people best suited to tell them the truth. As a parent you can find the best way to do this for your child, but take it from this chick…. without that type of exposure, I’m not sure how much I would have truly feared.

And for THAT, although saddened for my nephew (who has passed away), I am still grateful for having SEEN his truth.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

I Don’t Want to Play with the Kids Today.

I’m not your typical mom. At least I don’t think I am.

Although I love reading about other bloggers discuss the issues and nuances we all share as moms, I personally don’t feel compelled to always write about my kids. It bores me… or maybe I think it bores other people… or maybe it’s a little of both. I also feel I’m being redundant to whatever you may have read somewhere else. I don’t think my experiences as a mother differ all that much from my sisterhood of mothers worldwide. Maybe with a different twist at some point, but we can all relate to poop conversations, a messy home, tantrums, clothing dilemmas, homework battles, opposite sex drama, to mention only a few. Plus some of the mommy/daddy bloggers I follow have such a wonderful ability to write about poop and keep me wanting more. How can I possibly compete with that?

But, every so often I come across a situation that makes me feel like I need to vent and well, since this is MY platform to do just that, here I am.

As I stated in the beginning, I’m not your typical mom. At least I don’t think I am. I love my children, and don’t get angry at what I’m about to say, but they are not my world. They just play a part in it. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

Let me explain as I take you back a few years. Well, many years considering that I’m no spring chicken anymore. I was about 9 years old. Raised by a single mother. She made many mistakes, but was still overall a very loving and nurturing parent. She was doing the best she could. I’m not going to get into all that she did or didn’t do. I want to focus on one aspect that can help you understand where I’m coming from before you start to feel sorry for my kids. To keep this story as short as my chatty self can make possible, my mother caught the eye of a very nice gentleman. They had a lot in common and shared the same standards in life. In essence, he would’ve been awesome for her. One day, my mother asked me, a 9-year-old child, if I would like her to ever get married one day. Without understanding fully the future repercussions of what I was about to say, and without knowing the progression of their relationship, I told her what most kids being raised by a single parent would say. I wanted it to be ONLY her and myself together forever.  Yes, at 9 years old, kids still believe they will be living with their parents forever under the best relationship scenario they know. Her response? “Okay. I will never get married for you.” Gave me a hug and we went about our day as usual. And my mother based her entire future on that one statement. She allowed me to become her world.

Do you know what that does to a child growing up? I never forgot that moment. As I got older I started to develop feelings for the opposite sex and BINGO…. that one statement started to haunt me. The understanding of what I did to her came full circle. I didn’t want to be my mother’s world anymore. I wanted her to have a life outside of me. The guilt became burdensome. I felt obligated toward her. She missed out on a beautiful relationship because I was her beautiful relationship. I became whatever my mother wanted me to become. Sure, that may sound like the ultimate recipe for a good kid. And yes, I was a “good” kid. But I felt trapped. Lovingly trapped, but still trapped nonetheless. And she was trapped as well. We had a very dependent relationship to the day she passed.

Fast forward to today. I have seen many parents other than my own mother live their lives mainly for their children. Everything they do is centered around their children. Their hobbies become their children. Their conversations are only about their kids. Their vacations are always with Junior in mind. Where they go out to eat, or what movies they watch, even what clothes they wear. They forget what it’s like to be an individual and their identity becomes Mom or Dad. I’ve seen couples transition out of Honey and Sweetheart and even start calling each other Mom and Dad.

I have seen empty-nesters fall in to deep depression because they no longer know what to do when they get home and the kids aren’t there. I have seen couples have nothing to talk about because they no longer KNOW each other without the kids around to be their buffer. I had one mother once tell me after her daughter grew up and left home, “I don’t know who I am anymore. I was a mother. What am I now?” My heart aches for her. I told her she now had the opportunity to get to know herself again. What an adventure that would be. Unfortunately nothing worked.

I adore my children. I love helping them. I enjoy watching them grow up. I’m happy to provide them with new experiences. I take pictures and videos of every moment (Heck, I have to buy another back up drive since I don’t trust only “The Cloud” to hold all my memories). I celebrate anything and everything with them (nothing is too trivial to buy cupcakes for). But….and this is a huge but (no jokes please)….I look forward to one day coming home and not worry about homework, or meal preparation for the tykes, or washing clothes for 3 growing boys, or school events, or the dozen of classmate birthdays or having to watch another episode of the Thunderman’s. I look forward to not doing any of this anymore because I make sure to fit in myself through all of this. I look forward to spending time with myself and my husband more. I love to write and want to do more of it. I want to read more and join a book club. Painting is one of my most loved hobbies and I want more time for it. I love comedy clubs. I love eating out, a lot. I love bookstore visits. I love listening to the ocean and watching the waves. I love sipping wine and eating cheese. I want to go visit Jazz clubs more often. I want to go to museums more and contemplate art in silence. I want to volunteer more. I want to go to weekly yoga classes. I need to do more cardio. I have an entire bucket list of things I need to complete.

I look forward to an empty nest on a daily basis. Sure, I’ll invite the kids to come and visit on weekends and holidays. And after quite some time, the grand-kids will come and I’ll do the Abuela thing and I’ll do a kick-ass job at it. But I’m proud to say that my kids can be independent from me and feel like its okay that Mom and Dad are on their own now and that we too will survive. That their Mom and Dad will do more than just survive, that we will live life to the fullest. I’m happy to know that I didn’t create a burden on them for my personal happiness and self-worth. And I’m relieved to be aware that I’m doing ME now so I don’t forget later who I was to begin with.

Disclaimer: This is not criticizing other parenting methods, just what works for me and based on my past experience with my own mother. I love you Mom!

— The Pretty Platform