Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Husband is Annoyingly Good at Everything

Have you ever met a person who is good at everything? Well I have…and I married him. I may be biased, but my husband consistently demonstrates his creative genius. Over the years, he has morphed into a cake decorator, a jewelry designer, wood carver and a landscape artist. He also excels in the music arena, being a drummer, keyboard player and a guitarist. Did I mention that he also draws really well?

I once asked him what gives him the courage to pursue a new artistic mission. He responded with a general piece of advice given to him as a young man: “If someone can do something, so can I, even if I’m not the best at it.”

Telling him how annoying he was, after perfectly conquering each of his innovative endeavors, quickly became a joke between us. He would modestly laugh it off, telling me that the miraculous creation before my eyes wasn’t that good. His lack of confidence betrays his abilities every time, which keeps him blissfully humble. But I know better. He is fantastic at whatever he attempts. So, of course, there have been a few instances where I’ve felt like an inferior bystander, watching his virtuosity unfold before my eyes. 

It’s not that I am completely talentless. I have my own strengths as well. However, what I touch does not always turn to gold like it does for my King Midas. After years of being in awe of him, I gave myself a pat on the back, realizing that it takes someone of strong character to constantly be around someone like him. It takes someone with confidence, someone who will not feel threatened by his success, someone with patience and understanding of how an inventive mind works. It takes someone who will encourage him to continue to pursue this creative outlet, because that is where his ultimate happiness and true self lies.

Most days, I am that woman for him. But here’s my confession: Occasionally, I’m not. Sometimes, I watch him master yet another task and try to ignore the pang of envy. Every now and then, I find myself wishing that talent was a learned behavior, and that I could be his student.

Simply stated, some people are more gifted than others. I know that his “if someone can do it, so can I” mantra clearly doesn’t apply to me. His talent is leagues above what I could ever hope to achieve. Most days, I am fine with this. But once in a while, it totally sucks to realize that my tiny creative spark will surely be masked by his roaring eternal flame. Am I looking for sympathy? Hell no! I’m merely pointing out that living with someone who has a gazillion times more talent than I do can be a challenge. But with challenge, comes reward.

Ultimately, I get to sail through life with a man who constantly dares himself to be better. Regardless of my talent (or lack thereof), his outlook on life, his desire to set new goals, and his love of the unknown rubs off on me in an incredibly positive way. Although there may be a few days per year where I feel as though I am not worthy, the good news is that I spend the majority of the year being his cheerleader, lifting him up, and giving him the boost he needs to begin his next project. These are the days I focus on. These are the days that I remember the pleasure of watching his passions turn into successful realities. Though I cannot contribute anything other than my support, I am happy to watch him continually succeed at whatever makes him smile most. 

As I write this, my husband is currently busy cooking up his next adventure, and it thrills me to know that he chose me to be alongside him for the ride.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Guiding Your Bully To A Better Place

Apparently, bullying starts younger than I remember.

A few years ago, due to an issue with her foot, my daughter wore a boot.  As she slowly limped down the hallway with a friend, the class bully decided to push her…for no reason at all.  It wasn’t done in a flirty, “let-me-pull-your-hair-because-I-like-you” way.  It was malicious.  I’m not sure if this is a blessing or a curse, but my daughter has inherited my mouth. So she gave that boy a piece of her mind and the ordeal was over.  That is, until she told me about it.

I was really proud that she stood up for herself, and her reaction taught me that she would always be okay.  However, upon further discussion, she informed me that this kid regularly picked on girls in her class. I don’t know what goes on in a household that would allow an elementary school boy to think that pushing, hitting or kicking a girl is okay, but that’s a topic for another day. With that said, even though my daughter handled the issue, I felt the need to say something on behalf of other moms who might be dealing with this as well. So, I contacted her teacher and this boy’s mother via email to alert them to the fact that he had deliberately hurt my daughter, who, as a reminder, already had a bum foot. 

In his mother’s response to my email, she said she would address it.  But just for good measure, she added a petty comment alluding to something my daughter said to her son (which was “shut up”, for inquiring minds).  Note to self: work with my daughter on better word choices and maybe some applicable hand gestures.  Adding this quip to the end of her email voided her entire reply.  By turning his behavior around on my daughter, she indirectly told me that his conduct may have been justifiable.  In my mind, no matter how many times my daughter told her son to shut up, there is no acceptable reason for physical violence, specifically between a boy and a girl. My concern was that this could happen to someone else’s kid.  And it has.  His most recent display of aggression happened a few weeks ago with a swift kick to a girl’s ankle, which landed her in the nurse’s office.

Since this boy’s behavior hasn’t changed, I have made my daughter aware that a boy should never harm a girl.  It’s a shame that this boy hasn’t received the memo.  With my daughter being only ten years old, I don’t even want to have the puberty conversation with her, much less talk to her about physically violent boys, who will eventually turn into assholes as men. But here we are, discussing it.
I’m not really sure why action wasn’t taken the first time this kid displayed signs of aggression.  The boy’s PTA mother is well known at school, so maybe some low level politics had been involved.  Regardless, this situation in its entirety baffles me because if my child displayed multiple behavioral issues, I wouldn’t be up the school’s ass, trying to make myself look important.  I would be up my child’s ass, trying to figure out where I went wrong.  But that’s just me.

Right now, this boy is on the path to popularity- the cool chicks like him, and the boys want to be his friend.  But he is also on the path to self-importance.  He will soon come to realize that he has the ability to make people do whatever he says.  He will laugh at the expense of others, and the minions in his group will laugh and follow in his footsteps in the name of being “cool”. 

I am not a fortune teller, but I know that if his parents stop enabling his behavior and involve themselves now, he might have a better shot at being a decent human being.

And that’s my point.

We are highly expendable in every job we will ever hold except for one.  Being a parent is an irreplaceable role, and it is imperative that we remember that. If your kid needs more from you, be there. If he is acting out, pay more attention and intervene when necessary.  If another parent informs you that your kid has done something wrong, be willing to accept that your kid isn’t perfect.  Address issues with your children in a real way, rather than with a simple ten minute “your-behavior-was-not-nice” lecture. Make a commitment to your child, even if that means losing your coveted role as a PTA member.

One of the scariest things about parenting is that we don’t always get it right.  But while our children are still young and impressionable, addressing issues when we see them is essential to their development.  Whether you are a parent of a bully, or of a child who is being bullied, remember that inaction is also an action.  So speak up, pay attention and be present.  Your children, and the society that has to deal with them, will appreciate it in the long run.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"P" is For Pity Party

I recently threw myself a pity party. Some of the characters from Inside Out were there-Sadness, Disgust, Anger. It was a grand ole time until Joy tried to show up. But it was three against one, so she was ousted pretty quickly.

The cause for celebration began when I overheard my ten year old daughter telling her dad (aka the “fun parent”) that she had a boring day with me. Even though I know that it’s not realistic to think that I can be around 24/7 to sculpt her day with joy and laughter, her comment made me feel like I suck as a parent.  My inner dialogue whined, “But I want to be the fun one!”  And even though we’ve had some really enjoyable summer days, her comment stuck with me, and this pity party snowballed into all of the things I suck at. 

Here’s the thing about me-I don’t do the “feeling sorry for myself” dance…ever. So, this party was unexpected and unwelcome. With panic in my voice and horrid thoughts of becoming one of those people who holds onto the past with a steel grip, I asked my husband, “How do people live like this without getting ulcers?” He simply answered, “They do get ulcers.”  Not exactly comforting dear, but message received.

One of my favorite things about myself is my ability to move on quickly. I have known people who have spent months or even years feeling sorry for themselves, making themselves out to be the victim of every undesirable situation. These people had always been a source of negativity and none of them remained in my life for very long. I never understood their need to hang on to something that wasn’t making them feel good. But now that I was in this strange new predicament, I got a taste of what this kind of life could be like. And (surprise!), I still fucking hated it.

During the entire party, I was completely aware of what an ass I was being. I tried to remind myself that, every day, people in this world are hungry, sick, dying, or poor. And here I was-none of those things, feeling sorry for myself.

My best friend had to listen to my assholery on extremely long phone calls (sorry Lisa). And no matter what she said, I couldn’t kick the feelings I was having. My intense fear of morphing into one of those people I hated was becoming real. You might think I’m exaggerating, but imagine living your life for 39 years and never once feeling sorry for yourself. And then, one day-BAM! Here it is…crappy feelings wrapped up and delivered to your psyche in one fell swoop.

In my experience, the only people who get invited to pity parties are those who, on some level, enjoy wallowing in their own misfortune. Maybe I was briefly one of those people, but I realized that it’s not who I am at my core. The party eventually started to wind down when I started remembering who I was.

I am a happy and fortunate person. I have extremely wonderful people in my life, a great career and some pretty interesting hobbies. And most importantly, I am a good mother to my children, even if I don’t get to be the highly coveted “fun parent”. 

So yes, I can now say that I have been to the worst party that has ever been thrown. I wore the large P for pity party on my chest and the experience only left me with something I already knew. And that is this-I have never really been great at hosting parties, but when I do, Joy is usually the only person who is invited.

*This piece was published on BLUNTmoms on September 10, 2015.