21 June 2010

Stop Being Mean to Your Kids!!!!!!!

So I was in Kohl's last week.  Casually browsing through the men's Hawaiian shirts, trying to find the perfect shirt for Father's Day.  It was early, 10:30 am, and the store was not yet crowded, so I was alone in the menswear dept.  And then I heard it, a small child, crying/whining "But I'm tired!"  And then I heard the mom say in her meanest voice ever "THERE ARE NO CARTS WITH SEATS! YOU HAVE TO WALK!!!!!!!". 

The voices got louder, I knew they were heading my way, but still could not see this little family amongst all the racks of clothing.  The girl kept crying "Mama, I'm tired!"  The mom kept bitching "You are 3 years old!  You have legs and can WALK!"  

Finally they walked past where I was perusing my shirts.  All single file.  First the mom, mid 30's probably, looking very stern.  Then the 3 year old, just a tiny thing, all hunched over, dragging her feet, rubbing her eyes.  Crying.  Then a third person, another girl, probably 7 or 8, walking along not saying a peep, just looking sad. 

I wanted to pick up the 3 year old and give her a little squeeze and tell her "I know you are tired, I'm sorry your mom dragged you to this store".  But I just kept looking at my shirts, and cringing every time this mom yelled at her 3 year old for being tired.  I wanted to tell this mom that her time with her 3 year old will be over in a flash, and that her daughter was the most precious thing right now, not shopping, and that she should pick her up and give her a squeeze, and then maybe she'd more happily walk along.  Or if she was really tired (I know my toddlers often woke up at 5-6am!), how hard would it be to carry her along, this was a tiny 3 year old, not a big hulking one. 

But I said nothing.  I don't think if I had it would have been well received.  The older girl seemed sad, either the mom had been bitching at her kids all morning, or she just wasn't an overall nice mom.  Seems the older daughter had already learned the drill, keep your emotions hidden, don't voice your concerns.  Just follow along and tow the line.  Sad really.

I see this too often.  Parent's dragging their kids here and there, the kids are tired, the parent's are yelling at them.  Why does a child deserve to be yelled at for being tired and sharing their feelings?  This is why kids shut down and learn not to feel.  They have been raised by people who don't honor them, or their feelings or care about what they think.  This is why people eat too much and smoke and drink and do drugs and shop, etc.  They were taught to shut off their emotions as kids, to stay out of trouble or to avoid being yelled at.  If you have lost touch with your emotions, you don't know who you are or what you are feeling.  If you don't know those things, you look for outside things to make you feel better. 

I'm no shrink, but I have been there.  I was often told as a child what to feel.  If I cried I was told not to cry.  If I was slapped and cried I was told it didn't hurt.  If something happened I was told it wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be. 

No one knows what someone else is feeling and no one else has the right to tell someone else how to feel.  EVER!  

Even a 3 year old knows what they feel.  Until someone bigger and stronger tells them, over and over, that they aren't feeling what they think they are.  Then they begin to question themselves, until they no longer feel. 

Wake up parents!  

"Feelings are everywhere - be gentle."

14 June 2010

Rebel, rebellious, rebellion

There are many definitions of "rebel" on the web. The two that most fit my take on the word are:

  • break with established customs
  • maverick: someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action

Then we can move onto "rebellious":

  • resisting control or authority;
  • disaffected: discontented as toward authority
And lastly we have "rebellion":

  • refusal to accept some authority or code or convention; "each generation must have its own rebellion";
  • organized opposition to authority;

I bring up these words because I have always been a rebellious sort. Maybe I get it from my Irish side (paternal grandfather, he was in the IRA), or the bit of Scottish in me (maternal grandfather) but it seems I have rebellion in my blood. I have never been one to go with the flow or follow "normal" societal conventions.

I don't believe there is one "correct" way to do something, and I don't believe there is anything wrong with questioning "authority". I am who I am, I am who God made me to be. I may rub people the wrong way, I may seem "too big for my britches" at times. Some have called me loud, some have called me obnoxious. Some would like to "put me in my place" I am sure. But sometimes someone has to speak up and challenge conventions. I guess sometimes I think that someone is me.

Has it gotten me into trouble? Certainly. Has it changed my position, no.

I could list all the rebellious things I have done in my life, but that really isn't the point of this post. I found a quote by Steve Jobs that kind of sums it all up for me:

05 June 2010

Losing Myself

I started thinking the other day about who I am. I know all the labels people can put on me: I was a daughter (both of my parents are now dead, so I am a parent-less daughter now), a sister, an aunt, a mother, a wife etc. Those are words that describe me, but they don't define me. I don't want to be defined by labels or categories or boxes that others can put me in.

I started thinking back to my youth and what I wanted to "be". When I was growing up, kids were always striving to "be" something. It wasn't enough to just be a kid or a teen, it was all about what you were going to "be" when you grew up. I remember wanting to be a model. What girl didn't want to be a model in the early 80's, the heyday of supermodel-ism? Although I have (had) a pretty face, I knew my Irish "potato pickers" legs would never get me a cover shoot, so I moved on to wanting to be an actress. I was in some school plays, and I was pretty interested in the acting thing for while, but reality set in (and lack of encouragement from my parents) brought me back to reality. By junior year of high school I was thinking about being a photographer. (I am sensing a theme here; I think I wanted a career with excitement and adventure.) My grades weren't great, I hated school, so my parents weren't willing to help me pay for photography school. (I wanted to go to Columbia, in Chicago, I could have lived at home and commuted to cut costs, but that's a whole other story). Suffice it to say, none of those dreams ever panned out. I considered becoming a paralegal at one point, but again, no money for school, and with my grades, no scholarships were forthcoming.

So I went to work. I had been working since age 14, various jobs, fast food, a laundromat, cleaning offices, finally retail. But after I graduated high school, I needed full time employment as I wanted to get of my parents house. (Another long story for another time).

So working full time, paying for an apartment and car, finally meeting a man, moving in with him and getting pregnant, then married, then I wake up one day at 42 and realize I lost myself.

I'm not unhappy with how my life turned out, I love my husband, I love my daughters. I have been happy being a mom, and I have learned a lot about myself, what my strengths (and weaknesses) are through being a wife and mother. But now that my girls are getting a little older, and I too am getting older, I have been thinking about the rest of my life. Is it too late to re-visit those old dreams? Do I even want to do those things anymore? Who am I outside of the wife and mother role? I still wonder what I want to be when I grow up.

Some days I am content to putter around the house and just continue on with the status quo, other days I feel like I was meant for so much more, that I should be contributing to the world in a more meaningful way. I just don't know what that is yet. I wish I could sit on a mountain for a while, and maybe the gods would speak to me and point me in the right direction. (Although in reality, I'd much prefer to sit under a palm tree and stare at the ocean for a while).

I think I may be going through a mid-life crisis. Although crisis isn't really the right word. It's soul searching. Searching for meaning in my life and in this crazy world we live in. If I find it I'll let you know.

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~Anaïs Nin