Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Back at it  

I haven't written a post in about 4 months.  Sorry about that.   However, for some reason there has been an uptick in traffic to my blog. I can see it on my dashboard. Probably just a server in India perusing content for key words but hey it prompted me to sit down and write again.  Such as my writing can be called "writing". Another reason to post now is that the pressure from school has subsided slightly so I thought I could share with you some of the wisdom gleaned from the 2 classes I recently took.

Tongue in cheek.

Last Wednesday was the final exam in my Abnormal Psychology class.  I did not study for it adequately.  I got burned out.  Frankly,  I'm going to have to move to Wayne county because I have already diagnosed everybody within a 45 mile radius.   Here's the gist of Ab Psych: being human makes you crazy.  The kind of crazy that comes from being human...well, folks, it's pretty much incurable. Like in 98% of the cases.  The drugs work but only temporarily and most people comply with medication directives about 22% of the time because side effects from psychotropic drugs are often, well,  unpleasant. Who would of thought that was possible?  Apparently, things that mess with our already delicate minds make us feel even weirder.  Often people go to talk to shrinks only when they're forced to.  The people who have disorders of the mind--even some of the more serious ones--don't even recognize them as problematic.  That was the class in a nutshell for shit's sake.  Talk about depressing.

The class was basically an introduction to the DSM-V which is the diagnostic and statistical manual of psych disorders, 5th edition. A real masterpiece of gloom and doom, if you ask me.  It's the most efficient label maker I've ever seen. If you want to reduce a human being to their diagnosis, then get the DSM out.  Ugh. The teacher was a too-officious and somewhat glib 26 or 27-year-old and, not to be ageist but to be totally ageist, how in the hell is she qualified to teach a class on abnormal psychology at that age?  She don't know shit about "cray" until the girl has had herself some babies. Then we can talk about "Abnormal Psychology." Just sayin.'  Nothing makes a person loonier (and saner) than kids.  The other wonderful gifts that come from raising (or helping to raise) children include the gifts of humility, patience and empathy which seemed lacking in that lecture hall.

Her therapeutic methodology was the strictly Cognitive Behavioral model (CBT).  Not a fan of psychological orthodoxy any more than I am strict adherence to any dogma.   She must've known I felt that way from the first lecture.   When dealing with human emotions and behavior, logic and science only go so far.   Her belief is that it can take you all the way; that behavior is the whole story.  It's a big part of the story but it sure ain't the whole thing.  Science (i.e. big pharma) likes it because you can measure behavior easier than you can feelings and emotions.  If you can measure it, then you can hypothesize about it. If you can hypothesize you can run drug tests. If you can run drug tests on it and the drugs "work" to change the behaviors then you've got yourself a huge rainmaker.  Rainmakers drive more research.   Just talking, doing art therapy, singing, dancing, hugging. Well, there ain't much dough to be made there because it's more art than science--more analog less digital. Fancy human beings being less digital and more analog.   Hyper-pathologizing the normal human struggles inherent in breathing is a great way to make money.   It drives the academic machine to boot.  Everybody loses.

Obviously, with a bent like mine, she and I were not destined to be BFFs.


Anyway, I went into the final with 267.5 points out of a possible 250 at this point. I always front load points when I can.  This is because of my dirty little secret: I tend to crumble under pressure.  I'm like the honey badger in the headlights. Rather than breathe and engage my cortical brain and attempt to show up mentally, I go into Veloceraptor old brain mode or roley poley mode.  Either my eyes glaze over  and I dream of ways to eradicate the offending source of angst or I curl up in a ball and rock back and forth. Typical fear responses.  Not terribly effective. But it turns out I'm not alone. This happens to those of us who have perfectionist tendencies.  BTW, the DSM-V calls this O.C.P.D. or obsessive compulsive personality disorder.  Perfectionism is a thinly disguised response to the anxiety of not being in total control; grief and loss, as well.  It's what most people think of as OCD but it's different. It's a personality disorder not an anxiety disorder.  OCD is the guy who has to "wipe off" the El Camino he sees driving down the road.  Although this kind of disorder makes for great reality TV it very often ends sadly because the sufferers become so severely impaired.

OCPD is Mommy Dearest.  Think the scene: "No more wire hangers!"


Although I think one could've safely diagnosed Joan Crawford by throwing the DSM AT her image on the screen and then looking at which page opened when it hit the floor.   God bless her. I'm sure she did the best she could. 
The other class I took this term was online and taught by Brene Brown, PhD.  It was about general perfectionism and it was an art-based class. It was far more enlightening.  We painted with watercolors and journaled about just showing up in all of our imperfect glory.  Very Kumbaya but in a non-cheesy way. Seriously.  They're running another one after the first of the year.  Here is the link if you think you'd be interested in it:  http://www.oprah.com/own-brene-brown-course/brene-course-bundle-landing.html   It was a great adjunct to the ab psych class.  In fact, I think it was an inoculation against a total ab psych-induced freak-out.

I'm going to stop right now to say that my writing of this post last Tuesday was interrupted by a phone call from the farm where Mr. T now resides.  He had another mild case of colic.  It was cured by a dose of Banamine (which is analogous to Advil) and a giant-sized horse poop plus some extra TLC.  Wouldn't that be great if all of what ails people mentally could be cured with an Advil and trip to the Loo?  The other thing that happened that day was I woke up to a flat tire.  The same flat tire that I just had replaced.   So, yeah, pressure. The day before a final for which I had not studied adequately. Out of my control things. Things that make me stop thinking and start reacting.   It wasn't pretty but THIS TIME I got through it.   I actually took some time to breathe, reflect on what I could control,  tell people how much I appreciated their guidance, help and care and just sit in the uncomfortable space of being an imperfect human who actually needs other peoples' assistance to function.   The whole crappy incident ended up passing rather quickly.   Pardon the equine manure pun.

The cool thing about this whole series of unfortunate events is that now I can re-label myself: I am now "somebody who can operate under pressure."

Next label to deal with: Class troublemaker.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, August 31, 2013

...and Listen so Kids will Talk

The house is too quiet.  It's nearly 2pm and the kids have gone "golfing" with Jeff.  It's the final Saturday of summer and I am truly sad about that.  

You see, I have just recently finished 2 books, How to Talk to Kids so Kids Can Learn and its predecessor How to Talk to Kids So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.  These books were both written by the team of authors Faber and Mazlish some 30-odd years ago. They've been updated, re-edited, translated, dog-eared in every library across the globe and reprinted to the tune of well over 4 million copies.  Both books are quite simply: brilliant.

Why am I so sad?  Because I didn't read these at the beginning of the summer. 

As it was, we made it through a largely unstructured 8 weeks in tact and still madly in love with each other, me and my family.   That's way more than I can say about summers past.  Score one for the home team.

But the books...they are so kindhearted and humane.  The premise of the first book as laid out on page 1 of Chapter 1 is "Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings."  Feelings. Not thoughts, not plans, not futures, not skills, not brains, not brothers.  Feelings.  Hm. Sensing a theme here.   The authors state in the afterword that this book is often recommended by many psychologists for adults when they enter therapy. 

I can see why.

In all honesty, I did start to read How to Talk to Kids so Kids will Listen for the first time 4 years ago. But our pediatrician recommended Love and Logic instead.  LL is good. But these books are far better in the ways that I find important: They actually work. 

The bottom of page one and the top of page two are the following phrases originally jotted down by the author during the first parenting workshop she ever took: 

"There is a direct connection between how kids (grown-ups) feel and how they behave."

"When kids (people) feel right, they behave right."

"How do we help them (us) feel right?"

"By accepting their (our) feelings!!" 

(End citation) 

The parentheses are all mine, by the way. 

The reason that this is so hard for many of us parents is that feelings are really inconvenient and they take time to work out.  Many times kids (adults) have no idea how the hell they're feeling and they will resist any attempt by anybody to "fix" them.   Since we're all in such a damn hurry all the time and have so many outside issues to attend to this can get extremely irritating and maddening.  

No worries. The good authors address these very issues beautifully without even a hint of judgment.  They offer their expertise in the most loving environment with a fundamental belief that all involved are doing the very best they can with the tools they have.  Yes, sometimes it's just a God-awful train-wreck and you can't see how some of the vignettes they present could end any other way than the kids as convicted felons.  But those of us who live in the glassier houses, well, I for one, just really appreciate this tone of "we're-all-in-this-together."  

I wasn't going to mention it because it freaks the ever-loving crap out of me, but I'm going to say something about the Atlanta thing and Antoinette Tuff.  I'm just going to say that Antoinette knew everything above. She referred to all the kids in that school as her babies. She told the perp how much she loved him.  She asked how he was feeling. She told him how she was feeling. She did not ask what he was thinking because, as she said, he was thinking about doing a whole lot of bad stuff that morning and she knew it.   

I guess what I mean to say with this is the same thing I mean to say with every post: Feelings are really important; the feelings of children are the most important of all.  

I say this because children grow up to be adults.

I want my kids growing up to be more like Antoinette Tuff and less like Michael Brandon Hill.  

Special thanks to Antoinette Tuff, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.  By practicing the compassionate principles in these books, they have demonstrated that true empathy has fierce and godlike potency for resolving what ails us.  


The entire interview is worth the look but this is a short excerpt.  May we all go forth this school year and beyond with this same love, grace and peace.  Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What do I really need to know?

I am caught between liking technology and really just hating it.  I miss the old days when I would anticipate handwritten letters from my college boyfriend or $5 dollar bills from my Grandma. I would nearly have a heart-attack at the sight of them in a mailbox.

The world moves far too quickly for my brain.  Not your brain, just mine.  I see people who read the news, email, work stuff, craft stuff, fun stuff, sport stuff, kid stuff, fashion stuff all on their phone in the span of like 4 minutes.  They synthesize it all and it actually makes sense. They talk about it. They have smiles on their faces. They don't look as if they were hit by an information train at all.  Like I do.  All this "stuff" puts me into a catatonic state of drooly rocking.  I'm trying to synthesize and glean personal meaning from the influx of data.  But I just realized that 99% of it is meaningless to me on a personal level.  If this information does not help me:

1) clean the kitchen (over and over and over again)
2) keep the kids fed, clothed and off of each other
3) do the laundry
4) service my car
5) shop
6) pay bills or
7) vacuum
8) go graduation card shopping
9) do my banking
10) clean up the excrement of my various dependents

then sh^%, I don't have time for it.  I know that we're all supposed to be well-informed, well-read, well-groomed, well-preserved, well-intentioned, well-dressed, well-meaning, etc. but I'm just over WELLmed.  I have enough on my plate.  How am I supposed to live at a dead run and know everything all at the same time and have an informed opinion about it while being perfectly coiffed, bejeweled, manicured, pedicured and made up? Who am I like Ann B. Davis,  La Femme Nikita and Jason Bourne all rolled into Brooke Burke?

I don't have a wife!! I think I touched on this last summer. Wives are frigging awesome. Don't kid yourselves, guys. You got it good.

If I had a wife, I'd be all those well-things.  Wives make these things possible.  Ah, the patriarchy.  More on that later.

Does anybody else think that there is a limit to what we can process?  What has happened to me is that the meaningful stuff has gotten lost in the noise.   I can't tell if I need to know about Kanye West's North baby or do I need to feed my 7 year old something besides Dominos?

I can't tell if that cute handmade thing on etsy is going to make me #thecoolestmomever or make me look like a total fat-ass wannabe dork.   My authenticity quest is under attack by an onslaught of information!

What is really realz?

What do I need to know?

That's when I look up and pray, 

Lord, what do I really need to know today?

The answer:

You are beloved.  Now go forth and give it away.

Everything else is just noise.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sum, Sum Summertime

This is what happens when you don't make a lot of plans.

 The Space for a little Summer Boredom

So I didn't sign my kids up for a single day of camp this summer.  Not one. I may still but I haven't yet.  I figure I have saved gas, obviously camp fees, worry, travel time, having to pack lunches, gym bags, wet bathing suits, lost flip flops and my voice.  Last summer, camp got to feeling a lot like, well,  school.  Every day I'd drag them out of bed and haul them to soccer or swimming.  I'd be yelling, "get in the car!!" with exactly the same degree of irritated meanness that I do during the regular school months.  This makes me hate myself deeply beginning right when I walk back to the truck after dropping them off.  This self-loathing used to fuel my desire to have a glass of wine in the evening to numb my feelings of parental inadequacy.  Then I would fall asleep early and miss reading time (more parental inadequacy) and then I'd wake up early (like the middle of the night). Then I would finally actually fall asleep (like real sleep) again around 3:45 and wake up at 7:45 groggy, angry and ready for my Sisyphus boulder push all over again.  Yeah, so I stopped the wining/whining.

This year I thought who the hell is enriched by this routine?  You see,  midway through last summer (after signing everybody up for camp and actually pre-paying for the discount),  I realized that I would rush them off to camp so that I could come home and vacuum. Whaaat!!!????!! Yeah, nuts. I realized I could get their little tushes behind some hardware and get them making the neat and tidy little lines in the carpet. Hell, if they were Johnny Cash's kid brothers, they'd have been working in a mill for 3 years by now (we skip over the ending of that story, btw).

No need for guilt.

In all seriousness, the kids have so many wonderful toys from their birthdays and Christmases.  The problem is that they never would get to play with them.  During the school year, they're never home in the evening.  We had soccer on Saturday, mass on Sundays, Kumon on Monday/Thursday and martial arts (until that debacle ended in March) on Tuesday and Wednesday.  And this is Kindergarten! What insanity.  Thank goodness we freed up some time when we let go of Tae Kwon Do, or as my brother Marc used to refer to it "Take My Dough."

Anyway, camp. I know, I know. When the kids are home they're underfoot and messing things up--hell who am I kidding? They're breaking things, important things sometimes, let's be clear about that. The only thing is, when they go back to school in the fall, it will feel different for both of us (and I'll have several repair crews in at once to minimize disruption in our newly minted routine). It will be alien to have such stringent schedule after such a lax summer. But for goodness sake!  It's the summer between Kindergarten and First Grade!   We often only understand the meaning of experiences by contrasting them with other opposite experiences.  It seemed like they were running an ultra marathon with no rest stops.  They had no time to synthesize or metabolize what they were learning anywhere. Not at school or any of their "enriching" after school activities.  They, hey who am I kidding? IIIIIII needed the break.  I need to get to know them. The way they move through a day, an evening, a conflict, a boo boo.  I'm burning daylight here! Elliot is going to be 7 in August.  They ain't going to be hanging around Mom (by choice anyway) in a couple of very short years.  Perish the thought.

That space of boredom (right after they get too bored to wreck the drywall anymore) is the crucible of creativity.  I built entire cities including multistory apartments for Barbie and Ken. They had a hand dug, trash-bag-lined, in-ground swimming pool with a diving board made from a sponge and a balsa wood ladder.  Barbie had the latest fashions thanks to my old single socks and some Christmas ribbon.  These times of singularly building this stuff are some of my most vivid and happy childhood memories.  I was allowed to be bored and then allowed the space to figure out how to solve that-- without setting something aflame, of course.  Sometimes my neighbor Lisa would even help. (That is, before we started stealing cigarettes and setting them aflame. Shhh don't tell my parents).

So it's Camp Screaming-Mamasan on the shores of Lake I-don't-Care-Who-Started-It for the Summer of 2013.   We're going on week number 4 and everybody seems pretty stinking bored yet really, really happy.  They're still wild and mostly horribly ill-behaved. I'm often terribly embarrassed by my "parental inadequacy" (never by their cuteness, though).  But, as I have said before, good mothers are really hard to come by these days.  I'm still looking for one to parent my kids (and, of course, provide them with an enriching summer---or not).

I'll be taking applications through the end of this month.

Happy 4th of July everybody.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Work Hard and Be Nice (to Yourself)

Work Hard and Be Nice (to Yourself)

I was speaking to a beloved family member recently.  We were discussing self-critical talk of the out-loud variety.   I shared that growing up it was never anything that my mother or father said directly TO me that hurt as much as hearing them berate themselves.   Both of my parents are incredibly accomplished, driven and involved.  They asked a lot of themselves which was a great example for us.  So, I'm assuming that the self-critical talk was part of their motivating methodology. I think I started to copy the model they used on themselves much more than use what they were saying directly to me.  Interesting to own that out loud now that I'm a parent.

This beloved family member (I'm lucky to have no other sort) said that her girls recoil in visible pain when she does the same to herself--calls herself stupid or something along those lines--in front of them.  

I have reflected on this conversation for the past week or so.

Why is it that when we call ourselves something horrible (like fat or stupid or lazy--and don't lie to me, I've heard just about everybody say something along these lines to themselves) it has a profoundly negative effect on others?   Maybe 'why?' isn't the right question.  Maybe the right question is 'why don't you just stop that shit right now?!'  'Drop the knife,' as Hafiz says.  Stop turning it on yourself.  Because let's face it,  there is no such thing as 'he's only hurting himself.'

If you can't be nice to you for your own sake, be nice to you for the entire rest of the 7 billion people on the planet's sake.  I posted this yesterday: "Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe." -- John Muir

My Dad used to have this little wooden box with a hinge on it.  The top of it had the words "The Secret to Success" and "open" on it.  When you opened the box it just said "Hard Work!"  The photo above is something that I bought at the hardware store a couple of weeks ago.   I'm always trying to distill wisdom into phrases or sentences that I can easily repeat to myself. Of course, I never remember them because I can't imagine needing to write them down, they're so wise and all, that, like who could ever forget them?  Anyway, I found this little nugget.  It's a variation on my Dad's little success box with 2 caveats.  I like it a lot.

I'm reprinting this excerpt from Hafiz thanks to Heather Kopp at   http://soberboots.com/2013/01/30/tokillwhatyouhate/

Once a young woman asked Hafiz, “What is the sign of someone knowing God?” Hafiz remained silent for a few moments and looked deep into the young person’s eyes, then said, “Dear, they have dropped the knife. They have dropped the cruel knife most so often use upon their tender self and others.” (Ladinsky)





Sunday, June 30, 2013

There are no ordinary days. 

Mr. T. doing his thing on an Extraordinary Evening.


I bet you're wondering how in the wide blue sky am I going to tie up the loose ends of that last schizophrenic rant of a post, dueling voices in the head and all.  I'm not even going to try.  Que sera, sera.  I just hope this post provides some sense of a satisfying resolution and/or a couple of good chuckles.  That's the best I can do today.  I'm running on fumes and I've been crying most of the morning about a childhood cancer called DIPG.  Facebook. What are you gonna do?

So, the voices, yeah. These voices are the disembodied single phrases (or sometimes even soliloquies) that we either heard from others or said to ourselves that somehow got stuck in our craws, if you will.  They sat without an exit or perhaps very little competition and sort of took on momentum and volume.   I think of them as the hand sanitizer of the thought world.  They kill all potential pathogens except .01% of the strongest and most virulent strains. These freaks of nature can then reproduce and spread without the mitigating influence of their natural (and some could say) symbiotic rivals.  Some such that I have wrestled with my entire life include: "I am not good at math," "I'm a flake," "I'm not ____ enough, smart enough, interesting enough, accomplished enough, etc."  BTW, questioning one's fundamental worthiness basically ensures the list will be infinite. 

Do you have any floating around your head like free radicals just tearing the place to shreds?  Do your kids?

Really what perfectionism does is that it shuts out hard work as a strategy for improvement.  So your stuck in sucky town.  Hell,  if you're defeated going in, there ain't no point to killing yourself with a great deal of effort now is there?

I'm just starting to really, deeply and seriously question a lot of information that precludes me from having a nice life.   I'm taking to task a bunch of memes that I carry around.  Like only pretty is good. Only smart is good. Only the best deserve good.   Real crap.  Seriously.  The reason I share this private stuff so freely is that I know I'm not alone (and not just because of all the company inside my head).  I have noticed that as I do this and write about imperfection--in my imperfect and grammatically murderous way---I spark ire (unintentionally) in people who think that I am writing about, to or at them.  I assure you, I am not.  I am writing about my experience of being human, kind of OCD, a little broken, a lot lost---half a bubble off plumb, as they say in the trades.  But I can always tell when I hit a nerve because the critics come out swinging.

So, anyway, when I spark ire of any kind, I always want to first ask myself if I did it subconsciously somewhat intentionally. If the answer is 'no', then I ask, 'what really got at the people?  What was the rub, the sliver, the poke, the irritant? Where did it catch them?'   Most often the reactions happen when I hit people square in the "ordinarys."

The war on ordinary

I want to make it okay for myself and others to just be myself and themselves. I would like to offer up a space to be ordinary.  I know when I read that I think ech ordinary. That sounds like fake vanilla pudding. (But have you ever had fake vanilla pudding with nilla wafers? Delish). Everybody wants to be extraordinary and everybody seems ashamed to be plain.

I saw a beautiful sight last evening in the parking lot at Plum Market. It reminded me that there is no such thing as ordinary, not really.  There were these two women, tallish, big boned, late 50s early 60s.  They were talking by the cart return area out in the middle of the parking lot---really talking intently.  I watched them from my side view mirror before exiting the truck because they were so...so...so incredibly beautiful! Yes I said it.  Two large-boned, heavy set, unadorned, unmade-up women of a-certain-age were stunning and exceedingly compelling to behold.

They both had longish mostly silver hair.  One wore it up, the other down.  One had a skirt and one some capri pants.  One had a turquoise purse, one had broken-in turquoise crocs.  The other had a deep red purse plopped down in the little seat of her cart.  They looked as if they just came out of their respective gardens as they chatted over the one lady's shopping cart.  Perhaps it was about the football sized dahlias they had found at the farmer's market or the day lilies about to bloom.  Only they know the subject.  The color of their clothing coupled with the colors in the sky and the colors in their cheeks told a refreshing story that our culture of boobs, bikinis, billboards and Kardashians so often overlooks or drowns out: The story of ordinary beauty of people going about the ordinary business of ordinary lives.

It hit me that you can't really be extra-ordinary until you master the ordinary.

And that is no mean feat.   

Friday, June 28, 2013

"I wanna go fast!"

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 1Kings 19:12

I was seized with an acute perfectionist attack recently.  Details on that to follow maybe some other day.  Let’s just say that in the reviewing of this "attack," it struck me that I’m just like Ricky Bobby in the movie "Talladega Nights."  I blame my attack on a bizarre adherence to the (deeply flawed) fundamental precept of the movie:

"If you ain't first, you're last!" 



Ricky's incredibly high, absentee, stock-car racing father slurred this doozy during his dramatic exit from career day at school.   Rather than take this crumb of anti-wisdom as the meaningless, drug-fueled, vacuous, metaphoric rant of a dumbass, Ricky took it to heart and built a life around it--a life that eventually unraveled.  Of course, that's when the movie gets really funny, but I digress.   

So often we take these crumbs of anti-wisdom to heart, we sensitive perfectionists and then we build giant life structures around this misinformation as if it were somehow scientifically absolute.  I'm not really interested in the why.  It's a wholly unsatisfying question, 'why?' with no real answers.  We can't fill in the gaps created in childhood (or the womb for that matter); those that make us susceptible to this kind of error-filled sophistry. We can't therapy our way to "doggone it, people like me!" either.  Trust me on that one. You can only get so far in a shrink's office.  The 100-lb. sacks of grain I have to unload await me in the back of my truck. This is a Higher Power job.  Sorry to those of you offended by the Jesus/God thing. But it's true for me.  That kind of heavy lifting cannot be done by man alone. In my case, I need a "dolly Lama," if you will. 

I'm finally (at 48) learning to first listen to the still small voice inside rather than the voice that tells me "there's a kilo of Colombian Bam-Bam taped to the undercarriage of your '69 Chevelle and I called the cops!" I wasn't always so willing to listen to that quiet, sweet voice.  The still small voice of my childhood was indistinguishable from the myriad other internal critical voices. All were asking me to do things I was too afraid, unprepared or unwilling to do.  

I was paralyzed by nearly all of them.

Reese Bobby, Ricky's dad, is the epitome of the severest, most obtuse, fickle, arbitrary, critical voice inside all of our heads.  This is the voice that will malign a sweet elementary teacher in front of her students.  The voice that belongs to a person who bestows upon his son a beautiful, vintage, muscle car--but puts a cougar in the front seat. The voice that can turn lovely family dinner conversation at Applebee's into a tear-filled run down the double yellow of a two-lane highway on a rainy night.  

When questioned by Ricky about the "first/last" comment during this very scene, Reese just looked at Ricky like he was nuts.  He said, "What are you talking about? That don't make no sense at all. Oh Ricky, I was high! You can be second, third, fourth, hell you can even be fifth!"   The protagonist's emotional scaffold crumbled in that scene.   It's cool because the background music is Steve Earle's "Valentine's Day," one of the saddest songs ever written about addiction and love and the impossibility of it all. 


The thing that struck me about this was that Reese Bobby changed his whole story, changed his mind, changed his ethos without so much as a backward glance or a postcard. He didn't feel compelled to inform his son.  He just let Ricky continue to believe that he had to be first and never nothin' but first so help him God.  That first/last meme burrowed into Ricky Bobby and took root.  It rearranged his molecules and made him different.  Hell, what am I talking about? That same meme burrowed into me and 95% of the women I know and about 75% of the men. The big problem is that our critical voices—like Reese Bobby's--have no conscience.  These voices are unencumbered by social convention so they can slice through a life at will, without regret or responsibility.  Worse, they drown out any contradictory input.

You'll know the critical voice because it's generally sarcastic, funny, cool and sort of alluring.  It sounds very convincing and vaguely philosophical until you actually listen closely to it and realize that it’s full of just pure unadulterated horses**t. 

And it's mean as hell.


(to be continued--maybe)

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Highly Sensitive Person

Funny, I Googled "highly sensitive personality type" and there were no fewer than 10 pages of reference material.  There was even a sensitivity questionnaire which was developed by a husband and wife team of psych researchers.  I scored 24/27.  Uh, I think I must be missing a few layers of epidermis or something.


I don't know about you, but I actually feel bad about myself because I cannot watch violent or suspenseful movies without crying and becoming physically ill.  I thought I had a wiring problem. Apparently it's not just a wiring problem.  There is an actual clinical term for it: "Highly Sensitive." Now why they couldn't come up with something with more teeth or like a nice acronym or something, I have no idea. They need to work on it. Because if I'm going to be something, I want it to be at least cool sounding.  Hey If they can take Irritable Bowel Syndrome and turn it into IBS, then they can surely do something with Highly Sensitive. IBS sounds like it could be a multistage rocket. HS sounds like High School.   Anyway, moving on....I just thought it was "wimpy" or "lame" because I just could not watch zombies eat brains or Dexter's blood spatters or The Wire.  Ech. The mention of them just creeps me out. We Sensies don't understand why on earth people find the depiction of the degradation of other human beings "entertaining."   Hell, I can barely get through the early rounds of American Idol! 

For those similarly afflicted, it's just like watching it happen to us or somebody we love. Fo REALZ.

I've been like this as far back as I can remember.  My sister is even more sensitive, I think.  People like us (and apparently between 15-20% of the general population) have the same set of qualifying characteristics: sensitivity to noise, bright or flashing lights, strong smells, odd textures, other peoples' moods, general atmospheric or barometric shifts, vibes coming off people and even seismic activity:  http://phys.org/news189932860.html

I kid you not. Seismic activity. That is bad-ass.

The world and all of its blinky input seems overwhelming to the lot of us. The constant cold, wet, gray days here in Michigan sure don't help me.  This winter I actually experienced cold as pain.  It made me wince in visible agony.  I had never experienced that before.  It appears the older I get, the more sensitive to cold I get.  No big surprise when you look at the demographics of the state of Florida, right?  Perhaps I'm just getting comfortable with myself and not constantly trying to change myself into something I'm just not ever gonna be: Molly Mason, Tough Business Woman, Feeler of No Pain, Bearer of all discomfort. Nope. Doesn't fit. I'll never be able to just "suck it up and tough it out" unless that was a directive from God, on high, himself.  In fact, the mere mention of those two exclamations makes me bristle with a low grade rage.   To be honest, as any parent will tell you, there are those middle of the night "mom I threw up in my bed" calls that require that response. We suck it up and tough it out a lot around here lately.

In 1999 when I was going through a divorce from my first husband, I was painfully thin and experiencing the normal stress response from divorce: generalized anxiety, weight loss, stomach upset,  inability to sleep, etc. (It was NOT his fault....just for the record. Divorce just sucks the life out of you. Period).  I was working as an insurance salesperson in Miami, FL at the time. I went to my primary care doctor and he wrote me a slip for some anxiety stuff and bed rest but I was to go home to Michigan to be with my family.  I didn't want to go on bed rest or any other kind of rest. I wanted to get better.  He insisted that I needed to get out of the office and get home to my parents for a few days of relaxation before I could hit the reset button on my life.  I was painfully skinny from 2 months of chronic diarrhea (of idiopathic origin, yeah that just means stress), that I needed to go somewhere to put on some weight.  So anyway, I had to go talk to my boss with my suit pants tied up with a small bit of rope because no belt I owned had enough holes. People asked me if I had cancer. It was awful.  I mustered up the strength to go into his office, doctor's slip in hand, and just lay it on the line.  That's when he said,

"Oh, no, you can't do that, you just have to suck it up and tough it out!"

I don't think I weighed 100lbs. at that point and I'm 5'5 1/2" tall. 

My then therapist (and now friend) Gilza said to me, "Where is your indignation?!!" That and a few cuss words come in handy every now and again.  Because sometimes the people in charge of us just don't know what the friggin' hell they are doing or talking about.  It's not personal and they're not bad people. They're just projectile barfing their own insufficiency rather than actually seeing, listening or hearing anything. I quietly removed myself from his office and drove to the airport.  I sent an email to the HR director outlining my conversation with my boss and why I wouldn't be returning to work there (I had been offered another job already).  I got calls from the President and Vice President of the company while I was resting.  They were solicitous and apologetic.  Shortly thereafter, my boss was relieved of his position.  It wasn't because of me--entirely.  The guy never sold one policy the entire year he worked there and cleared $120k, basically for golfing (as well as telling people to suck it up and tough it out).  I think they even sent me a severance check and I was the one who quit.  I'm sure it was because they were afraid I would sue on the grounds of having been subjected to an insensitive boob for a boss.

According to the married psychologists that I mentioned above, the Drs. Aron,  sensitive people are generally more introverted and even neurotic. Hmm. Bet you didn't see that coming!  They may comprise only 20% of the general population but they make up way more of the clinical population.   According to the article I posted above, we looney/sensitive people do bring to the table an evolutionary advantage along with our hosts of other kookiness.  Apparently,  it's good to think, feel, consider others' feelings, and mull things over before rushing off half-cocked,  I mean, generally speaking.  Suspend that in case of kitchen fires, hand grenades and tornado sirens.

Take heart all you Sensies, my "friend" incredibly successful blogger Glennon Melton posted this a few days ago.  We are not alone!  It's hysterical.  I think I was born without a few layers of skin, but she thinks she may have been born without a left brain.  Scroll half way down.  The title is "Dharma and Craig."


Anyway, I posted this today, yes, for 1) the sensitive folks but more importantly for 2) those with normal nervous systems who have to interact or worse LIVE with us.  We can't help it.


God Bless you All.  We really do wish we could watch Dark Knight Returns past the opening credits without having nightmares.

We really do.


Monday, May 13, 2013

 Drop back, re-tool and have another run at it

I started back to school in January all note-booky and studious with an intense flourish.  Then the grind of it all set in about week number 5.  Sometime in Early February I got really depressed.  But I pressed on.

I got through midterms, papers and finals.  I aced both classes, in one of them (the most creep-inducing one) Psych of Sex, I got the highest grade out of a class of over 100 people.  I know, I know, it doesn't really count since the median age of the students was about 20.5 years.  The majority of the class thought that twins were the result of having sex two times in a row. Yeah. Scary.  Life experience and a regular dose of Cosmopolitan magazine will actually garner you AP credits in anything related to sex ed.

Unfortunately, that same concept doesn't apply to math.  You can't learn math by accident or People (the magazine, not the noun).

I hate math.  I have always hated it.  I'm not even that bad at it.  I'm reasonably logical and analytical.  But math is not language.  It's got formulas and one right answer and usually the "right way" to do things.  And you can't be sloppy or slapdash; which I have a major and a minor in, respectively.  Oh don't go getting all smug, men.  Mothers know just what I mean. If you go for perfect in everything you end up friendless, eating your hair, rocking back and forth in the corner.  Math (and its inherent perfectionism) is so unlike real life that I have nothing to compare it to except to say that if it were a person, more specifically a woman, it would be my neighbor Gladys Kravitz and the Church Lady rolled into one.

I'm going to drop my stats class.  I'm not sure I'm going to continue with the psych course of study.  I mean I did great in my first 2 classes but I absolutely hated. every. stinking. minute. 

I liked studying, I liked getting up and planning to go to school and seeing my classmates.  But I felt sick inside studying that sh*t. Hearing about child abuse, STIs.  Ugh. Sleep would sometimes elude me and be replaced by garish visions of slides--they weren't gardening slides, either.  

I just kept thinking, THIS IS NOT ENJOYABLE.  NOT IN THE LEAST. When is this going to become interesting or fun? I'll even settle for maybe tolerable?

Aren't I supposed to be fired up about my second course of study? Aren't I supposed to have passion or, crap, at the very least interest in what I'm studying? About the only thing that the classes provided was a competitive outlet.  I should take up jousting instead.  More speed, more fun, less pain. I bet Mr. T would be game! He usually doesn't get any outside help knocking me on my ass.

I wanted to do statistically based research involving qualitative data derived from peoples' stories.   People and their stories are what I love.  I love people. They bug the living shit out of me sometimes but I really love them. All of them. I love them and their struggles and their grit and their rawness and their beauty and their challenges and their weaknesses and their indomitable strength. I want to take their stories and turn their stories into usable data for scientific research.  I need to be good at math and in particular stats in order to achieve this goal.  I can't just phone it in or fake it.

Look, I got an override for this stats class. I charmed the professor.  However, even he couldn't make something appear out of thin air, namely knowledge, and put it into my head.  After all, this is a class for which one normally has at least 2-3 years of algebra under their belt.  Me, well, I thought I might be entitled to know something I actually never took the time to learn. Entitlement is a problem. It is generally, in good time, met with reality.  Today was no exception.  So, I'm going to take my humbled ass back to the algebraic drawing board and re-tool.  Drop back, re-tool and make another run at it with (not just a lance) but a shield and armor next time.   I kind of feel like that guy in the operating room in that hotel commercial. Narrator:  "Do you have 3 years of algebra to prepare yourself for this statistics class?"  Me: "No but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night and I have great muscle definition in my upper body."

It's funny (sad funny, not ha ha funny) but I'm just now getting that I can't yeehaw my way through an entire life, all biceps, balls and no brains. 

Girlfriend just got taken to school and unhorsed.   OUCH!
Time to drop back, re-tool and have another run at it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pay it Forward - Let's do it for the Possum

Hey to all my loyal posse out there this Friday April 26th.

The sun is shining in Ann Arbor.  Yes, it IS true!   Don't be cruel. We're sort of stuck here for now. Not nice to tease.

So, I need help today. Big time.  I'm trying an experiment today.   Just one day.

I'm trying to conquer darkness with light.

Here's where y'all come in.   I've been posting my butt off lately on facebook.  Every uplifting beautiful  (fully and snopesed) article I can dig up.  I'm going to all the websites with feeds about stories that inspire and bring us to that humbled, slack-jawed, tear-stained, snot-ragged place where we feel less alone and where we can see the beauty and majesty that lies within all of us.

I'm doing this in answer to the recent darkness that,  not only Boston, but the entire world has experienced.

I figure we can only conquer darkness with light.   We can't change the past but we can create the future.  We can't keep dark forces from attempting to tear us apart.  We just can't. We can't plan, prepare for, anticipate, etc. every negative thing.  If we did, that would not be living.  That would be "war" --- on the defensive, in a bunker, with armor on.  Dude, that would suck.  It does suck. What am I saying? We've basically been living that way as a nation (and a world) ever since 9/11. That's like 12 years of that crap.

No more.

What I need help with is this.  This is just an experiment to see if it really works, this whole love thing.  But I can't do it alone and I need feedback to see if there's any science to it.

What I'm asking is this: Can y'all take yourselves out there into the world and dump as much love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, beauty,  did I say love? as you can muster today? And yes I mean even to yourself when you schmutz on your clean shirt, even to the dingbat on the phone weaving in and out of her lane, and the impatient man at Starbucks and the smelly guy at the gym.

Just let it all go.

And then as soon as you see something positive online, post it. Like STAT! Email it to your friends.  Just for today, let's tell each other MORE about the inspiring stories and gossip less.

This is my theory: We conquer darkness with light.  It all starts with us. 

As a caveat to my theory (it's not just MY theory, btw) I also think we inoculate ourselves against the darkness this way.

Anyway, so here's a short little bit of homework.  

1) Do some random act of kindness for somebody you don't even know (pay for their coffee, tab, etc.)
2) Share an inspiring story with at least one person.
3) Forgive yourself for 1 thing you harbor against yourself and then just let that b***ch go!
4) Forgive one other person something (preferably somebody who you think really doesn't "deserve" forgiveness
5) Give me some feedback on facebook - just a line or a sentence telling me what you thought of the exercise.  You can message me privately but better to let the world see.

I mean, this is all in the name of "scientific" research.

 Now y'all --  HAVE AT IT!

Ps. I just heard that my favorite musician of all time has passed away: George the Possum No-Show Jones.  Jesus, welcome this man into your loving embrace.   Let's do it for the Possum.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

An Exorcism of Perfectionism

Humility is a strange and wonderful thing.  Obtaining it is invariably painful as all get-out.   However, the peace that ensues (not immediately, mind you) is life-altering.

I crashed and burned on my quest to be perfectly weigh and smoke-free.   It took about 3 months, alas, I bottomed out.   It was neither terribly pretty nor fatal.  It just set me back a little.  And made me drag my head around in a bit of shame.  Shame sucks, by the way.  Just ask Brene Brown. 

Now, mind you, compulsive behaviors or obsessively thinking about things (yeah, that would be OCD) are/is (generally) triggered by something (generally) external.   My flip out, backslide, fall off the wagon or whatever you want to call it was no exception.  I came across a book and a website that triggered some deeply un-felt and un-thought things.   It took me by surprise.  After decades in a shrink's office, I thought I knew it all.  But the experience was extremely unsettling and let me tell you, my fear response looks like a rabid member of the wolverine family.  Again, not terribly pretty.  Rather than strike out for the Ohio border, I turned my angst on myself.  I'm always my favorite target (think Dobby the house elf in Harry Potter).

The precipitating event was a questionnaire I took about parenting styles.  It was very revealing, and not in a good way.  When I came to the realization that I was being unduly hard on my kids and not really enjoying them at all, I felt trapped in my own very human skin.  And when I say human, I mean that in the pejorative way not in the 'oh-she's-so-human-and-down-to-earth' humanness. But more like 'she's a damn-narcissistic-bi**h' kind of human.

No, I'm not being too hard on myself.  I was being way too hard on my kids and my husband and only to a very small degree on myself.  I needed a dose of humility and a knock upside the head.  I needed to fall from my little cage's perch.

I started this whole blog thing and a 'recovery' process without the key element: My Higher Power.  I was trying to do it all myself.  There's a great saying in 12-Step programs: Let Go and Let God.   I like my brother Peter's take on that saying better:

Let Go or Be Dragged. 

 I was dragged alright. It took me about 5 months to get some perspective and get my head out of my butt.  I had finally arrived back at the beginning of my quest: I decided to let go.   Just let God do the heavy lifting.  And to say 'Thank-you' and 'Forgive me' and 'Make and Instrument of your Peace' and 'Please Bless ____', etc. (everybody, really). And then 'Thank-you' again (and again and again). 

I am now almost magically girded with the love and support of that Crucial Element.   I've also decided that weighing myself once every two weeks or once a month is probably a pretty sane and do-able alternative to the perfectionist route. It's certainly better than twice or three times a day.

I wasn't just trying to stop weighing myself.  I was trying to stop the chronic negative self-reflection and reroute (to something more meaningful and long-lasting), the energy I was using in the misguided quest for self-approval and self-acceptance. I just forgot to buy another Map or get a GPS. Thus the concentric circles I continued to travel in.

I'm not sure I'm going to try to do that every-two-week thing with smoking.  I think smoking is a thing of the past for me.  I had a few slip-ups but all in all, I did better in the time period 5/1/12-to present in both weighing and smoking than in any other time in recent history--I probably smoked 1/15th as much as the previous year and I weighed myself 1/3 as much.

While it is statistically significant progress,  it is not perfection.

Progress, not perfection.

That is a great AA/Alanon slogan which I have to repeat to myself numerous times a day lest I wash my kitchen floor until there is no more polyurethane left on it.
I believe I gained a lot this past year.  I gained the ability to be vulnerable--to show people my struggle so they wouldn't feel so alone in theirs maybe? Who knows?  I became more human (in the good way).  I also learned to fail rather publicly and survive it.  Most importantly, I also gained friendships with some really nice folks.

A year of steady progress (and about a month of hanging tighter with Jesus and God).

Milestones worth celebrating.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I praise you because I am indeed fearfully and wonderfully made...Psalm 139:14

When I was in late high school and early college, I was plagued by anorexia and bulimia.  Well, really I was plagued with an incredibly low self-concept (and grossly inaccurate body image) which skulked around in that wonderful freakishly thin facade thinkin' it was all hot-n-shizz with those sexy ribs showing. 

Really that's not the case either, I just wanted to disappear.  Or as my kids sometimes say "diss-d-appear." I was so ashamed.  Who even knows why? It was the times.  We hadn't really integrated the new post-sexual revolution reality yet. The early 1980s may just as well have been the Victorian Era--especially if you look at the Gunne Sax dresses we all wore to prom.  By the way, I think dissdappear sounds better.  Very sing-songy.  Anyway, my point in saying that is things are often not even in the same zip code as they appear to be on the outside.  Because on the outside, I looked pretty okay, a little too skinny but to the untrained eye,  'okay'.  Ha.  Does anybody remember Mercywood?
Gunne Sax Tea Stained Prom Dress circa 1979-1981 - Uh, does anybody else see season 1 of "Downton Abbey"?
I spent this morning taking Elliot to have his man parts checked out.  Elliot had 2 testicular surgeries by the time he was 2 years old.  So he talks about them with the correct anatomical language as if he was talking about the his Kumon pouch and a piece of driveway chalk.  No shame. Thank you Jesus. No recognition of these parts being any different than any other parts.   The nurse commented on that fact when he swung around on on the examining table on his belly (he loved the sound of the paper crunching and tearing), looked her square in the eye and said "the one testicle on the right hurts when I squeeze it."  He didn't flinch one bit when the doctor checked him out.   He was cool with the whole business.   Totally chill.   And he's fine, by the way.

As a few of you know, I've been absent from the blog these past few months because I returned to school.  No, it wasn't in the master's program that I had originally wanted. Thank you Jesus for that, too.  Instead, I decided to get a second bachelor's in psychology and then just keep on going until somebody starts calling me Doctor Mason.   The only problem with this current term was the lack of availability of good classes.   I ended up with the Psychology of Sex and Child Psychology to resume my academic life.  Oh my.   It felt as though an elephant was resting on my chest as the topics grew more grave and sinister and began hitting rather close to home, at least with respect to children.  I started referring to these classes as "Creep" and "Cringe" respectively.  They just started freaking me out.  I had the worst case of medical student's disease ever with the Child Psych class. 

The topic that struck me the hardest and literally knocked the air out of me was "Parental Attachment." In a twist of horrific irony, that class happened to be the same day as the "abortion lecture" in my Psych of Sex class.  Attachment/Abortion.  Ech.

Of course, I came away from the one lecture thinking 'I don't think I attached to my kids properly' (and the other lecture just thankful for them).  They came at me from the cosmos/heaven with such a velocity that it was all I could do to catch and not drop them---like literally not drop them.   Somebody did give me the book "Attachment Parenting" by Drs. Sears.  But the kids were already out of diapers by then. Fat lotta good that did me!  I think I threw that damn thing across the room cussing until the chandelier lost a crystal.  File that one under, 'massive failures' and 'things I should've have known earlier.'

As for the psych of sex class, well, let's just say that yesterday was STI day and the screen at the front of the lecture hall (where I sit front row) is 25 feet wide and 20 feet tall.  Dude. Need I say more?  But a small aside here.  I saw these gnarled up private parts of people, riddled with disease, and all I could think of is that these poor parts belong to poor people who are or were somebody's babies.  That was somebody's bump in somebody's belly however long ago. All possibility and promise.  Then losses, bad parenting, drugs, bad decisions and consequences took them down a path of such sadness and despair that they ended up a case study in a epidemiological, gynecological or urological manual.  I had a sense of deep sorrow at the moment I realized that. Sorrow for those people who had been reduced to slides.  There, but for the grace of God... There must have been shame in there somewhere, I thought.  Somewhere, somehow, somebody convinced these folks that they (and their parts) weren't worth paying attention to, not even by themselves.

After the nausea wore off, I drove home sort of rocking back and forth in my seat.  I'm pretty sure that's when the PTSD set in.  But at 4 o'clock on the dot,  when the kids got off the bus (all flailing arms, backpacks, swinging lunch boxes, smiles and "Mom!s"), I was magically lifted out of my despair and trauma.  And this morning as Elliot so shame-freely stated his "ball problem" to the doctor I thought, attached or detached, the kid has no shame about the beautiful creation that he is. He and his brother think that their bodies are works of genius and art. The Hand that drew them (and all of us for that matter) drew ALL parts.   And Elliot knows that already.  File that under 'awesome.'

Previous generations regarded telling somebody they had "no shame" as the gravest of insults.  In the case of Elliot it's what I would call "mentally healthy"  or  "great self-concept."  I'm rethinking this whole "no shame" b.s.

What about you?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Grand Master Complainer

My son Henry just turned 7 a few weeks ago.  His personal history is something out of a Lifetime Movie Network special.  I think most of you all know some part of the story.   Suffice it to say that his arrival on this earth and into our arms was nothing short of a miracle. It still IS a miracle.  Too bad I forget this sometimes. I remember it now.  

Trust me, I do.

His Tae Kwon Do teacher, however, apparently considered him to be a burden and troublesome in class.  How do I know this?

Well, I pulled her aside one evening recently to say Hi and ask how she thought the kids were doing and when would they have their next belt test, etc.  It was at that point that she just melted down and said that (mostly Henry but) both my boys were horrible and unteachable. "They're disruptive and I'm afraid the other parents are going to complain soon," she continued.  My knees buckled and I caught myself as I almost fainted because there had been no indication of any problems. I've been sitting mat-side twice a week for six months.  None.  Not one word.   She asked me, “so is there something I should know?”  I said, “something you should know!? I told your husband Henry’s entire history. That’s why we joined here because he assured me that you handled children with much greater impairment than Henry's!”  
Indeed, I had given her husband, (the other grand master flash-drive) the entire rundown of Henry’s learning challenges and sensory processing issues before we began. The only reason we joined was because he assured me that “Master Wife works with kids with ADHD and autism all the time.”   Henry doesn’t have quite the level of impairment present in those conditions. His issues look slightly different.  He just learns more physically because he has trouble processing aural information and commands.  She said to me, “well, that would have been nice to know up front.” I looked at her in total disbelief and informed her that I had indeed shared everything relevant with her husband "up front" before signing the paperwork.  She shook her head silently while looking at the ground as if she were saying that it was my fault she didn’t know this.

She even asked if there was “something she should know about Elliot, too.” Let me tell you what, it’s times like the instant after she made that comment that it’s really good to be a Christian.  Without the guiding principles of my faith, I would have laid her (b.a.) out on her squishy little mat, black belt or no black belt, just with sheer force of indomitable motherly will and my laser-beam-shooting eyeballs.

Standing there silently in front of me with her terse lips shaking her head, she never once apologized for the interruption in communication on her side, never apologized for her inability to handle the situation, for never having pulled me aside to tell me of her challenges with him/them. Nothing.  As we spoke that evening, she regarded both of my kids with the kind of contempt one usually reserves for inmates.  Contempt. They were 6 1/2, for goodness sake.  I then asked, “So how long have you felt this way?” She replied, “pretty much from the beginning.” To which I said, “so you mean to say that you have not liked my kids for 6 months and I had to drag that information out of you?” You know what she said to that? She replied, “yep” and then turned on the heels of her little soft sole-less shoes and just huffed off like a pouty little stinkpot.

I talked to my 2 friends with kids in the same class in the days following that discussion.  They were as slack-jawed as I was. Both of them commented on how fun and nice the boys were to theirs and other kids they both said how well and quickly they came onto the mat after pulling their cards without even being asked while I parked the car. They both said they saw NOTHING at all in those six months that would have led them to believe that they were any different than the other kids.  I begged them to tell me if they saw anything that I was missing.  They reassured me that a) it wasn't them who complained and b) they thought she was on crack.  Seriously, they were as perplexed as I was by the whole story, the whole waiting-six-months-to-tell-me, the invisible disruptions, etc.  Flummoxed.

My whole point to the story is that at first I actually listened to her. Then, after I harshly reprimanded the monkeys for being, well, 6 1/2 year old monkeys, the truth of it all dawned on me. Enough, I said to myself. My job is to love my kids.  If she can’t handle them, then she’s not good enough to teach them. They go to a regular public school where they learn and grow. They go to Kumon, they take soccer, they can swim, play tennis, etc.  Yes, they are a bit on the wild side.  However, as I’ve said before, my crap-ass parenting is not their fault.  I’m doin’ my best.  They're doing their best.  We're all trying hard.  Also, their particular dynamic and the bizarre 5-month age difference that exists between them is so incredibly rare, that it is impossible to say what the effects are on their behavior and development.   But it is what it is.  That’s what we got to work with, lady. I'm not trading them in for different models so...

...Deal with it.

Listen, I didn’t want to hastily depart from this endeavor and send the message to the kids that quitting is the answer.  But in the end,  I decided that they do not have to take their marching orders from somebody who 1) doesn’t believe in them and who 2) doesn’t value them and 3) doesn’t even like them.  We have other options in town.  What I truly think is that she didn’t like me and she’s taking it out on the kids. She would sneer at me. It would visibly pain her to smile at me when I walked in there.  I have no idea why.  I was always pleasant, respectful and courteous.  Like Brene Brown's friend says, "Don't try changin' the haters. You ain't the Jackass Whisperer."

Nope, I’m not perfect at being a parent.   Hell, I’m not even good most of the time.  But you know what? We all need a champion and it should, at the very least, be our mothers.  

Happy Easter Boys! Mama loves her wild-a** monkeys. (I don't think I can cuss in the same sentence as 'Easter').  

Ps. For all you Catholics out there, don't forget to do a few Hail Marys to the one and only perfect mother.