Jul 272013
 

We try so hard to teach our children to have confidence in themselves and to believe that they can do anything they choose when they grow up. So, to have the tables turned can feel very unusual. But, that is what happened to me.

I have always enjoyed writing and aside from technical documents for my job, I only wrote in a journal, some poetry, and jotted down little things here and there. I did not talk about it or ever show anyone anything I had written. (Well, aside from the documents at work, but that does not really count.)

I told my daughter one day how great it would be if I could write for a living. I told her how much I would enjoy it and wish that I could switch careers. She said, “Well do it Mom”. It sounds odd, but she said it so matter-of-fact like that it made me think, “Yea, why not”.

Believe

Well I gave it a shot, but stalled for quite some time before taking the plunge by actually submitting an article online. But, I finally did submit that article to a website and waited so anxiously to see if it would be published. I had such little confidence that it would be, that I did not write anything else while I waited. I guess my thought was that if it was not published, that I should pretty much forget the whole writing thing. But, as I waited my daughter was my biggest supporter. She kept reassuring me that it would be published and that I should keep writing. My daughter was also my only supporter at the time because I did not tell another single person what I had done. I was just too nervous, especially if I failed.

As it turned out, my article was published. I was shocked, to say the least. It, along with my daughter, gave me the boost I needed. My daughter told me she was not surprised at all – she had confidence in me the whole time. I just did not have the confidence in myself, nor the belief that I could actually become a writer.

Things seemed to explode for me since then. I now write for several websites, continue to work on a book I have started, have made many friends and connections, and have taken a hold of a freelance writing career part-time. I have to say that the more I write, the more I love it.

The moral of this story is that my daughter really did teach me to believe in myself. I think the fact that she believed in me so strongly was a huge push for me – it was the push I needed. Our kids do believe in us and our abilities – sometimes they think we are Superheroes, I think! If it was not for my daughter, my writing career would not be where it is now. I may not be doing it full-time yet, but that is my goal and now I really do believe that I can do it!

Thank you to Abby for her faith in me.

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Jul 132013
 

As lives get busy and children grow up, it can be hard to find the quality time to spend with our children.  Jobs, school, sports practices, recitals, friends…all take up our time.  One thing that I would suggest, especially as our kids turn to teens, is a “date night”.

It does not have to be every week and could even just be once a month, but setting aside one night, few hours, or whatever works for you is a great idea.  Be sure that you plan that time together so that you choose something that both enjoy.

Abby and Sandy Summer 2013

Abby and Sandy Summer 2013

My daughter and I love Mexican cuisine.  So, for our date night we go out to dinner to our favorite Mexican restaurant.  We really take our time and enjoy the dinner.  It has become such a “thing” for us that my daughter does not like anyone else to ever go to that restaurant with us!

Other suggestions for your time together could include a movie, shopping, mini golf, picnic, archade, spa day, or even the beach.

We receive a community paper that lists local classes being offered.  I thought it would be really fun for me and my daughter to take a class together.  Whether it is artistic like pottery or painting or something valuable like self-defense, this is also a great idea.  My daughter has not warmed to this option yet, unfortunately, but I am still trying!

The point is that if you plan a regular date night with your teen then you can both look forward to that special time together, however often it may be.  It is time for just the two of you to reconnect and I know that it really works for my daughter and I.  It is one of those times we use to talk about serious things, girl things, or just laugh with each other.

Do you do something like this with your son or daughter?  Please share your comments and suggestions!

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May 182013
 

We all have some sort of routine in our lives.  We may have routines that take us through the morning, the whole day or even longer.  We all get set in those particular routines and it can be hard to veer off that path.  However, I learned from my daughter that it’s okay to steer a different direction once in a while.  It can actually be a good, healthy, fun thing to do.

I have a pretty set routine during the week.  I work 8am – 5pm, Monday through Friday.  After work I come home, relax for just a bit by doing a little writing.  I then make dinner, watch some TV, and then head off to bed by 10pm so I can rise early and do it all again.  Quite a routine, isn’t it?  Sound familiar?

Alarm Clock Photo By Sandy Stachowiak

Alarm Clock Photo By Sandy Stachowiak

My teenage daughter likes to keep busy and do things.  She likes it best when we are constantly moving rather than sitting around.  I tell her it is because she has a lot more energy than me and because she does not know what it is like to work 40+ hours per week.  I do not like to go out anywhere after I get home from work.  But lately she has been trying more and more to get me out of this routine.

Although I do enjoy relaxing and trying to recoup after a day’s work; I have to admit I am now veering off my routine a bit to do things with my daughter.  Going out to dinner during the work week, doing some shopping after work, or just being out after dark on a Tuesday are all breaks from the routine.  And you know what?  It’s not so tough, it’s not so bad – it’s actually nice and it’s actually relaxing too!

She tries the same thing with me on the weekends and I cannot blame her for trying.  Spending weekends doing chores or yard work is not exactly fun.  So, I now try to use one day to work around the house or yard and the other day to get out and do something fun.  I feel it is a good compromise and it works for us.

So, the moral of my story is that my daughter has taught me it is okay to break from the routine.  It’s actually better than okay – it’s fun!

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May 052013
 

I never realized until I dealt with a stressful situation in my current job just how much my mood affects our household.  Have you ever thought about it?  I didn’t until recently. I was sucked into letting my job affect me so much that my stress level was through the roof.  I came home angry because I was stressed out completely at 5pm every day.  My boyfriend who has lived with my daughter and I for 6 years works at the same company that I do.  So, when the pressure came down on him as well – well, I don’t have to tell you what it was like at 5pm at our house.  We were both in such horrible moods that it would take hours to just relax and be able to settle into a nice evening – and by that time, it was bed time! Neither my boyfriend nor I realized the affect that this was having on my daughter, our dog, ourselves, or our quality of life.

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, vivekchugh, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1156006

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, vivekchugh, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1156006

Upon realizing this, it was like a revelation to me.  I could not believe how miserable our household was becoming or how miserable that I was becoming, as a person.  I was letting it all get to me WAY too much!  It was to the point that when we came home from work, my daughter along with our dog, would retreat to my daughter’s room until dinner. Then most times after dinner, they or she, would go right back there!  I was spending NO time with my daughter in the evenings.

In between all of this, when we would happen across each other in the kitchen or living room at the same time, it was always just so tense.  I could not figure out why at the time.

Well, I’m sure you can imagine after telling you all of this just how bad I felt.  We had definitely fallen into not only a pattern but a trap of misery!  I just really, really had no idea how badly our moods were affecting our household.

One day, and I’m honest about this, it just hit me.  It really, really hit me…like a brick wall on wheels!  The dynamic in our home was so affected by the moods we were in that it was pulling us apart, making us all cranky and causing undo stress on everyone – including the dog! Once I realized this, things changed immediately and have not been the same since.  I do not ever, ever again want my daughter to run to her room or our dog to run to her bed every time we walk in the door!  Not ever again! I have taken steps to make sure it does not happen again.  I have:

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marafet, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1322185

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marafet, www.sxc.hu/photo/1322185

  1. Made sure that I leave my job where it belongs – in the office
  2. Made an effort to put on a happy face when I get home – afterall, seeing my daughter is usually the brightest part of my day, so why not act like it!
  3. Made my own life better by leaving the stress behind AND not letting the stress get to me like it did!
  4. Made sure that I only check my work email when there is a big event happening, not every time the phone beeps.  I actually turned off email notifications for my work email account on my phone.

I made these changes about 6 months ago and have noticed a huge improvement in our home.  We are all much happier and enjoy our time together – and actually spend time together!  We do not grump and mope, we are not cranky and angry.  We treat each other better and we show it.

Life is better – life is good!

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Mar 112013
 

When your children talk about aches or pains, do you really listen and take it seriously?  You should.

As parents we know that there are times when our children exaggerate.  It mostly happens when they are little it seems.  They would talk about that gigantic spider in their room or that enormous animal in the yard – both of which were “this big!”  But, when our children grow into teens, do we carry over that habit of thinking they might be exaggerating?  I think it is natural, if we do.

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, 13dede, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1222929

Photo by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, 13dede, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1222929

I learned that listening to my daughter really is important.  A few years ago at the age of 13, she told me that she always leaned a certain way when she was sitting at her desk and that she thought it was caused from Scoliosis.  She actually talked about this more than once.  I did not think she even knew what Scoliosis was; much less believe that she had it.  Well, guess what?  She was right!

I took my daughter in for her school physical and the doctor confirmed her suspicions with an exam and X-ray.  (I wrote a complete article on this for Yahoo Voices! if you are interested in our Scoliosis experience specifically.)  What I want to touch on here; however, is that listening to our kids is important.  Taking their concerns into consideration is important.  Paying attention to what aches they have is important.  It is all important.

Sure, what they are feeling may turn out to be nothing.  But at the same time what they are feeling could turn out to be something.  Listen to your kids.

 

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Feb 172013
 

My teenage daughter is no different from other girls her age when it comes to “girly stuff”.  She likes clothes, messing around with her hair, trying different makeup, shopping, painting her nails, and all those teen girl types of things.  She does well in school, is trustworthy and responsible, so I do not mind her interest in beauty and fashion at all.  I also remember being the same way when I was a teenager!

Makeup

Now when it comes to me, I noticed that over time I became less conscious of these types of things.  Most of my clothes were about ten or more years old – I was rarely buying myself anything new and if I did it was comfortable clothing.  My hair style rarely changed, I did not take pay attention to my skincare, and I did not have much to say about fashion or beauty in general.  I did not even realize this until my daughter became a teenager and more interested in hair and clothes than Barbie and Spongebob.

It started with looking through a fashion magazine together.  My daughter started telling me I should buy myself some up-to-date clothes and she wanted to help me pick them out.  She became interested in the types of lotions and moisturizers I used on my skin.  She showed me shoes and jewelry that would be sensible for work but still look nice.  She really became interested in helping me get back into those girly things.

Then, I suddenly realized that it was fun to update myself a little AND these also became topics that my daughter and I could share.  Now we go shopping together and help each other pick things out for the other.  We even have fun disagreeing on what looks good or works good sometimes!  It has really become a way for us to bond as mother and daughter and got me out of my comfort zone at the same time.

I do not think that you have to go as far as changing your look or spending a bunch of money.  But if your teen has an interest in these things; showing your interest in them as well can be a great thing to share.  And, as the parent of a teen I know that sharing a common interest can be a challenge!

This all might sound superficial to some.  But as long as she does not go overboard or lose sight of where this all falls in the big picture, then it is all good.  I still make sure that my daughter knows that looks are not everything.  This is just one small thing that we can share that makes us feel good as “girls”.

So, I thank my daughter for helping me to feel like a girl again.

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Oct 142012
 

I really had no idea to what extent quality time with my teen meant until it happened by chance.  I have not forgotten it and hope you all can take something from it.

I work at a job that spews stress.  Coming home at 5pm every day, stressed out, exhausted – it takes its toll.  The toll is taken on the whole house, not just me.  I noticed that when I came home, my daughter would take off to her bedroom.  I thought it was just her; but soon realized it was also because of me.

Over the course of several months I had some physical problems that in the end caused me to need neck surgery.  This surgery would keep me out of the office for at least 4 weeks.  After that, I worked part-time from home and gradually built up strength to work more until I was able to return to the office.  But, what I noticed while I spent so much time at home is what really hit me.

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marczini, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1386612

sxc.hu, stock.xchng, marczini, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1386612

My daughter would come home from high school each day, especially in the beginning after my surgery, asking if I needed anything, while I lay in bed.  That was the first thing she would do upon returning home each day.  After she changed clothes and put away her school stuff, she would come back to my room.  She would just sit and talk with me.  Sometimes she would bring her computer and we would look at shopping sites.  We would discuss purses and shoes, make-up and skin care, or her day and her friends.  She would stay with me for a couple of hours, at times even falling asleep by just watching TV with me.

I never realized until this happened just how much that time with my daughter was so important.  I did not realize that the stress I brought home from work affected our relationship so negatively.

My daughter and I reconnected completely.  It was almost like we found each other again.  These are things we should have been doing all along.  But, life just got in the way.

Since this time I have gone back into the office four days per week.  But, that one day that I am working from home I make sure to take time with my daughter when she arrives home from school.  I ask her about her day, her friends, boys, grades, and classes – pretty much anything that I know she deals with each day too.  AND, more importantly I have learned to come home from work on the other days and NOT be completely stressed out.  I take the time to talk with her.   I spend time asking her about HER day when I walk in the door.  And, when I walk in that door I try hard to leave work behind.

Spending time with your teen is more important that you realize.  My surgery was a blessing in disguise – it brought my daughter and I much closer.  It happened at the right time as well.  Being close to your child during their teenage years is essential.  I am thankful that I realized this and became close to my daughter again.

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