Monday, August 25, 2014

What Teenage Girls Need...

So many great parenting blogs are swimming around out there, and each one can not only inspire us to do better and keep a reality check, but often they inspire to write a response. Oddly enough, this mom of two girls (a teen and a so close we can taste it teen) learned a lot from The Grommom’s What a Teenage Boy Needs Most from his Mom. Maybe it’s my quest to learn about the boys my girls are interested in, or maybe it’s human nature, or maybe it’s that her words hold so true for girls and daughters as well as boys, and then some are so different that you realize girls and boys may truly be from different planets, but the weird breed of teenagers somehow converged into one.

I do have to say, I agree with @thegrommom that these years are fascinating, fulfilling and so much fun. I remember when my darlings were wee babies and I loved that stage so much. I tend to worry that time goes too fast and that I’d miss this stage so much. My mom told me, “Don’t worry, each stage is more fun.” Hard to believe surly, stinky teens would be more fun than rolly polly babies, but….they are! They interact, they discuss, they have thoughts and opinions and are becoming these wonderful adults with a lot of awkwardness and self-discovery thrown in.

Another bit of parenting advice I remember is one my husband shared. A friend a few years ahead of us in the parenting years told him something to this effect…The tween and teen years are so much fun, but go so fast. By the time they’re old enough to be fun, they’ve got one foot out the door. Well said, Mr. Dad. Well, kind of. I mean I get the point. I watch my friends send their kids off to college, and mine is only a few years behind. Again, as Grommom mentions, these teenage years are SHORT! They are packed full and busy and fun and worrisome and SHORT! So fellow moms, as I always say, take a deep breath and enjoy it!!!

Here are those few things I do think teenage girls need, those of us with girls may relate to these things below, those with boys may also, or else they wonder what the hell I’m talking about! Thank you, Grommom for sharing your boy insight and inspiring me!

1.     Love – there can’t be too much of this. If your teen girls know you love them unconditionally, you’ve done something right. With everything else that may be thrown their way, with the mistakes they’ll make (big or small), with the tough decisions they have to make, they have to know you love them whatever, whenever and strongly. Sure, you may get mad or you may be disappointed, but don’t ever let the grace of love slip away.
2.     Boundaries and rules – Just like the boys need it, the girls do, too. Set your boundaries and expectations and stick to them. Just because others are doing certain things doesn’t make it okay for your girls to do them. Whether it’s clothes or curfews or parties or a million other things, set what makes sense to you and your family. Help them set their own boundaries, too, when it comes to things like well… boys and dating. They will truly thank you for it.
3.     Let them be who they are – Maybe you always imagined your daughter would be a bookworm or a cheerleader. But she’s not. Maybe the girl you dreamed who would shake her pompoms only wants to be with her books at night, or the other way around. You did everything to raise an academic, but instead she’s a social butterfly. You can’t change her. You need to love and respect your daughter for who she is, not who you want her to be.
4.     Guidance – Yes, they want your guidance. These teenagers are still kids and need some guidance along the way. Whether it’s about school, friends, boys, offer up your guidance and your advice. You may be surprised that they actually take it.
5.     A bubble bath – Every so often, your daughter will have an awful day. She’ll be grouchy and snippy and yucky to be around. Help her out; there’s probably a reason. Draw her a bubble bath, play her favorite music and give her a place to breathe and regroup.
6.     Understanding – Remember when you were a teen. You may have felt like no one understood you. Try to understand. Try to put yourself in her shoes, not yours. Even if you don’t really get it, try. That will mean the world to her.
7.     A parent – You are her parent. You have rules to set and consequences to follow up with. You need to say “no” sometimes; that thing just doesn’t fit your values. Stand by those values and she’ll how important they are, she may take them with her forever.
8.     A friend (what!!!) – They say never be your children’s friend; I disagree. Sometimes your daughter will need a friend. She’ll come home from a date and want to talk – listen! She’ll need to vent about a teacher and maybe use a four-letter work – it’s okay. Let her. Be her friend sometimes; you can still be Mom, too.
9.     Laughter - Find things to laugh about. Weird YouTube videos or your dog. Laughter is important every day no matter what else is going on. The mlore we laugh, the more we can…breathe!
10. Listening – Sometimes there is nothing to say, so just listen. You don’t need to always fix things; sometimes simply listening is enough. And don’t pretend to listen, really, really do it.  Always, always listen. Do you get me?

Well, I wanted to stick with 7 for some reason – my family likes the number thanks to soccer and Harry Potter. But I couldn’t. And that my friends, is my final, unnumbered bit of what teenage girls need – sometimes the plan needs to be amended. Whether it’s yours or theirs, big or small. Sometimes you have to change what you thought you were going to do for whatever reason, and you know what, things usually work better.

So give your teenage girls a hug, make them laugh and it’s okay to be their friend. Take another deep breath, good luck and enjoy.


Friday, August 8, 2014

That dirty liar - Nostalgia and Happy New School Year!

Every year when the kids go back to school, I make a mental list of my own goals. Usually one of them entails blogging on a regular basis. Usually I don’t stick to that one. I’m not even sure if it’s a goal this year, but I do feel the beginning of the school year begets at least one blog entry.

So here’s what summer meant to us…
Frisbee at dusk

One girl learning to drive

A year of French in 4 weeks

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (such a beautiful book)

Oliver Twist (well, you know Dickens)


Lots of Rainbow Loom bracelets

24 years of a happy marriage

One kid learning to cook

The coast of California

Full House over and over and over and over

Staying up too late


You might think, wow, these sound kind of boring. That’s really what you did all summer? You didn’t have a neighborhood waterballon fight for all the kids full of mason jar decorations, craft stations and handmade invitations? You didn’t host a dinner party with themed cocktails, fairy lights and party clothes? None of our adventures are star studded spectacular out of this world summer adventures, well, I guess California was, but the others could appear sort of mundane. However, the beauty of it all, is nothing you do laced with love is mundane. I see the struggles of many moms trying to make everything just perfect. Perhaps they need a real activity, an organized, planned day to make it count. That’s fine if it works for them, but it also can turn into lots of work, stress and not enough reward for all of the effort put in.

It took me quite a few mom years to realize that kids don’t need the biggies to make them count. I think this summer my girls will remember our evening Frisbee games as much as our trip to California. That’s not to say the big stuff isn’t awesome and important for a family, but it also says don’t knock the little stuff. Those overplanned outings and playdates can cause a lot of undue stress; they lose their authenticity and that little lacing of love.

You read a lot about the overplanning of this generation, how “back in the day” kids just ran free. They say we’d leave in the summer mornings and be home by dinner, no cell phones to check in with or violin lessons to prep for. Well, parents, those days don’t really exist anymore (for better or worse) so stop pining for them and get on with the 20 teens. Life changes. Times change. But every summer day doesn’t need to be a day out of Parenting magazine or Pinterest worthy. It’s okay to stay home all day and well, check out Pinterest. Maybe read a book or watch Full House, or do the laundry while your kid plays on his iPhone for an hour or texts a friend. And there’s nothing so bad about having some planned, organized time, either, like a cello lesson or a dance class. It doesn’t make you a hardass. In fact, you can even go to the neighborhood pool for an hour or two on a hot afternoon (maybe not even pack snacks – as scandalous as that sounds); you don’t have to head to a water park and post it on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, saw this recently and it made me laugh…
"Nostalgia is a dirty liar that insists things were better than they seemed.”

Sure the summer days when I took my toddlers to the library and brought home a stack of picture books to read all day in the living room were fun and sweet, but we just don’t do that anymore. Ya gotta move on. You can’t pine for the good ol’ days or you’ll miss out on the joy of these days – the present ones.

The 1970’s weren’t better, and who’s to say these days are better, either? They’re just different. So, Moms, here’s the thing…enjoy your time with your kids. Don’t stress so much about making it all perfect (man, if I could go back and take away those giant bday parties with goodie bags and overdone cakes…), the fun and the memories will happen, but be part of them, not the overstressed mommy who exhausted herself before she could enjoy. So go play some Frisbee or make your kid practice her cello, whichever is okay…just enjoy it!

Happy school year, my friends!