Monthly Archives: September 2014

I Raised My Son. My Daughter Raises Her Eyebrows.

I Raised My Son. My Daughter Raises Her Eyebrows.

My son and daughter are 10 years apart. The long pause was not the way I intended it, but it’s the way nature intended. My son was conceived as soon as we began trying. Eazy-peezy. His dad and I dated and then became engaged. We were engaged forever. When we married, we planned to wait one year and then we’d try for a baby. One year after our marriage, we were pregnant. Just as planned. Nice, neat and perfect. Besides the three-straight-months of 24/7 seasick nausea, everything went as planned. Even the drug-free delivery.

I didn't want to know what we were having. He did. So we decided that the nurse doing the ultrasound would tell him whether we were having a boy or girl, and he swore himself to secrecy. We even did THAT perfectly. I was surprised when my son was born and his dad had the bris (circumcision celebration 8 days after birth for Jewish boys) all planned out. Perfectly.

Then lots of love and happiness. My youthfulness and my firstborn made me more anal than ever. My son knew his alphabet and numbers and colors way too soon. He was a way too well-behaved-two-year-old. (Terrible-two’s? What’s that? ) He wore perfect outfits. He took perfectly timed naps. He took baths at the perfect time so that dinner was always on the table at the perfect time. He went to bed at 6:00 pm and woke up perfectly at 6:00 am. And no, there was no crying himself to sleep at bedtime. I was there when and if needed, to help him slumber off peacefully and perfectly, without a tear drop.

Now I can recognize first time parents from a mile away. Only because I have had a second one. As my son grew, I was pre-op in motion.

Me: We need to get ready in 10 minutes because it will take 20 minutes to get there. Make sure you've gathered whatever you want to take with you so that we can leave as soon as we need to.

Him: Okay.

Me: I packed a coloring book and crayons in case we have to wait awhile. I even put your special markers in there that you picked out at the store the other day.

Him: Okay.

Me: Go ahead and put your socks and shoes on now. That way we can really be ready.

Him: Okay.

Me: I’ll go brush my teeth and then we’ll be ready. Don’t forget to brush yours.

Him: Okay.

Me: Is your seat-belt on?  I can’t pull out of the drive-way until you have it fastened tight.

Him: Okay.

Me: Are you cold back there? I have the air on high. I’ll turn it down a notch.

Him: Okay.

Me: I need to stop at the grocery store and get something really quick. We will just run in and out really quickly. No snacks or treats, okay?

Him: Okay.

I don’t know when it was that I realized how anal I was. I was always the one behind the camera at his birthday parties and our holidays. I think I heard myself talking during the videos when I’d replay them and I’d realize that I was over-thinking things (understatement). It was obvious in the audio.

I got better over time. The proof was on the videos.  My silence. 🙂

In between my son and daughters’ birth (10 years later), I got older in so many ways. Lots of messy things happened and helped age my brain and me.  I don’t record videos as often as I did with my son (kind of a second, third, fourth child symptom of well-meaning parents), but I hear myself all the same. My brain is now more used and abused as my daughter grows up. I’m older, too.

Me: What time were we supposed to be there?

Her: 30 minutes ago.

Me: Okay.

Me: Did we buy the birthday gift yet?

Her: Yes. An iTunes gift card.

Me: Okay.

Her: We need to stop at the store and pick up a birthday card still.

Me: Okay.

Me: Did you bring the invite? I need the address.

Her: Yes. I put it in your purse.

Me: Okay.

Me: Is it a sleepover?

Her: No. Pick me up at 3:00.

Me: Okay.

I can look at my two kids, now 21 and 11. My son, he makes me a walking smile whenever I’m around him. He’s made choices already in his life that have put him on a path his mom and dad can be proud of. He shines with wit and love and grace. He made it through completely; all that coddling and doting and perfectionism and helicoptering-mom. He’s wonderfully independent and polite and confident and knowledgeable. And he made it to adulthood beautifully.

One word? This is the first time I have tried to define him in one word. It’s gotta’ be good. Bright! Both literally and figuratively. I have succeeded as a mom, even with all that overprotective sticky stuff.

My daughter, being 11, is beginning middle school.

I love that she doesn't fret the cool quota. She could care less about being “cool.” Which in my mind makes her way cool. She wants to be "her" no matter who everyone else thinks she should be. She’s on her own path.

She adheres to my advice but always spouts her opinion when it doesn't match hers. You can’t make her do something she doesn't want to do, but what she doesn't want to do is always within reason. Usually things I wouldn't want to do even as an adult.

One word for her? One wish she always had as a younger girl was to fly. She’d ask Santa every single year to give her the ability to fly. Any water fountains that have my coins in it were wishes for flight. My word for her? Flight! She’s gonna’ fly as high or as low as SHE wants to. No one will control her direction. Not even me.

My kids. They had two very different mama’s. I've read that each child of a family is born into a different family than their sibling before. Parents change, mindsets change. There are more family members each time. But what I've found is that if you lace it with love on any day and every day, they will be fine. Even through our mistakes and through our experimental behavior as parents and lack of experience. They’ll be fine as long as they know that love is full and forth coming and available day and night. As long as they know that they don’t have to be perfect and that mom and dad will always love them and be there no matter what their mood is and what kind of day anyone has had. They will be okay. And the more human and genuine we are with ourselves around them, the more okay they will be. Okay? 🙂

I'm currently doing my #DailyChallenge tweets that are brief excerpts from my book at www.Twitter.com/BeingAWoman. Thanks for visiting here or there ~  Katherine A. Rayne

 

Unguard

Unguard             September 15, 2014

There’s only one other person in your world that loves your children as much as you do. In the heat of divorcing them, it’s hard for us to remember that one simple thought.

My ex picked my daughter up for breakfast one recent Sunday morning and I asked him if I could come along. I was hungry and dressed.

There’s a restaurant that we both frequent with her, individually. Never together. It seems to be our favorite place to have a weekend breakfast, although between the three of us we've never discussed it. The servers all know my daughters’ order by heart; Toast on the light side, crispy bacon, fruit and a side of cream cheese, with water.

We slid into a booth, me facing them, an image I don’t see very often. Her eyes on her iphone and her ears in our conversation. We had one light-hearted conversation after another with each other, and

yes, your main conversation topic is and always will be about your kids, whether it’s date night as husband and wife, or breakfast as exes.

A discussion about our absent 21 year-old son came up. My ex was already smiling huge about a seven year-old boy inside of a fourteen-year-old memory as he brought it back to life. It was one that I’d never heard. As he told it, his eyes filled with memory and liquid joy. It made his tight lips turn upward and his soft heart sit on his sleeve all wet and soggy. I took in the image innocently, happy to be on the receiving end. I tried to imagine what other memories might be ready to surface if I asked.

A drawback to divorce is that you don’t have that person in your life anymore to reminisce about your shared treasures.

It doesn't matter who comes into either of your lives. They won’t feel the exact same way towards your children as you or your ex do.

In the beginning, divorce brings on foreign emotions;

You've felt sadness before, but not quite like in your divorce. You've felt anger before, but never how it feels through your divorce. You've felt frustration before, but never like in a divorce.

We had our ups and downs, but I still think we had a peaceful divorce compared to most. I attribute it to how we handled ourselves, not how we handled the divorce. It’s easy to become defensive. SO easy. But we stayed on tract with who we were most days, and worried less about what the other was doing. We both had our son and daughters’ best interest at heart, and that goes a bountiful long way in order to be able to deal and then to heal. My kids and I also stayed at our local beach house for the duration of the divorce.

I HIGHLY recommend a beach house (and wine and sunsets and walks on the beach and a lanai that is screened-in because mosquitoes suck, literally) for your divorce. It enabled me to have peaceful memories from some unpeaceful times. I was on “vacation.”

I don’t know if he ever hated me, but I never had a moment where I hated him (that I can remember). And that helped when it was time to become friends again. Not the easy innocent friendship that we had when we first met and began dating. Not the committed friendship that we had while we were married.

But a new friendship that makes everything bearable when you see each other all the time for the rest of your lives because you have children together.

It’s so much easier if you stay true to you, while going through the throes of divorce because

at some point, you want to be able to look them in the eye again and feel okay about the past.

And it’s okay to still be a support to your ex if the opportunity arises. You've shared a life together and cared about one another to great lengths in the past. What's one more time. And don’t stand guard thinking your children need protection from their fathers’ love. Allowing his love to flow to your children freely without standing in the way of it will only benefit your children. Step to the side and let them love them in the way that only they can. Your children deserve it. And you won’t have to do it alone.

 

Katherine A. Rayne is on your side! She is an author, freelance writer for local and online magazines, blogger, preschool teacher of nine genuine hearts and a mom to two delights. Her book, Back To Being A Woman (Without Changing The Man) on Amazon.com, is her first published non-fiction. It's a secret weapon to help women fix relationships, including the relationship we have with ourselves. She has been blogging since January, 2014, but has been writing since childhood after discovering the magical rhythms of Dr. Seuss. She founded the Facebook Community www.Facebook.com/BackToBeingAWoman and posts #DailyChallenges for women on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/BeingAWoman. Her blog resides on her website geared towards empowering women to be their best selves: www.BackToBeingAWoman.com. She began an "I Did It" campaign on her personal website at www.KatherineARayne.com to help women take on and take over their dreams and goals. She utilizes her years and experiences to inspire and encourage women to move forward in their beautiful life, and to leave worry behind them in the dust! You can contact her at Katherine@KatherineARayne.com and sign-up here for her Sunday Newsletter!

 

Untainting Color

Untainting Color

by Katherine A. Rayne

 PosterColor

The controversy and racial tensions over the Ferguson city police shooting of Michael Brown took over our emotions for days and days. We weren't there and can’t judge or decide what happened that night, but most of us have witnessed racial discrimination. It’s born and reborn. It can’t be snuffed out as long as it exists in even the smallest of amounts.

The color of our skin shouldn't make a difference any more than the color of our car does. I won't judge someone for having a blue car just because I have a white car. We are born into our skin and it serves the same purpose for everyone; to keep us healthy and to protect us.

So why then, does the color sometimes hold someone back, limit them and hurt them in some way? Why, for so many people, can they not look past someone’s skin and instead look into their eyes to see them?

I worked as a cashier at a local grocery store during my high school years. One of the bag boys that was African American often bagged groceries for me at my counter. He was teenager-shy enough that I never got to know him but he was always quiet and kind to customers and co-workers.

A family known only by sight shopped at our store often. In my line one day, their soggy-diapered almost two-year old son sat in their cart behind me as I checked out their groceries. Half way through their order I heard his tiny scratchy voice yell the “N” word out in anger, and when I turned, he was pointing at my bag boy with his barely two-year old disgust and accusatory stare. It was loud enough to draw the stares of the employees and customers at the front of the store, not towards his target, but at his parents standing in front of me. Everyone silently piqued a need for their reaction.

They yelled at their son to quiet down. His confident anger dwindled into his pale, mosquito-bitten skin as he dropped onto his swollen diaper, hidden now within the large section of the cart. He was immediately a toddler again. The parents stood closer to one another in discomfort and unity. There was no apology for the employee. Only flushed skin, dirty hair and two smirks.

The stares followed the family out the doors. I heard the sounds of solemn mumbles among everyone while I stood nearest to my bag boy, his head down while preparing more doubled paper bags for our next order. His skin not showing red embarrassment under the darker tones.

“Someone had to teach him that,” escaped from my teenage lips. “I know,” he said, with an air of having had it happen before.

They were that “smallest of amount” of racism. Someone that believed that color was to be judged.

A two-year old hating before he could even understand hate. It was ugly. Two-year old's are supposed to be cute and lovable and mischievous, which he went right back to being when he sat down.

He was oblivious to the discussions he’d perpetrated. The emotions felt. The unity of a crowd it created. The memory carried forward even decades later.

I have no memory of the bag boy after that day. I can’t remember if that was his last day or if he continued working there. But I can still see his grace and peace behind me getting ready for the next customer. I pulled from it and moved forward, too. I let it go as they left our parking lot. They continued to return to our store, now with the void of any grace or class or dignity. A tainted memory of low-class behavior and my thoughts of their son’s angry future that was well on its path.

Who would he meet one day that might change his mind and undo the anger and hatred?

There was an opportunity for it to change that day if the parents had only watched and witnessed how ugly it was. How is it that they saw color as something uglier than their behavior?

The parents of Michael Brown asked for peace to return to their city after the rioting and looting began. A city swimming in bitterness wasn't going to help anyone. I saw no bitterness around me in the grocery store that day. I saw disgust and shock and then quiet and dignity. Everyone kept calm instead of adding their anger. But everyone there that day felt the moment and took it home with them.

Katherine A. Rayne is a mom, preschool teacher and author. Find more about her (and about yourself) at her personal website, www.KatherineARayne.com. She is the publisher of Back To Being A Woman on Facebook and tweets #DailyChallenges on Twitter at @BeingAWoman.