Parenting – Shit This Is Hard!

The beautiful, and sometimes terrifying thing about raising children, is when you see that they are their own person. They come from the DNA of two people, and are likely being raised by one or both of those people, so a certain amount of influence is there from day one. But, despite all of that, they still have their own brains. It’s amazing to watch them take the info that they are given, and come up with opinions and ideas based on that. Sometimes it is exactly what you would do in the same scenario, and sometimes you wonder if they’re really your kid.

When I look at my own children, I see my hair, my ex husbands feet. My love of reading, his love of the outdoors. Parts of us are there for sure. But there are more parts that are all their own. This is fantastic, and it’s so much fun. It’s fun to envision where they might go in life with their personalities. But, sometimes it can be a little scary too. Sometimes, you wonder if you maybe messed up somewhere along the way. Having children also really makes you scrutinize your own dreams, and makes you wonder if by pursing your own dreams, you’ll somehow mess them up even more.

This came into play for me the other night. Both kids were here with me, and I was reading a post in a Facebook group about someone who planned to spend no more than $5 on any purchase that was not a complete necessity, a bill, or food. I was fascinated by this idea, and mentioned it to the kids. One child also thought this was a fascinating idea. The other thought it was just about the worst idea ever. I asked if they thought we could do something like that. You can guess how that went. The son who thought it was a terrible idea asked if we could do it after Christmas because he wanted this or that. The other son, while he probably wants some similar higher priced items, didn’t think it was an impossible idea.

Neither child gave the wrong answer in my opinion. They’re kids, and kids want the things they see. They don’t yet grasp exactly how money works, or how you weigh the benefits of a purchase. It’s natural, and I don’t fault either for the reaction they had. But, my ex and I have been noticing a trend with the child who said “no way”, and it’s a trend toward materialism. His grandfather had to explain the benefits of paying someone to come and do a bit of work with a truck, over the cost of buying the truck himself to be used on these rare occasions. Things like taxes, car payments, and maintenance just weren’t sinking in. Again, totally normal, but so unlike myself and my ex. So how is it that two people who really aren’t tied up in owning lots of stuff, raising a child who is all about the newest and best of everything? We want him to have the world, but at the same time, we want him to value everything he has. So now we are in this weird position of thinking that somewhere along the way, we messed up, but can’t quite figure out how, since we aren’t really like that, and neither is our other child.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally cool with me that he wants different things in life that the rest of us. But, I don’t want him to go into massive debt because he doesn’t understand how money works, or how to really weigh what is important to him. So here’s where the part about my own dreams and personality come in. For a while now, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of getting even more drastic with the scaling down of our posessions. There’s so much that has made it through the previous rounds of purging that has yet to be used. I’m very motivated to scale way down,and to even eliminate some levels of my sentimental clutter.

Financially speaking, I can’t give him the Christmas he’s probably hoping for. I don’t really think I should try to be honest. Living in a blended family already gives him about five celebrations at Christmas where he’s given gifts. So, I feel like our celebration should be different. But, I’m struggling with mom guilt on all of this. If I really pare our things down. If I really make our holiday what I think it should be, how will that translate in the brains of my kids? Will it make them see the value of what they have even more? Or will they just remember it as that year my mom gave all of our stuff away and Christmas stunk? It’s so weird and scary to do set your own path in life, while bringing along these other totally unique people who aren’t old enough to yet go their own way, but whose life you alter with every decision.

Parenting….shit this is hard!

The Things You Own

The things you own end up owning you. – Fight Club

I’ve never seen Fight Club, but when I looked for a quote that fit with the post I wanted to write, this one really conveyed my intent. When I was a little girl, and my parents were still married, we moved a lot. I only remember one house that we lived in, and it was the last house we all lived in together. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it had a big back yard and a really cool barn that I liked to play in. I would ride my bike in the alley behind it, and wait in the front yard for my father to come home from a run. We had some really wacko neighbors across the street, and some fantastic ones right next door. Life seemed really good there.

But this is the house where my parents ultimately decided to go their separate ways. There were fights, and times where the house wasn’t much fun at all. Eventually, they decided to divorce, and my mother and I moved away. I don’t really remember how I felt about leaving the house. I suspect I was more upset about leaving our neighbors than I was the house, but I’m sure tears were shed. Looking back on it now after going through my own divorce, and leaving that house, I’m very glad my mother decided to move. I’m glad that she wasn’t so tied to that life and that house, that she stayed in a miserable relationship.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the things you own. There’s nothing wrong with making your house a home, and enjoying the time you spend in it. I have a small apartment, and I have lived here a long time. I like it a lot. It’s nothing fancy, but my pictures are on the wall, my kids things are laying about, and there’s good stuff here. But, your stuff should never tie you down to a life you don’t love. My mother shouldn’t have stayed married to a miserable man just to keep our house, or cars, or a certain way of life. Your stuff should never own you.

I don’t really have a lot of things. I don’t have a big fancy house. But lately, I’ve been looking around and thinking about how much the little I do own, still owns me. How I still hold some fear about losing the things I own. The things don’t matter at all, and it is easy to forget that. It is easy to get wrapped up in all that you have amassed and created, to forget who you even are and what you really want. What matter is how you feel. Are you living a lifestyle with things that you love, but feeling miserable over all? Will you be happier if you stay there, or release the attachment to the things, and build the life you really love wherever that works best?

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my life. But, my stuff still owns me more that I think it should. I think it is time to get to a place where I know that if I lost every bit of my stuff that it wouldn’t matter as long as the people in my life remained. I want to know that I can create our happiness with a lot or with a little, and anywhere we choose.

But You Don’t Look Sad

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Right now my Facebook feed is full of the news that comedian Robin Williams most likely took his own life at the age of 63. He was very well loved, so it’s shocking, but it’s even harder to believe that he suffered from severe depression and that’s likely why this happened. Like so many others, I’m saddened by this news. He brought so much joy to so many with his comedy, and it’s hard to believe that it’s over. But, as someone who suffers from depression, I’m heartbroken that another life was lost to it.

A few days ago a favorite social media personality posted something about how easy a certain goal was because the means to achieve it were so simple; and if you didn’t do those things, then she questioned if you really wanted it at all. I’m not going to say who, because I know how she meant it, and on any other day I would have totally agreed with her. I also knew she was speaking about normal circumstances in life. But that day that reality seemed so far from possible it was as if she was suggesting I would have the wealth of Bill Gates if I’d only do one little thing.

That day I was in the deep black hole of depression. I had actually just clawed my way out of a rather long period of it, and had some really good days, but had dipped way back down that day. I didn’t have my children, so I had come home from work thinking I’d do a bunch of things around the house and online that needed to be done. Instead, I ate dinner, and went to bed. I didn’t go to sleep, even though I easily could have. I just laid in bed and stared at the ceiling until it was “time” for bed. “But you don’t look sad” is a common thing depressed people here when they confess their illness to others. Truth is, people who are depressed often have wonderful lives. They have “nothing to be depressed about” according to those who really don’t understand it.

For me, depression isn’t really sadness. I usually don’t want to cry, though sometimes I do. It’s just paralyzing. You can see everything you are capable of, every thing that’s possible in life, every wonderful thing you have to be thankful for, and you just can’t bring it to you. You can’t feel the happiness you should, you don’t understand the gifts you’ve been given, and the potential to reach out and take what life has to offer seems like an insurmountable task. That’s how it is for me anyway. I’m sure each person experiences it in a different way.

I don’t have a relationship with my father, and the last thing he said to me was that I come from a line of people with mental illness and that I wouldn’t escape it. Well he’s right, I haven’t escaped it. I’ve never been suicidal. There’s only one point in my life that I remember understanding how someone could get to that place. I wasn’t there, but I could see where that was.

Depression doesn’t have to take your life. There is help to be had. Reach out to your doctor, your friends, family, and the world of online resources that can help you find treatment. Don’t keep it a secret. There are people who will listen and help you. If things get too bad, call the National Suicide Prevention line at 1.800.273.8255. You matter in this world.

You never know if the smiling face in front of you is fighting a tough battle inside.