I think one thing we can all agree ranks fairly high on the stress-o-meter is the buying and selling of houses. Both Pippin and I have sold homes before, and high stress has always been a given. Even when we were late getting out of the house during the winning bidder’s showing, they said to us as we exited, embarrassed: so sorry for the stress.
So we decided this time we were going to try to do it differently: stress free. I invite you along for the ride.
Last Friday we closed on the sale of the home we have shared for the past five years. It was nothing special – really only one real bedroom and one bath. We essentially shape-shifted the rest, turning the living room into a shared bedroom for the two youngest girls, and coaxing a few more out of the large basement. The market is booming in Portland, and we sold in the first weekend. Now we have less than a month to get out.
True to form, we have no idea where we are moving. I should be nervous as hell, cause I’m not that chill about the unknown, but I’m not….yet. Pippin and I had a conversation in advance and agreed that it could either be stressful or stress-free—that the road would be the same on the way out and the choice would be ours if we wanted it to be enjoyable. He makes a good point—but it’s not easy to just switch to that mindset.
To be honest, It takes great effort to push off the fear that keeps trying to creep its way in. I am forcing myself into mind over matter mode, because if I don’t there will be a guaranteed meltdown by yours truly, which I just don’t have time for. In addition, and ssshhhh…we haven’t told the kids, but our vacation might need to be delayed. Living stress free doesn’t come without compromise. Anyhoo…I decided it’s time to start the search.
That’s step one. But if we really are serious about purchasing the lot we’ve had our eyes on, we oughta start doing the research about home building in Portland. At this rate, I’m concerned that we won’t even have time to build. In any event, we need a Plan B. I know enough that we aren’t rolling all our new cash into a house rental with no equity.
Of course I know that building a home is expensive, but I still have faith in our collective resourcefulness. Portland is currently experiencing such a boom, there’s nothing remotely in our price range. I’m convinced we can build something far more space-efficient and have exactly what we want.
It’s a pleasant change telling my habitual free-ranging stress to take a seat. I’m going to join forces with Pippin’s unbridled enthusiasm for this up coming year. So this morning as Pippin fantasized about finally having a garage and a shop to work out of, I decided to join in and imagine what it would feel like to have enough space for everyone, and everyone’s accumulated life-stuff.
How lovely to be able to imagine spreading out a little more. For now, at least, our world is wide open.
The toughest thing about being a mom – or at least the thing that my friends and I complain most about – is staying in shape. There’s no time; it’s too hard to get to the gym or yoga studio – or I waste money because I never go; there’s no privacy. I’m here to argue that it’s so important for your sanity, that you need to make time. It’s not an option to do nothing. What follows is my simple fix.
I have four things I try to rotate on a regular basis (and I’m not suggesting you try all four, but just for options): yoga, dance, strength training, and things for flexibility or stretching.
My rule of thumb is simplify! I do most of my exercises in my bedroom. I wear as little as possible (so I can see my muscles at work), add some music and let it rip. It is me time with the aim of being disrupted as little as possible. Of course, this rarely happens, but as we say in yoga, it helps me to stay “On the mat” – which means stay focused. I used to stop what I was doing when they burst through the door, but I have learned to keep going and they either camp out on my bed and watch or even join in.
I use a blank wall for balance exercises and my dresser like a ballet barre, and the small space around my bed for everything else. Sometimes I focus on resistance training basics – you know, those exercises we all used to hate (and still do!)—I do as many sit-ups as my abs can handle, 10 pushups and about 120 leg lifts and lunges on each side. We have a pull up bar installed in our bedroom doorway, and I do 6 pull ups. Of course, butt exercises are a must.
Always push yourself – easy to say; hard to do. But try to always increase the reps. When you do pushups, start with ten and add one more every other day. The same for plies and planks and any other exercise in your routine. Mix it up. And most importantly, breathe. If you are holding a difficult pose, picture it as one of life’s challenges. Picture the air intake enveloping the muscle group you’re working on and use it to breathe out as a stronger woman.
Remember to use your workout time as your time. Let your kids see you taking care of yourself, there is no need to hide behind a locked door or stow them in childcare at the gym all the time. My kids see me dance in the kitchen when I’m putting dishes away. I read vogue while sitting in pigeon pose. When you integrate simple activity like this into your daily routine, and stagger it throughout the day, you give your metabolism and mood a boost. And, you don’t let a lack of time (or money) be your only excuse to getting the strength and endurance you want to feel great.
At the very end of the day, unwind in a tub of epsom salts, stretch out and massage your sore muscles in the warm water. You’re worth it after all!
I can’t believe it, but Milla is already showing drastic improvement; and it’s been only a week since we discovered the issue. I was convinced Milla was traumatized beyond repair and that she would need several therapy sessions to help her process what happened. But literally pulling the plug on screen use has proven to be worth it’s weight in gold. The bulk of the issue was too much freedom—too much running wild, completely unleashed in the internet jungle. And so reeling it in has just about resolved the problem on it’s own.
She’s like a whole new kid.
And it feels like she’s happier than before. She has a sense of humor, is less irritable and even comes to check in with me throughout the day and night, wherever I am in the house. I love this!
Of course counseling will still be in the picture—I believe in giving all of my kids an opportunity to seek help with a professional—and having complete confidentiality. They can pour their hearts out one session at a time and gain an understanding about themselves in a way that I cannot teach. Milla will be able to learn some meaningful tools to help her cope in a busy world—with someone she trusts. I only wish I stepped in sooner to offer this.
I’ve also been policing her viewing history as I religiously collect both her iPhone and iPad every evening. She knows I look through it—the transparency has us trusting each other more. And she agrees that the freedom she has is enough and understands the freedom she had before was far too much. I should’ve been doing this from day one, but I’m glad I have a much better understanding now.
I randomly told the story to my doctor yesterday and she said that another patient of hers confessed to learning how to cut herself online—simply from being exposed to it as an option for self expression or anxiety relief.
We have to protect our kids better than this, I said.
Kids are so impressionable. Too much independence could easily yield a dangerous situation. When they become teens, everything rides on that edge of you can’t tell me what to do, you really don’t know anything at all. They seek other meaning—oftentimes opposite what you have told them. But this doesn’t mean Milla doesn’t need me anymore—it means she needs me now more than ever. I have come to understand this sort of backwards rationale.
Even though there is nothing more precious to me than my kids’ innocence and security, this So Called Mom has also been careless with it. I see it clearly now that Milla has directly experienced my lackadaisical approach to the online world. Consequently, ignorance is not bliss— it’s hazardous. Parenting teens means patrolling them too. Especially with their online usage—otherwise it’s all out of sight, out of mind.
If something is amiss, we need to ask ourselves, what is it they are not getting and how do I fulfill that need?
I understand this is a challenge—all moms are busy. There’s a lot that is demanded of us these days. But we need to engage, to stay involved and lean into it. Because what we don’t know will hurt us. We need to see the apps they have, the profiles they’re creating, the viewing history. We need to ultimately talk about the scary world they are navigating, and talk about it often. Even if we are afraid of what we’ll find, we need to stay connected and stay close by.
When I originally wrote about jobs, I was referring to four teenagers, who to date, have done nothing about getting jobs. It looks like drive in the family comes in the form of a nine year old.
Recently and for no apparent reason, Pascal took up the accordion – which in music terms is like deciding to study Swahili. Not exactly a popular choice or with any apparent value. But she wants one of her own (hers is borrowed)….Along with a new skateboard and other skateboarding gear. When I told her the standard parent answer: We aren’t made of money, she came back with a surprising response:
Let me play on the street for money. Like a street musician. I’ll earn it.
Rather than describe what happened, let me show you.
The girl raked in almost $50 in less than an hour. Yesterday, we sat at a new spot, just out of the rain for only 20 minutes and she earned $25. She’s hooked (I’m hooked!), so we are going back today. This is what I call resourceful.
And she’s not just self-serving: she’s been playing for the retirement home down the street, bringing joy to a grateful audience.
I know I’ve got to get on the older kids, but here’s hoping a nine year old can motivate the others, as to date, there has been zero follow through. That’s my goal for this week: bust some teenage ass.