Monday, October 28, 2019

Teens to Adults - Talk and listen

Luckily I had the foresight to name this blog, "blokthoughtsnmore". It's so random and more of a journal than really anything else. I have followed bloggers/influencers/whatever we are calling them now about parenting for many many years. Usually it is about their baby, toddler, tween... and sometimes teen... but rarely have I found people talking about their teen who is rapidly turning to an adult right before their eyes and how they go from parent to a guide of sorts. Ya know? I know there is information out there, but not much.

Maybe it's difficult to explain because until you go through it, there really aren't any words for the multitude of emotions that attack you around every corner of this experience.

My son is 17, my daughter now 14. They are at this stage in life where I have to transition a bit of how I parent and it is all together... well... hard. We go from them needing us for every physical and emotional need you can think of, to them needing us on a different level. They mostly can take care of their physical needs, if there was any reason either of them had to live on their own right now, I have every faith they could do it AND not only that but be successful at it. Their friends are taking on a lot of their emotional needs, whether they know it or not. Even though they are gone a lot I still need to make sure they understand they are loved and have a safe place to land while still toeing the line of parent and guide.

When they were younger, if they made a wrong choice or had bad behavior, I corrected right then by my own consequences I delivered based on their action, or what consequences came natural, and let them know why it was wrong and why they wouldn't be allowed to make the mistake/or repeat the bad behavior again. Now though...if they make what I deem a wrong choice, I have transitioned and have felt that my job is to help them understand and work through what motivated them to do it and whether they even want to change it - and how to guide them along that path, so that when I am not there for them to talk to, they know how to do it on their own, in a healthy way and without too much shame or guilt to block them from growing and moving forward. My job is to protect them, yet let them choose and I find that is a difficult thing to try and do or figure out. I want to cocoon them in safety not allowing the world to affect them, but that isn't reality, so I constantly swallow my fear for them and their choices. It's really hard, but NO one prepares you for that, or tells you that you have to flip any switch or that there even is this transition, so a lot of parents just continue to dictate their kids choices and behaviors even as they make this transition from Older Teen to Young Adult and from my side of things, it doesn't go well very well. So now that I am in the middle of all of this, I thought I'd talk about it.

So for the sake of keeping this post short. Here is one thing I have found to work with my kids and this weird transition we are in. My goal has always been that they feel safe to talk to me about ANYTHING. So while they were young, I endured many minute and small insignificant stories, but seemed like a big deal to them, so that I practiced listening and they practiced talking with me as an audience. I know that they will never share EVERYTHING with me, but my hope is that they share most things with me - and then have another safe adult they share the rest with. There have been plenty of times where I have wanted to completely lose my crap from something they told or admitted to me... but I didn't, (well most of the time I didn't, when I have, I have always apologized for my reaction admitting to being imperfect) we talked it through and later, in my bedroom, I would cry or vent to my husband, and then after I flipped out, we would chat about what our next steps should be so that our children understood the freedom they had to choose for themselves, but that we are always here to help them through whatever it is they need. So they feel safe to tell me most things, what they don't tell me, we have agreed they tell someone so they don't hold the hard stuff in and that had helped with this weird transition we are in. We still aren't perfect at this, but the point is we try really hard!

So talking to them, but a lot of listening. Not just when they are young and depend on you for everything and they believe everything you say, not just when it's important, but when it's dumb, or silly, or obsolete. When they want to talk, you stop and take the time to do it. I haven't always been perfect, and at different times I have found that one kid is easier to talk to than the other, it depends on them and what they are going through at any given moment, but we always, always, talk.  Because when the hard conversations come, and they WILL come, we are ready to delve into it together and I am in the KNOW of what is going on in their lives, even if it isn't the life I designed in my head they would have, I still am part of it and THAT is important.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Projecting my body esteem fears affects my relationships

I had an experience, an eye-opening one. 

It had been a week into the new year on a Sunday afternoon. I gathered my family around to have a meeting and, of course, I had prepared snacks. It was a spread from nachos to mini-sized oranges and everything in between. 

I shout to my 16-year-old son, "Hey! You have to come try these nachos, I nailed it!". 

He comes into the room, shoulders a bit hunched and replies in a quiet voice, "Ummm... I'm on a strict eating plan and would rather choose to not try the nachos".

I stared at him and replied, "Come again?"

He said, "I'm trying Keto and want to give it my best effort so am choosing not to partake of the nachos."

A million things ran through my head, but the first to come out was, "When did you start this?"

He said, "January 1st."

I said, "And I'm just hearing about it?"

He said, "I thought you wouldn't let me do it or try to talk me out of it, so I just started it with my friend."

I think what I am most proud of is that I talk with my children, and I feel, they are open to talking to me. Many friends parents have text me to see what is going on with their own kids because they know that my kid talks to me. So I have held some pride in that. So this statement from one of my closest friends, who happens to be my son, floored me - that he did not trust me on this subject to share it with me.

Have you ever felt extremely happy in one moment and then desperate sadness in the next? Because that is what this felt like. Falling from a tall building and landing harshly on the ground defeated.

I have talked and talked with my children about body image, diets, and inner self-reflection, as well as, kindness, flexibility, and understanding that I want them to have with themselves as they navigate their journey in life. I have not hidden my journey with them.

Instantly I feared for his reasoning since the only scope I have to go off of is mine, I was scared he was spiraling into a hole of negativity and shame and I hadn't even noticed or caught on. There were so many things I wanted to discuss at the same time it was difficult to gather all of my thoughts. I was afraid for him, but only because, I knew how diets and my reasoning for being on them affected me and I didn't want him to start down that path, as if his body esteem depends solely on me. I also was saddened that he felt the need to keep this from me to spare my feelings.

I knew my next response was important so I asked, "Why did you want to try/start Keto?" and then I held my breath waiting.

He said something to the following, "I want to be at peak performance when I go into my Senior year of football. I noticed at the end of the season that I was getting tired quicker, feeling sick at times, and my strength wasn't where it could be. I thought if I could learn to fuel my body to up its performance I could benefit from that going into my Senior year. I'm not eating at certain times, I'm not restricting myself but choosing on my own to eat what the plan allows-knowing at any time I am free to deviate.  I read all about the foods and the reasoning behind it and I wanted to see how it affects my body for the next 30 days and how my running and lifting are affected, because of what I am eating. I am keeping track of my weight so I know what that is when I feel I am at peak performance. This has nothing to do with changing my body shape, I am really fine with how I look and so are the ladies if you know what I mean (he then winks at me and laughs), I just want to see what my body is capable of. Mom, I've listened to you I know I have to always check in with my body and I want to do this." Obviously, he had thought about this and knew what he wanted to say. 

So he was doing this not out of shame for his body but in a way to work with it. 

I could breathe again. 

So my next response was something like this, "First, no matter how hard you feel it is to talk to me about certain things, you still talk with me-I may surprise you. That is what I most disappointed about, not that you are going on a 'diet' but that you felt like you couldn't tell me. Second, I want to support you, let me know what foods I need to keep stocked in the house and I'll put it on my grocery list. I love you bud, this is your journey, not mine and I wish you the best of luck with it! I would like updates on your performance stats!"

He's kept his end of the bargain so far and I have kept mine.

I'm thankful for moments like this, where I am able to check in with myself - where my kids teach me important lessons. If my son felt like he had to keep that hidden from me then that reflects more on me than him. I need to work on sharing my message without people feeling like they will get a harsh judgment from me if their journey is different than mine. 

My journey and my experiences are mine alone. People may understand them and need to hear what I'm saying, but also, their body, their experiences, their fears are not mine and I will not judge your experiences and your journey based off my fears... or I will at least do my best to try not doing that... my insecurities and fears have a way of affecting everything - luckily my growth does as well.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Being measured...Show up, be active, take action


I found this and thought to myself... this couldn't be more appropriate to how I'm feeling about this new year.

I want to do and be the things that I admire.

I want to show up for people. I want to take action. I want to be active.

And that is my theme this year.

I want to give more time to the things that matter... and to me, that means relationships (including the one I have with myself and body).

I want to "be measured by things I can control, by who I am and who I am trying to become."

I can control so many things in my life, and I yet, more than I'd like to admit, I fixate on the things that I can't. It's funny how human beings do that.

Isn't it?

So to start, I want to continue to show up for me, healing on the inside and taking care of myself so that I can be available to others.

Self-care is continuing on my Instagram page @rachelleshappy and sharing #mybodyesteemjourney. Connecting with people that have gone through the same struggles, holding hands, and swimming through the muck together.

Self-care is traveling more with my husband and kids, exploring, re-inventing, understanding.

Self-care is staying at home and vegging out while catching up on movies or series or reading a really good book, all alone.

Self-care is being present, collecting small moments of joy and connecting them to feel encompassed fully by life.

Show up, be active, take action.

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