Monthly Archives: September 2014

If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent

Reblog of this post by John Pavlovitz of North Carolina. This is the best and only way that I could think to thank him properly for his words and wisdom – and that is to share it with any and every human that I can.

john pavlovitz

KidsFiltered


Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children.

I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.

Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.

For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…

1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.

My children won’t…

View original post 949 more words

The Mourning

Sept. 22, 2014

I came to a harsh realization today.

I had Cancer.  shutterstock_92336032

Breast Cancer.

Aggressive, invasive, triple-negative non-hormone driven stage 3 breast cancer.

Yeah sure, I know it was February of last year that I found the lump.  And I’m aware that the multiple biopsy results came on Noah’s 13th birthday in March of last year.  On April 10, 2013 my body was altered forever when a surgeon removed both of my breasts, all the way to the chest wall.  Chemo took my hair shortly thereafter, and by the end made it difficult to walk, even with a cane.  Radiation burned my skin, forever making that area slow to heal.  Scars were left, after several surgeries, from mid-sternum to underarm, on both sides.

Through all of that, I tried to stay positive.  I tried to keep smiling.  I tried to keep going and not think about anything but getting through the treatments and get it over with.  And I did it!  My PET scan was clear, showing no signs of cancer in November 2013.  Radiation ended February 19, 2014 – ending all treatments, and that was it.  I was done!  And every day since it ended, I woke up with an exquisite realization – I BEAT Cancer! breast_cancer_by_moydh-d4izagk

Time passed, strength returned, health returned.  I started working out again!  I started eating better again!  I started losing the 27 pounds that I gained during treatments!  Then, despite having said from the very beginning that I would have no part of reconstruction, I entertained the option for two reasons:  I did not like what I saw in the mirror, and some of my clothes were not fitting right.  Small implants should do the trick, I thought, to fill in the caved-in areas of my chest, fill my swimsuit, yet still omit the need for a bra. Sounded like a win-win to me!

I had my surgery on July 24th.  Within a week or two I felt great, and back to normal – despite the fact that you couldn’t even tell that I had gotten implants.  Five weeks after surgery, my skin split open on the radiated side, and turned into an infection that wouldn’t respond to antibiotics.  So last week, on September 18th, I was back in surgery to un-do all that had been done in July, remove the implant, and get rid of all of the infection.

Yesterday, I removed the bandages for the first time so that I could shower.  It was like someone had punched me in the gut.  It took my breath away.  The damage was worse now than way back after the double mastectomy last year.  I obviously was NOT prepared for what I saw, and I stood for what seemed like forever, mouth agape, staring at even worse caved-in scars than existed before.  There are no words, but the sense of loss overwhelmed me at that moment – and I believe that it was then that the mourning began.

The aftermath of multiple surgeries, implants, and infection
The aftermath of multiple surgeries, implants, and infection

Today, I can’t stop crying.  I have no way to explain it, except for an overwhelming sense of grief.  It isn’t about not being grateful that I beat cancer.  It isn’t about not being thankful that the staph infection didn’t get into my bloodstream and kill me.  I mean, truly, I hated my large breasts before cancer; but I never hated them enough to disfigure myself.  But it is a very odd place to be where I don’t look like a woman when topless; nor do I look like a guy when topless.  I feel like some androgynous person who gets called sir in the check-out line, and then called ma’am when they hear my voice.  I know that there is the option, after a while, to start over with something else that can be made from my own tissue, but that doesn’t take away from what I have to see today, and every day until maybe it can be repaired.  But truthfully, the more I see these scars, the less hope that I have for a repair that will look remotely like a breast.

I don’t know how to mourn.  I don’t know how to grieve a major loss and then let it go.  I know how to shove down feelings, sometimes to the point of omitting them from my memories.  I know how to stifle tears that start to choke me, for fear that if I let them go, they won’t stop and will overtake me.  When death has touched my family on rare occasions, I will usually cry at the intital news but then keep it together from that point forward.  I did fall apart after the loss of a baby and again when my oldest moved out, and that was enough for me.  To me, it doesn’t seem to be productive to fall apart, when I would much rather just face things, deal with it, and keep smiling and cracking jokes in order to cope.  So for whatever reason, now, all of these months and months and surgery scars later, my psyche has decided that THIS surgery was the one.  The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.  Floodgates are being pressed hard by weird, foreign, emotion-type things like the levees in New Orleans during hurricane season.

No matter how much I downplay it, no matter how much I laugh it off – body parts are gone forever.  No matter how many more procedures it takes to rebuild some semblance of a chest – they will never be the real thing or look like the real thing.  I know that my physical appearance doesn’t define me, and never has – so why in the holy f&*k is this driving me mad NOW???  I just don’t get it.  And this whole piece is NOT for advice on how to deal with things, or for great words of wisdom, or for anyone to tell me to “buck up, Buttercup” – because I’m telling myself that one plenty, thank you very much.  This piece was just how I know how to process things, and that is through writing.  I only share in hopes that if there is one person out there who goes through something remotely similar, that they will know that they are not alone, and that they can, should, and will go through a mourning of their own.

But, I came to a harsh realization today.

I had Cancer.

No, I DON’T Love All of My Children the Same!

IMG_0340

I remember, fourteen years or so ago, when I was pregnant with Noah. No matter what I said or how excited I was, there was no convincing Nicholas (who was eight-and-a-half when Noah was born) that it was going to be great, him having a baby brother. Nope. He didn’t want any part of it. And what did I tell him more than anything else? I told him that he was not being replaced, and that I would love him no less once the new baby arrived – that I would love both boys exactly the same. Even all of these years later, when Harrison came into our lives, I found myself saying the same thing – that I would love all three kids the same. Well, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s a crock of shit! There is no way that I could even remotely love these three wonderful and unique individuals the same! No, that doesn’t mean that I have a favorite, or that one is just not good enough to be loved the same – it just means that I love them differently, and especially just the way that I need to love them as an individual.
* * * * *

To my oldest and firstborn son, Nicholas:

The love I have for you is a love that I cannot give to your siblings, or even to your daughter (my grandbaby). This love is special, because you showed me how to love as a parent for the first time. You showed me that it didn’t matter that I was young, inexperienced,

Circa 2009ish - Best NoH8 pic EVER
Circa 2009ish – Best NoH8 pic EVER

uneducated, and broke – as long as you knew that your mommy was there no matter what. Because I was young, as you grew, so did I. For a long time it was just you and me, and despite how hard it was at times (which I hope you don’t remember),

Circa 2008ish - Creeper...snuck up on me
Circa 2008ish – Creeper…snuck up on me

there was always the assurance that you gave me the strength and drive to keep plugging away and take care of you. We joke now and you give me a hard time, telling me that we love Noah more than you, and that we love Harrison more than both of you – and we all know that even the thought is ridiculous. Yes, it was really hard for us when you were little; single mom, no money, moving from tiny apartment to living with relatives, struggling at times to pay bills or buy groceries. But somehow we did it, and before my very eyes you grew from a baby

September 2014...still my baby boy
September 2014…still my baby boy

to a boy to a teenager to a young man to a husband and now a father yourself. With every day, week, and year, and even when you got into trouble, my love for you would grow. And even at our lowest point, when my heart was breaking over a decision made, I knew that my devastation was out of fear that our bond was somehow over. For nine months you were out of my house, and for nine months I continued to love you, worry about you, miss you, and want you home. I missed our closeness, and even after all of the pain, I just wanted you to know and remember my love. You opened up my whole world as my first child, showing me what it is like to have a piece of my heart walking around outside of my body. For that, I thank you and love you to the moon and back.

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Spring 2014
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Spring/Summer 2013…forced selfie with his mama

To my middle child and second-born son, Noah:

The love that I have for you is born from hope and thankfulness for the child that I never thought that I would have. After having Nicholas, when the desire was there to have another child, I went through many attempts at pregnancy, including drugs, shots, and fertility treatments. I was finally told that I had secondary infertility, and that it was unlikely that it would ever happen. When I unexpectedly found out, many months down the road, I cannot ever explain to you the joy and love that filled me for you – even then, and from the moment I knew that you were there. You were a miracle, and I was going to do whatever I had to do to protect you. As a little, tiny fellow you made me see the world through your bright blue eyes, full of curiosity and into everything. And as you grew, and your energy was so very hard to contain, so did my fierce, protective mama-bear love; because outside the walls of our home were those who didn’t understand how loving and amazing you are. You desperately wanted to have a greater connection with your big brother, and I often tried to fill that void within you with the overflow that I already had. I so wanted for my love to shield you from any and all hurt and pain, and I imagine that I will always want that. You showed me how to love at full speed, no brakes, every day – because that is how you operate. I may not have always done it very well, in fact, I know that I have failed you on many occasions. But I have learned over the years that the love I have for you is so different and so familiar all at the same time, because I am very much like you. When you became a big brother, you showed me how a guy can, and should, love

August 2014 - Summer camp pickup
August 2014 – Summer camp pickup
Big Brother, Little Sister
Big Brother, Little Sister

a younger sibling, and my love for you only deepens when I see how much you have and that you give it freely. You will never know how much of a connection we really do have, and you will likely never know just how much I love you…and it will never change no matter what you may do. Thank you for always pushing me towards that unconditional love, whether you realize you are doing it or not.

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August 2014

To my youngest child and only daughter, Harrison:

I was not sure how I would be able to love you as much as the boys that I carried in my body, nurtured, and fed. When Mommy was pregnant with you, I often worried that you wouldn’t feel like “mine” because we don’t have a biological bond. But the moment that you arrived, in the middle of an operating room full of people, I was flooded with love at first sight.

Oct 24, 2011 - Best yawn EVER
Oct 24, 2011 – Best yawn EVER

A few minutes after you were cleaned up and wrapped up, you were placed in my arms and we were ushered into a room together to wait for the doctors to close up your Mommy and bring her in for recovery. We were alone for a short time, and I looked down at you, instantly falling in love with this baby girl that I never in a million years anticipated. And that love? That love is what filled every fiber of my being and told me that you are mine. Months later, after going through legal hoops, fingerprinting, and home visits from a social worker, we were finally standing in a courtroom in front of a judge, and that same first love came flooding back as you were legally declared what you had been since before birth: my daughter!

August 2012 - Adoption granted!
August 2012 – Adoption granted!

You have that same fireball spirit as Noah did (and still does), so the love that I developed for his non-stop energized personality has re-surfaced and brought some patience with it – for both of you. Your smile, your laugh, your singing, and your fascination for every thing around you can frustrate me, wear me the hell out, and love you to the point that it feels as if my heart might explode. When my baby girl says, “Mama? Pweeeeese?” it pretty much melts my heart and you end up getting whatever you want. Your arrival showed me that the special and amazing love between an adoptive parent and this amazing creature that was picked just for them by the universe is an awesome and wonderful gift. Thank you baby girl for letting me love you in this unique way…I will love you forever and always.
* * * * *

Oct 2011 - First photo of all 3 siblings
Oct 2011 – First photo of all 3 siblings

So, see? While yes, I most certainly love all of my children deeply and passionately with all of my heart, it is impossible to love them all the same. Each child, in any family, brings their own

Mother's Day 2013...I could not ask for more
Mother’s Day 2013…I could not ask for more

unique attributes that require their own unique love. Accept it. Embrace it. Spread it! What you will find out, like I did, is that there is more than enough to go around!

 

The Reconstruction

* I just realized that a previous blog post briefly covered some of this information, so my apologies for some repetition. I think I was in the hospital still when I wrote the last one – there were pain meds involved, and thus my recollection of it is a bit fuzzy *

So I guess it has been a while since I have updated in the post-cancer saga, huh? Well there wasn’t much to tell, thankfully, after treatment ended. I finished radiation in mid-February and then just went back to life as usual. My first 3-month checkup was in May, and all of my labs indicated that my tumor markers were normal. In September (well actually, next week) I am due to follow up with both my oncologist and my radiation oncologist – this will be six months out. In between, we finished the last school year, had a fantastic family vacation to Colorado, took an awesome anniversary trip to San Francisco and Napa, and then returned to get ready for Noah’s summer camp just before he started his freshman year of high school. I had been feeling great, working out, finally losing weight, and was getting better and better with each passing day. I knew that I needed another surgery to remove some skin and fat from each side of my scars, under my arms; plus I also needed to have my thyroid removed now that I have insurance. My surgeon had scanned my thyroid several years ago and discovered that there was an old, calcified nodule on it. Once I went in to discuss the thyroidectomy, she scanned it again just for kicks. Yup. Still there. I then started talking to her about possibly having small implants put in, only because I was caved in and my clothes were not fitting that great. She encouraged me to go and get a consultation from her friend and plastic surgeon before we scheduled the surgery – and so I did.

Two of my babies visiting me after surgery
Two of my babies visiting me after surgery

I went for my consultation, and after some discussion we devised a fairly simple plan for some small implants. The first surgeon would go in first and remove the thyroid, and then the plastic surgeon would take over to remove the skin and fat that was under the arms, and add the small implants. We scheduled it for the end of July, the week after we returned from our amazing trip to California. Three nights in the hospital and we came home for what I thought would be a short recovery. WRONG. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, prepared me for the recovery after reconstruction. The pain. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, prepared me for the pain after reconstruction. It was way worse than the double mastectomy had been, most definitely. It took weeks to move without flinching, and I was restricted from lifting anything over five pounds for six weeks…including Harrison. When I woke up from surgery, the first thing that I asked about was not the implants, but about the areas under each arm that needed to be removed – and they were still there. Something about not being able to get to them while I was under. Needless to say, I was NOT happy about that. Follow-up appointments revealed that while he had not been able to get to the areas easily while in the operating room, he could easily access them in one of his procedure rooms at his office. I went in a few weeks post-surgery to have the procedure done in-office, where he numbed me up and snipped and sutured. It’s not as flat as I would like on one side, but it can always be touched up at another visit.

Having my in-office procedure...awake and with a camera phone!
Having my in-office procedure…awake and with a camera phone!

Another one of the disappointments upon getting home and healing a bit was to see that I could hardly even tell that an implant had been added. My chest was so caved in that it pretty much swallowed up the entirety of each of the implants, moreso on the right side. So now, I find myself with a small bump on my left breast area, and no bump at all on the right side. Dear Lord baby Jesus, was this even worth doing? Ugh. So I discussed it with my plastic surgeon, and he said that he cannot go back in to fix it until November. I’m not sure that I get the reasoning behind it, but that is what he said. He said at that time, he will take the current implants out and place larger ones in (and the right one will have to be bigger than the left to accomodate the bigger cave-in). I am really, really hoping that it will be the last one.

Sidebar on the Thyroidectomy: A few days after I got home from the hospital, my surgeon who removed my thyroid called me. She had the pathology report back from the nodule that they removed from the thyroid. Cancer. GREAT. So now what? She said that the good news for me is that it was totally encapsulated inside the calcified, rock-like shell. It was 8mm of cancer, and the other good news is that no further treatment is required unless it is 10mm or larger. Whew. I barely skated out of more treatment! So for now, she is monitoring my meds and my TSH levels, and every six months I have to go for tests to make sure there is no cancer in my parathyroid.  At least this scar, the one on my neck, is healing nicely and hasn’t given me any problems whatsoever.

So now here I am, six weeks or so out from surgery. I don’t know if I was moving around too much or if I didn’t wait long enough to pick up Harrison, but my sutures that looked almost completely healed have opened up. First in one spot, then in two, then in three, until I saw four open spots over the weekend. I went last Friday and the doc looked at them, said that there is no infection, and that it is just really slow healing because it is the side where radiation took place. Even though I did wait the amount of time that my radiation oncologist said to wait, and then some, it apprently wasn’t long enough. The plastic surgeon said that the radiated side would be slow to heal for any reason, for the rest of my life. GREAT.

I now, for the most part, really regret even going down this reconstruction road. But I’ve come this far, I pretty much have to see it through – unless I just say “Screw it!” and have the doc reverse it and take the implants out altogether. I’m not to that point yet, considering all of the pain and soreness that I have endured….but I am SO ready for all of it to just be over.

** Added segment 9/12/2014 **

Fast forward to today. Over the course of this week, the pain has been steadily increasing in my left implant, while the wounds are still draining (over a week now) and not looking any better. I went back in for the doc to look at it, with pain so intense that it hurt to breathe. As soon as he took a look at it, he said, “Oh damn. That doesn’t look good.” He examined it, touched all around it, got a Q-tip and dug around in it (not pleasant, by the way), and confirmed that it is infected – probably with staph. Wait, WHAT?? Staph?? Um, are you going to put me in the hospital right now and take it out, and stick an IV in my arm to pump antibiotics in?? He was very calm, telling me not to freak out or be afraid, because staph is just the type of infection that takes place in this area when it happens. He said that he wants to try to save it if possible until we are ready to swap it out in November for the larger ones. I am to spend today and the weekend taking lots of antibiotics orally, along with pain meds, and report back to them on Monday morning. If it is not significantly better, then he will put me in on Thursday and remove the implants. This basically will mean that all of this pain and limitation will all be for nothing, and IF I decide to start over, we will do so with expanders once the tissue is completely healed. Again. And all of that means that there will be surgery next week, then another to insert the expanders, then another to take the expanders out and add implants. Ugh. breast-reconstruction-jo-400x400

This makes me extremely grumpy.

Helicopter Parents – Why We Are the Way We Are

With the beginning of another new school year, I have been thinking a lot lately about this label that has been thrown around for several years now – “Helicopter Parents.”  Everybody knows those parents, if they are not those parents themselves.  I am most certainly guilty of fitting the description myself.  According to Wikipedia, “a helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead.”  Helicopter parentAnd it doesn’t typically just occur within our kid’s school, both with academics and activities; the helicopter syndrome extends to virtually every aspect of their lives, often from birth until college graduation; sometimes even beyond that in extreme cases.  As I look at my middle child who, just last week, began his first year of high school, I have been looking within and examining when and why I became that parent.  When did this phenomenom appear?  Why did we, my generation of suburban kids turned suburban moms and dads, become so overly protective of our children?

I think what made me really think about it started from a hysterical blog that I read about the difference in back-to-school in the 70s versus back-to-school in 2014.  So many of the author’s points rang true, and gave everyone a good laugh in the process.  This made me realize that there was also a huge difference in many other areas of life as we knew it then, and life as we know it now.  Let’s look at things then and things now.

1970s

In the summertime, our parents got up and went to work; my brother and I stayed home, by ourselves.  No sitter.  No daycare.  We were in late elementary and early middle school when both parents worked, and yes, we stayed home alone.  We got up, made our own breakfast, and watched cartoons.  Now, normally we had to stay inside during the day, not allowed to swim in our pool until an adult was home, unless we had permission to go to a specific friend’s house and mom knew which friend – not that she knew where their house was, or even what street; just somewhere in our neighborhood that we could get to on our bikes.  Sometimes we would get permission to ride our bikes to the bowling alley, which was several miles away, and we would have to cross busy Main Street in order to get there.  As long as we stayed together, we usually could go bowl as much as we wanted.  We rode our bikes everywhere.  We stayed outside pretty much all day when we had permission (it wasn’t a bazillion degrees outside like it is now), going in briefly for a snack, for lunch, or for a drink (when we wanted something besides water from the hose).  We played kickball at the playground with neighborhood kids – most were our friends, but some we didn’t know and still welcomed to play.  There were no cell phones, and we stayed out until dark, when the street lights came on.

During the school year, we either made our lunches and threw them in our metal lunchboxes with thermoses full of either drink or soup.  Sometimes we got a lunch ticket for a change of pace.  As early as first grade, I walked to school with my brother and our friends from the neighborhood.  I didn’t know of anybody’s allergies, if they had them.  I was allowed to take peanut butter sandwiches in my lunch, and swap with a friend if I didn’t like what I had that day.  My mom typically met my teacher at the beginning of the year Meet-the-Teacher night, and then wouldn’t see them again until an Open House, if then.  When I got home, my mom didn’t ask me if I had homework – I just did it.  I did homework, ate dinner, maybe watched TV for an hour or so, did dishes, and had a bedtime.  I studied spelling words by myself, or maybe had my brother drill me.  I brought home report cards, had it signed, and returned it, knowing that if I got a “C” that I would lose privileges; and if I had bad conduct marks (which I ALWAYS did, for talking too much, if you can believe THAT!) then I would lose privileges and/or get grounded.  We took standardized tests at school, but our entire academic curriculum didn’t center around them, as far as I can remember.

2000s

During the summertime now, parents line up sitters, nannies, daycares, and camps (all that have been background checked, of course) for their children to attend; and even young teens are typically NOT left home alone and to their own devices.  Most parents have enough activities lined up all summer long on either side of family vacations that there is little time left for their kids to get into mischief.  Sports camps, church camps, theater camps, music camps, you name it – they’re out there.  Rec centers have summer camps that involve weekly field trips and multiple trips to city pools and water parks.  When we were kids, my mom’s biggest summer expenses for us were shorts/tshirts/swimsuits, and groceries to keep us happy while she was at work.  Summertime now, for working parents, is expensive since there is not only the clothes and groceries aspect, but all of these damn camps, too, at usually $100+ each per week long session!  Our kids have cell phones, so they can always be in contact with US, along with their gaggles of friends who also have cell phones.  And we don’t just send them out the door to play, with a general idea of where they will be, and no idea of when they will be back.  No, no.  Our kids have arranged play dates, where the parents arrange the time and place, and sometimes they drop them off at a friend’s house but most of the time meet at an agreed-upon location so that they can drink coffee and visit while the kids play.  If the kids are older and want to “hang out” with a friend (they are now too cool to say “go play”), we want to know exactly where the kid lives (with an address and preferably phone number), what adults will be there (because no adults = no “hanging out”), and have a set time that they are to return.  They are sent out the door with a cell phone that is GPS-enabled, so in the event that they do not return at the specified time we can then track their location to a quarter of a mile.  Our kids have computers, or at the very least computer access to a shared device, and access to any and everything in the world online, so we set up Parental Safety filters and restrictions – because while we are cool parents, we know that they have something at their fingertips that we formerly did not possess:  the Internet.  We watch who they text, who they talk to, how they browse, websites they visit (or try to visit).

helicopter-mom

Now let’s talk about school.  Most parents now don’t just send their kids out the door in the mornings, off to school with a backpack, lunchbox, and a hug; not unless they live fairly close to their school and can be watched for a good portion of their walk.  I know that with my oldest, he started riding his bike to school in 2nd grade, but only due to the fact that the school was one street directly behind our house and it took him less than five minutes to get there.  My middle child walked to school for the first time in 4th grade, and I walked with him several times at the beginning of the year before turning him loose to walk less than two blocks to his school.  With both boys, I knew where the crossing guards were, I knew the folks who worked in the office at school, knew the principals of their schools, and kept in regular contact with their teachers throughout the year.  Unlike when I was a kid in the 70s, both of my boys were given planners at the beginning of each year; and it was in these that they would daily write in their homework assignments, and teachers could report any problems or conduct issues.  I, in turn, would check the planner after school, make sure that they sat down and did any homework before going to play or hang out with any friends, and then sign the planner before making sure that it was tucked back into the backpack for the next day.  After the planner stage of elementary school, they moved into a more digital age, and parents then have access to every class and every teacher online, where we can view homework assignments, test dates, and email teachers with questions or concerns.  Unlike when I was a kid and was just expected to do my homework (because NOT doing it and taking a zero was just not an option), today’s parents are now not only keeping up with their own stuff – home, work, bills, groceries, kid schedules, birthdays, anniversaries, family, holidays…the list goes on and on – we are now adding the role of school into the mix.  I remember, over the past three years of my son’s middle school time, repeatedly saying how much I hated middle school, yet here I was, feeling like I was doing it again!  It got very tiring to look up coursework every day, make sure that he did the work, make sure that he turned the work in, and then regularly check back for grades to make sure he was passing and get him extra help when he was not.  My oldest lived with his dad for a brief period during his junior year of high school, and was struggling in some subjects when he first moved there.  During this time, his dad sat down with him almost every night to make sure he did his work, and helped him prepare for tests and such.  In the course of the past three years while the middle son was in middle school and struggling at times, his dad would often ask me if I was sitting down with him every night to watch him and make sure he was doing his homework.  Now I know that I am a hoverer, but my answer most of the time was “no.”  I know that this is not a method that helps our kids prepare for life in college, so no, I will not sit with him and make sure that he is getting it done.  He is at the very beginning of high school, and he has many tools available to him to succeed:  a laptop that is required at his school, a website that his teachers all access and use to post notes, homework assignments, deadlines, grades, etc.  I can log on under his name and check these things at any time as well, so if he doesn’t turn something in and gets a zero, I will see it.  This is an opportunity for me to step back, land the helicopter for a bit, and let him step off the ledge himself.  He is already learning to take notes in class, and how to go and check for assignments for himself.  These four years are what will prepare him for college – because his mama will not be holding his hand and making sure he takes notes and turns in his term papers or studies for his midterms.

So from my childhood to now, when did this huge shift in parental involvement take place…and more importantly, why?  Of course, as technology has advanced, so have we who became parents during that time.  But, there are other things that happened when we were young that hopefully don’t happen as often now under the watchful eyes of all those helicopter parents.  You know.  Those things that nobody likes to talk about.  Kids were left alone a LOT back in the day.  Bad things happened.  Girls were molested by family friends, by family members; raped by classmates or trusted adults.  So were boys.  And as we grew up and dealt with things that happened to us or to our friends, we declared within our own minds that those things would NEVER happen to our children, come hell or high water.

We were a lot more grown up back then, or so we thought we were.  Kids would sneak around and steal their parents liquor and drink – I mean young kids, too.  I was probably in middle school when I first drank, while at a friend’s house and when her parents weren’t home.  I would sneak liquor into my Coke when babysitting.  I was twelve when I had my first cigarette, also while at a friend’s house, with smokes stolen from her parents.  I cannot, in my wildest imagination, picture my kids doing either of those things at the age of twelve!  I have always regretted that first cigarette, because it started a fifteen year habit that was very hard to kick; but I did it for the sake of my child.10629880_10152356893032309_3819170507177371515_n

Maybe it is just me, and maybe the helicopter parent wasn’t born from dysfunction.  Maybe, for some, it came from a childhood of neglect or very little parent involvement in their lives.  Who knows? I hope that my hyper-vigilance towards my children has hopefully paid off in more areas than done damage.  I feel confidant that neither of the boys grew up without being touched or molested by anyone, and our toddler girl should never know the psychological and physical damage from that either.  I know that the oldest toyed with smoking for a while, but am grateful that he put it down and walked away from it.  And I know that he did some teenage drinking, but I am forever thankful that he was at least smart enough to not drive and hurt himself or anyone else.  It is so scary to think about all of the things that our kids have access to out there, and it is so hard to NOT be a helicopter parent.  If we can get them through childhood and adolescence relatively unscathed, somewhat educated, responsible and respectful, and a decent human being…then we have done our jobs and can call it a success.  It’s hard to let go and let them fall, screw up, and figure things out on their own.

Two of my babies visiting me <3
Two of my babies visiting me ❤

Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to go check for assignments online…