The push and pull of parenting.

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:17-04:00 February 4th, 2017|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, co-parenting, family, friends, friendship, gratitude, Life, mental health, mind/body, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, stress, stress relief, teenager, teenagers, teens, therapy|

The push and pull of parenting starts immediately upon birth as your infant is pulled from a dark cocoon of safety and pushed into the light of the world. We coo and cuddle and marvel at their perfect little fingers and toes and those plump cheeks and their smell and even at the impressive size of their poops! Yes, you know what I’m talking about, don’t deny it! Then what? Well, then we start pushing them to fall asleep on their own and that’s usually when the first heart-pull happens. Any parent who has done sleep training with their infant can tell you how painful it is to listen to their baby scream their head off until at last they pass out from sheer exhaustion. It seems cruel, hell, it is cruel to all parties involved, but the lesson is that if we don’t push them to self-soothe, then they will never be able to fend for themselves. I don’t know if this is true, but I can tell you that I’ve gone on some dates with men who clearly still have apron strings attached to mommy. Scientific data right there.

Next on the “push list” is the simple act of your baby reaching milestones like crawling and walking and eating solids. Nothing is as gross as going to your “mommy & me” class and having to defend why your kid isn’t up to peas yet, while all the others are chowing down on homemade organic sustainable kabocha (whatever the hell that is.) So we push, because somewhere on the parenting journey someone thought competition was a good idea. The best part of this stage is when you find the other parents that are like you and you “pull” apart from the wacky ones. You join your parent gang because they don’t see anything wrong with your cleaning off the pacifier that just fell on the ground by actually sticking it in your mouth to get rid of any potential germs. My peeps! I love that I am actually still really close to several of my old gang members. ‘Sup guys?

Now for some more pulling. Pulling them out of the playground for example, after they’ve thrown sand in some kid’s well-deserving face and you’re trying to show that you’re disappointed when inside you’re beaming with pride that your kid stuck up for themselves. Ice cream! Pulling them out of the store where some evil manager decides that a ride-on sesame street car is a great way to torture parents. Your kid is freaking out and won’t leave and you and Dad are pulling and then pushing, no, shoving him in to his carseat as he strong arms and stiffens like a California Redwood. I feel you, we’ve all been there.

Then there’s the normal push and pull that happens in the middle. The pushing to eat more veggies, the pulling the crumpled homework out of the backpack, the pushing to take a shower, the pulling of dirty socks from in between the couch cushions. That’s all the physical stuff, it’s the emotional stuff that’s really hard. You push your kid to say hi to a kid he doesn’t know so that maybe he’ll make some new friends. You pull your kid in close when he suffers his first heartbreak because the girl he liked decided she wanted to go to the dance with someone else. You push your kid to try out for the basketball team, and then pull him in for the victory dance when he makes it!

This is all pretty basic parenting, but sometimes it isn’t all that basic, or normal, or average, and sometimes it’s pretty freaking hard. As we push and pull our kids, we feel the push and the pull a thousand times more, it all just happens to our hearts so no one really sees, but man do we feel it. I’m usually pretty good at keeping my shit together when one of my kids is going through something tough, but it’s not easy. There’s that constant inner turmoil I experience, do I push or do I pull? There’s moments when I have to call on alter-egos like John Madden, when I need to do the gruff football coach yell of “Get out there and do it! Don’t be a wuss! You’ve got this”! Then there’s my Mother Teresa (a nickname I earned from one of my early parenting gang members) and that’s when I open my arms and cradle my baby and tell them everything is going to be ok. Two very different parenting styles, but both incredibly effective, and both so vital to getting through this parenting journey.

I will continue to push and pull my kids, and sometimes I will even apologize for making the wrong choice, pushing when I should have pulled or pulling when I should have pushed. The end game is that my kids will be the ones pushing me around when I’m old and frail and pulling me close when I need them most.

Am I pulling them close or pushing them away?

Stay well.

Sake to me!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:20-04:00 October 9th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, brotherhood, brothers, childhood, children, co-parenting, divorce, family, food, gratitude, Life, liquor, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, rock and roll, rock n roll, sharing, siblings, single parents, teenager, teenagers, teens|

I have three kids whom I adore and treasure for all their uniqueness and sameness and all the rest of the ness’s they might encompass. We get along most of the time, and I mean as individuals and as a unit. Occasionally there’s a fracas or two that threatens to interrupt the status quo of the day, but they are short-lived and usually long-forgotten by the time everyone’s calmed down. It’s not easy to carve out time with each one separately, but I try my best, and even the few minutes I may get here and there are meaningful. The other night I was lucky enough to have dinner with my oldest boy, while my youngest was at a birthday and my middle was off with his friends. My oldest, or #numberoneson, is 16 going on 28, which can definitely be hard to contend with, but also allows for some really great conversation. We are both talkers so it can be challenging, but we always manage to have substantive chats. We talk about a lot of stuff, his video games, his music, his acting, his friends, his girlfriends, you name it! And of course the requisite sex, drugs, and college. Ha! You thought I was going to say rock ‘n roll, didn’t you?! Yep, college talk is on the table now, but currently it’s mostly one-sided, with me talking at him, and him denying that the conversation is happening. That’s ok, I’ll just keep talking because eventually he will hear me and eventually he will participate in the conversation. The best way to get him to participate though, is to occasionally stop talking and start listening. It’s amazing what a kid will tell you when you just let them talk! Of course, that requires treating him with the same respect that I wish to be treated with, which means putting the phone down.

Ooooooh, barracuda!! (That's really red fish, and it was delish!)

Ooooooh, barracuda!! (That’s the really red fish, and it was delish!)

Anyway, we decided to go back to a Japanese restaurant we had discovered months ago, Nare Sushi. The last time we went it was all of us, and the kids tried things they had never had before, like Mentaiko, which is basically marinated fish roe, and they loved it! This time around, #numberoneson and I, were definitely eager to try new things like grunt, striped jack, and barracuda (that was my fave). He ordered a soda, I ordered a sake (cold, it’s way better), and asked for two glasses. I’m all about letting the kids have a sip of an alcoholic beverage here and there, because I believe it takes away the mystique. We shared a toast and I sat back and just let him talk. It was incredible when he found himself going on and on and realized he was about to tell me something he hadn’t planned on sharing and was caught off guard by it!  Lately, he’s found it more and more comfortable cursing around me, so he suddenly said “oh shit, I’m about to get crazy honest here.” I couldn’t help but laugh, but I could see he was truly concerned as to what my reaction might be, so I reassured him that nothing he could tell me would change my love for him, and that honesty is the most important aspect of our parent/child relationship. He shared. I shared. There was no judgment, no anger, no consequence, only growth and a deepening bond between my son and I.

When the manager of the restaurant came over and extended a sample of a new sparkling sake to us, it occurred to me that he thought my son was a grown man, and in that moment, it also occurred to me that he wasn’t entirely wrong.

Kampai!

Music is the stuff of life!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:25-04:00 August 6th, 2016|animals, anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, art, artists, children, classic rock, co-parenting, creativity, Life, Music, nyc, rock and roll, rock n roll|

In the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of witnessing , in one form or another, each of my three kids doing something they love. Rocking!! Music has always been a big part of our family life and has always been something we loved to share. Well, ok maybe not all of the music, but most of it. I don’t expect to be going to a Slipknot concert anytime soon, and my youngest son would sooner eat a tub of mushy green beans than be subjected to any Counting Crows! Either way, there’s always music happening wherever we are. Whether it’s my little one banging out a rhythm on the couch while watching TV, my middle listening to a guitar solo so he can emulate it later, my oldest thumping out a bass line while I’m trying to have a conversation with him, or me singing Broadway tunes while I do the dishes! There are some moments that are beyond priceless, when we all sing a line together, or I hear my boys harmonizing on a tune, then I threaten to get out the Tambourine and rent a tour bus! C’mon get happy!! I can see it, I really can!! Ok fine, it’s not about me, it’s about how in the last few weeks, my kids have taken this gift, this love of music, and individuated from each other and created their own space. My oldest hit a rock band camp for a couple weeks (shout out to NYC Guitar School), where they basically put a band together on Monday and less than two weeks later “Stay Hydrated” is jamming on the stage at a local bar!

"Stay Hydrated"!

“Stay Hydrated”!

You’ll have to forgive the photos, they’re all kind of lame but I was seeing through tears anyway so the blurriness is fitting!! The show was super fun and the lights and the smoke machine was a dream realized for my teenager. Up next is my middle, who is attending a weekday sleep away camp (shout out to Campus Kids!), where he excitedly called to tell me he and his pal were going to perform in the talent show. Even though I couldn’t be there to hear them do “How to save a life” by The Fray, the camp is awesome about posting pictures! I did crop out the pal because I didn’t ask permission to post (even though I’m sure I would have gotten it.)

My middle "saving a life"

My middle “saving a life”

Last but certainly not least, my youngest kid had such a good time watching his oldest brother on stage, he decided he was going to rock band camp, too!! So off he strutted with his drumsticks (given to him by a highly regarded NYC drummer) and had an unbelievable experience with his band called “Gus”! Kids ages 8-11 and they managed tunes by AC/DC and Foo Fighters!

Keeping the beat!

Keeping the beat!

There is nothing as magical as watching your child doing something they love and I am thankful that they each have found something that they can share with each other while maintaining their individuality! Music just happens to be what works in my family, in terms of bringing us all together. Maybe for yours it’s baseball, or geocaching. Whatever it is, find something that you can all enjoy together and you will make a lifetime of wonderful memories. Me? I’m off to get that tambourine!!

Totems in tune!

Totems in tune!

Stay well.

If anxiety keeps you off the stage, maybe you should get a Totem!! Visit our store to find your calm https://totemtamers.com/shop!

Love welcoming new Totem owners to the Totem Tamers family!

By | 2018-04-07T23:19:27-04:00 July 7th, 2016|anxiety, anxiety disorder, anxiety relief, childhood, children, co-parenting, friends, friendship, Life, mind/body, parenthood, parenting, sharks, single parents, stress, stress relief|

Meeting Shark at eye level!

Meeting Shark at eye level!

Shark has found a new home in Vegas!

Happy kid, Happy Shark!

Happy kid, Happy Shark!

Thank you to our friends in Vegas for sending these great snapshots along. We really enjoy seeing pictures of your Totems in their new homes! Send yours along to me at julie@totemtamers.com, and we can feature you too!

Stay well.

If you don’t have a Totem to help keep you calm, then visit our store at https://totemtamers.com/shop and get one today!

Growing up without a "Daddy".

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:05-04:00 June 21st, 2015|anxiety, anxiety disorder, childhood, children, co-parenting, divorce, family, marriage, motherhood, parenthood, parenting, Uncategorized|

Sure, I had a dad, the man who fathered me, but he wasn’t around all that much, and when he was, he still wasn’t all that present. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the time I had with him, even though a lot of it was strained, and I can definitely attribute my sense of humor and timing to my father, but he was never a “Daddy” to me. It’s Father’s Day today, and I’m seeing all these sweet posts with kids and dads, grown up kids and dads, messages of dads long gone, and the best are the ones who are celebrating their first Father’s day. I guess this post is for them, because now as an adult, I realize how not having a “daddy” when I was a kid, definitely shaped how I move through the world. What does being a “daddy” mean exactly? To me, it’s when I see a little girl walking, her tiny hand enclosed by Daddy’s big protective hand. It’s those moments I see a son being taught how to throw a curveball just right. It’s the squealing laughter of a toddler being tossed in the air, and always being caught, just to shout “Again, again!” My kids have a Dad, who thankfully has been a “Daddy”, too! From diaper changes, to duo-couch-napping, to being tossed in the air (mostly to scare me, I’m sure), to learning their first guitar chords. I’m blessed to have been able to experience that through their eyes, at least.

A Daddy and his first born, and some Totems!

A Daddy and his first born, and some Totems!

I just went back and read what I had written last year on Father’s Day, so I guess I’m at least consistent with my feelings. Even though I didn’t grow up with a “Daddy”, I did have plenty of father figures around, and I will always be grateful to those who have influenced me. Those of you who still have young kids, please, for their sake, and yours, be a “Daddy”, as well as a Dad, a Father, a Pops, and a Papa, because it’s never too late. Happy Father’s Day!

Stay well.

Maybe you want to get a Totem for your Dad as a symbol of his calming presence in your life? Just click on any of the Totems on the page and get one today!

The ball is in your court…a public service announcement from Totem Tamers!

By | 2018-04-07T23:20:45-04:00 May 15th, 2015|anxiety, co-parenting, divorce, Life, marriage, parenting, stress|

***Warning*** The following blog post will contain information that may make you cringe, shudder, raise your eyebrows, and definitely look some stuff up!

I say it all the time, and I can’t say it enough, but I am grateful for the co-parenting relationship my ex-husband and I have worked very hard at maintaining. It becomes all the more apparent and precious when one of our kids is hurt and we need to work together. So I will start off by saying “Thank you” to my kids’ Dad, for being able to remain calm and supportive, even when I’m freaked out and telling you what to do! 🙂 No, that’s not the PSA, but it could be, co-parenting is a choice not an option!

On to the more weighty issue at hand, my son’s huevos, nads, brass ones, bawls. Yup, he knows I’m writing about him/them, and as long as I didn’t use visuals, he was ok with it. We spent several hours in the ER last night, because my son was complaining of pain in the nether region. Thankfully, and unfortunately, we had been here before, because although it had been years, he had experienced this pain before. There’s nothing like having your then 10-year-old, walk into your room and saying “Mom, my balls hurt.” I hadn’t seen “the boys” in quite a while, and my son wasn’t thrilled when I said “Drop ’em!” Fast forward 5 years, and now my 15 year old, 5’11, size 14 shoe wearing kid says “My balls hurt”, and there’s only one thing you can say. “Get in the car.” That’s because 5 years ago we learned that there is a mere 6 hour window to save a testicle if it’s twisted. Yes, 6 hours ONLY! So we don’t mess around when there is even a hint of pain. I’m a mom of 3 boys, and I had never heard this before and I was shocked, but glad for the information. This time, as well as last time, my son didn’t have torsion of a testicle thankfully, but what he did have was a case of epididimytis, again. The only thing to do is go to the hospital to get a sonogram to make sure there is proper blood flow to the testicles and if the answer is yes, then it’s just rest and anti-inflammatory meds for pain and swelling. This is your PSA, if your son ever complains that his testicles hurt, run, don’t walk, to the nearest ER for a sonogram. My son’s all good now, a little tender, but back at school with a hospital bracelet to get him out of homework and get sympathy from his pals. Deep breath. It seems a little extreme to go running to the hospital every time, but I was validated by the ER doc who said to me with a knowing smile, “You don’t have a choice.”

Having a "ball"!

Having a “ball”!

It’s a good thing my son and I have great senses of humor, so we deflected our anxiety by making each other crack up, and the hospital staff,too! During the sonogram, which was performed by a very macho and stocky radiologist, and witnessed by an also macho “chaperone”, my son and I were cracking jokes. We were having a “ball”, for example, then my son quipped that something had gone over his head, corrected himself and said “well, actually under my head.” Everyone laughed, and it made the whole experience tolerable. While we waited for the results, we giggled some more, and then my boy leaned his head on my shoulder for a dose of reality and motherly comfort. Through all of the anxiety and the joke-telling, the inappropriate comments and stories about his childhood, the moment he rested his head on my shoulder, he was my baby once again, and I was reminded of how blessed I am to be his mother. Hopefully, you will never need this information, but it’s important to have it, just in case!

Stay well.

Always good to have the principles of Totem Tamers at hand, even if you don’t have a Totem. Deep breathing and visualization is key in times that are overwhelming, learn them when you get your Totem Tamers Set, by clicking on any of the Totems on the left!

Parenting: A full-time job with benefits, no vacation, and little to no training!

By | 2018-04-07T23:22:48-04:00 January 5th, 2015|children, co-parenting, divorce, Life, parenting|

Sign me up! Oh yeah, I guess I already did that almost 15 years ago, and then decided I could take on two more positions on top of the original hire. Should we see how long I can drive this metaphor into the ground? Oy!! Parenting is hard!! So is infanting, toddlering, pre-teening, teenager-let’sseehowmuchgrayhairIcangivemyparents-ing, etc., etc., etc.! This was sort of the conversation I had with my middle the other day when he was expressing his frustration over something video game related that naturally involved his younger brother. In the moment of trying to restore calm and explain the situation, it occurred to me that I had no freaking clue what I was talking about! It sorta occurred to my son as well, and he called me on it. It was then I decided to be straight with him, and I flat out said “Dude, I’m learning on the job here!” Then I went a step further and explained that this is my first attempt at parenting a middle child, and consequently his first attempt at being a middle child! It diffused the situation immediately and made us both relax a bit more. It also restored my confidence as a parent and I was able to issue my missive with conviction, “Because I said so!”

Next night, it was my oldest who reminded me that I was in fact the boss in my house, but maybe not so much the grown-up sometimes. He came to me to practically beg for video game time, where he sweetly stays connected to a babyhood pal from Miami, even though it was a school night. I laughed. It was an obnoxious laugh, but I laughed heartily. I explained that it was a school night and late and not happening, noway, no how, no sir. And if that weren’t enough, I kept going and told him he could curse me all he wanted (not that he would ever out loud), that he could be mad, and frustrated, and whatever he needed to be, but that I needed to be the Mommy, and I was doing my job, and I was doing a darn good job of it, too, and I just went on and on, nonstop (kinda like this), until he couldn’t help but smile, and then laugh. Then I laughed, but this time, it was my “evil Mommy wins” laugh. Yeah, you know the one, bwah-ha-ha-ha-haaaa! At that point, he just walked away.

Yep, there’s three kids, so three lessons. My little one, who is just so darned cute it makes it difficult to discipline, was up next. Thankfully I have will of steel and can punish my way out of any mess. Interesting that the theme throughout this piece seems to all be connected to video games. That’s a subject for another post that will be entitled “Parenting: A full-time job with benefits, no vacation, and little to no training, thank goodness for video games!” Seriously though, the incident with my little one came about when I overheard him call his brother some pretty awful names. I went bananas. I did the in your face scary raised voice thing that could make a UFC fighter cry. When I went to his room (where I had banished him) to talk about the episode, I softened as the wave of recollection from my own childhood came over me. I was able to explain to my son that I got as upset as I did when he called his brother names, because my brother used to do that to me. I actually began to cry, and further explained that my brother hadn’t called me names in 30-plus years, but clearly it still hurt. Then I reinforced the notion of thinking before you speak and not lashing out in anger and not calling people hurtful things. It ended with an “I love you, Monkey” and a “love you, too, Mom.” Yeah, I pretty much kicked ass on that one, and those are some of the benefits you get with the job.

The truth is, I don’t do it alone, I am grateful to have an active and present co-parent in my ex-husband who I can bounce things off of and be supported by when an issue comes up, and vice versa, of course. I keep thinking about the birthday gift my kids and I put together for their Dad last year. When I asked the boys what they thought their Dad might want, one of them said “Well, he’s always asking for peace and quiet.” So that’s what we gave him!

My three sons!

My three sons!

I wonder if he’ll let me borrow them sometimes?!

Stay well.

Totems always come in handy when on the parenting job, those moments where I can’t seem to calm down, I work through the deep breathing and visualization techniques found in each Totem Tamer Set! If you want these handy tools at the ready, click on a Totem and get one today!