Let’s talk about homework…

I can’t sugarcoat my feelings about this topic. I hate it. I hate every single thing about it. In fact,  I firmly believe that it was created by Satan himself as a cruel punishment and is intended to tear families apart one assignment at a time.

If you have kids who just get home and do their homework without so much as an eyeroll, then stop reading now. You won’t relate to this one. You must have been very good in a previous life and are now being rewarded. I never totally got it until my now 10 year old started bringing it home. My older two kids would just come home and get it done. Maybe they would have an occasional question or roadblock, but honestly they always knew that homework was dad’s department.  I didn’t do my OWN damn homework back in the day and I certainly didn’t ask my mom for help. I’m happy to do almost all other motherly things (well, besides ironing) but when it comes to homework I’m all “daddy’s right over there in the other room honey”.

Here is a short list of things I would rather do than help my child with homework…

-have a root canal

-watch The View

-clean a Walmart bathroom

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating  (I wouldn’t actually ever watch The View).  But until you have a child who simply can not handle any more than the 7 hours of structured work they are required to put in each day at school, you will not be able to fully understand the struggle. Many children come home from their school day exhausted and overstimulated. All they want to do is have a snack, decompress and PLAY. Instead they have to put in another hour of work. Even if the teacher says homework should take 30 minutes or less, that is unrealistic with a child who is frustrated and throwing a fit the entire time. And I’m sure it’s extremely helpful when I get so filled with rage that I just grab the damn pencil and do it myself in my sloppiest writing so it looks like she actually did it.

Homework is absolute misery around here. I can’t tell you how many school evenings have been ruined in my household over a homework meltdown. I used to be so happy to get my children off the bus to spend the late afternoon and evening with them, but now I DREAD the sound of that bus making its way up my street. I can literally see the look of relief that the school day is over fade from my child’s face once she remembers about her homework. As soon as I hear the words “UGH I don’t get it, can you help me?” I know the rest of the evening (or at the very least, the next hour) will be shot. Tempers will flare, patience will be tested and tears will be shed all around. 

We have had amazing teachers who would give a ton of homework and we have also had equally amazing teachers who would only give occasional assignments to do at home or maybe work that wasn’t finished at school. My kids always do well in school regardless of how much work they bring home.  Whether they spend 15 minutes a day or 2 hours a day working on homework does not seem to play a direct role in the grades they are getting. What it DOES play a direct role in is our home life. 

As it stands now, my little ones leave the house at 8:15am and don’t get home until almost 4pm. I want my kids to come home and be able to ride their bikes with their friends until dinnertime, go to their dance class or gymnastics or lacrosse practice, come home, shower and get into bed at a decent time. Let them be kids!! 

Now, I’m not completely opposed to ALL “home”work however. I do think it’s important for kids to read and study at home. But, if they’re struggling with a subject or lesson, they really need to spend time outside of the classroom with the teacher or a tutor. It shouldn’t just be assumed that the parents will be able to help. Everything is so different now. I don’t even understand first grade math anymore! So, if my kid comes home with something they need my help with, we’re all screwed.

I know a lot of people will disagree with my feelings, and that’s ok. You like homework? That’s great! You’re in luck because it’s not like homework is just going to disappear because I’m publishing this. Teachers will continue to send work home, your easy going kids will still come home and quietly get it done, and I will continue to spend my afternoons dreading the bus while coming up with new bribes to get my little pain in the ass to sit down and just get it done so we can carry on with the rest of our day. Not my proudest mom truth, but I’m just keeping it real. So, don’t mind me, I’m just venting after a long week of homework meltdowns. End rant.

To all my friends sending your babies off to college…you are going to be alright…

To all my friends getting ready to drop your babies off at college, I want you to know it will be alright. Yes, you will cry your eyes out as you drive away and more than likely you will hear every sad country song ever written about babies growing up on your lonely drive back home. You may even torture yourself that first night by digging out old photos and reminiscing about chubby cheeks, first steps and first days of kindergarten. You’ll long for the days when all of your ducklings were safely tucked away in their beds each night under one roof. You will question if you even appreciated those times or did you just take them for granted? How does the saying go? “You don’t know whatcha got until it’s gone”?  And now those times have slipped away and are gone for good. You can’t get any of it back and that is such a sad thought, but you will be alright.

I’m not going to lie, the first couple weeks are hard. Little things like the empty place at the dinner table and walking past their bare bedroom may reduce you to tears. All the arguments over setting that damn table…ugh… and that bedroom, the same room you spent countless hours nagging them to clean, is now so…well, clean. That’s a good thing, right? So why does looking at it make you feel as if an actual piece of your heart is missing? Listen to me, I promise you, you will be alright.

Some of you will have to deal with your child being homesick. Ah, that really sucks. What’s the right way to handle that? Tough love? Just tell them to “Suck it up, kid”?  I mean, how long should you be expected to just sit idle repeating comforting things before finally giving in to your parental instincts and driving out there to rescue your baby? Knowing that your child is struggling will break your heart. Believe me when I tell you it is temporary, and you will both be alright.

Then there will be those little brats who seemingly forget your very existence. Forget about that nightly phone call they promised you. They won’t even answer your texts, let alone call you. Meanwhile, you’re home lying on their bed, in their empty room sobbing into their little stuffed doggie-woggie(the same doggie-woggie that they couldn’t sleep without for the last 17 freaking years btw) imagining them beaten and left for dead in a frat house basement. When they finally get around to replying it will say “k” or “nmhbu” or “good”. You know they always have their phone on them so why can’t they just have the decency to reply in a timely manner with actual words and sentences? This not only hurts but will make you feel furious at times, but you will be alright.

Like everything else, you will get used to all the changes. I promise, you will.  The sting of the transition period will gradually ease up and you will all discover a new “normal”.  Days will turn into weeks and weeks into months. Your baby will come home for breaks and you will begin to see them in a new light. Then one day they will do or say something that will make you realize that they are growing up! MY realization came one day when our oldest daughter was home on a break and we took all 4 of our kids into NYC for the afternoon. With the exception of my hubby, we are NOT city-folk. We have always been content with our quiet suburban life and our quiet neighborhood with open starry night skies and dark backroads connecting us to other quiet neighborhoods. But Taylor went to school in a city and was suddenly able to navigate us around NYC confidently and effortlessly. Yep, my girl was growing up and she was doing it beautifully. We were both alright.

Now, as for you empty nesters, you may need to look for another writer to comfort you. That is a different category entirely.  I still have a full house. Thankfully, my 18 year old has decided on pursuing a 3 year certification at community college and my 10 year old twins are still years away from leaving the nest. So, I can only speak to first timers. Honestly, I will probably need heavy sedation to get me through the empty nest phase. But the one thing I have learned for sure through all that life has thrown at me is that even the darkest nights eventually see the light of day. I’ve always let myself feel the emotions, even the most painful ones,  and I’ve always been alright.

Let’s talk about “the pause”…

Let’s talk about “the pause”…

“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.” – Lori Deschene

I stumbled upon this life changing quote a few years ago and not only have I been practicing it ever since, but I have been repeating it and suggesting it to anyone who will listen. It has become my life mantra. Make no mistake, it is a practice indeed. It requires mindfulness, patience, strength, the humility to admit failure, the willingness to try again, and the ability to remove yourself from a situation BEFORE you react. SO FREAKING HARD!

Pause before judging… Example: Look, some people just naturally have RBF. It does not necessarily mean they are nasty miserable people. Intimidating and unapproachable, maybe. But I know a handful of gals who could easily advance to the RBF semi-finals without even realizing they were participating in a competition. BUT, every single one of them has a heart of pure gold and would be there for me in a heartbeat if I needed them.  I always think of a new acquaintance with RBF as somewhat of a challenge. It doesn’t take long to uncover what’s hiding behind that tough exterior if you take the time to get to know them. Of course not every case of RBF is just an unfortunate involuntary facial expression, some people really are just plain rude, bitter, emotionally detached bitches. I’m not suggesting you try to push your way in and attempt to change these types. The difference is usually obvious from early on. The RBF cases I’m talking about are mostly people using a defense mechanism because they are either insecure or have been burned by previous relationships. Just don’t refuse yourself a potentially amazing friendship because of a little RBF. Give them a chance to show you what’s hiding inside.  

Pause before assuming…You know what happens when you assume… And trust me,  I have wasted countless hours of my life assuming and jumping to conclusions. 

This bump looks a lot like that flesh eating skin bacteria I saw on the news (it was an allergic reaction to an insect bite). 

She’s not returning my texts so she must be upset with me *spends hours obsessing* (she was dealing with her own stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with me). 

She’s so confident with all these gym posts and skimpy outfits- (she has been struggling with an eating disorder since the age of 12 and actually hates herself).

She is so lucky to be able to stay at home with her perfect family in her perfect home- (her husband is a workaholic prick who is never actually home and most days she just feels stuck. Keeping up the act is her full time job). 

Becky’s vague passive aggressive facebook post is probably about me (well, actually I’m still pretty sure it was).

I’ve come a long way with this one, but there is still much work to do. I’m realizing that MOST of the assumptions my mind naturally jumps to are wrong. So now I use my pause to gather more facts (if it is important enough) or to let it go (if it isn’t).

Pause before accusing

Oh geez. This one. Very similar to the previous one but especially difficult for me when friends ask me for advice. Between my gut feelings as a neutral third party (which are RARELY wrong btw) and my big mouth, I find myself actually biting my tongue and silently reminding myself to “practice the pause” in my head. When a friend is asking for advice about a partner, friendship or child it is so very hard not to say “Girl, open your eyes, he is totally banging that coworker” or “she’s obviously blowing you off for better plans” or “yeah, your 16 year old daughter is definitely having sex or at the very least considering it. I don’t believe for one minute that she actually wants to go on the pill to regulate her period, and neither do you, but I’ll play along”. 

As outspoken and intuitive as I am, practicing my pause has taught me to spend more time listening and less time spewing accusations. There is much to be said, however, about those raw gut feelings. Intuition is a powerful gift. Don’t dismiss it. Just try not to act on it before equipping yourself properly. 

Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret

Y’all, the political posts on social media might be the death of my pause. I think it’s where I almost cave the most. But then I have to remind myself before I hit “comment” that A) I’m really not willing to jeopardize friendships over politics and B) these mofos are cray cray and nothing I say is going to change anybody’s mind. Just keep scrolling. Just. Keep. Scrolling.

It’s painfully embarrassing for me to think back on all the times I wish I had practiced my pause. The knee jerk reactions to text messages and facebook posts.  The “harmless” gossiping. The harsh judgements and unfair accusations. The heated conversations which inevitably led to dissolving friendships. So much acting and REacting without so much as a second to think it through. All the lost hours of sleep wasted assuming the worst. The sarcastic comments that seemed pretty hilarious to me but were not fully thought through and received as hurtful. 

I try not to hold myself prisoner to these regrets as I have learned invaluable lessons from them. Moving forward I will do my very best to pause before reacting, which sounds so easy to do, until emotions are involved. But I’m slowly learning to control my response to emotional triggers. At the very least I will pause and wait a few minutes before flying off the handle. 

Baby steps, I suppose… Just keep practicing.