Sleep Overs and Stuff

“Nothing good happens after midnight,” a friend said to me one time. We were discussing kids having sleep overs and what that does to the kids the next day. They come home grumpy, tired and irritable. They likely had lots of fun the day before and plenty of junk food. And it makes for a very long next day for their entire family. I remember having sleepovers with friends. Lots of them. In high school it was like every other weekend. Seems innocuous enough. A rite of passage even; a part of growing up.

My sweet 8 year old daughter was recently invited to a sleepover birthday party of a classmate and it gave me pause. She desperately wanted to stay overnight. The family is perfectly fine, but I still can’t erase the fact that at 11 or 12, I woke up at a friend’s house in the middle of the night to a man staring at us while we were sleeping, slowly smoking a cigarette. I don’t remember if it was her father, a step-father or a brother. Nothing happened, but it made me uncomfortable enough that I never again stayed overnight at that friend’s house.

Dropping her off for the day, and a “late-over”, I knew she’d have a great time.  I knew she would likely be irritated that she had to come home and the other girls didn’t. Sometimes A lot of times, parenting is just hard. Am I too helicopter-y? Am I overreacting to an isolated non-incident years ago? Will my kids be too sheltered? Maybe. But, it only takes one time. One time to let my guard down and her innocence is gone. I thought of her often through the day, and prayed for some small sign – anything – to just let me know that I did the right thing in not letting her stay overnight.

The climate of #metoo, Supreme Court nominees being accused of sexual assault, and even the President of the United States boasting himself on tape about sexual assault, I feel that vigilance is the order of the day. Perhaps it always has been, but we are just talking about it more. In 2018, it’s in our face 24/7 and makes watching the news with the kids risky. When arguments like “oh, that happened 35 years ago” in reference to an alleged assault, “that it doesn’t matter because they were teenagers at the time,” and that’s “just how drunk teenagers act”, it really isn’t surprising that assault victims do not come forward. Why would they? They are not believed. They are railroaded. Their lives are turned upside down, they get death threats. Why would anyone willingly sign up for that? I have not been raped. Thank God.

I was flashed by an older man at a playground at 4 years old.

I was groomed at camp in the 3rd grade. The camp counselor was fired mid week for inappropriate conduct with another girl.

At 11, my breasts were touched at a modeling agency by a man who was making decisions of who would be included in their next event.

I was repeatedly hugged and tickled a little too often and a little too long at a daycare facility.

While no irreparable damage was done to me, I was very early on aware of sex, aware of a need to protect myself, even if I couldn’t articulate it. It’s the way I walk to my car to this day with my key poised like a weapon, should the need arise. The way I replay the Oprah Show episode where the detective implores the audience to “never let them take you to a second location!” It’s also the reason I say a hard no to sleep overs. Over protective? Maybe. But my experience tells me that listening to my intuition rarely steers me wrong.

Tucking her into her own bed, freshly made with clean sheets and listening to her exuberantly describe how much fun she had I got quiet and just listened. (Something I need to do so much more of, honestly.) As she settled in and snuggled close, she whispered in her small voice, “Mom, I’m glad I’m in my own bed. It would have been fun, but I missed you today.” I told her I missed her too, and hugged her tight.

“Thank you,” I thought. That’s exactly what I needed to hear.

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Resist

I’ve been sitting here staring out the window to my backyard for about 3 minutes with my hands resting on the keyboard.

“I don’t have a clue…” I think to myself as the sun shines through the trampoline screen that is now a semi-permanent fixture right outside my bedroom window. Dog hair litters the floor, the sun highlights the fact that I haven’t had the energy or inclination to vacuum lately, among other things.

I don’t have a clue. There is so much noise right now. Many valid points, but it’s as if everyone is screaming at everyone else with their hands over their ears, no one hearing anything but the sound of their own anger.  Not my president, get over it, pro-life, pro choice, anti-this, anti-that…..I feel like the kid in the middle of a horrendous divorce. The issues are plenty and every participant wildly passionate.

I find myself pushing. Pushing away.

Resisting.

When the anxiety gets to the point of overwhelm, I have found that I have to resist.

Resist the idea that there is only a this or a that. The black and white thinking that there is only a right or a wrong, an option A. or a B. You are either pro or anti. No. Not with everything. Many things are multifaceted and require investigation into grey areas.

Resist the inclination to know everything, to be certain. I love having a plan and executing it. That’s where I’m comfortable. Whether it’s a recipe to follow, food plan and prep, an exercise regimen, a life philosophy, faith, or anything else – I am wary of people so certain that their thoughts are right and everyone else is wrong. The older I get, the more uncertain I feel about so many things I thought were long ago nailed down. To be certain feels a lot like a mind closed.

Resist the temptation to sit down, be quiet and not think critically.  Despite the appeal of sticking one’s head in the sand, that’s not a solution for anyone.

Resist responding with angerAnger is draining. I have to respond with curiosity, love and a genuine desire to learn. The alternative is to join the deafening chaos of the crowd and I won’t do that.

I look at the trampoline outside my window once more and visualize my laughing, screaming minions bouncing around, as they will no doubt do again this evening, just like they did yesterday and the day before.

Resist doing nothing because everything feels overwhelming. Glennon Doyle Melton said something that struck a chord with me. “Do not discount the work that you do at home with your children.” I may only be able to show two little people what love and kindness looks like, but eventually they will grow up to be big people and they will in turn show love and kindness in their school, in their work, and in their communities.

 

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”

-Mother Theresa

 

Daily Prompt: Resist

I don’t.

“The older you get, the less you know. It’s a sign of maturity. Teenagers are the ones who know nothing but think they know everything.” I remember my mom saying something along these lines when I was in my teens, eye-rolling and sighing and certain that I was, of course, the exception.

Turns out she was right.

Ironic that the one-word prompt is understanding. Because I just don’t.

I cannot comprehend how a person goes into a night club, a school, or a theater and murders people.

I don’t understand the thinking that arguing about politics, religion or gun control is going to solve anything – one way or another. Why do we think that by yelling and screaming our beliefs and ideologies at each other that we are somehow going to magically convert each other to the opposite viewpoint? I’m baffled by the hate, both online and in real life.

I don’t know how to explain this stuff to my kids.

I gravitate toward fitness and fun and light because that is my happy place. That’s where I can effect change, the space where I have understanding. I sit here in front of my keyboard, my kids watching superheroes on tv with my Bible in my lap. There is so much I don’t understand.

How do I equip them?

I don’t understand how love for your faith translates to murdering people who don’t think like you do.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that the people that claim to have all the answers make me uneasy.

Until…

Have we learned nothing from any of this?

People postulate about gun control, religion (or lack of) and mental health. It’s about consciousness.

We are all unconscious. Caught up in our own busy-ness we can’t be bothered to really connect, to anyone, much less those under our own roofs, in our families, and in our communities. Do we know our neighbors? Do we avoid eye contact so we don’t have to have awkward conversations? Absorbed in our own screens thinking “later” is not working. You can’t say that someone one day just snaps or breaks. It’s hurts and wounds repeated over and over until they cry out loudly enough to be heard. Perhaps we could listen when it’s just a whisper instead of a scream…

What happens when the media frenzy fades? If history is our guide, we will bury our heads in the sand once again because it’s just too scary, too frightening to think about, much less deal with. We’ll go back to numbing our pain, promising ourselves to “hug our kids a little tighter”.

Until it happens again.

Until it happens in your town.

Until it happens to your family.

Until we are ready to change, really change…it’s going to keep happening.

Insomniac Ramblings

It’s 12:02 a.m. Day 42 of our PCS/nomad existence. I cannot sleep. When I can’t sleep, I write. My thoughts are all over the place tonight. I can’t promise this will turn out coherent. I can’t promise clarity, just some midnight ramblings…

Robin Williams

I wasn’t alive when Kennedy was shot, but everyone that was knows exactly where they were when it happened. Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing with vivid detail when the towers fell that Tuesday morning. I’m not comparing the magnitude of the death of a gifted man with these other events necessarily, but it does serve as a reminder when impactful things occur, time seems to slow down, or shift suddenly. I remember watching Happy Days with my mom when Mork landed and froze the Fonz. I remember watching his movies. We collectively remember him as a comedic and dramatic soundtrack to our lives. I never knew the man, but because of his gifts, I was able to witness a small portion of his work. I don’t know that I’ve ever been really affected or saddened by the passing of a celebrity before, but this seems different somehow. Perhaps because of the big “D” word everyone keeps rambling on about – telling everyone to “get help” and to call 1-800 numbers and such. I just keep thinking that if a man that had means, access, and capability to receive help, but couldn’t; what hope is there for the countless others of us who have experienced true depression? The D-word is an equalizer. It really doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, or what side of town you call home.

Middle East Conflicts/Violence Here and Abroad

Being in a hotel (and camping) for 6 weeks, we’ve had more screen time than normal. In our current location, we actually have 2 televisions, one in a little living room, and one in the bedroom of our suite. (We usually only have 1 television and more often than not, Disney Jr. or PBS is the channel of choice.) Now that the option is there, we’ve been able to watch the news and view other non-animated, grown-up television.

I think I want to go back to not knowing.

I hate watching the news. It makes me feel helpless. I don’t like the world I see on my screen as I hear my kids chattering around the wall. It scares me. It drives me to my knees in prayer. I wonder what kind of world they will grow to inherit. The world has always had hate, murder, war, etc., but it sure feels like we are experiencing a rising tide of evil. Is it because of the 24 hour news cycle? Or is it a true rise? I don’t know.

Grief

It comes in all forms, in varying depths. Family tragedies, anniversaries, birthdays of loved ones no longer with us, or even diagnoses we didn’t want to face bring grief to the surface. It’s as if grief picks at the healing scab just to see if the underlying skin is tender. If it still feels the sting.

It does. It hurts. And it sucks.

Hope

I’ve complained of roaches, living out of suitcases, and other minor inconveniences experienced through a military transfer, but when I look at the bigger picture – I can do nothing but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I’m not on some mountaintop fearing for my life. I’m here. I have a family I would lay down my life for. I have no want for any material thing. And I get to move into a new home and own a small patch of dirt again in just a few days. Grief is real. Tragedy and death are real. But so is love. So is faith. And hope. If there isn’t hope, if there isn’t something good to come out of the dark, what really then is the point? I’m grateful for hope, despite the evidence that points to a lack of it.

Goin’ Out on a Limb….

Yeah. So I’m gonna go out on a limb for a minute and rant.

This morning I got up, fed the kids and checked messages and came across a Facebook post about Miley Cyrus. Wondering what all the hubbub was about, I checked the YouTube video of her “performance” on the VMAs.  The look on Will and Jada Smith’s face in the audience said it all. I won’t link to the video because I don’t think it really needs any more hits.

Here’s my question: When did being a singer/actress/celebrity become a constant cry for attention? And if I hear one more person in the public eye complain about the “pressure”, I’m gonna puke. (Come and talk to a single parent or a military spouse about pressure!) If you want to be famous, you HAVE to know that by now, that comes with a certain level of responsibility.

I love talented celebrities. While Lady Gaga may not be for everyone, when she is outlandish and crazy, she’s making a statement – and it’s not ALWAYS about sex. I am beyond tired of the Brittney/Lindsey/Miley Disney-product-good-girl-gone-bad” story line. It’s tired. If you have talent – sing. Act. Dance. Do what you love and are passionate about. The fame thing – so over it.

No, I am not a prude, I vividly remember sitting wide-eyed as Madonna danced around in her cone bra. But there is a constant pushing of the envelope, pushing the limits of what is socially acceptable. I know sex sells. I get it. But perhaps if we stopped buying the cheapened version of it, we wouldn’t have to quickly change the channel so our 4 year old won’t ask questions that he is not equipped to handle just yet.

Thoughts?