Constraints Of Happiness- SSS July

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Your “Secret Subject” is:

If money and time were no object, what would you do and why?

It was submitted by: https://cognitivescript.blogspot.com/  


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I’ve been going around and around in my head for two weeks now, trying to figure this one out. And I can’t. I can’t wrap my head around this one and come up with anything as specific as traveling the world, buying a private island escape, or meeting someone from the past like other people would.

You see, time and money are the two things that I hate most about this life. The two things that threaten the well-being of my marriage and my family. For someone like my husband, I could go as far as saying that they are the root of all evil because they are the two things that simultaneously haunt and drive him in life. He can never get his hands on enough of either one.

And I can’t blame him for that, either.

Living right at the border of the National Poverty Level for a family of six isn’t easy for us. Considering that my husband works over seventy hours a week to makes ends meet for us because I’m unable to work at this point in time, it’s not hard to understand why we covet time and money so damn much on a daily basis. We never see enough of one another, we don’t get to share the experience of raising our children together, and we are constantly struggling to keep our finances from drowning us on dry land. Our children don’t have the opportunities to explore their talents and interests because money is the golden ticket they lack, and the only thing required to participate. They’ve never stepped foot in a mall. Or really any major name brand retail store for that matter, beyond the scope of Dollar General or Wal-mart that is. And, even then, a store like Wal-mart is a rare blue moon treat for them.

It just doesn’t seem right that someone who busts his ass for twelve hours a day, six, sometimes even seven, days a week in a grueling steel production machinery shop (making the base for which parts that are critical for building everything from washing machines to hardware tools to automobiles) doesn’t bring home enough money, even with 30 hours of OT on each paycheck. Or has to even put that much time and energy into his job for the measly pay that keeps the bacon on our table. No one should have to sacrifice THAT much only to provide by society’s standards, a meager life. Not a good one. Not a comfortable one. And most certainly not a happy one. I believe Eminem’s infamous “Lose Yourself” song sums up the struggle we face pretty well.

Lonely roads, God only knows, he’s grown farther from home, he’s no father
He goes home and barely knows his own daughter…                                                                …All the pain inside amplified by the
Fact that I can’t get by with my nine to
Five and I can’t provide the right type of
Life for my family ’cause man, these God damn food stamps don’t buy diapers
And its no movie, there’s no Mekhi Phifer
This is my life and these times are so hard

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So, if time and money were no longer part of the equation, I think it’s safe to say that all I would want is to just live happily, peacefully with my family in our own version of dystopia. I would give my family the experiences and opportunities life hasn’t afforded us the ability to have thus far. We would take trips together. Explore our community together. Eat dinner every night as a family unit at a kitchen table big enough for everyone to sit at- something most people take for granted these days. There would be sports practices, art classes, dance lessons, and martial arts training. Everyone would be able to embrace their own unique sense of style as their clothing options would no longer be limited to whatever is available in their sizes at the local secondhand thrift shops. We would be free to focus on our relationships and create the unity we lack as it stands right now. Our family could be the family we all dream of having right now.

And with that dream come true, my husband could finally find some relief and breathe deeply without the weight of providing for his family sitting heavily on his shoulders. Because he deserves to enjoy the family he made just as much as I do. He deserves to see his kids grow, learn, play, and love. He deserves to have a life that isn’t ruled by a paycheck which will be gone before the bills can all be paid in full. Time and money are the two things that bring him the most pain and strife in this world and it breaks my heart to see a great man suffer under their constraints.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Cognitive Script                     https://cognitivescript.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com/blog

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Simply Shannon                             http://shannonbutler.org

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope                 http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

The Angrivated Mom                    http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Not That Sarah Michelle                 http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen                  http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom           http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Climaxed                                           http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

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Influenced Insanity

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It’s hard to love yourself when no one ever wants to stay,

When family and friends are easy to forget you even have a name.

It’s hard to love your life, graciously gifted without wanting,

When family and friends taunt you with so many reasons to feel ashamed.

 

It’s a challenge to accept yourself the deplorable way you were forged,

When family and friends beg mercilessly for everything about you to be changed.

It’s a challenge to accept the fate written for you by the stars,

When family and friends make it clear that you are delusionally deranged.

 

It’s a struggle to be brave and face each day with hopeful optimism,

When family and friends are brazenly pessimistic about your valueless worth.

It’s a struggle to be brave and face each day through the agony plaguing your mind,

When family and friends don’t see a purpose in you being here on this earth.

 

It’s painful to watch all the others get by, conquer and succeed,

When family and friends make it seem so damn fucking easy.

It’s painful to watch knowing you’re broke and will never truly belong,

When family and friends scorn you relentlessly for being so wretched and sleazy.

 

It’s incomprehensible to think about what life could really be like,

When family and friends see only your diagnosed mental health disease.

It’s incomprehensible to think about how deserving you are of love from yourself and them,

When family and friends wish you would be anything but yourself to appease.

 

It’s difficult to fight and break free from the suffocating mold of normalcy,

When family and friends have chained you to a box of over-value.d conformity.

It’s difficult to fight and break free from their unrelenting pressures to convert,

When family and friends refuse to accept that you’re more than just an aberrational deformity.

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Now that you’ve read mine, come check out these other amazing blogger’s poetry for our February Poetry Challenge- Family and Friends!

Blogger and Blog: Karen of Baking In A Tornado
Name of Poem: Hugs and Kisses
Blogger and Blog: Diane of On the Border
Name of Poem: Toast
Blogger and Blog: Dawn of Spatulas On Parade
Name of Poem: Friends and Family “How I love ya”
Blogger and Blog: Lydia of Cluttered Genius
Name of Poem: Friends are family

 

The Dreaded Hat I Wear Today

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Over the years, I have worn many different hats in the working world. I was 12 years old when I took on my very first job as a babysitter. I moved on up through the ranks over the course of middle and high school- as a Mother’s Helper over summer vacation to part-time live-in Nanny. One year, I think I was in 8th grade at the time, I had so many clients I was balancing at once, all of whom needed my services on New Year’s Eve, that I ended up turning my living room into a temporary overnight daycare with the help of my best friend. Eight families worth of kids and the ultimate sleepover we provided them with earned us just under $400. Each!

When I turned 16 and got my license, my father and stepmother laid down the law in a manner that made sure I would continue to be a hard worker in life. They were sticklers about ensuring that I would always earn my keep because there are no free rides in life without a trust fund. And I certainly was not a trust fund baby, nor were they. In order to have unlimited access to my recently deceased grandfather’s almost decade old, teal-colored 1990 Ford Astro minivan- complete with a wheelchair lift installed in the trunk- I had to work for their in-home small business. A Security Guard service, of all things. (Makes sense, if you realize my father was also a police officer.) For the next four years, even after receiving my own first (gently used, lol.) vehicle as a graduation gift from my mother and stepfather, I dutifully fulfilled my commitment in exchange for free gas and full-coverage insurance. My job was to drive a 25-mile long circuit around a neighboring city at the ass crack of dawn and again at dusk to unlock and lock the gates for the 16 different parks they have for community use so no cars could be in the parking lot after hours. It was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had because it was actually a lot of fun, though it took a bit to get used to getting up before the sun every day. Oh, the stories I could tell you of my adventures, but that’s not what the subject of this piece is supposed to be about.

Of course, since I was only being compensated by my parents for the gas and what not, I needed cash in my pocket to live off of. At this point, I was getting too old for watching other kids at the same times during the weekend that my friends were out partying, so I found a real job which would give me a real paycheck. At the local Bingo Hall. I ran the concession stand, providing hundreds of ornery and intolerant old ladies with coffee, popcorn, hot dogs, and candy. Again, I could tell you some hilarious stories about working there. It was another of the greatest jobs I ever had. I was heartbroken when the building was bought out by the neighboring car dealership and closed down for good.

After that was my job as a cashier at an upscale Fruit Market and Deli. Most teens and young adults in my community have worked there at some time or another and have many horror stories about how awful it was for them. I guess I’m lucky, because I loved it there, even though it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the other jobs I had had. It didn’t last more than a year before my college schedule of classes became a conflict with my scheduled shifts and the bosses wouldn’t budge an inch to work it out with me. Onto the beloved local deli-based diner as a hostess and carry-out girl. The owner was a dick, but alas, I loved that job, too. Eventually, I became pregnant with my oldest and couldn’t keep up the pace and found a position with my friend’s home daycare where I could bring my baby to work with me and focus on finishing my schooling.

It was right after the birth of my second son, one year and a day after his big brother’s arrival, that I finally got my certificate and passed the exam to become a Health Unit Coordinator. I was hired into one of the 3 major hospital corporations in our area, working the Labor and Delivery/Post-Partum/NICU/Pediatrics circuit. A Health Unit Coordinator is just an extra fancy term for the person who is in charge of the Nurse’s Stations and does all of the behind the scenes work with decoding patient charts and the doctor’s orders within, procedure scheduling, and admission/discharge paperwork. They are the backbone which keeps the nurses and physicians from having nervous breakdowns. Again, this was an amazing job full of excitement and good memories made. Unfortunately, I was hired in on a contingency basis, so after 2 years without being offered a permanent position with benefits, I had to make the choice to leave for another of the 3 hospital chains who would give me the job security I needed for my growing family. I loved that job, too. After finding out I was pregnant with my fourth child, though, my husband and I decided it was more practical for me to become a stay-at-home mom. So I did.

Almost 6 years later, I’ve yet to return to the working world again. So, if I have enjoyed all the jobs I’ve held over the years as much as I have, what could possibly be the worst job I’ve ever had?

The one I’m doing now… as a SAHM.

It sucks for me. I’m not a Pinterest kinda mom, not in the least. Nor am I well-organized, patient, or calm. I’m a blubbering hot mess of a woman and dedicating every waking breath I take to four tiny humans who push my every button, test my resolve constantly, and fire demands at me faster than my brain can process the whine, is just not fun for me. I’m eagerly counting down the days until the littlest of all begins kindergarten this coming fall so I can go back to work without exorbitant daycare costs rendering my income useless. Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore my tribe of mini-me’s more than anything, but I don’t have what it takes to spend my entire day chasing, hovering, teaching, and disciplining without any adult interactions to stimulate my crazy brain and relieve the boredom of endless monotony. I need to be more than just a Mom.

 

I have 197 days to go as of today…

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject was “ What’s the worst job you’ve ever had. Why?”.  It was submitted by http://www.southernbellecharm.com.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy  

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

The Lieber Family Blog 

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo 

Simply Shannon  

The Bergham Chronicles

Confessions of a part time working mom

Not That Sarah Michelle 

Southern Belle Charm  

When I Grow Up 

Climaxed

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing The Gray In A Black & White World

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. 

My subject is “Tell us a story from your childhood”.  It was submitted by http://Bakinginatornado.  Here goes:

Like many others, my childhood was the foundation for the person I grew to be today. My mind swirls as clips of memories dance around, each highlighting a frozen piece of time before my innocence was lost and the harshness of the cruel world became a frightening reality. There were good times and bad times aplenty- some seemingly storybook perfect and some so ugly, they’re best left buried within the hidden passages of lost time. Still, they are mine. The index which precedes the multitude of chapters my adult life has written.

A police officer’s daughter, I was kept sheltered from the evils that lurk around every corner, hiding not only in the shadows but plain sight, as well. We lived in a predominantly white, upper-middle class suburbia on the outskirts of Detroit, where it was easy for my parents to pull the wool over my eyes about the ways of the world. I believed that everyone, everywhere, worth a damn, lived the same way we did or better. I thought to graduate high school, attend a good college, establish a career which would provide financial security, get married in a church and begin a family was the circle of life which only the good people of the world followed. That anyone who didn’t adhere to this plan were the bad people I was warned about, time and time again.

I was the epitome of privileged children across the nation.

Then the house next door to ours was put up for sale one day when I was 8. It was bought by a pretentious, ornery, fur-coat-wearing old lady who’s rouge could be spotted coming towards you long before her actual face was distinguishable. Only, she never moved in. A family with four young children did. The oldest being a girl who was going into the fourth grade that school year, just the same as me. I was swimming in my humongous, above ground pool the first time we met. Her mother had just talked to my step-mother and she was promptly sent to introduce herself to me. Like any kid, I immediately invited her to go grab her suit and come in with me. It struck me as odd when she turned down my proposal and sadly went back home. What kid wouldn’t want to jump in and cool off on a blistering late-August afternoon? Strange, indeed.

As the days rambled on, she continued to make excuses for not wanting to go swimming. We played tag, hide-n-go-seek, red rover, and dungeon master with her three siblings and my brother without a hitch. She came inside to play Barbies and house with me in my bedroom, but I had yet to go over to hers. They were still unpacking, she would say. Her mom wasn’t ready for a houseful of kids, yet. All the while, still refusing to go into my pool with me. I didn’t care, though. I was beyond thrilled to have a new friend. And a girl, at that. All the kids my age within a few blocks were boys. She was right next door to me, nonetheless, and that was just the coolest thing ever in my youthful naivety. We quickly became inseparable. Besties.

When school started, the icing on the friendship cake came when we discovered we had been placed in the same teacher’s class. Life couldn’t have been more perfect at that moment. At least, for me, that is. I had no idea of the truth was hidden behind her closed front door.

You see, the difference between kids and adults is the fact that children live directly in the moment, unaffected by either the past or the future. They don’t care where you’ve been or where you come from. They could care less about what hasn’t happened yet or what’s predicted to happen at a later date. Their only concern is the here and now unless it involves the anticipation of Christmas and the presents Santa will bring. It was months into our relationship before I ever wondered where my BFF next door had lived before moving in next to me. It had never really interested me enough since it wasn’t like she had come from someplace exotic in the mind of a newly turned 9yo- like another state.

Her revelation began the unveiling of the wool my parents had so carefully placed over my eyes.

My new best friend had come from Detroit. Whereas most major cities across the nation are flourishing to some extent, with only the inner-city areas reflecting the underprivileged, long forgotten about, outcasted members of society, Detroit is different. It is all one giant inner-city except a small protected area in the middle of downtown, where corporate businesses and entertainment arenas are sheltered away from the slums (especially at this point in time). No one with financial stability resided within its borders; a fact that even the most privileged and well-off rich kids knew about, regardless of how thick the wool was layered on fresh outta the womb. I actually thought this girl might have been lying to sound cool in an era where hip-hop and gangsta rap began flourishing across the airwaves with hits from NWA, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls. (Ahhhh….the early nineties. Good times, eh?)

She wasn’t, though. It wasn’t long after this that I was finally invited inside of her house. Fall was changing quickly to winter and the weather was getting too nasty for us kids to play outside. Walking in her front door for the first time presented a huge shock for my culturally-impaired, suburban brat self. Her home was nothing like my own – and my own was on the lowly end of what other classmates homes looked like on the inside, to begin with. Being shielded from the ugliness of the world on the wrong side of the tracks, I had never come face to face with anyone who was truly living in poverty, until I saw inside my best friend’s home. Worn out couches and crooked-legged end tables filled her living room. Outdated curtains hung limply across the windows. Shabby rugs, beaten out more times than they could withstand, lay scattered across the floors as if they had died in vain.

I instantly felt ashamed for every time I had ever wished my family was more well-to-do, for every tantrum I ever threw for wanting more than I could have, for every complaint I ever made because what I had wasn’t good enough.

My best friend never came swimming in my pool because not only could she not swim, she had never even owned a bathing suit before. My best friend “borrowed” all my Barbies and the piles of extra Barbie clothes I had for them because she had never owned more than one, with only the outfit it came dressed in. My best friend begged to eat dinner with us every night because there wasn’t enough food to go around at home. The most humbling moment came at the beginning of spring when her mother shamefully asked my father to pull our garden hose over the fence and into their kitchen window. They couldn’t afford to pay their water bill and their service had been shut off. They only lived in this pretentious suburbia of white privilege because their great-grandmother had taken pity on the kids being raised in the ghetto and bought the house for them.

The more I learned about her family, the quicker my eyes began to see the world as it really is- a cruel, heartless place where people only care about what directly affects them. Where people would rather have the best of everything and squander in greed than lend a helping hand to those who were dealt a shitty hand. Her mother had grown up poor, as well, and was forced to drop out of school to support her own family. She married young because of this, trying to escape the life of poverty. Her husband, however, was an abusive drunk. She had no choice but to leave with her four children after her youngest twins were born, to save her life. No matter how hard she worked, life was continuously hard on her. There was no privilege to fall back on. 

Opportunity had never come knocking at her door. 

My best friend and her family wiped the privileged attitude right out of me. I vowed never to turn my back on those with less than me. To always do what I could to support the underdogs in life for as long as I lived.

Now, as this country is at odds again with race, equality, and political and religious beliefs, with discontent and unrest rippling from coast to coast, I couldn’t be more grateful for the girl who moved in next door from my childhood. She changed my life in ways I could never have comprehended as a young child. Without her, the wool would have remained firmly in place until I, too, became another Sheeple who was blindly led to chase the pretty things falsely valued in this world. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to see beauty on the side of life deemed ugly by those of privilege.

My childhood best friend freed me so I could see the many shades of gray hidden beneath a black and white world.

Writing this as the world is today, I can’t thank her enough because I can’t think of anything worse than living in the lies of the privileged. Even living in poverty like she had, as I, myself, experienced first hand not that very long ago.

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Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Having Girls, Becoming A Boy Mom

All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mother.

That is exactly what I told my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Lacy – I was going to grow up to be the mom of six kids; three of my own and three adopted.

So when the time came and I became pregnant with my first child, I didn’t care what the sex of my baby turned out to be. I was happy just to be having a baby.

He turned out to be a son.

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PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY

Not even six months later, I got pregnant again. Since I had already bore a son, I thought it HAD to be a girl this time. Nothing else was a conceivable notion to be toyed with, even momentarily. A girl would make my little family picture perfect complete.

The first twenty weeks seemed to take forever to pass by, as I grew more and more excited by the day.

When the day of my ultrasound finally came, I was certain that everything in my future would be pink and purple, paisley and floral-patterned. Princesses, ballerinas, ribbons, and tulle would rule my world.

Having a little girl was all I could focus on; my heart was set on having a daughter.

To continue reading, click here…

This post was published on https://www.wisdom.ninja

Raising Kids Between The Margins

There is a wall between my children and I. A barrier built just to keep their father and I out. None of us intentionally created it- it just sorta happened slowly over time. Years worth of empty promises, broken hearts, and false hope have led the very children we gave life to to mistrust us in a great way. They detest our word being given on anything, knowing good and well that we rarely follow through.

It tears me up to see that this curse of failure I live with has affected the foundation of our familial relationships. If there was a way to take it all back and do differently by them, I would. They haven’t done anything to deserve the hand life has dealt them. Not at all. They are all great kids, but the fact of the matter is that they are suffering for their parents’ mistakes. They feel the trickle down for all of the consequences we have to face for what we have done over the course of our own lives. It is beyond the point of not fair for them.

Seeing the looks on their faces every time we have to break the bad news that this, that, or the other thing cannot go on as planned, is like being stabbed in the back with the sharpest knife known to man. It brings me to my knees.    

                                                    These kids are supposed to be able to count on, rely on, their parents. Not be disappointed by them, continuously.

It’s one of those cases where I wish I had known what my future would hold way back when my husband and I were young, stupid, and reckless. Now I’m helpless to change the direction my life took all those years ago; and my kids are helpless to change the state of misery living like this has caused for them just yet. Struggling on the fine line between low and middle classes, our family gets the short end of each stick. We get no assistance because we make just a few hundred too much, but we cannot afford anything outside the basic bills. All because we were too selfish and self-centered to plan for the rest of our lives before and after marriage; before and after making a family.

Not a day goes by that some need or necessity is asked for that we have to put off until it cannot be put off any longer. Shoes are worn until toes come through the tips, bikes are left to rot because they simply need a new inner tube. We use bath towels for everything because paper towel and sponges cost too much. We have piles of dirty laundry because we can only budget in 5 loads a week, which ain’t much considering we are a family of 6 who use towels for everything. There is no eating out, not even for fast food. No family vacations, no trips to bounce zones, Chuck E. Cheese, or movie theatres. There are no sports teams with weekly practices and saturday morning games. No dance lessons. Every answer is a “maybe later” or a flat out “no”.

The kids hold it against us. Coming from families way more well-to-do on both sides plus the influence of YouTube, our kids have inside looks into the lives of other families across the globe who live above our means. There is no hiding what they are missing out on in this family. These kids have to listened to the “never enough” talk so much that they hesitate to even tell us when they need things and rarely make mention of wants. Walking on eggshells so young, in order to keep the peace and stress in our family to a minimum; it shouldn’t be this way at all. They deserve a real childhood full of freedom and innocence from the struggles of the adult world.

My kids deserve to enjoy all the luxuries childhood brings.

We don’t even have a reliable vehicle if we actually found a little wiggle room in our budget every now and again. Right now, in fact, it’s sitting in our driveway waiting until we can save enough to pay for the new wire harness and ti-rod that it needs first and foremost. There’s another dozen or so issues, but those won’t affect the way the minivan runs just yet, so they have to wait. Wait until the day they do cause serious problems and leave us stranded once more, that is.

Living between the income margins is tough living. It isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Love overcomes all is such bullshit. If it were enough, my kids wouldn’t feel so ashamed to be part of this family. They certainly would find it in their hearts to be more comfortable being themselves around us. The kids wouldn’t feel the financial stress radiating from us. The love would be worth more to everyone than our outward appearances and material belongings. In this day and age of bigger is better and disposable materialism, it is impossible to convince my babies that less is more.

Disappointment will forever be all they know until the day they are old enough to take control of their own lives – responsibly. If there is one hope from this seemingly purgatory I  knowingly have to raise them in, it is that my children take the disdain they’re  harboring and rise above in ways their father and I never could. The future holds for them everything we, as parents, have failed miserably to overcome themselves. I cannot wait to see them make life everything they always wanted and own it proudly. Then I’ll be able to rest assuredly, that this agonizing struggle to live was not all for naught. Until then, between the margins we remain.

 

UYW – June. Losing Out On Grandparents

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Whatever happened to the good ol’ days, when grandparents actually embraced their roles? When grannies were as warm and plump as their freshly baked cookies and hugged you with an embrace so mighty you knew things would always be okay. When poppa’s were full of tales and legends to be told while perched upon his bouncing knee. There was a strong sense of pride found in the continuance of another generation that just isn’t there anymore. Seriously. Grandparents of today are nothing like they used to be.         

When I was a kid, there was still a magical quality about those people we knew to be our parents’ parents. They were mysterious and familiar all at once. I felt loved and wanted when they were around in a way my own loving parents couldn’t fulfill. Having grandparents to dote on me was the best feeling in the world. At the same time, I knew they were no-nonsense people who were to be respected much more than my own folks. My friends would testify that it was all the same way with them, as well. They knew that when it came time see them, it was going to be great.

We were able to just be kids when our grandparents were with us. They put forth an effort to come and see us as often as possible and have us over even more, giving our parents plenty of time for themselves. They played cards with us, teaching us how to play poker to our parents’ dismay, letting us gamble with peanuts and M&M’s. They taught us how to bargain, how to cook, how to fish, how to pray, and how to stand strong in the face of adversity. How to do things better. They even lent a helping hand to their kids outside of occupying their grandbabies; cleaning house, getting the groceries, and doing household repairs. Grandparents welcomed their roles as head of the family.   

Then my generation went and started having kids.

It was after I had become a mother for the second time that I began to see how much time had changed things. At first, I thought maybe it was just me. My parents and I had never been particularly close. Then I began looking at my friends’ families and saw the same thing I was experiencing within my own extended family. The old-fashioned values beheld by the role of grandparent had ceased to exist. This generation of grandparents have left behind the butter soft appearance of older age in turn for the look of chasing youthfulness. In doing so, they have let go of the traditional roles grandparents once played. They no longer offer their unconditional services to their children, no longer find purpose in rearing the next generation of the family tree. Where they once could be found donning an apron or coveralls, they can now be found dressed to impress out on the town or the golf course.

The sense of responsibility for the continuance of an upstanding reputation carrying on the family name seems not to matter any longer. The elders of the family are using their retirement solely for personal gain. Everything else- extended family included- are after thoughts. I realized I was lucky my parents would even return my call and talk to their grandbabies for a moment. They had no desire to bake goodies with their namesakes, teach them how to run game with a smirkless face, or keep them overnight. They do not want to spend any more time being responsible for anything but fun. Unlike their parents before them, they seem to have had enough of giving up their time for everyone else. This generation of grandparents do not find the role of grandparent fulfilling or satisfying.

What they don’t seem to take into consideration is how much the kids are losing out on. While they are off gallivanting around as if they are twenty-one again, their grandkids are at home absorbing the culture that says they need to act that age, long before they are grown. Mom and Dad are left scrambling to balance everything on their own without the wisdom of someone who’s been down the same road to step in and show them the way. Marriages are struggling harder than ever with the lack of experienced guidance stepping in for support and giving them an opportunity to get away every now and again. The unity and loyalty of the family unit is fading fast. Children need their grandparents.

 

***Today’s post was a writing challenge*** This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

Your words are:

seriously ~ groceries ~ butter ~ better ~ call ~ return

They were submitted by: Baking In A Tornado  

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado                        

Southern Belle Charm                                                

Not That Sarah Michelle                                  

Spatulas on Parade                                          

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver   

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                

My Brain on Kids                                

The Bergham Chronicles                     

Confessions of a part time working mom        

Climaxed                                         

 

You Might As Well Be A Gorilla – When The Village Fails Its Parents

The recent incident at the Cincinnati Zoo where a young male gorilla was dispatched without care for interacting with an unharmed child after it fell into the exhibit has gotten many people into an uproar. Most of the raging controversy stems from whether or not the gorilla should have been shot dead or not. There is, however, a whole onslaught of pandemonium rising over the blame of the parents for allowing such a tragic, and deadly for the young, endangered gorilla, experience from taking place. Everyone thinks they are the worst parents now. They should be punished for neglect. They are to blame. They should have been vigilant over their child and none of this should have happened. The gorilla would still be alive if it weren’t for their inattentiveness.

But it is NOT their fault. Not alone, at least.

Only in a perfect world could it ever be remotely logical to hold those parents solely responsible. If blame must be placed and anyone needs to be held accountable, it is the entire community as a whole. Society, if you will. Hundreds of people were in that zoo. All of them congregating in the same place, yet completely unaware of one another. A place designed for families, nonetheless. The majority of these visitors were probably families with kids in tow. Everybody was only concerned about themselves, paying no heed to anything going on around them that wasn’t part of the animal attractions they were there for. All those people mingling in each other’s personal space, coming from the same common  ground as parents making memories with their children, and not one felt any sense of unity in being there together; lost in their own worlds. Where were any one of those people who bore witness to the terrifying events that occurred as the child made it’s way through not one, but two barricades before falling two-stories down into a moat of water?

OH, YEAH. That’s right. They were standing right there lost in their own memory makings with those they belong to and the animals they came to see, with no care for anyone else around.

None of the other life around them was worth their attention for a split second. Not that all the hundreds of people that were there that day were all at that one gorilla exhibit simultaneously, but I’ll be damned if there was at least one adult standing there, the news reports account at least a dozen it seems. Either way, each and every one of those people could have prevented this entire ordeal from happening. They were unaware as much as the parents who weren’t even as close, as the child had ran off a bit. As children do. It happens to the very best of parents. Grandparents. Nannies. Babysitters.

In fact, my husband and I accompanied our four year old to the zoo for a preschool field trip. She is a very curious, strong-willed, and free-spirited child who fears nothing and embraces her independence. She ran off on us no less than a half dozen times. Once while we were checking with staff about an animal who looked by all means dead in the exhibit (thankfully, the weirdos just sleep that way and it is very hard to see them breathing, even that close up). At this age, impulse control is worse than ever because the littles have gotten a taste of the existential freedoms life outside of Mom and Dad’s protective arms hold. Older toddlers and young preschoolers are hardwired for such inquisitivity to foster learning development. You may as well have a pet rodent at this stage – 3- and 4-year olds are lightening quick, rather sneaky, good at blending in, focus-driven yet simultaneously indecisive, and extremely eager to test all boundaries and obstacles, especially when they have a mission in mind needing to be accomplished. They will give their parents hell all in the name of growing up. There is no way to keep them still and tame their wanderlust, short of putting them on a leash or strapping them down to something they cannot unbuckle on their own; revoking the freedom they treasure as greatly as the love of their parents and nurtures their love of knowledge and discovery. (Good luck enjoying your family adventure after doing as much, too, because you’ll find the mood of your preschooler as constricted as they are while physically under restraint – much like the very animals they came to see.)

People wouldn’t need to worry about incidences like this one if society still held any value in the village raising the child. We could have faith that in the struggle to keep up with someone younger, prettier, and lighter on their feet all while trying to assert the boundaries and self-control you are working to instill in them, you know there is the support of the community surrounding you to back you up. To step in if it becomes apparent your child could be in serious danger. To offer you a hand when you look worn out or confused about how to handle a situation. To be a second of set of eyes, hands, and legs always present in a crowd. Not in a “you’re doing it wrong and someone needs to teach you to parent right” perspective, but in a “been there, done/doing that and we’re all just trying to figure it out and do what is best for our own families” way. It takes more than ten seconds to climb through two barriers before falling into harm’s path.

If we cared for humanity a little more and our outward appearances and possessions a little less, someone would have had eyes on that child as it slipped away.

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We are all to blame for failing not only the child, but the child’s parents and the gorilla, too, in this situation. There’s no two ways about it.

And while we’re casting the blame around instead of taking the high road of compassion, let’s bring up the fact that every single one of those bystanders who allowed the child past them unnoticed, did nothing to protect anyone but their own shared DNA by ignoring the going ons around them. Only when it was too late did anyone decide they finally wanted to get involved. By screaming. Running and panicking, like a herd of antelope with hyenas biting on their heels; no logic or reason to their actions at all, just sheer panic. Definitely not very conducive to saving the life of a child who’s fallen in the home of a scared and confused wild animal of powerful force. Or the poor animal wondering why this is all happening to his typically calm, quiet environment. Panicking is something untamed, uneducated animals do. Not humans who can think conscious thoughts and rationalize in a situation using the higher intelligence we were gifted with, being at the top of the animal kingdom and all. It didn’t take a genius to know the zoo staff would handle the crisis and any unusual noise and ruckus could make the situation go from bad to worse. Yeah, it was probably scary sight to see. There’s no denying that. Yet, here people are, verbally beating down a mother for her child’s lack of impulse control while overlooking the fact that those bystanders couldn’t even control their own impulse to freak the freak out – something that accomplished nothing more than riling up the gorilla more than it already was with the surprise package that dropped over the side of its enclosure.

Shit happens. That’s why humans are social creatures. We live in communities and build families so we can support one another. Lend help, lift each other up, and stand behind others so they can accomplish, succeed, and overcome all that life throws in the way. Trashing parents for something purely accidental, no matter how tragic the event actually was, just proves how far we have come away from our humanity, the very thing defining us above all other species. We are receding back towards the ways of our not-so distant cousins – those same overly territorial gorillas who have no problems killing others of their own kind for not being of the same bloodline. Selling each other out for a moment of superiority is something expected from an animal with no empathy or compassion, not a human being.

It is way beyond time to bring back the village mentality. Stop throwing around blame and looking to judge others for faults and failures we are all equally susceptible to. Unless, of course, we prefer to be apes again – because that is all we are doing when casting stones for the sake of a temporary sense of power – acting like the very animals we cage in the zoo. Might as well just be a gorilla then.