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May 17

Woulda, coulda, shoulda

Posted on Monday, May 17, 2010 in Happiness, Honesty, Relationships, Self image

The Kid and I were on our way out Saturday night — he with his friends, me with Sean — when I caught a glimpse of him before he headed out the door.

He looked weird, even for a teenager.

“What’s that?”

“That what?”

“That, that thing on top of your head.”

“It’s a new beanie. Why?”

Why? He was heading out wearing something that made him look like a cross between a dweeby alien and Pippi Longstocking, the kind of thing that if anyone snaps a pic of him in it, he’ll look back one day and wonder, “And why, exactly, did I ever think I looked good in that?” — and he’s asking why?

I almost told him the truth, but, I didn’t. Moms of teenagers walk around on eggshells, anyway, so I wasn’t going to go there.

“Uh, you look nice, that’s why.”      

“Thanks, Mom! OK, see you later.”

“Have fun!” I said, but in my head I thought, if you can, looking the way you do!

And then I said a silent prayer that the girl of his dreams would show up another night, a beanieless night.

Sometimes I look at him and think, yep, there’s
a kid who’s perfectly OK making decisions
he’ll regret when he’s older.

But, don’t we all?

I certainly have had my share of fashion faux pas, especially in my hippie days although, honestly, the disco period wasn’t much better. Spandex and Lycra and jumpsuits, oh my!  Most people want to reconnect with old high school pals on Facebook to rekindle friendships; I want to reconnect so I can pay them whatever it takes to destroy those pictures!

Then there were the eras of the Bad Hair— the Pixie cut; the experiment as a redhead; the perm; the other perm a few years after the first …

All of that is entertaining, actually, if somewhat horrifying. Real regrets, however, aren’t that easily laughed away — the times we hurt somebody or lied; when we unleashed our anger
or were passive-aggressive; when we were more interested in being right than understanding or held grudges beyond their expiration date; when we had sex when we really didn’t want to or didn’t respect someone who did; when we stood by and did nothing while others suffered or let our inflated expectations destroy relationships. All the times we promised we going to stop doing whatever self-destructing behavior we did, only to be outdone by one too many Lemon Drops. Sending that e-mail or making that phone call …

(Of course, we often — foolishly — think others will have regrets about us, like dumping us.) Sorry; life isn’t a Nick Hornby novel most of the time.

Or maybe our priorities were screwed up, and we didn’t do all the things we wanted to do out of fear or inertia. Darwin wished he’d spent more time reading poetry and listening to music, although I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what he regretted most when on his deathbed.

I have made a conscious effort not to live in regret. I’m made mistakes — many! — but the past is the past, right? Can’t undo it; just make amends, make changes and move on.

And I try to live life now consciously and purposefully so I won’t have anything to regret in the future, even though some researchers say that, compared with other emotions — anger, jealousy, disappointment, sadness — at least regret offers some positives; it can help us be better people in the future because we’re learned something about ourselves and we’re not going there again.

Yeah, well, maybe.

I’ve always believed that whatever happened in the past somehow got me to where I am now, and if I’m in a good place, well, what’s to regret?

Still, I am aware of my mistakes; one huge one, the rest not so huge. I don’t dwell on them, but I acknowledge them, and I have forgiven myself for not having the experience and understanding at the time.

  • What do you regret?
  • How have you learned from that?
  • If you could live a part of your life over, what would you do?
  • Do you dwell on past mistakes, or move on?

Photo © Angelika Bentin – Fotolia.com

May 13

M is for mother and masturbation


As my dog Roxy and I took a Mother’s Day hike together — her “gift” to me, I suppose — I chucked to myself that we moms get one day out of the year to ourselves while the big M — masturbation — gets a whole month.

You have to wonder who decided that and why!

Not that I’m complaining.

In fact, I’m all for it (although the poor restaurants can’t cash in much: “Mom, I’d sure like to take you to brunch, but you’re going to have to stop what you’re doing in there long enough to eat …” Nor can Hallmark, but there’s always some creative company that will.)

Beside the fact that masturbation just feels so damn good (and guys, even if you’d rather we gals “use” you instead of our vibrators and fingers, trust me: you benefit big time by it because it helps us figure out what pleases us and what doesn’t. Want us to orgasm? Let us play with ourselves!), it might also mean there are less mothers celebrating Mother’s Day.
Given the latest news from Pew, that might be a
very good thing.   

Evidently, 47 percent of parents say having a baby “just happened.”

Not surprisingly, given the increase in single gals having babies, it’s mostly women who say that when explaining how they got knocked up the first time.

The Pill just marked its 50th year, and although it and other birth control methods aren’t foolproof
and accidents do happen — really, almost half of the pregnancies “just happened”?

I think not!

Because every time you have sex, you’re basically making a baby — unless you’re doing something to prevent it, like using condoms.

Whether you think like Ann Coulter (shudder), that single moms create “criminals, strippers, rapists
and murderers,”
or not, I just can’t imagine that 47 percent of people aren’t giving the biggest decision of their live a little more thought.

I mean, do we end up driving a Lexus SUV instead of a VW Beetle because it “just happened”?

I know women who give more thought to buying a pair of jeans. Or their hair color.

I have to agree with author and Evergreen State College professor Stephanie Coontz that we can’t “(shoehorn) everyone back into marriages” because “very often kids do worse if their mother rushes into a marriage that may be unstable.”

You bet! Who needs more dysfunctional divorced parents and their troubled kids mulling around? Don’t we have enough, and I include my own somewhat troubled divorced family in that.

But, please convince me that people who view having a baby as something that “just happens” are ready to be parents. I would hope that any person, male or female, would be just a little more prepared than that. Actually, I’d hope they’d be a helluva lot more prepared than that!

So, gals, please start taking National Masturbation Month (a whole month!) to heart more than Mother’s Day; honestly, it’s just a Hallmark Day.

Yeah, you don’t get brunch and a handmade card, but you don’t get knocked up, either.

  • What do you think about 47 percent of pregnancies “just happening”?
  • How’s Masturbation Month going for you?

Photo © krasispektar – Fotolia.com

May 10

High times at high school

Posted on Monday, May 10, 2010 in Honesty, Parenting, Relationships, teens/teenagers

“So, how was your Mom’s Day?” I asked Sara, calling her last night right before I snuggled into bed with my book.

“Well,” she said and then took a long pause. “I got a dream and a nightmare Mother’s Day gift.”

“A dream and a nightmare? What did Ashleigh give you — your ex, now that he’s the ‘perfect’ catch?”

“Yeah, right! Actually, we went for brunch at Sam’s, and she and I had a great talk.”

“If your teen talks to you, that is pretty amazing. I’m guessing that’s the dream part.”

“The nightmare is what she said.”

“Oh, no — is she pregnant?”

“No, thank God! But, she’s under crazy pressure.”

“That’s called ‘high school.’ What else is new?” 

“Well, then this is high school times 10. Her best friends have a bad case of senioritis. Now that they’re gotten into their colleges and school’s almost over, all they want to do is party on the weekends. And these are the good kids! She doesn’t want to, besides the fact that she can’t because of her bipolar. So she’s really struggling
— do what everyone else is and get blitzed, or spend the last few months of high school and then summer as a loner.”

“That’s so tough, Sara; I’m sorry.”

“What’s Trent doing?”

Gulp!

What is he doing indeed! I think I know what he’s doing, but the teen years aren’t exactly the most honest years. Although he shares some things
with me, he’s still a teenager — I’m sure he’s keeping a lot private, too. I did; didn’t you?

My philosophy is innocent until proven guilty. But I’m not above smelling breath  and fingertips and calling parents about parties and generally being present (aka nosy). I don’t look through his cellphone texts, but I’m not above that if I
suspected something.

And that’s the hard part of parenting — well, on top of all the other hard parts plus trying to keep them alive! At some point, our kids are thrust into a world that we’ve tried to keep them sheltered from since they were born. Drugs. Booze. Sex. Even if they’re not interested in indulging — either because we’ve done our job as parents, or they’re focused on other things or some combination of that — they can become social outcasts if their friends suddenly become interested.

When you’re that age, your friends mean everything. And, it’s not that easy to make new friends in high school, period, let alone when you’re five weeks away from graduating.

And even though they’ll be off to college soon and making new friends, the binge-drinking rate for freshmen is pretty high — especially for kids who drank heavily in high school. Along with that comes some pretty nasty stuff — rape, pregnancy, drunken driving. Death.

  • How do you guide a teen who’s trying to do the right thing when all her friends around her aren’t?
  • How much do you know about your teen’s private life?
  • Is it OK for parents to look at their kids’ cellphone texts and Facebook page?

Photo © Piotr Marcinski – Fotolia.com