Free Range Parenting

So apparently there is a parenting style called “free range parenting”.  I haven’t really read too much about it but have heard the term thrown around.  Evidently, it is a throw back to the 70s and 80s when kids growing up didn’t always have an adult scrutinizing their every movement.  I just wanted to assure you all the free range parenting is alive and well at my house.  Assorted commitments have me out of the house quite a few evenings this week.  My solution is to leave the kids car keys and cash.

The 11 year old was already responsible and organized.  The 16 year old is getting there.

xoxo,

Robyn

photo

Checking In

It’s been radio silence around here lately.  I really haven’t felt much like writing or communicating.  There was –

Valentine’s Day

The 8 month mark

The Westminster Dog Show

Peter Krause

Snow Days with Offices Closed

A handprint on the mirror

The indelible memory of my head resting on his shoulder

Most of these won’t mean much to you.  But they mean a lot to me.  It’s been a challenging  couple of days.

But there was also this…

photo

Parker made us Valentines.  One of the things she wrote on Grant’s was “Thank you for teaching me the greatness of old classic rock.”  This was, of course, an important life lesson passed on to Grant from Dave which he has, in turn, passed on to her.  Oh my heart.

xoxo,

Robyn

Reaching Out as a Sign of Healing?

My kind and supportive friend, Liz, has mentioned on several occasions that when you are ready to reach out and help someone else, it is a sign of healing.  It is an idea that I have been mulling over in the last few weeks.  I still don’t have a firm opinion on this yet.

When Grant reached out to his friend who lost her dad, I saw that as a sign that my son understands that helping a friend when they are down is the right thing to do.  I figured that he was using his unfortunate knowledge and experience to try to ease someone else’s heartbreak just a little.  At the same time, I also worried about the effect this might have on him too.

Experience has taught me not to ask for permission to do something for someone else.  After all, they might be like me and say no.  In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to do for someone else.  I have tried to unlock my memories from the summer and figure out what I most appreciated.  I hope that my friend has felt a tiny bit less alone and found a little comfort in having an understanding ear who is willing to listen and random food items delivered to her door.  Has this been healing for me?  I am not really sure.  But it is not only the right thing to do, it is what I want to do for my friend.

Dave’s mom and dad spend the colder months in Hawaii.  Last week, his mom was out for a walk by herself and slipped on some wet stairs.  Thankfully she had her cell phone with her and was able to call for help.  Her injury required major surgery and several days in the hospital.  It is hard to feel supportive and helpful (my love language is acts of service) from so far away.  I consider myself to be a fairly decent problem solver, so I ordered a few things that will hopefully make her recovery a little more pleasant and comfortable.  Has this been healing for me?  I am not really sure.  But it is important to me to feel useful in some way and show my caring.  (Dave’s mom seems to be doing okay, thank goodness!)

So, where am I with my healing?  I have no idea.  I received an email from one of the nurses who put together the colon cancer retreat through Johns Hopkins.  She was reaching out to all of the “caregivers” who have now lost their spouses.  In it she mentions that in the beginning our commonality was having a spouse with colon cancer and now we have all lost our spouses and would we like to get together sometime to share and visit together.  My immediate and current reaction to that email is “Heck, no.  No way.  Not a snowball’s chance in hell.”  The idea of sitting with a group of others and talking about what we have been through or are going through sounds horrific.  I do not have the capacity to manage that much grief.

So is reaching out to others a sign of healing?  I really don’t know.  I do know that being helpful makes me feel like this ill gained understanding could have some small iota of purpose.  But it has not brought me any greater acceptance of losing Dave or made me miss him any less.  Maybe I have unrealistic expectations for what healing looks like.

xoxo,

Robyn

4445_1146224343378_4009171_n

I had Dave and his friend, Rick, pose for this picture.  When I asked them to hold hands, they just did – without question or hesitation.  (I was trying to create a cialis ad like image!)

Influential Teachers

Each week, I go to different grade level math meetings as part of my job as a resource teacher.  At the beginning of each meeting, we start with “Celebrations”.  Yesterday, on one team, the celebration was to reflect on who your most influential teacher was.  I loved listening to others share who the teacher was, what grade and for better or worse how they were influenced by this individual.

I had no idea how many of our teachers were children of teachers.  Several people said that they called their mom after a challenging day or when they wanted to reflect on how a lesson or interaction went.  That sounding board, for me, was always Dave.  I would come home and unload whatever was on my mind.  And he would listen and generally offer me a solution or advice which I may or may not have followed.  Over time, he realized that his best response was just to be happy or indignant or frustrated with me.  That was really what I was looking for.  Yesterday was kind of a frustrating day.  I would have loved to have talked to him about it.  I miss that time.

xoxo,

Robyn

For the record, my most influential teacher was Mr. Masatani (not sure how to spell it).  He was my fifth grade teacher.  He was kind of gruff and once accused me of using my brother’s project from the year before (as if!).  He had a connection with the LA Dodgers and awarded prizes like jerseys and baseballs for achievements.   I remember when your cursive handwriting met his high standard you were allowed to write in pen and he rewarded you with a special pen eraser.  The thing that I most remember about him though was that he was probably the first Japanese person that I had a lot of contact with.  It was the first time in my life that someone (at least to my face) recognized me as being asian and exposed me to what that meant.  It was the first time that I learned about the Japanese internment camps in WWII.  (For those of you who don’t know me, I was born in France.  My biological mom was Japanese and my biological father was Czech.  I was adopted when I was 2 1/2 in Germany by a caucasian US Army officer and his caucasian wife – also known as Mom and Dad!)  5th grade was the first time that I considered what it meant to be Japanese.

In college, I tutored a Japanese woman in English.  She teased me for my pitiful lack of knowledge historically and culturally and invited me over for meals so that I might learn more!

Car Talk

Grant – Mom, you know __________?

Me – yeah…

Grant – Her dad died two hours ago.

Me – What?  How?  Was he sick?

Grant – I am not really sure, and I didn’t think that I should ask.

Me – I am so sorry to hear that.  That is terrible.

Grant – We (he and a couple of his friends) are going to go out tomorrow morning and get her a DS and Animal Crossing because I found that helpful after dad died.

Me – I’ll give you money for that.

Grant – No.  That’s okay.  I think that it would be more meaningful coming from me.

My heart breaks for Grant’s friend and her family.  But I am amazed at the caring and maturity of my kid.  Though extremely unfortunate, I think that his friend has just the right friend to walk with her through this terrible time.

xoxo,

Robyn

The Flip Side

Every time I expose myself and my “warts and all” brutal truths, I wonder if I have gone a step too far.  Generally, I get responses or messages from people saying that it helps them understand or that they don’t feel as alone in their own thoughts.  I hope that’s true as it does feel good to be helpful in some way.

I wonder if I portray myself as this miserable, unappreciative Eeyore of a person.  I hope not.  Because if you know me, you know that generally I can be found joking around and laughing.  So, while I shared my truths and these are things that I believe, there is more than one side to these truths too.

1. I hate that others have moved on with their lives.  But, honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I certainly wouldn’t wish misery or unhappiness  on anyone.

2.  I am an absurdly proud person.  I imagine that I could have made life a little easier on myself by accepting offers of help.  I certainly appreciated every offer and everything done for us.  If I had swallowed my pride a little more often, it would have been okay.  I just couldn’t.  But if I had to give advice to someone else, I would tell them to do just that.

3.  I hate it when people bring Dave up to me when I am not expecting it.  The reality is that I talk about Dave all the time.  I bring him up at every opportunity.  I probably have put many people in the position that I have described – especially my kids and his family.  It’s a double standard.

4.  I have judged people for not being there for me.  Well, this is just fact.  I have.  It’s not that I am proud of this fact.  It is just me being honest.  Being there for someone is hard.  It is sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone.  I can say that before this experience I was never there for someone in the way that I expect/want others to be there for me.  I think this is really only learned through experience.

5.  I hate the expression “rest in peace” or even worse RIP.  I do.  But I also realize that when people don’t know what else to say they rely on what is generally acceptable.  We all do it.  I just feel that now I have a better understanding of what message I want to convey and how I want to say it.

For every truth, there are many underlying facets.  We grow and learn and evolve.

xoxo,

Robyn

True Confessions – The Not So Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Look me in the eye

IMG_9421

and repeat after me – I promise not to take offense to the words I read here.  And if I do take offense, I promise to be forgiving.  We are all doing the best that we can.

Thanks.  Now that we have that out of the way, I can share with you my five ugly truths.

1.  I hate that others have moved on with their lives.  They don’t think about Dave every day.  They aren’t faced with daily reminders of his life and their lives together.  I hate that life goes on for others when I want to world to stop turning.  Misery likes company?  I don’t know.  Jealousy?  Maybe.  Of course, life goes on.  But for those grieving, it goes on much differently.

2.  I am an absurdly proud person.  I don’t do well with offers of help.  Honestly, I hate the idea that other people would think that I need help.  I can cook for my family.  I just chose not to.  I can clean my own house.  I just don’t want to.  We do not need any financial help. We are absolutely fine.

The best kind of help that I received over the weeks and months after Dave died is the help that just happened without my permission.  My brother came over the morning after to get the house more back to normal before the kids came home.  Dave’s sister and her husband came over that afternoon with supplies and tools in hand.  If I have accepted your help in any way, then that is a HUGE deal.

3.  I hate it when people bring Dave up to me when I am not expecting it.  If I bring Dave up, it is because I am feeling strong enough to talk about him.  If we have a relationship where we often discuss Dave, then I can usually handle that too.  What shocks me if when someone brings him up randomly.  But I would hate it if no one wanted to talk about Dave and share stories or tell me how he impacted their lives.  So, this is pretty much a can’t win scenario.  I never said I was a rational person.

4.  I have judged people for not being there for me.  This truly is such an ugly truth.  The strange thing about this process is that not only have I been monumentally self-centered (while also being focused on the kids), I have been extremely judgmental about people I thought would be there for me who for whatever reason haven’t.  Perhaps they are struggling to cope themselves.  After all, we are all just doing the best that we can.  I have also been humbled by people who have been there for me in ways that I would have never imagined.  I guess that in troubling times your true colors show.  And I am lucky enough to have many friends whose colors are the brightest of colors in the rainbow.

There is someone who I don’t know (at least I don’t think that we have ever met).  She sends me a card every week to let me know that she is thinking about me and the kids.  I sense that experience has taught her how important it is to be remembered regularly.

5.  I hate the expression “rest in peace” or even worse RIP.  In fact, I pretty much hate all of the standard sayings “He’s at peace”, “His suffering has ended”, “He’s in a better place”.  Hate it.  Hate it.  Hate it.  I mean he was at peace when he died so I guess he is resting in peace.  What choice does he have?  He’s not in a better place.  The best place for him to be, in my opinion, is here with me.  I will never use any of these sayings.  Instead I will say, “I am so sorry.”  “Ugh.  This sucks.”

So, there you have it.  For whatever it is worth.  (Perhaps not much.)  My unglossy honest truths in my post-Dave world.

xoxo,

Robyn