On parenting teens

At this point in time, Soleil is close to becoming a 14 year old. Luna will hit 12 soon. This is a fascinating time to parent children. We have a political mess in the US. Our children see it and are old enough to comprehend what hatred is being spewn from the other side. They see others pushing their ideas on people. They see their friends being pushed down with words and they are not happy.

Things parents need to manage with parenting teens:

  1. Bullying. It has never gone away. Zero tolerance doesn’t work. We push the kids to stand up for others, but goddamn that is hard to do. All kids are bullied and most kids join in on bullying even if you don’t think yours do. Yes. Mine do too.
  2. Sex. What? But Nance, your children are only 14 and 12 (rounding up). How can you talk about sex? We need to because the schools can only give so much information and we have to fill in the gaps. It’s our moral ground. There’s a rumor that a kid in 7th grade (in between my kids) has been caught sexting and she has had sex with several boys. A few boys have bragged about their sexual exploits. THESE THINGS EXIST. I have promised both kids that if they ask for a condom, I will hand one over, no questions asked. I will admit that I will ask if they want to talk about it.
  3. Gender. What is gender? Why do we not only have male and female? What does it mean to be transgender? They already have gay friends. They will meet a transgender person in their lifetime. Time to start building up the laizzez-faire attitude we want them to have. It doesn’t matter. It’s the other person’s life.
  4. Racism. It’s real. Kids don’t always see it. We address it often. We talk about systematic racism and blatant racism. We talk about how our economic system has worked against People of Color. We talk about how there’s little cultural history compared to European families. How does one deal with the entire group of blacks, who are mostly from different cultures 400 years ago, as one group because they have the same skin color? We talk about that.
  5. Rape. I’ve got two girls. They need to know when they can say no and how to keep saying it. They also need to know that yes is okay, but no has to be listened to. It’s scary out there. I know more than a few women who were date raped as teens. I’d prefer my kids not be in that group.
  6. Politics. Teens are starting to learn about politics. Whenever our kids start parroting us, we will suddenly start with the opposite side’s argument. This keeps them on their toes and forces a bit of thinking to happen. Yeah, thinking. We’re evil parents.

What do you discuss with your teens? I have more that we deal with on a daily basis (including Hamilton, the Musical), but these are the important ones.

Baby, it’s cold inside

I had never expected to be a soccer mom. I was not terribly athletic as a child. Okay, let’s be honest here, I sucked. I joined our girls soccer team and one day had to be pulled because the ball smashed my glasses, broke them and cut my nose open. So, let’s just leave it as I was less than stellar on the field.

In 2007, an ice hockey rink opened in our town. The guy who was running it was a former Olympian who had won the Hobey Baker Award. All I could think was that the girls would be invited to ice skating parties, and like their mother, they would cling to the boards for dear life. Maybe, just maybe they would be like Dr. Jay and skate well. He played hockey for several years in college on intramural teams. He even did pickup games on Long Island until he suffered a serious eye injury. So, we signed the girls up for lessons.

Fast forward to 2016. Soleil is now a hockey goalie. She plays for the East Coast Wizards and we hope that she can play for her High School Boys’ team next year. Luna. Oh Luna. She is getting ready to test for her pre-juvenile free-skate test for the US figure skating levels. She’s also working with a coach to test her pre-juv pairs test. Once she has that down, she needs to land her Axel jump before we will search out a skate partner.

I never expected the quick foray into skating lessons would get us here. At least 3 days a week during summer and up to 6 a week from September to April are spent in rinks. I’m a hockey/skater mom. This is bizarre. Every Sunday, Soleil gets up early so one of us can drive her to an hour long goalie clinic with the Boston University’s women’s goalie coach.

One July 1st, Luna and I will be attending the US Figure Skating Association’s National Theatre On Ice competition. She’s on one of 12 Junior level teams competing for the national title.

How did we get here?

The Silence

Sometimes, I find myself so busy that I forget what is important to me. There’s the old saying, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my sanity the most.” For me? I miss silence.

I love silence. Sometimes the silence is to much and I want noise, but right now, I am finding that I crave silence. With two kids in the middle of childhood, I feel I am the chauffeur of life. I spend about 2 hours a day driving kids places, usually ice rinks. We talk. I love this time because it is usually one on one time and I get to talk to the girls about everything. I listen to Pokemon ideas, I listen to problems with friends and crushes on boys. I hear about their problems and their joys.

But I rarely get silence. I took Monday off of work because Luna had a doctor appointment downtown. I walked the dog. I did some needlework. I gardened. I was in silence. It was glorious. I need the quiet more than I think I do.

I am finding that I also need to write. This helps to express my stresses and my fears. So I am going to try to do more, but it is difficult. Does anyone care what I say?

Running:
I started running a few years ago. I am still doing it. I am SLOW. I plod along, but I am slowly getting faster. I have signed up for 2 1/2 marathons (that’s 13.1 miles). One is in October and the other is in November. I also, foolishly, signed up to do the Challenge for the November one. That means Saturday, I run 10K, and the next day, 13.1 miles (21K). HA HA HA *flump*. But I get quiet if I don’t use my headphones. I might not for my next run. I have a relay 1/2 marathon in 2 weeks. I am doing the 7.25 mile (12K) leg. I did a training run this weekend that was slower than I wanted, mostly because my pace watch wasn’t working. I want to do this with an average pace of 12:30. I did it with an average pace of 12:54 (min/mile). The thing is, I really want to break the 3 hour mark for my next 1/2 marathon. My fastest time is 3:03:39. That’s close to a total pace of 14 min/miles. I know I can do this, but I really need to work it.

Why do I push so hard? I’m not sure. There’s a drive that is really making me want to move this. I am not sure why, but it’s there. I will NEVER EVER win a race. Just finishing is a win for me. Here I am, 44 years old, overweight, short, and running 1/2 marathons. All I can do is work on being faster.

So, I will work on it. And enjoy the silence.

technically

I am not supposed to write blog posts at work. It’s the nature of the work. What can I say?

I want to get back to writing. This is not easy as life has gotten crazier and crazier.

Soleil is 12 going on 13. She’s playing hockey more ferociously than we ever expected. She made a local girls’ elite hockey team for their minor team. We are all very excited.

Luna is 10 going on 11. She’s still skating. She just passed her Preliminary level moves in the field (edge skating test) and is working on a routine for the free skate test. What these means is that she needs to start landing her Axel and her doubles to start competing at a higher level.

I’m working on finding the right balance in life. Switching jobs has created something I never expected: A weekend. I can’t check email or phones for work stuff. This is awesome. I’ve been taking back my weekend and slowly being me again. Some of the break from writing was exactly for this. To be me.

I’ve continued to struggle with thyroid issues. I am not sure that will ever change.
I am filled with rage from the racial injustice we see in America.

We will move forward.

Anyway, I’m back. Rule #1: write a post a week.
xoxo
Nance

The One About the Boston Marathon

I suppose this one should start with the now obvious fact: I am from Boston. I used to not be. I grew up in Western New York, near Buffalo. That was my home. It still is in some ways, but in 1996, I moved to the Greater Boston Area.

In Massachusetts, April 19 is a holiday. It is called Patriots’ Day. (or is it Patriot’s Day?) On the week with April 19, the Monday is Patriots’ Day and the running of the Boston Marathon. This is the anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War. In the sensible move, the schools are closed the week of Patriots’ Day. We took this week in Cleveland to visit family.

We were taking the dog to a dog park with the girls when Dr. Jay pulled me aside. “There were explosions at the Marathon”. That’s all we knew. I went to Facebook and asked my friends for more info. They quickly got me up to date while Dr. Jay found the streaming radio from Boston. The news was horrific. The radio reported bodies ripped apart. Numerous severed limbs. Blood everywhere. Deaths were certain. I was torn. I needed to know.

While we were at the dog park, we continued to listen. Then we both remembered that our graduate school advisor; we had the same person, was running that day. Last year, he had a hamstring injury and when the day ended up being almost 90 degrees, he happily took the deferment to run this year instead. We did the math. He would be crossing within 10-15 of the explosions.

As a recent runner, I couldn’t help but think of the two recent races I have done. The finish line is crazy and a mess. There are people everywhere and as a runner, you are dazed and just trying to find some way to keep moving towards family. For people like me, the anxiety of being surrounded by so many people can choke you. Then add an explosion, and another.

The week was not relaxing. I felt ill all of the time. I needed more and more information. We did many things including hiking just to be away from the news. Thursday night, I was awoken at 2 am by a daughter who needed me to sleep with her. I ended up sleeping downstairs with the girls. At 6 am, Dr. Jay came down to give me my medicine (I always take it at 6am). When he woke me at 7:30, he let me know that the cell phones had been going since 6:20. His work closed, my work went on high alert, calls kept going through for different alerts. The suspect was loose in Watertown. This is where many of my friends live. I checked and they had been alerted at 2am by the police to stay indoors. They were doing well and a bit nervous.

We drove home Friday, constantly checking the news, checking with friends, checking with the streaming radio… we found out about the relaxing of the shelter in place, one friend went outside on his deck, only to hear gunshots and explosions. We found about the boat, the stories of the man trapped there. Within 30 minutes from home, he was captured. We weren’t sure if he was dead or alive. We had no idea until about 10 minutes from home.

The return was odd. This was a crazy week. I work in a place that is managed by MIT. We lost one of our own this week. An 8 year old boy died. Luna is 8. BU lost a mathematician. Arlington lost a native daughter. Families are torn with injuries and death. I need answers. Why the Marathon? Why Boston? Was it simply that the brothers lived in Cambridge? Why runners? We run for ourselves. We are in some sense very selfish that way. We run for the challenge, the open air. We don’t run for politics.

I don’t know where I sit with this week. I am sad and upset about West, Texas. I am furious at the Senate, but to be honest, I am tortured by what has happened in my city.

I never thought I was from Boston. Until the day my city was torn apart.

* we were very open with the girls and talked to them about the whole thing. We are still seeing how they are processing the whole thing.

The One About Coming Back

*taps microphone* Anyone here?
So yeah, I am going to try this blogging thing again. First and foremost, I have left my job and secured a new position. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to discuss what I do or where I work as part of my work agreement. Let’s just say this: I am in the same line of work, I enjoy what I do, I feel happier, but my stress isn’t all gone.

I am trying to come back. The past 4 years have been rather rough on me. Mentally and physically, it has been tough. The stress of work ate at me. I felt incompetent, stupid, and useless alternating with overpaid, overqualified, and overworked. Clearly, those feelings were contradictory. I wasted far too long trying to understand what I wanted, what was wanted of me, and my place in the universe. My boss was snide and rude. It’s clear that he never meant to be, but he was clearly full of issues in terms of women working. The last straw for me was the day I was told that if I quit working, my husband could take care of the family.

I had spent the last 2 years putting in applications to several jobs. Out of nowhere, it seemed, I was contacted to see if I was interested in a position that I had applied for in June. I said yes, and within a few days, I had an interview scheduled. I was told 2 days after the interview that they wanted me and within 6 weeks I was cleaning out my office.

Physically, I have been fighting my hypothyroidism. I am now in the position where I am betterish. I had been been getting worse and worse and being told to just get used to it. I am now 40 lbs heavier than I want to be. I have tried eating less, running more and exercising more. Nothing helped. My doctor told me to live with it. I asked to see a new doctor. I am seeing one of the top endocrinologists in Boston now. We’ve modified my medication and after 14 months, I finally got stabile numbers. Last week, I discovered my medication had been discontinued, so I am on a new med and I think it is a problem, but we’ll see in 5 more weeks.

As I said, I am running more. I have run two 1/2 marathons since January. In January, I ran the Disneyland Tinker Bell 1/2 in 3h10m. In February, I ran the DisneyWorld Princess 1/2 in 3h24m. I am very sad at the timing, but the Disney World one was far too crowded and I was stepped on early on (around mile 2). However, I finished. My goal is to increase my time. I run a long race at an average pace of 14+ min per mile. I want to be able to do a 1/2 marathon in 13+ min per mile.

Okay, that’s enough for now, but I am glad to be back.

The one about parenting children of a different religion

*I know I owe you all a post about work, but there are things that I can’t put out here. Let’s just say I am back at work and there have been some changes implemented, but I am in the same job with the same supervisors*

So it is December. And all of the retail places are kicking our butts with holiday music. Seriously, it started before Thanksgiving this year. If I hear “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time” one more time, I will have to go postal.

December in the Casa de Space means the endless questions of why don’t Jews get even time in the holidays (2% girls! You’re part of the 2%) It is hard for me to really get their concerns because, well, I was raised Christian in a Christian society. I may now be atheist, but growing up, the whole Christmas thing made sense and it was my holiday. Now as a cynical adult, I can split the religion from the secular parts of Christmas and deal. I can tell that my kids can’t.

We don’t do both. We’re not both. We do Hanukkah. Every year, since Soleil was young, we’ve had a Hanukkah party. We make a ton of latkes (traditional fried potato pancakes) put out some other foods and roll with it. Sour cream? Fattening latkes and jelly donuts? Oh yeah, we’re all over that! We even have some drediels out to play that traditional “Let’s teach the kids how to gamble with chocolate”. Seriously, who decided that was a good idea? We don’t do electric lights, we don’t do trees, we just do Hanukkah.

So when Luna found out the competition she was attending in December was canceled, she wanted to do the holiday show for the Learn to Skate club that she works. Of course, she’ll be gone the week of the holiday show and the coaches suggested something for Hanukkah. In 1 hour, this girl got her coach to download the song “Candlelight” by the Maccabeats and she designed a routine to go with it. Amazing.

She’s still upset about Christmas dominating her world. She doesn’t know what to do with it or how to relate with others. I am at a loss. How many people out there parent a child from a different religion or culture? How do you handle these sorts of issues?

The post about being two weeks out of six

I have almost finished two weeks out of six of my medical leave. I am seeing doctors galore. Lovely. I had a pulmonary visit because last year at this time, we thought I was having a pulmonary embolism. I think we have determined it was stress due to the reoccurrence of symptoms the week before I started leave. My insomnia is almost cured too, again it was clearly stress as I started to sleep once I knew I was able to step back from work. I have also started seeing a therapist to work on ways to not internalize my stress and I have my regular mental health consultant who signed off on the paperwork, so I need to touch base with her.

Unfortunately, there are still two outstanding medical issues: heart rate and hypothyroidism. I will do a blood test on Monday for the later. The first is a little more concerning. I have ‘intermittent tachycardia’ meaning my heart rate at rest will jump to the mid-100s. When I exercise, it jumps into the 160s and nearly 190 when I do cardio exercise (ie-running). At rest, it is typical to be in the mid 80s. This is still high, so I am seeing a cardiologist on Nov 2. My mom has a leaky valve and my dad has had a double by-pass with several stents added, so I guess at 41, I should get my heart checked. Hopefully, we will decide this is just how my heart works, but it is better to check than to just ignore it.

I have been exercising as I can. I ran a 10K trail race last weekend and twisted my ankle within the first 2 miles (it was after the first awesomely run mile!) I finished and the course was .5mi longer than a 10K, but that’s okay. I finished. My ankle is almost ready to run on. I will try today or tomorrow.

Mostly, I’ve found that I didn’t need to worry about not having anything to do. I am a doer. I do things. So I have found plenty to do.

I am still working on the stress and issues about returning to work in my head. I think that will be my next post, but I need to be careful. Some of you who read know my supervisor (I’m looking at you,Bev!) and I want to phrase things correctly. If I wanted to screw him over, I would have gone right to HR. I don’t want to screw him over, but I can’t go back to being under him either. So I have some decisions ahead of me.

The one about shit hitting the fan at work.

Yes, I am swearing. Shut up, my blog.

Okay, I have finally hit that magical point where shit hits the fan. I am in the process of arranging a 6 week medical leave for stress. Before you say “what bullshit, we’re all stressed”, let me explain.
Oh hell, too long, let me bullet point

  1. thyroid out of wack
  2. heartrate high
  3. breathing issues
  4. lack of sleep
  5. tremors and stomach pains on days I come into the office
  6. nightmares the weekend before I go on call

Basically, I have had three different doctors suggest that my physical issues are stress related. They may be. I finally hit a low point last week. I don’t even know what straw landed on the metaphorical camel’s back, but I realized I needed out.

I find my shoulders tense on the ride into work. By the time I sit at my desk, my stomach is in knots. I can’t stand the bull from my officemate. Last week, he couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t get email from account A when the mail server was out. I wanted to slam my head into a wall.

I have arranged an appointment to talk to an independent person to discuss my work situation. I can’t go into all of the detail, but I must say that since my former teammate left, our team has been dysfunctional, painful and stressful. There is no more fun in work.

I am working with my RN for depression. I need her to sign the paperwork so I can take 6 weeks off on medical leave. I will work through these issues with a new person. I need to find out what the right answer for me is. I need to step back. I need a breather, for I am burnt.

And this is fucking scary to do.

* And before you ask, no, there are no internal jobs to transfer to. Yes, I am looking for new jobs, no I am not qualified for some and yes, I am getting depressed about that.