A Plea for my Teens

The Medicine Abuse Project- The  Partnership at Drugfree org Logo**************************************

We are one of the lucky families who haven’t had to face addiction with their teens, but I believe that all families need to have an open dialogue about the issues. I wrote this essay as something I would say directly to either one of my teens.

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I thought we had covered all the bases.

From that first moment I snuggled you in the delivery room, we started teaching you about being safe and feeling loved.

When you cried, we comforted you… and when you smiled, we smiled back. We were absolutely pulled into your orbit and held there waiting breathless for your next move.

As your body grew stronger and you started roaming the halls of our home, we protected you from the obvious dangers: stairs, sharp corners on tables, cleaning solutions under the kitchen sink. Small choking hazards were stowed on high shelves, baby foods introduced in the exact order recommended by the pediatrician.

We immunized, sanitized, baby-proofed, read labels, researched crazy symptoms and rashes. We would keep you safe, no matter what the danger.

As you grew older, new dangers seemed to exist around every corner. We frantically had to switch gears, to add in these new warnings to our lessons about being safe.

Look both ways, hold my hand, don’t talk to strangers, wear your helmet, buckle up, don’t tell people where you live.

More warnings, more dangers.

Your teenage years crept in quickly, until your 13th birthday arrived and keeping you safe was no longer simply buckling your car seat or protecting your head from the sharp corners of the coffee table.

Dangers at this age became bigger, more insidious, more difficult to teach.

Drive safely, don’t DRINK at all, don’t smoke, don’t take any pills that anyone gives you.

NEVER.

You were no longer holding my hand, and I was no longer holding your rapt attention.

Warnings began to sound more frantic, as the potential dangers for teens seem to lurk just outside the front door.

And buried in these discussions of what NOT to do I think we missed a key point.

The underlying threat goes way beyond the immediate dangers.

Addiction.

A few beers with friends or the handful of pills your roommate hands you to “help” you study for finals? You may feel the potential window for danger closes when the sun rises the next day and everything is fine.

But the true danger is addiction. When the small handful of pills doesn’t cut it anymore, and you need MORE.

More pills, more booze, more weed just to get you to that point where your body and mind let go and the drug takes over.

And the scary part is that you won’t see it coming.

Addiction will burn your dreams at the end of that glass pipe. Addiction will take your future and twist it into a never-ending cycle of highs and lows. When addiction pulls you in quietly it promises fun, relaxation, a momentary respite from your worries and obligations. The pills your friends shares seem safe — why would the doctor prescribe them if they aren’t?

But they are NOT safe.

And by the time you understand that addiction is real and horrible and life-altering it will have already wound you up in its tight grasp, ready to fling you out at the world in search of your next high.

Like crossing the street without looking both ways.

Stay safe, my sweet baby. Hold onto your dreams and don’t let addiction derail them.

I’ve done my part… it’s your turn now.

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This post is sponsored by The Partnership at Drugfree.org as part of a blog tour with listentoyourmothershow.com in an effort to #EndMedicineAbuse

I am proud to be a part of this blog tour, which follows a live-streaming event we did on September 10. You can watch the videos here:

Please read about this event on the Listen to Your Mother blog, then visit some of the other amazing and talented writers I am honored to have shared this important event with…

Brandi Jeter from mamaknowsitall.com reading Smoothing Wrinkles
Ellie Schoenberger
from onecraftymother.com reading The Power of Story
Heather King
from extraordinary-ordinary.net reading How Will Our Kids Fill That Need?
Alexandra Rosas
from gooddayregularpeople.com reading End Medicine Abuse
Janelle Hanchett
from renegademothering.com reading I Could Tell You My Story
Judy Miller
from judymiller.com reading Teen Prescription Drug Use and Abuse
Melisa Wells
from suburbanscrawl.com reading LTYM & The Partnership at Drugfree.org Blog Tour
Lyz Lenz
from lyzlenz.com reading Dear Little Boy, You Will Never Be Ruined
Zak Watson
from raisingcolorado.com reading Raising Awareness to End Medicine Abuse
Lisa Page Rosenberg
from smacksy.com reading The Inside World

Help End Medicine Abuse

The Medicine Abuse Project

Addiction.

An ugly word that conjures images of a messy drunk passed out in the alley behind the bar, or possibly a young person so completely caught in the grasp of methamphetamine abuse that she can’t remember a life before.

But there is another side to the horrible face of addiction, and it’s no farther away than your bathroom medicine cabinet.

Medicine abuse is often overlooked, tucked away and ignored… because after all, someone NEEDED these medicines in the first place, right? What you don’t always realize is that the abuse of prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines is dangerous and deadly.

When we talk to our children and teens about drugs and alcohol, we need to talk to them about medicine abuse as well. But are we really doing enough?

This is where The Partnership at Drugfree.org comes in. I am honored to have been chosen for a special live-streaming event to kick off a blog tour featuring 12 writers each reading a personal essay about substance use/abuse and what we want our children to know.

I hope you will join me on Tuesday night September 10 to help #EndMedicineAbuse with The Partnership at Drugfree.org and LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.

You can watch the live-streaming event September 10 starting at 9 pm EST at the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/user/LTYMShow/live

Then, on September 12 these writers will share their essays on their own blogs.

We hope you will join us in the fight to #EndMedicineAbuse.

 

Kindergarten Rules

crayonsIt seems these past few weeks that everywhere on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter the kids are heading back to school. Small people, medium-sized middle-schoolers and even a few college kids.

Which means about half of the mommy population is giddy and crowding the local Starbucks; the other half left weeping in the school parking lot.

New backpacks are loaded with supplies, pants that are just a bit too long are rolled up and everyone has freshly trimmed hair.

It’s go time.

And that first day of kindergarten?

Huge.

When you are a new-to-elementary-school parent, you aren’t quite sure what to expect. There is this strange pull somewhere inside you to make sure the teacher knows what an unusually smart and adorable child you are entrusting her with.

Even if you didn’t think you were that kind of parent.

Because deep inside?

We all are.

Trust me.

On my son’s first day of kindergarten all of the proud camera-toting parents were allowed to crowd into the back of the classroom and turn paparazzi as the shiny new kindergartners sat on the ABC rug and introduced themselves one-by-one.

I haven’t seen a prouder group of adults gathered anywhere since.

Cameras flashing, mothers waving, proud dads ignoring the cell phones for just a bit.

Each one of us convinced that our child would be the best-in-show.

After each child had gone to the front of the class, met the teacher, and introduced themselves to everyone they all sat back down on the ABC rug.

And that’s when it happened.

“Turn around and wave good-bye to your parents!” the perky young teacher said to her 20 new captives.

What?

We leave now?

Awkward glances shot around the room as we started to file out. Still waving, of course, but now with pinched lips and a forced smile.

Then the worry set in.

Did I pack the right snack? Will he be able to undo the snap on his jeans when he has to use the big boy potty? Will he find a friend/remember to raise his hand/have fun at recess? Can he open the small milk carton? Reach the soap dispenser? Pump on the swing? Remember that W and X are two different letters, not strung together like they are in the ABC song?

That first day? Tough.

For me, anyway.

My son was just fine.

And as the kindergarten year progressed I started to realize that these things I thought were so very important before starting kindergarten, truly didn’t seem to matter as much as the basics.

Being kind, waiting your turn, sitting still for a bit and listening to the teacher…these were the things that were truly important.

They were just a group of 20 random little kids, all sizes and abilities, thrown together in one room with one common goal.

To get to First Grade.

And they all did it in their own way, whether they wrote their name perfectly on that very first day or struggled with the pencil until late May. Milk cartons were opened with help if they needed it. Teachers helped with stubborn snaps and zippers. Colors and shapes and alphabet letters all learned by the end. Tears were shed, smiles were shared and 20 little people managed their way through it all to the end.

This initial group of 20 kindergartners have all graduated from high school now, and are finding their way in a world we all spent 18 years preparing them for. Some made it with extra help along the way; others needed extra challenges. But they are all reading, writing and can recite their colors if asked.

And most of them can snap their pants and tie their shoes.

Proud parents with cameras will once again crowd around taking pictures in dorm rooms and forcing a smile when it’s time to leave.

And the kids? They’ll be doing a happy dance, because they’ve made it all this way.

Lessons learned on the playground and in the classroom all the way back to kindergarten helping them along the way.

Be kind. Wait your turn. Sit still for a bit. Listen to the teacher.

They’ll all do fine.

But we’re the ones that have to adjust sometimes.

 

This piece originally ran on Things I Can’t Say, where the talented and super-sweet Shell shares her stories.

The Writing of our Story

wedding1

I almost answered too quickly.

Yes! A thousand times!

I really didn’t realize he was going to ask, until the scene started playing out in slow motion.

And then I knew what was coming was a question that would change my life.

Will you be my wife?

Yes.

There was nothing else I would rather be.

We began our journey through young adulthood to parenthood and beyond, not knowing much about the future other than who we would be sharing it with. The writing of our story unfolded one year at a time, through new jobs, new addresses, new little additions to our family.

And now, almost on the other side of parenting, we are at a place that feels much like when we started out.

Not knowing the path, but knowing who we will share it with.

And that question that changed my life?

I would answer it the same 26 years later.

Happy Anniversary, babe.

 

Being 15

Kelli cake

Fifteen.

Fifteen years ago today, I held you in my belly for just a while longer…

You yearned to get out. You made that clear with your powerful kicks and incessant hiccups.

But I still had time.

I wasn’t really ready yet. I had been too busy to make up the crib with fresh sheets, or to set out your sweet little unisex onesies. You weren’t really due for almost two more weeks, and your four-year-old brother kept me on my toes every day, asking a billion questions that I, as the mother, was expected to know.

We were busy… busy in that sense of the word when Monday just blurs to Wednesday and then Sunday… and we are left wondering where the time went.

Kind of how life is now.

I wasn’t ready. I worried that I hadn’t taken the time to savor this second pregnancy, to just sit and feel you move and just be pregnant. Those fleeting months when I carried you seem like a blip in time.

I just wasn’t ready.

Second kid, you know.

But you had your own ideas.

And when labor started, I realized that I was ready… ready to meet you. Ready to try my hand at parenting yet another little one.

And when you surprised us — a girl! — I was both giddy and cautious. I was a boy mom, after all… fluent in dinosaurs and Legos and all things boy.

But a girl?

And then you taught me about raising girls… that girls can run and climb and break bones and laugh until they snort. Taught me that life was meant for running full-force ahead, for laughing with friends and for late nights reading in bed. That there is no day that can’t be improved with a bowl of ice cream, a piece of chocolate cake or a hug from a friend… that sometimes it’s better to let little things go than to worry. That when things don’t go your way you can always try a little harder.

Fifteen years. Where has the time gone, really?

Some days I think you have taught me more about life than I could ever teach you.

I am in awe of your confidence, your loyalty, your kind spirit and your fierce determination when obstacles stand in your path.

You make me smile, make me laugh, challenge me and call my bluff.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy 15th Birthday, sweet girl…

Enjoy being 15.

Kelli no braces

50 Stages of Motherhood

There is a progression of motherhood…a timeline we all follow. Some of us go through kicking and screaming, while others cheer louder with each smidge of progress towards the finish line.

Our children inch closer to adulthood, while we apparently inch closer to the floor.

I have lost 3/4 of an inch in height since my son left for college.

And with each new stage, each startling new trick or terrifying new skill we adjust our mothering to suit it.

  • He climbs trees? We add the Urgent Care Center to our speed dial.
  • Projectile vomiting? Nothing a Swiffer, rubber gloves and a few paper towels can’t handle.
  • He wants to dress himself? We buy all red, white and blue clothing so that he will always look patriotic even when he isn’t quite matching.
  • He wants to get his Driver’s License? We increase our blood pressure meds and buy a set of rosary beads.
  • He wants to live off-campus? We write rent checks and hope he has a decent meal now and then.

I have been through so many stages of motherhood with my college kid, I have lost count. There are days when I can barely remember those first few stages, the why-isn’t-he-sleeping-through-the-night stage or the just-stop-teething-already stage.

Some were particularly ugly.

But woven together, stacked one on top of the other year after year these stages make up the mother I am today. It’s too late to change any of the things we went through. No do-overs, no returns, no refunds and no time machine travel.

Would I have done anything differently? I’m not sure I even know that answer.

I am faced with the dilemma that I am not done mothering, not quite yet.

But there are days when I want to be done.

See, the problem with mothering is that you are never really finished. It’s not that I didn’t know this… I just didn’t understand.

Grown-up kids need parents too.

And in time, years from now, in those last stages of motherhood, I will need my kids more than they will need me.

They will finally be living their own lives as adults, possibly raising families of their own. And I will be able to relax and know that I did the very best job I could have done. I passed the final exam, graduated. Finished the last stage.

But I am pretty sure I will still find a way to keep on worrying.

 

This post originally ran on Moonfrye

May Memories

jasmine flowerThey say that a scent has the ability to trigger a memory, to take you back to a time in the past, no matter how distant. A friend claims the mere scent of a pot of tomato sauce simmering on the stove reminds her of her Italian grandmother’s house. The logical part of my brain argues that this is silly, that these people are making these connections, but the scent couldn’t possibly be contributing.

I didn’t believe them until I smelled the jasmine.

I was at that point in pregnancy when the doctor wanted to see me every week. Same time, same day… just checking, weighing, measuring and waiting. I was already on maternity leave, spending my time lunching with friends and getting everything ready for my first baby.

The walkway from the parking lot to my doctor’s office was planted heavily with jasmine, and the soft, sweet scent became a favorite.

And that time in my life was magical. I had no idea what motherhood would bring, what challenges we would face or how incredible the joy would be. I didn’t even know if the baby I was carrying was a boy or a girl.

I just knew everything would be OK. I had this serene, calm feeling each time I walked past the jasmine, my hand resting on my stomach out of habit. Baby kicks, reminding me that he was there.

And that everything would be OK.

And now each May, when the calendar has barely folded over from April, I catch slight whiffs of it as I walk through shopping areas or past a neighbor’s house. I immediately think of my son — of the happy, freckle-faced boy who has morphed into a tall young man with a scruffy face and a morning coffee habit.

And I have realized that nineteen years later, I still have no idea what motherhood will bring in the future, much like when I wandered each week into the doctor’s office, past the jasmine. One of the cruelest facts about motherhood is that you are never truly done with the mothering, no matter how well you handled the terrible-twos or potty-training. Your services are always needed, and usually in a way you hadn’t anticipated.

Yesterday I caught it as I walked out of the store, rushing between errands and eager to get back home.

The scent of jasmine.

No baby kicks this time.

But I think everything will be OK.