I don’t have a significant other this Valentine’s Day, I have something better: I have two incredible boys and a ton of friends and family who are simply irreplaceable. I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s a silly made-up holiday to sell a bunch of stuff that will either die (flowers), make you fat (sweets) or just reduce the size of your bank account (jewelry).
But what I love about it is that people everywhere celebrate love. So for the first time ever, I’m making myself my Valentine this year. I love me. I love that I sing loud and off-key in the car and at HEB and really just wherever the mood strikes me. I love that I dance in the open and dance in the rain. I love that I am often unintentionally funny because I do really silly things. I love that I don’t take myself seriously. I love that I’m generous, kind and forgiving. I love that I treat my body like a temple and sometimes like an amusement park. I love that I love amusement parks.
I love that I have courage to keep my boys’ lives steady even when it would be so much easier to move home or just anywhere else and start over. I love that I let myself be vulnerable when it would be easier to say that relationships are for the birds. I love that I have values and boundaries and that my favorite word is one you don’t hear in polite company.
So for all you single peeps celebrating today solo, cheers to you! I hope you remember to love and celebrate yourself today.
Since school started, I’ve been racing from thing to thing with my kids. I have work, they have school, we have homework, getting organized for the year, dinner, practice, caring for pets, and a sprained ankle (already?!?). Life is back to one big hamster wheel with almost daily trips to the store and stolen conversations and stop-light texts with friends. Happy hour is a distant (although fond) memory for this full-time single mom.
To wind down, we started watching “Scrubs.” I loved the show when it came out and right now I have to confess I’m using it as a passive teaching tool for my kids, a way to wind down and fill my little-to-nonexistent romantic life with that lingering crush I have on Dr. J.D.
I’m not a ‘sit on my behind’ kind of person, so the concept of binging on Netflix has never appealed to me. But I have to say binging on three to four 20-minute episodes has been pretty fulfilling. It gives me a chance to hear my kids’ perspective on the show and the problems the characters face. It’s still quality time without me having to dig deep into my energy reserves to have a deep conversation with them.
I had forgotten how much I liked it, how funny it is and how many personal/social topics they tackle which allows for more quality conversation than “Walking Dead” or “Arrow” (don’t judge). Yes, I’m a girl and yes I like the superhero movies/shows.
I’m also not one to decompress with a glass of wine so this has been an exciting discovery. It actually recharges my batteries too – BONUS!
So here’s to eight more seasons of J.D., Turk, Carla and Elliot with lots of laughter and insight from my teenage boys on life, social skills, friendship and romantic relationships. Look out girls, my youngest has this stuff down!
After my children spend time with someone, they come back to me parroting back words of hate targeted to specific groups of people. I know where these words came from and I know that they are not their own words because they are verbatim the words I heard from the person they spend time with.
Words can harm. When planted and continuously fed these same words, they can take root and warp a person’s world view. I’m determined that these words will not be able to take root.
My children are having problems effectively dealing with conflict and each other when they come home. They are quick to anger and quick to call each other names. It’s heartbreaking to watch and to hear the intolerance.
These are not my same sweet children. Like with any other problem, I wanted to find a solution. In typical “me” fashion, I got a book (or two or three).
I’ve read the Harry Potter series to them for years. I bought the newest book and to my surprise, it’s written as a play. So, we all have parts and take turns reading the play at night. Just like the other Potter books, it’s full of great teachable moments about relationships.
This one seems to serve up those teachable moments in almost every scene. It’s been a wonderful example and has provided some great discussion about healthy and unhealthy relationships as well as healthy and unhealthy reactions.
I also turned to a nonfiction book, “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.”
I had them take the assessment tests to figure out their style under stress. The assessment breaks down the categories into silence or violence, which are the typical reactions to stress. Under silence, you have masking, avoiding and withdrawing. Under violence, you have controlling, labeling and attacking. The book is designed around conversations and how even violence looks in dialogue. We’ve been reading the book and discussing the lessons off and on.
When they got into an argument the other night, I stood listening for a bit. Neither were raising their voice, but the things they were saying to each other were so sad. I’d heard enough to get the gist and that they were clearly not going to resolve it themselves, so we all sat down and had a chat. We discussed what they were saying and how what they said fell into the different categories of stress, how people react when they feel disrespected, attacked and so forth. We discussed how their sibling’s words made them feel. I tried to get them to get really specific about their feelings and they did a great job.
Then we circled back to the critical questions in the book:
I know that they will continue to have disagreements with each other and other people. I know that they will continue to be exposed to hateful messages and toxic people. But, I’m hopeful that the lessons they learn will carry them onto the path of improving relationships, empathy and understanding.
I'm single and loving it. Two kids and a busy job. Life is an adventure. Being single is liberating. Life is short, spread joy.