On Turning a Half a Century Old

Upon turning a half a century old, I have a lot to reflect on. Some good, some bad, but all valuable in its own right. Does life really begin at 50, or is it basically just the beginning of the end?

On turning a half a century old, reflecting on good, bad, and valuable lessons. Does life really begin at 50, or is it just the beginning of the end?

I remember, vividly, the day I turned 25. I was depressed…so depressed. I knew, as the not-so-happily married mom of one almost four-year-old daughter with a “real” job and real bills, that I was no longer a kid anymore as soon as that clock struck midnight. I remember the week leading up to that day, crying regularly, knowing that day was the “beginning of the end” for me. I remember staying up until the clock turned, just to see if I felt different. I totally did. I felt grown, I didn’t feel like I was in a good place, and I was depressed as hell!

That year, my mom helped my then husband and friends in my neighborhood host a party for me. By host, I mean she basically planned and paid for it. She was worried about me. We still call it Suicide Watch 25 because it was THAT BAD in my mind. So bad. I really wanted to be a Toys ‘R Us Kid forever. The party happened, it was fun, and obviously, I didn’t commit suicide (because that would have been just a bit too dramatic, even for me). Life went on.

In fact, life’s gone on for me for an additional 25 years. The ups, the downs, the MANY more kids, the divorces, the marriages, the job changes. I’ve handled them all like an “adult” because that’s what I am and it’s what I’ve been since that day 25 years ago.

So, 25 years later (THE WHAT? I cannot be 50), I’m still trying to figure out this adulting thing. I’m still depressed about it, at times. I still long for that day, the one that lasted for a full 24 hours before that clock struck midnight, 25 years and one day ago.

My husband says I should wear this age with a badge of honor. A lot of people “don’t make it” here (well thanks, babe, that’s depressing). Not many have raised as many kids, have accomplished what I have, still look as good as I do (his rose-colored glasses are so refreshing to me, y’all), and a lot of people still don’t have their shit as together now as I did back then.

Sure, easy for him to say since his badge is 10 years younger than mine. Whatever. Grain of salt, but I love his sentiment and I definitely try to take his words, and sentiment, to heart.

But still, I’m 50 y’all. FIFTY. A half a century. I’ve seen a lot of shit in my life. I’ve seen global walls come down, and global walls go back up (thanks good and bad U.S. admins). I’ve seen my babies be born and grow, I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve seen failing health in family members, and I’ve witnessed the birth of my third generation. Literally, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days…OH, you know.

My life’s been a good life. The wait for the rollercoaster always seems long and annoying, but it’s always worth the ride. Sure, I still get as depressed as I did 25 years ago about taking this adulting thing to a new level, but (other than the wrinkles) I don’t think I’d trade any experience (good or bad), any bit of knowledge I’ve obtained, or any nook and cranny of this long, crazy life for anything in the world. I could ditch the heartache (that’s a song for another time), I could ditch the aches and pains that catch up with you from being a tomboy on the playground in elementary school, a cheerleader in the 80’s, the ex-wife of an abusive crackhead, the mom of four kids by c-section and two kids by marriage (step parenting is *super fun*), but I would NOT be the person I am today if I skipped any of those stages in my life.

I’m a pretty freaking awesome person, if I do say so myself.

Do I wish I were a younger me? You bet your ass I do. I was gorgeous back then, but in a way, I’m more gorgeous today (I just have to be a little more inventive when I take selfies for you to see that on the outside). Do I wish my clock weren’t ticking so quickly? We all do. I still have littles to raise, a husband to care for and love, a family that means SO much to me, and work goals I need to accomplish.

Am I ready to give up? Hell no! I’m middle aged in my mind. I watch Good Morning America, people live well into their 100’s. It’s my turn to do this 25 year old depression again, and then again…again.

So, if you see me today, know that I’m fragile. I’m dealing with half a century of emotion…of love, of joy, of experience, and of pain. Understand that I might not be “myself” today, but tomorrow, when that clock strikes midnight again, we’re all cool. Be gentle with my heart. Today, as odd as it as it sounds, I’m feeling 25 again and I’m just trying to figure out where to go from here in this next chapter of my life.

Today, I turn 50, and I’m just not certain how I feel about turning a half a century old, you know?

On Raising 2 Kids on Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

For what it’s worth, I’m just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

For what it's worth, I'm just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

I’m raising two kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and it’s weird, y’all. So weird and challenging. By spectrum, I’m not talking the autistic spectrum that some of my friends (man, those mommas are superheroes in my book!) have to deal with; I’m talking spectrum as it’s defined in Webster, just in general.

Spectrum: 

Used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points.

Two extreme or opposite points? Yes, that’s my Kylee (Bug) and Zachary (Bubby) to the millionth power. They are at opposite points in everything…eating habits, vocabulary, scholastic skills, social skills, clothing preferences, futuristic goals…you name it, one is red, the other is violet…just like the opposite ends of the rainbow spectrum.

As a mom, the daily struggle is so real, it’s exhausting. How do you address their differences without hurting the other? How do you teach them academically without confusing one or losing the other’s interest? How do you cut up with one’s friends, while realizing the other doesn’t really have any? How do you celebrate one’s grades without making the other feel less? How can you tell one to finish the food on their plate while you tell the the other (the picky one) that you’ll get them something else because you completely understand?

How do you balance it all, knowing you love them both equally, but knowing that, although they share the same DNA, their makeup is so completely, utterly different on so many levels?

HOW?

I know you’re going to tell me that every child/person is different, and you’re completely right. I have six children of my own, and although they are all unique in their own way, no two people/children in my life have ever been more dissimilar than the two I’m raising right now. And yet, thankfully, they love each other, as they should. But they’re so different.

Kylee loves all food except for shrimp, bananas, ribs, and American cheese. Zach eats no food other than peanut butter and honey sandwiches, chicken patties (no nuggets), cereal, pizza (not homemade, and the gooey cheese of good pizza grosses him out), and spaghetti (only mine).

Zach has the vocabulary of an intelligent 40 year old; Kylee struggles to understand what he’s talking about on a daily basis.

Kylee struggles with school, standardized testing (don’t get me started), getting along with teachers and authority figures in general, and homework. Zach is a straight A student who is off the chart on standardized tests (like he brings additional funds into the school with a handful of others), is a teachers’ pet, and comes home and willingly does his homework daily, even before playing his beloved video games…all on his own.

Kylee has a more active social life than I did at the age of 21, while Zach struggles socially because no one his age seems to understand him, nor share his interests (that one really breaks my heart!).

Kylee loves wild, bright clothing while Zach prefers plaids and khakis, or plaid with plaid (even better).

Kylee wants to swim with the dolphins when she grows up (that’s a cool aspiration, I must admit), while Zach aspires to be a game developer (totally cool as well, my kids are pretty bad ass) or an engineer.

The spectrum is covered in my house, but it’s so very rough.

Praising Kylee’s eating habits while not making Zachary feel like he’s less because he’s picky like his mom…is a struggle.

Fostering Zachary’s love of words while not trying to lose Kylee in conversation…is a struggle.

Hanging Zach’s straight A report cards and test scores on the refrigerator while trying to explain to Kylee that she IS enough and she’s raised her grades by 2, 3, 7, 10 points (she tries hard most of the time, y’all!) is the hugest struggle of all (but I do continue to encourage her and her report cards are hung right next to his for the record!).

Allowing Kylee to have her friends spend the night, or accepting another sleepover invite, while I hear from Zach’s teacher that he is struggling socially is both invigorating (that she’s so popular) and heartbreaking (because he’s so funny and it’s not his fault that other “kids” don’t get him) all at the same time.

For what it's worth, I'm just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

This all might sound superficial to you in light of today’s tumultuous times, unless of course you are the parent (and I know you’re out there) of two kids on opposite ends of the spectrum.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I don’t know if I’m asking for help, or just venting. I just know I’m exhausted and I want them, both of them, to always feel like they’re enough (they are so enough) in this world and it’s an exhausting challenge on a daily basis to raise such opposing personalities in the same space, at the same time.

I love them both, equally, and I hope they always know that. I love how they love each other no matter how much they fight and I hope that they’ll always support and love one another, despite their opposing sides of the universe.

One day, although they’ll always be horrifically different humans, I hope they lean in and help each other to fit in better in the areas they don’t belong. One day, I hope they notice that I was always in their corners and that I struggled to foster their differences, no matter how real that struggle was. I hope that they, some day, read this and know that, no matter what, I tried…I always tried…to raise two kids on two opposite ends of the spectrum as fairly, and as lovingly, as I possibly could! They’re both important in their own right. I love them both, differently and equally, despite their differences.

I hope they know I know they’re amazing, both of them. Their similarities, and their differences, make them the beautiful people that they are now, that they will always be. Only a mom can see this, you know?

Are you raising two (or more) children on opposite ends of the spectrum? If so, please tell me how you deal with it because it’s rough, y’all, and I just want to do the best that I can for the little humans that I’m raising now…on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Middle School, B.L.A.A.R., and Lessons from Bug

I’d like to thank Click Communications for sending us Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life so that I could share with you my feelings on standardized testing, my Bug’s journey as a square peg, and our feelings in general on this movie.

meltdown

“Rafe has an epic imagination…and a slight problem with authority. Both collide when he transfers to a rule-crazy middle school. Drowning in do’s and don’ts, Rafe and his best friend Leo hatch a plan to expose the principal by breaking every rule in the school’s Code of Conduct. As the principal strikes back, Rafe’s world, at home and at school, explodes into hilarious chaos (both real and imagined) in this laugh-filled family comedy based on James Patterson’s best-selling book series.” 

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

When I was first presented with the opportunity to watch Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, I really had no interest. I mean, for real, I still have kids in elementary school, I’ve watched others of mine go through middle school and high school, I’ve LIVED the drama. Why watch it again, from an author’s/script writer’s standpoint?

But then I thought better of my decision.

You see, Bug is about to enter middle school next year (the HECK you say?) and as you know, she’s pretty much a square peg in our round society so these years, indeed, are the worst years of her life (or so it seems). So, of course I rethought my initial scoff and happily agreed to watch the movie with her, and I’m so glad I did.

The books? Apparently my older kids were too old for these (sigh), and my babies were too young. But the movie, well it hit home in many ways. Where to begin…

The B.L.A.A.R. as they call it in the movie, or standardized (forced) testing as we all know it, is by far the centerpiece of this movie and it’s the very bane of my existence. We, as a society, teach our children these days to learn to pass tests rather than just LEARN. I hate it. I’m vocal about it. I truly feel that standardized testing will be the demise of this nation; and I feel that it has caused a nation (sorry millennials, but have you ever watched yourselves function without technology?) of “kids” that can’t function without a cell phone, a laptop, or their favorite apps. Like, if they were stranded on a deserted island, they’d likely be looking for the answers to A) How can I Google how to survive?, B) How can I call my mom on my cell phone to figure out how to survive?, C) Can Instagram show me how to survive?, or D) HOLY SHIT, none of my crap works anymore…now what?

I have many non-family-friendly terms for how I feel about the B.L.A.A.R. testing that goes on in today’s world that I’ll spare you, but I will say, I’m glad that I actually LEARNED before this was a thing. I’m glad this movie called that out! I’m just going to assume the writers weren’t millennials and leave that at that. (GET OFF MY LAWN!)

Next, the imagination, animation, and general family and friends ties in the movie were moving. Mom kind of lost her way through the first part, as most single moms do, but in the end (spoiler alert), she did what all good moms do and chose her family, her kids, above all else, as she should. Good job and very heart warming.

The personal loss portion of the movie (OMG…another spoiler alert, but near the end, Bug said, ‘DON’T mom, I know that look’ because she knew I was about to lose it) was touching, AND REAL. All of our lives are so full of loss these days, and although my children, thankfully, haven’t had to feel personal loss just yet, I know they, Bug in particular, felt the pain and totally got it.

SO…in a nutshell…this movie is basically a must-see from my perspective as the mom of six. It’s a great combination of present-world frustrations from parents, teachers, and kids alike. It’s funny, it’s heart warming at times, and the imaginative nature of the whole thing is quite entertaining. It’s a great way to show all of the conformists that the square pegs, the “remedials”, can actually rule the world again one day…despite their “failure” on stupid standardized testing.

Einstein was dyslexic. Lincoln had very little formal education. I never graduated college (because I kept having KIDS). None of us ever had to deal with B.L.A.A.R., we all did OK (yes, I just put myself in that company…don’t judge). I loved this movie SO hard. Bug loved it more.

Because we should. And so should you.

3d_rgb_middleschooltheworstyrsofmylifebdocrd

Have you seen it yet? If so, what’s your take? If not, WHAT are you waiting for? The DVD and Blu-ray is available in stores January 3, 2017, and if you have a preteen or tween in your house, you totally want this one in your video library!