I’m Pretty Sure That Our Television Remote Came With A Back Cover… The Top 10 Casualties Of Parenting

As far back as I can remember, all I ever wanted was to be a mother.

Twenty-one years, and three children later, it has been an amazing, joyous, loving, stressful, worrisome, exasperating ride, to say the least.

Never in my wildest dreams did I image all of the bizarre “Casualties of Parenting” that I would encounter.

Here are the top 10: ( How many can you relate to? Read the list and see how you score. The results are below. Enjoy!)

  1. Every remote that you own is missing a back – I was on the phone with a friend that was trying to order a movie on cable. “None of my remotes have backs!” She said with disgust. “None of mine do either!” I replied. That’s when it hit me, we are not alone!
  2. The biggest thing standing between your child making the bus and you driving them to school, is one lost sneaker – Every. Damn. Time. I am going to tie my son’s favorite sneakers together by the laces and make him wear them on his head when he goes to bed at night… unless anyone has a better suggestion…
  3. A ringing cordless phone will be ANYWHERE, except on the phone charger – Several years ago, we purchased a set of three cordless phones! Great idea! How convenient for a three level home! After spending hours recovering the handsets from the sofa cushion, hamper, under my child’s bed and on top of the dryer, we threw all of them in the trash. Just sayin..
  4. The freezer door will continually remain open a crack overnight – It is my extreme joy and apparently my job to shut the freezer door all the way, every morning. I enjoy this only second to struggling to pay our monthly utility bill.
  5. The pantry contains several empty boxes of snacks – I am aware that IT IS a rather long walk from the pantry to the trash receptacle in the kitchen of our tiny duplex, so kids please be aware that I do acknowledge this burden. I would appreciate if you would accept and acknowledge that I will not buy more snacks if the pantry looks full. Truce?
  6. The center dial for the shower is always in the “ON” position – I absolutely love struggling to get my schnauzer, Max, in the tub for a bath, only to turn on the tub water and drench my entire head and clothing with a stream of water from the shower head above. Enough said.
  7. You fear that you’ve run out of oil in the oil tank – I’m a waitress and that means I live on the edge financially. When the heat doesn’t turn on, or the shower runs cold, I panic about the cost of refilling the oil tank. “Don’t worry mom, I turned off the switch on the furnace so I could listen to rap music in the basement.”
  8. You are considering buying stock in cell phone chargers – Some people are contemplating investing in medical marijuana while I’m tallying what I have spent in cell phone chargers over the past year… hence, I can not afford a vacation. Maybe it’s time I started a stock portfolio.
  9. You are told that entire carton of eggs makes for the perfect protein drink – My teenagers are always going to the gym and following high protein, low carb diets. I stopped purchasing cold cuts, as someone in my home can consume a pound of turkey in one sitting. One morning I witnessed Kevin separating the yolks and the whites from an entire carton of eggs to make a protein blender drink. Just for the record, the yolks were in the same kitchen trash receptacle that no one can seem to locate for empty snack boxes from the pantry. Strange… very strange.
  10. The only broom that you own is missing the handle and you can’t find it – I’m pretty sure that purchasing brooms is running a close second to cell phone chargers, with lamps coming in third place. I am not sure if my children are reliving the phase of Star Wars light sabers, or if they are just using broom handles to beat the hell out of each other while I’m at work. I do know that the handles are always A) Missing B) Broken, or C) Screwed onto the wrong base so the handle spins as you try to sweep, ultimately defeating the purpose of sweeping all together.

I guess that I have come to terms with all of the above being part of the “Casualties of Parenting.” I know it could certainly be worse, but for right now I’m just going to stop writing and go look for my cell phone charger, maybe it’s next to the empty snack boxes in the pantry.

 

Results:

0 out of 10 – You must be single with no children.

1 or 2, out of 10 – Your children must be under the age of 3 

3 to 7, out of 10 – Just wait… there’s more…

8 or more – Maybe we could meet for a drink… I know I need one!

 

Please feel free to post your results in the comment section below or share your own “Casualties of Parenting.”

We are all in this together!

Stay strong and don’t forget to laugh!

Much love,

Erin Cooper Reed

 

Oh Joy, How do I fix this?

We have almost made it through the school year, but it’s not over yet. Apparently, my 15 year-old-son, Marc, (who has good grades and is passing) feels that it’s okay for him not to attend the last week and a half of school. Judge me here, if you dare… but I was stripped of my parental authority long ago, during my marriage. If you have never been there, you won’t be able to comprehend my predicament. If you have been there, then you know that I have a better chance of winning Powerball than I have of gaining my parental authority back.

To add fuel to the fire, Marc is pushing 6 feet tall and is almost 200 pounds, mostly muscle. Gone are the days of, “Get in the car, you’re going to school!”

Plus, parenting children of domestic violence is completely different from parenting by the standard of the hundreds of parenting books I own. Offering consequences like, “You’re grounded!” just doesn’t work. Saying, “I’ll take away your Xbox! leaves you up until two in the morning while your child flips the entire house looking for it.

Image result for images of a flipped house

What I have learned is taking away tangible things like an Xbox doesn’t work, but something that is intangible, like a sleep-over or the possibility of a trip to movies, works. What can I say? You’d never understand it unless you had lived it. If you have, I’m with you! If I ever get through this and figure it all out, I certainly will write a best-selling parenting book for children of domestic violence. For now, I take it day by day and do everything humanly possible to help my kids. (But I am taking notes.)

This week included a truancy meeting in the town of Bridgeport to get some support and guidance for myself and my strong-willed son.

I met with a lovely woman named Joanne, who not only recorded our session, but documented it, as she asked a lot of questions.

I’m an open person. She asked me about the counseling that we’ve had. I recounted the seven years of counseling for my children, all of the school assessments and explained what we all had to go through when I left my ex-husband, and as well, the aftermath.

I told her I attended counseling at the Woman’s Commission for Victims of Domestic Violence, in Charlotte North Carolina. Although I talked in circles at the time, and I couldn’t express a clear thought, it was then that I picked up a yellow legal pad and began writing.

I had no idea why, and I didn’t think that I had anything of value to say, until I showed it to my counselor and she said, “This is great! Can we use this?”

I said, “Sure, if it can help someone.” I had no idea where that was going to lead me.

We talked about Marc, all of his troubles and all of his strong, independent and humorous qualities. (He has many!)

I told her stories you wouldn’t believe, but ones I may reveal in my memoir, “Sometimes You Have To Run In Bare Feet.”

(Stay Tuned!)

I told her how my ex-husband was staying overnight in my basement (unbeknownst to me) and how Marc ran off to the Bronx and the police issued a Silver Alert.

She was interested in my son, my life and my writing.

She was surprised when I said that my notes on a yellow legal pad snowballed into me writing for five domestic violence organizations in North Carolina and the Charlotte Court System.

When I returned to Connecticut, I gave speeches and wrote for the Center For Family Justice and was appointed for six months to the Restraining Order Task Force for The General Assembly to try to change Connecticut’s current restraining order laws.

I looked across the desk at Joanne, (her head in her hands) and said, “You must be exhausted just listening to me.”

To which she replied, “No, You are inspiring! I’m going to figure out what we can do to help.”

I left her, feeling hopeful and better than I had been in a long time.

It feels good to be heard and not to be judged.

It feels good to be validated and to be offered some help.

And, it feels good to know how I have dealt with difficult times and challenging circumstances, can be met with a comment like, “You are inspiring!”

Thank you, Joanne. I think  you gave me the energy to keep going, and not give up hope my child will turn out okay, no matter how difficult it is right now.

I’m glad I inspired you.

Thank you for inspiring me.

Much love,

Erin Cooper Reed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Spite of All the Rain

In Spite of All the Rain
 I left an abusive marriage.
I’m strong and I’m free.
Have to get on with my life,
figure out who I’m supposed to be.
Still I can’t help but notice,
that something’s not quite working.
I’m struggling to find myself,
a midst damage so deep, that it’s still lurking.
So accustomed to living in turmoil,
no time to focus on all the things I feel.
When they begin to surface,
they are as sharp, as they are real.
I never would have imagined,
that what you leave, is also what you take.
And all the good intention,
does not a perfect person make.
I’m well aware of my issues;
anger, guilt, low self-esteem.
Slowly, counseling is helping me,
release my inner scream.
Deep inside how do I justify,
all the degrading things that I’ve been told.
And compensate for so much lost time,
when I know I’m getting old.
So much hurt ingrained in me,
only I can work through the pain.
By looking for the rainbow,
in spite of all the rain.

Surrender

      Surrender
My children are angry,
they yell, cuss and fight.
Won’t respond to my reasoning,
say I’m wrong and they’re right.
They place blame on each other,
it’s an ongoing war.
From threatening to hitting,
to slamming their door.
Can’t get them to cooperate,
they won’t listen to me.
I’m living in chaos,
as stressed as can be.
When I try to discipline,
they don’t even hear it.
Disrespect and name calling,
I can no longer bear it!
The most heartbreaking thing,
the ironic part…
I left an abusive marriage,
to get a fresh start.
“Not doing my homework.”
“Can we go to the mall?”
“My parents have split,
nothing matters at all!”
I’m at my wits end,
what I’m doing isn’t working.
As I’m losing ground,
they’re standing there, smirking.
All the love I can give them,
won’t fix this mess.
Have to find a solution,
can’t settle for less.
I have an idea though seemingly, slight,
I’m giving up the battle,
done joining their plight.
Not sure how this happened,
through pure luck or exhaustion.
I take the first step,
proceeding with caution.
I’m all out of options.
I’m not gonna lie.
Nothing else has worked,
so I’ll give this a try.
I make a decision to change,
it’s all I can do.
Where this is leading,
I haven’t a clue.
The children are puzzled,
but continue to test.
My new calm demeanor,
puts some issues to rest.
Hey, maybe this is working,
and I’ll finally know,
if my parenting skills
are starting to flow.
And to my surprise,
the tide starts to turn.
With some wind in my sails,
I’m ready to learn.
I gradually start,
implementing a plan.
My confidence soars,
I’m my own biggest fan.
Although saving the children,
was my only intention.
the ways I helped myself,
are too many to mention.
In retrospect now,
it’s so easy to see.
To transform my children,
first I have to change me.

For the Love of Sharks

My son Rocky grew up loving sharks. I mean, he was obsessed with them from the time he could talk.

And he talked about them constantly.

He watched every shark movie that he could get his hands on and Shark Week was a major event in our home. One day I came across a bundle of shark post cards at a gift shop that featured a photo of a different shark on the front of each one, with facts about the shark on the back.

Rocky carried these cards around with him like a bible.

He talked about sharks incessantly, until I thought that my head was going to explode but I have to say that he did become very knowledgeable about all of the different kind of sharks…

…the Hammerhead, the Sand Shark, the Tiger Shark, the Great White, the Angel Shark, the Shortfin Mako, the Bull Shark, the Whitetip Reef Shark…

He knew them by sight and he knew the facts about all of them.

It was actually quiet impressive, so I lightened up on worrying about the degree of his obsession.

Until one night, Rocky came to me with a large grin and said, “Mommy, I have shark teeth!”

“Shark teeth?” I asked, “What do you mean that you have shark teeth?”

With that Rocky opened his mouth.

Image result for images of double rows of shark teeth

Sure enough, there behind his two, lower, front teeth was a second row of teeth.

I was panicked.

Did I mention that at the time I worked for a dental practice?

Well, I did.

The next morning, (a bit embarrassed for not noticing my son’s “Shark Teeth” earlier) I brought Rocky right in to see one of the dentists that I worked for.

This dentist happened to be newly out of dental school. I think that she was afraid of my 7-year-old feeling any pain…so she loaded up on the anesthetic…not one, not two, but three carpules of Novocaine.

The baby teeth came out with ease and the dentist ensured me that Rocky’s adult teeth would move forward, right into place.

 

The dentist was nice enough to let me leave work to drive Rocky a few blocks to his elementary school. I knew that I would have to be quick so I could get back in time for my first patient.

 

As we entered the school, Rocky said, “Mommy, my lip feels weird.”

I glanced at Rocky’s swollen lower lip. It was so taut and red that it appeared as if he was wearing lipstick.

“Okay honey,”  I replied “We’ll stop at the nurses office and get you an ice pack.”

 

We were a bit late by the time we got into Rocky’s classroom.

Everyone turned and stared.

The teacher took one glance at Rocky and asked with concern, “Is everything okay?”

I replied, “Yes…he just had two of his baby teeth pulled.”

Rocky slowly removed the ice pack to expose his red, swollen, lower lip.

The teacher gasped, looked at me and asked, “Mrs. Reed, you do know that today is school picture day, don’t you?”

Image result for photos of shocked moms

(That’s a hockey joke for when my boy, Rocky reads this)

 

“Well…he can just take the make up photo.” I stated, “Can’t he?”

The teacher replied, “We have to take the photo today because the school needs one to go with Rocky’s permanent record for this school year.”

Rocky shot me a bewildered look.

The teacher waited for my reply.

“Okay…” I said sheepishly, as I gave Rocky a supportive hug and a kiss before leaving.

 

I thought about my poor son the entire day that day, and the school photos.

I felt terrible but there was nothing I could do about it.

 

As parents, we buy the school photo no matter what it cost or how bad it looks.

That’s just the way it is.

We love our children more than life itself…

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but we don’t have to love the photo, or the ridiculous circumstances that led up to it.

That is just part of being a parent.

 

 

*Photo credit Disney, Finding Nemo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not My Kid…

Let’s face it, all kids get into mischief no matter how hard we as parents try to prevent it. It seems commonplace today that the majority of parents proclaim their child’s innocence and defend them, no matter what the extent of their child’s transgression.

Just for the record, I am not that parent.

When the middle school called and began to explain in great detail, how my son, Marc took the opportunity to climb the stage, grab a microphone (that was inadvertently left plugged in) and address the entire fifth grade student body during his lunch wave, I wasn’t at all surprised. I didn’t argue. I didn’t defend. I know my son, I live with him.  Apparently Marc felt the need to publicly confront an issue regarding the teachers inability to really listen to the students. I took a deep breath and rolled my eyes. Of course the school did comment that Marc was very articulate in expressing his views and he did get a standing ovation.

“Marc!!!” I yelled, as I hung up the phone…that kid I’m going to kill him!

I have certainly been there before…When we lived in a community with a home owners association that maintained the grounds, the community pools and the rules, my children certainly found a way to butt heads with them. The association complained about my boys playing roller hockey in the street. They also complained about Kevin playing the drums in our garage during the day, on a Saturday. Neither sat well with Kevin or any of my boys for that matter.

Returning from work late one night, I drove by the pool at the entrance of our complex. As my headlights hit the welcome sign (Encased in plastic with snap in letters), it no longer read “The Annual Meeting of the Home Owners Association will be held May 4th at 7:00 PM.” as it had when I left for work.

I stopped and sat in my car as I reread the sign again.

“The Anal Meeting of the Home Owners Association will be held May 4th at 7:00 PM”

I had to laugh out loud before my anger started to rise.

Kevin. That kid, I’m going to kill him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep’s Overrated, Anyway…

When Marc was a toddler his older brothers used to call him the “Night Crawler.” I knew I was in for it from that point on. Marc always had trouble falling and even staying asleep. Having three boys, I innately understood that if I had enough children, I would experience one of everything, the picky eater, the biter, the crier, the spitter and yes, even the night crawler. I never imagined that Marc’s sleeping problems would continue throughout his life and worsen in his teenage years, ultimately contributing to my lifelong exhaustion.

One Sunday night, before I had the opportunity to begin my usual “because it’s a school night” lecture, Marc came into my bedroom at 9 PM announcing that he was going to bed. As he walked out of my bedroom door and into his own room I was elated. Should I read or go to sleep, I thought…this was too good to be true.

The house was finally quiet, for once. I decided to slide under the covers and spend some much-needed “me time” engrossed in a good book. I was joyous!  It was hard to believe that two hours had passed when I heard Marc’s bedroom door open.

“Mom, I’m uncomfortable in my bed. I’m going to sleep on the couch.” Marc stated.

I replied, “Okay, but get to sleep. You have school tomorrow.”

I went back to reading my book but my mother’s intuition kept nudging me. It was then I realized that I hadn’t told Marc good night. Maybe I’ll just go downstairs and give him a kiss on the head. I quietly walked down the dark staircase from my bedroom to the living room. I approached the couch and leaned over to kiss Marc on the head…wait where was his head…it was covered in blankets.I felt for Marc’s shoulders then down his back. I yelled for my fiance’ John.

“John, come down here!”

John made his way down the stairs and into the dark living room.

“Where is Marc?” I asked.

“Right here.” John replied as he reached for Marc’s body on the couch “I can feel his legs.”

“Can you?” I asked John as I turned on the living room light and pulled back the covers.

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There on the couch were Marc’s joggers stuffed with clean folded and rolled bathroom towels.

“He isn’t even home!” I shouted as I ran back upstairs to grab my cell phone.

I was both upset and concerned as I dialed Marc’s cell phone number. No answer. What parent doesn’t love to call their teenager’s cell phone (which they pay for) and get sent straight to voicemail, especially at a time like this and on a school night.

Time to go to plan B, I thought. I sent Marc a text stating that the cops were looking for him. Now I just had to wait.

Five minutes later Marc flew into the house.

“Mom, mom, mom, I’m sorry. You didn’t call the cops did you? I couldn’t sleep. I was only at my friend’s house across the street.” Marc stated with fear in his eyes.

“You are lucky that I didn’t…this time. Don’t you ever do that again! Now go to your room and go to bed. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.” I replied.

I had to chuckle to myself a bit as Marc walked up the staircase to his bedroom. I always thought that as a parent, I would be one step ahead of my kids at all times. I guess I was wrong.  Maybe I could be…if I could just get some more sleep.

 

 

 

Rise to Criticize

Rise to Criticize

via Daily Prompt: Criticize

Never in my life did I fathom that the three adorable little babies that I brought into this world would grow into three handsome teenagers that now, apparently, know more than I do.

Okay, so I was a teenager once too and I do remember snickering when my dad imparted his unwarranted, fatherly advice which usually started with sentences like…”You know, life isn’t a bowl of cherries…” and “This isn’t a place just to hang your hat…” Each sentence was followed by what I took as criticism.

Fast forward to 2017 and from the moment my sons rise in the morning it’s an ongoing life lesson orchestrated by the sound of my own voice. I stare at their blank faces while I try to explain the reason they should see, or act on situations in life a certain way. (Cue deep sighs and eyerolls)

My points, no matter how eloquently expressed, are met with statements like, “Maybe that worked back in the olden days.”(Note: Which was the 80’s, by the way) or “Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” (Note: Of course I do.)

Yet we all know that the age-old struggle between parents and teenagers will never cease to exist.

I was well into my adulthood the day that I called my dad and said, “Hi dad. I get it now… Life isn’t easy and when I think about all the advice you gave me growing up, I wish I had listened. You were right about everything.”

I could hear the smile in my dad’s voice as he replied.

“That’s nice to hear! I love you honey.”

I replied, ” I Love you too dad.”

I’m not fortunate enough to have my dad anymore…but I hope one day my sons will each wake up to the same realization that I came to and that I will receive the same beautiful phone call, three times over.

The other thing that will never cease to exist is the realization that what teenagers see as constant harping and criticism, is actually the deepest form of love.