Friday, April 2, 2010

Hello? Boot Camp?

So in reading other blogs across the internet, I've discovered a few things. Many blogs I've come across (by hitting that nifty button in the middle up there that says "next blog" - don't do it now! Read this first and then peruse blogland) Like I was saying, many blogs I've come across have to do with offspring.

These are the blogs that tell wonderful funny stories about delightful children, who coincidentally fall within the age range of 0 to 12 years old. There are a few TMI moments I've run across with detailed descriptions of potty training and such, but for the most part I've enjoyed reading about charming Meredith's knock knock jokes and handsome Bobby's t-ball game.

Though it has seemed in my blog travels that children past pre-teenhood frequently disappear off the map. Their once diligent parents who posted photos have now set down their cameras and let them collect dust. Blogs are not updated; there are no more sweet stories to make readers smile. And I'm going to tell you why:

Being the parent of a teenager sucks the very life out of you.

Let me put it another way: When you are dealing with creatures who exist in a land of messy rooms, raging hormones, hours of homework, non-stop raiding of the pantry and fridge, and general disregard for any authority, you don't have time to blog. When you have exhausted all punishments and begin to think that boot camp sounds like it would make a really interesting summer vacation for your son, you are beyond exhausted yourself. When you are being told by your teenager that he is never going to speak to you again (and secretly, you are thinking that a few days of peace and quiet actually sound delicious), you aren't sure if you should really let the world know how badly it is going in your home at the moment.

Most times, as parents of teenagers, we don't want to admit it. We don't want others to know we've "failed." That we didn't raise perfect kids. That sweet Meredith went from telling knock knock jokes at 5 to swearing like Blago's wife at 15. That handsome Bobby doesn't play ball any longer but he has made it a sport to see how many piercings he can use as facial decor.

And so, in our silence, we perpetuate the myth that somewhere out there, other people are barely working up a sweat raising their teenagers. That in the house across the street, everyone is smiling and happy, voices never raised, doors never slammed. That we don't all have those moments where we wish we could get in our car and drive far far away.

But I'm going to admit it. I'm having an extremely difficult time dealing with a teenage son. He's a great kid deep down. Today, that's way deep down in the one corner of his heart that he doesn't hold absolute disgust for me at this moment. But I digress...

I try, really try, to be the best parent I can. But being that parent I need to be means that I can't be his friend too. Which often means that there are arguments in my home. Voices escalate. Barbs are thrown. And lately, the only way to end it is for us to stay apart, him mumbling under his breath in his room, me worrying about him in mine.

I miss the kid. I miss the hugs and the times he used to want to spend with his mom. But I'm hoping, at some point, he's going to be older, and truly wiser - not just "I'm smarter than everyone because all adults are stupid" wiser. And I'm hoping, at some point, he's going to come to me and give me that hug where I know that he finally gets it. I'm betting that will take a while. And probably take a door slammed in his home by an unruly adolescent of his own.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A love letter

My dear April, 4th month of our calendar year, how you are loved. I'm so thankful you have returned; please unpack your bags and stay a while.

You are sunshine bleaching out the last bit of greyness from my winter. You are fingers free of mitten's clutches. You are windows open while I sleep so that the birds can chirp me awake again in the morning. You are warmth.

You are mists that make me turn my smiling face to the sky to soak it in. You are fat raindrops that make me stomp my joyful feet through puddles. You are loud booming thunderclouds before the torrents arrive, giving the children plenty of time to jump into bed for a parent's embrace. You are cleansing.

You are the softest young grass that feels precious upon my toes. You are squishy, noisy mud that makes my children laugh and my laundry double. You are my favorite bouquet of daffodils, tulips and irises. You are blooming.

You are nourishing to my soul, my dear April, and you are worth far more than 30 days of celebration...You are a favorite friend.

Welcome home.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

5 things I'm loving about today...

1. It is over 70 degrees in Chicagoland. I'm wearing a sundress, albeit with a cardigan. But sundresses make me oh so very very happy. This amuses my mother because I hated dresses as a child. Too much lace and ribbons and flowers and bows, too much pale pink and baby blue and light green. I felt like one of those pastel mints my Grandmother used to keep in a fancy jar on the front table. I like simple and free, flowy cotton dresses in rich, deep, saturated colors paired with flip flops or kitten heels. Sundresses equal warm weather equals the pool is opening in 66 days...

2. Iced coffee, enjoyed on the step in front of the concrete slab I call my deck. Made with sugar instead of my usual Splenda just because it reminds me of Sunday brunch made by dear BF. Accompanied by a salad of fresh tomato, basil leaves and mozzerella. Heaven. I'm serious. I heard the angels singing when I took the first bite. If you don't believe me, play hooky for the rest of the afternoon and I'll make you some. I like company...and proving that I'm right.

3. I'm not the only person in this world who uses outdated slang while speaking to normal people such as my children. (Yes, I know I just called my children normal, but just run with this for a second). Today, I overheard a father say "dude, you need to chill" in Target to his son. I wanted to turn around and say, "Duuuuude!" and give him a high five, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun as if my daughter had been there to witness this and be thoroughly embarrassed. So I just smiled and thanked the Target gods, who not only blessed me with this experience today, but also bestowed upon me several 75% off treasures in the clearance sections. Rock on!

4. I had a slice of toast with nutella for a snack and I don't give a crap if it pushes me over the calorie limit I set for myself today. It was crunchy and smooth and full of chocolatey goodness and was probably way healthier than the frappucino I wanted to pick up at Starbucks. So :P

5. Tomorrow is April Fool's Day, formerly known in my head as March 32nd for about the past 15 years. I have the firm belief that this year, I will actually enjoy the holiday and its Tomfoolery, or I should say Ronfoolery. Either way, I'm loving looking forward to holidays instead of dreading the stirring up of bad memories and negative emotions. Joy and anticipation is so much better than anxiety and preparation, dontcha think? And that's the best part of today - being able to look forward to the future, both tomorrow and the next 40 years, and all the goodness and joy it will bring.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A rose by any other name...

Impractical - unrealistic, incapable of being accomplished or dealt with, not workable, speculative. Palette - a. The range of colors used in a particular painting or by a particular artist. b. range of qualities inherent in nongraphic art forms such as music, literature.

Names have always been an issue for me. First of all, Miss Barbara never called out my name on Romper Room. Devastating as a child in the 70s. My parents thought they were being original with my name - and yet, there were four of us Kristins in one grade school class. No one could ever spell it right; they always wanted to change the beginning to Ch- or the ending to -en. Then there was the issue of naming my dog when I was three. The adults said I could name her anything I wanted. I chose French Fry. I had my reasons. She was a French poodle. I loved fries. Made sense to me. Apparently not to my parents, who chose Holly because I was getting her for my birthday and well - let's just remind Kristin once again how her birthday falls so very close to and is always overwhelmed by the frenetic pace and pageantry that is the Christmas season.

So naming my blog became a dilemma in the past few days. Perhaps I was using it as my own self-imposed writing block. I could say I was starting a blog...but if I couldn't come up with the right name, well...I didn't have to start. I thought about calling it by my old editorial column's moniker. In Other Words fit my life back in Minnesota, when it seemed my "Chicago ideas" butted heads with much of the Old Boy's Club that existed in the little patch of small town America I called home for eight years.

But now I have a new life, no - I'd call it a renewed life, back in Illinois. I exist with a full palette, a range of colors from which to draw. I'm a mother of a Tween girl and a Teen man-child who are amazing and unpredictable (which is a nice way of saying I love them to death but want to wring their necks on a regular basis). I have raised them completely on my own for well over seven years now, both emotionally and financially. I'm recently unemployed and looking to reinvent myself again as I head back to college at the age of 39. I've made my living as a sports reporter turned editor and publisher, tended bar, managed a restaurant, a hiphop clothing store and a graphic design firm, earned my insurance license only to realize I hated the industry, and just ended a five year post teaching art and development classes to children.

I'm passionate, stubborn and impetuous; I'll tell you my opinion on almost anything. I crave art and photography and cooking and baking - which, by the way, is a highly impractical hobby to develop when you are also trying to lose 15 pounds. I spend way too much time on Facebook and almost never answer my phone or listen to my voicemail. I love music for the words and the guitar riffs - one minute it's Nine Inch Nails, the next it's Keith Urban. I have crazy dreams - at night and in real life. I count many as my friends but only a rare few have seen the fully unguarded Kristin. And I've never had much difficulty seeking out adventure as trouble always seems to find me first.

I'm often ridiculously glass half-full but only after climbing many a mountain in my close to four decades on this planet. I am learning to live with Sarcoidosis, which I was diagnosed with in October and has focused my priorities and sped up the timetable of all the things I still want to experience in this life. There are planes to be jumped from and coral reefs to be snorkeled, my first tattoo and my daughter and I's trip to Paris. There's homework for all three of us, relationships to nurture, art to be created, karoake to be sung, medical appointments and tests to schedule, and, of course, dinner to be made.

All these colors, all these hues and shades, all add up to create the painting that is Kristin. The existence I lead every day reads more like a recipe for disaster. It probably wouldn't be believed if an author provided it to you as a character study. And yet, it is my life. Kristin and her impractical palette. Whatever name you call it, it sounds sweet to me...