Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Admire You

I do not use the word "admire" very often.  Correction, I use the word "admire" often, but generally in a sarcastic and snarky way where it pretty much means the opposite.  However today, I am talking true admiration for a special group of people.  People I really did not know existed. A very rare breed of people.  These people are divorced people that co-parent and treat each other with respect, kindness, and a genuine caring. One former couple that I know does this amazingly well.  We have same aged kids in activities together so we encounter each other often.  I knew this couple divorced several years ago.  My husband did not realize they were divorced until a few weeks ago when their child said something about "at my dad's house" in front of my beloved.  This prompted some questions later to clear up his confusion.  Here are the reasons he believed them to be married...

  • They sit by each other at events
  • They talk and laugh with each other
  • Their kids are good and well adjusted (this is based on observation, they could be monsters at home, but he has never seen it)
  • They speak kindly about each other

(Okay, maybe the above does not seem like remarkable stuff, but my beloved and I really love each other and often just sit in silence with each other at public events (and on our own couch).  It is not an uncomfortable silence.  We just do not feel like talking.)

I have always believed this un-couple was just a anomaly, pretty much two peace doves in the the world of divorce that has so many acrimonious vultures.  I admire them.  I do not admire that they are not together anymore, but the fact that they have risen above whatever caused them to divorce to be parents to their kids first, is beautiful.

Just a few days ago I found out another one of my daughter's friends has peacefully divorced parents as well. I would have never guessed they were not together, for pretty much the same reasons my beloved listed above for the other super un-couple.  Kindness, respect, and genuine caring can be felt around these co-parents.  How did these people learn to put the resentment and other broken relationship garbage away?  It is so unselfish.  It is so admirable.

I am not sure if I could be that kind and respectful if I were divorced from my beloved.  The very ugly truth about me is, I like to be right, and I like to win.  I fight with these truths about myself.  Constantly asking myself;  is "being right" is worth the fight?  No, is generally the correct answer.  However, when I am hurt or feeling insecure (the type of feelings very present in a broken relationship), it is challenging for me to not fall back into "being right" and "win at all costs" mode.  Human nature is real jerk sometimes.

I admire those people who have decided (I honestly believe they have made a very deliberate choice) to be friendly with their ex-spouse.  Whether their kids know it now, or maybe will only realize it much later, their mom and dad put them first.  These co-parents put aside their brokenness in favor of their kids' completeness.  This is something I can truly admire.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I was reading through some of my previous posts and this one from January 2012 really struck me.  (In a good way, others make me cringe) When I first wrote it I felt some slacker guilt for admitting I am not a real perfectionist, but somehow almost two years later, I want to give myself a high five.  This is why I love writing so much.  It captures moments, and often reminds me that I am not done becoming me yet.  And if you did not read this when it was first is new to you.  ---Allie

Yesterday I had a wonderful talk with an equally wonderful friend. The kind of talk where you cover so many topics, commiserate, celebrate, bitch, praise, and laugh through so much of it. It would be wrong to share any specifics of our long conversation, these are things I hold dear and confidential. Anyway at some point we agreed that we like our lives to be going a solid 85% right. I started by confessing that I am happy with life being at a C+. She then pointed out some truths about me, and it was decided that we are solidly B people. And 85% is a solid B. If everything in life is 85 % good then things are fine. Sure 15% may be utter calamity and chaos, but that can be dealt with as long as the percentage of calamity does not gets larger. It should also be mentioned I am a person that looks at life from a school perspective. Perhaps it my education background or just that I see lessons and test in so many aspects of daily living. Example: The sulky faced, rude clerk at the store that is almost begging you to tell him or her off with their sour demeanor. However, you take the high ground and in your mind assume that something hideous must have happened to this person on the way to work today, so you just say, "Thank you. Have a nice day", at the end of your transaction. You pass. You get 100% for being a civil human being in a frustrating, somewhat hostile situation. There is the glimpse into my very grade based brain that is happy to have an 85% good life.

In truth, how many times in your life can you say everything was going perfect? Maybe as a child, on Christmas. At that point I may have said, "And all is right with the world". Other than that pretty much life consists of taking the bad with the good. Think of the most fortunate person you know. Now think about the thing in their life that you can not deal with or would struggle to deal with. Everyone has something, some have more misfortune or drama than others. However, even those with the most charmed life have obstacles to overcome or learn to live with. Those things just may not be obvious to us. Sure their are people living lives of 95% of everything going well, and they are probably happy. However, their margin of error is only 5%...heck, that could cause this person to completely lose it at some point. Living a solid B life is where I choose to dwell. Perhaps I could strive for more, but my solid B keeps me on the honor roll of life. No one is calling me for "life tutoring", but I am also not getting notes home about not living up to my potential. Perhaps this theory exposes me as a slacker, or maybe just as a total realist. It really does not matter as long as I keep my solid B average. Viva la 85%.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mistakes & Myths

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. --George Bernard Shaw
Does anyone else subscribe to the Oprah Magazine daily e-mail?  Please say you do, I need to feel some community in my in-adequateness.  I subscribed years ago, when Oprah still had her talk show.  I was an occasional watcher.  I like her interview style, and she really does like a lot of cool stuff, so the "Favorite Things" shows always sucked me in hard.  Anyway, each day I get an e-mail about "Living My Best Life", no harm in trying to be the best me I can be, right?  Life coaching and guidance through the inbox.  Good stuff.  Lately most of the titles contain the word "mistakes" or "myths".

The Six  Hair Mistakes (hint: quit talking to your hairdresser, you are compromising your hairstyle)

The Ten Biggest Relationship Mistakes (oddly sharing to many common interests, and not sharing common interests are both no-nos)

The Biggest Mistakes Women Make When Dieting (Creating too much of a calorie deficit through under eating and over exercising.)

5 Diet Myths Making You Gain Weights (as told by Dr. not even get me started) He restates the above "diet mistake" and you need to quit diet soda.

4 Myths About Anti-Depressants (also by Oz) (they are not "happy pills")

So this is the stuff that greets me every morning in my inbox.  All the myths I am believing and mistakes I am making.  It becomes a game to see what I am doing right.  In reading all the myths and mistakes, which are meant to help guide one to being better, or making better choices, a person can, at the least, get rather confused, and at the worst, start feeling like a colossal hot mess.

Lately, I have started to think making mistakes is fine. Is it really so bad to believe in myths?  As a kid I pretty damn happy believing in Santa and the Tooth-fairy.  Loot rolled in.  Life was good.  Granted, the Santa myth is rather harmless, and harboring other false beliefs can be more dangerous.  I guess the whole thing with "Myth Lists" is you sometimes feel like a dummy for not realizing you were off the mark.  However, mistakes are not bad.  Mistakes are some of life's best teachers.
Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. --Benjamin Franklin
 As a mother of a teen daughter I am very guilty of trying to keep her from making mistakes.  (I admit I am a huge hypocrite, and she knows it)  Sure, there are some things that  through sharing stories can help teach and mold.  I certainly do not want her to learn not to drink and drive by getting in a horrific crash.  I do not want her to OD and go to rehab to learn that drugs are dangerous.  The big mistakes I am perfectly willing to share news articles, and other sources to help impress that these are mistakes she does not even want to dabble with.  It is the smaller, but still painful, stuff  that I struggle to not lecture upon.  Most of this involves relationships. Things like, putting to much caring and trust in people that will not reciprocate.  Liking someone who does not even have a inkling of clue how awesome she is as a person.  Believing the myths someone tells to get what they want.  Believing the myth that it does not matter. I never want her to have her heart broken.  I want her to never make mistakes that will hurt.  When I write that I see how absurd it sounds.  Mistakes do hurt.  Some hurt worse than others.  Some myths, like Santa, are harmless, and some are far more insidious.
I mock the Oprah Magazine site for sending me lists of mistakes not to make, and myths not to believe so I can I have my "best life".  As if you can really "learn life" from reading an article, or attending a lecture. All the while, I am doing the same thing.  I want to lecture and curate the perfect easy, breezy high school experience for my daughter.  Perhaps that is the big myth I need dispelled.  High school is neither easy, or breezy.  It is a bunch of confused half-adult, half-children wandering about trying to figure out what the heck is happening to them. I just happen to have a very serious interest in only one of these half & half creatures.  I want to send her a list of mistakes not make, and myths to disregard.  I want her to read each bit of information and wisdom as if it were heaven sent.  It is not.  It is just from a person was there, made mistakes, got hurt, got up, and did better the next time.  I would not give up any of it because it helped me become wise.  However, now I have to watch one of the most important people in my life make mistakes, get hurt, get up, and do better the next time.  I need to let her become wise.  You can not give wisdom, you have to earn it.

And no lists or articles in the world could have ever, even remotely, prepared me for this.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Name Game

One thing that brings me great pride is my ability to remember people's names.  How I do it?  I am not sure.  My memory is pretty solid when it comes to recalling information specific to people.  I can not remember phone numbers, mathematical formulas, or where my car keys are located.  However, names and faces lock in really well.  Okay, until yesterday.  I was at a meeting for an upcoming marching band competition that is being hosted at my daughter's school.  It was a meeting of all the volunteers.  Meetings and I have a rocky relationship.  I tend to only listen for what I may need to know for my specific position, and ignore the rest.  The game I chose to play last night to keep my facial expressions looking engaged and attentive was, Match the Kid and Parent.  It is fun game.  The kids were all out practicing, so it was more challenging.  Glancing around the room, there were actually many parents I had not met, but not letting that deter me, I studied features and decided who the offspring may be.  (I can not be 100% sure how I scored on the match game since the meeting dismissed before practice and some of the parents escaped).  However, I became distressed when it came to another freshman parent, I know we have been introduced.  I remembered the child's name, and the wife's name (she was not even at the meeting), but the dad's name was gone.  No where could I recall it.  It fell out of my brain. Very frustrating for a person that considers them self a name recalling savant.  I should have been able to shrug this off, but then a sign-up sheet came around and I needed to pass it to "the forgotten-name dad", and he was looking the other direction and did not see the sheet next to him.  Such panic for me. What do I do???

Do I call him Mr. (and the last name which I do remember)?  No, that sounds so teacher-like and not something you do unless your kid is right next to you.

Do I poke him in the arm with a sheet of paper?  No, that is weird.

Do I wait for him to turn around? No, the paper will stop circulating (I like progress to much)

No, I went for the cheap cop out, "Psst...Jack's* Dad".  It worked.  The paper continued to circulate.  However, I am now "that person".  The person who calls people, publicly, by their children's name.

I am not sure if any offense was taken.  Personally, it does not bother me when people call me by my child's name followed by "mom".  I am proud to be their mom. It is an honor.  Frankly, there are so many worse things to be called.  However, I am not sure everyone feels the same.

Being a name recalling savant (up until yesterday), I am not sure how to proceed to relearn this person's name.  I know people I have met several times still ask me my name.  It is annoying for me, but I know many people do not have name recall, so I reintroduce myself (sometimes several times).  It hurts to be so utterly forgettable (not really).  The hardest thing for me is admitting that sometimes my memory for names is fallible.  Ouch, that hurt to write.  Name recall is one of my major functions in my relationship with my beloved.  He is okay with names, but pales in comparison to his name-recall genius wife.  Driving to social engagements it is my job to give him a refresher on who is who.  Pairing the spouses, naming the kids, telling professions...all that stuff.  My beloved is sometimes baffled at how I can spout all of this information, yet forget to buy peanut butter at the grocery, or balance my checkbook (Honestly, I have no idea either, it is just the stuff that sticks in my brain).  We have a great system where I will greet people with their names at events so he can always appear to know who is who. (I share the genius)

Me: Oh Mary! Great to see you.  Is Bill with you tonight? (best way to pair and locate a partner, who also my have found the open bar. Priorities)
My Beloved: Nice to see you, Mary.  I am going to see Bill.

This is generally a foolproof system, unless Mary and Bill have just filed for divorce.  In which case, I sort of step in it on occasion.  At least I am not poking them in the arm with paper, or asking for their name for the 10th time.

I am going to have to suck it up and ask for re-introduction, or insist my daughter quit the marching band to spare me the shame.  I am going to be so annoyed with myself if it turns out I forgot a name like Mike, Jim, Dan, Tom, Bob, or Dave. (Those are my top six  guessing names)  I am not sure if anyone else on the planet even has "guessing names".  Most people just say, "Sorry, I can not recall your name".  Perhaps no one else has elevated names to an actual game.  

*Name changed.  I do not use the real names of minors, even my own kids on this blog. Ever.