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“Huh.” It’s a Complete Sentence and Will Revolutionize Your Relationship With Your Teen. (I Swear.)

For me, having my children become teenagers was like having a cherished family pet die. I had been so accustomed to the presence of sweet, happy go-lucky kids that the intrusion of unexpected and prolonged silence was unexpected. No more jumping up to see me when I came home from work. No more following me around the house. Granted, there was less whining, but a lot less sprinting for joy at the site of my mediocre cooking.

With teenagers came aloofness and quiet.

The change felt jarring.

And sad.

And for this mama who – despite trying really hard not to be a helicopter mama – still swelled with joy at every little milestone, it felt terribly lonely.

All the prep in the world couldn’t have prepared me for my 13-year-old / size 13 shoe wearing boy turning me down for In and Out Burger this summer. “Sorry, Mom. I’ve got a Minecraft hangout scheduled with the guys.”

All the chats with moms of girls older than mine didn’t ease the blow when my curvy hipped 13-year-old this year started declining watching Mama movies with me. (Apparently Youtube is more exciting than classics like The Breakfast Club or kitshy Brady Bunch re-runs. Who knew?)

While I figured I would make it through the moody “Leave me alone” stage, I wasn’t expecting the “everything you say sucks, Mom” stage. Sure, I’ve read in all those fancy journals about how kids practice on Mom to learn to set boundaries elsewhere, but it still hurt.

And, despite my best efforts to let it roll off my back, I sometimes hurt them right back. Door slam for door slam, verbal insult for verbal insult, the three of us had some pretty exciting car rides. The most fulfilling were always on the way to church. On route to being holy, we held each other hostage within locked doors, each one-upping the other’s statements in a vicious attempt to win an argument over who made who late.

If I had to put it simply, all that “relationship over being right” theory sounded good until they developed body hair. And then it all went to crap, along with my hopes of ever being close to them again.

Until last month, when my daughter locked herself in the bathroom on Halloween, and my world forever changed. While I hadn’t tried to cajole her out the door to trick or treat with her brother and bestie, I did attempt to insert my opinion when the whole ordeal was over.

“What’s your part?” I asked her, after listening to every painstaking detail about why things just didn’t “go her way” and how “unfair it was.”

I didn’t see a thing wrong with my words. After all, I didn’t interrupt her once. I was a good listener. Now was her time to listen so she wouldn’t lose out on future opportunities to have fun. Right?

Wrong.

Pip: “Mom, to be honest, I just wanted you to listen and not say anything.”

For whatever reason, instead of defending my statements (which, come on, were totally amazing points and great advice… saving her thousands of dollars in future therapy) I asked her the simple question, “You mean, not say anything? At all?”

Pip: “Yeah. Nothing.”

Me: “Huh.”

People, did you know “Huh” is a complete sentence? With that very caveman response, I unintentionally broke through the teenage time space contingency and found an oasis of understanding, hearing and safety. Unexpectedly, I heard something that could have blown me over with a feather:

Pip: “Yeah. I would have been open maybe tomorrow, but today I just wanted to be heard.”

And with that last statement, as if by some magical alien implanting a chip, everything flashed before my eyes, including a resolution:

  1. If I just stay silent, she’ll tell me more.
  2. If I ask if I can give an opinion first, she’ll feel more respected
  3. If I don’t ask and just give the opinion, she might not be listening anyway
  4. Unless what she is saying to me is directly affecting me, my schedule or my life in a negative way, there’s no need to say anything at all.

NOTE: Pay most attention to #4 – it helps in the heat of battle to know when to lobby a missle or flee.

As if to hit the nail on the head even more, my son asked his sister the very next day, “Hey, Pip, do you mind telling me what happened? Only if you want to?”

She did. In the same painstaking, blow by blow, OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP detail.

His response, “Ahhh. That must have been hard.”

Her response: “Yeah.”

His followup: “Want to play Minecraft?”

Her response: “Let’s do it.”

Done.

The End.

The real takeaway: Saying less really does mean more in the life of a teen. 

2 more things

  1. Since Halloween, I’ve used the word “Huh” more times than I can count. And it’s been more peaceful in this house than it’s been in a year.
  2. My son will be 15 next month. He’s 6’3, wears a size 14 shoe, and eats more than large farm animal. (Oh, he hasn’t eaten animals in a year, either. In addition to being psychologically more in tune than me, he’s also a vegetarian.)

Ask me how little Stink is now bigger than my fridge? You’ll only get one response so I don’t cry.

“Huh.”

 

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My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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Ode to Finding My Blessings (And Yours!)

It’s busy as a working mom

My sanity… it’s sometimes gone

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There’s always last minute dirty dishes

Laundry, shopping and teenage wishes

What? My husband? He wants sex?

The dog is barking? Oh, no , what’s next?

Halloween… Thanksgiving… Christmas, too?

Plus in my family, we’ve also got Jews

That means Hannukah and 8 days of light

An 8 day cruise? Now THAT sounds right

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Maybe instead of all this shopping

This tired mom could go island hopping

How many hours could I lose?

Chillin’ on an Alaska cruise…

Maybe Hawaii, Alaska or even France?

A captains lunch… a dinner dance…

And yet… as nice as this all may sound

As day dream thoughts in my head go round

I think of the world… and all that’s insane

The far right marches… the hurricanes…

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North Korea missles… and refugees

Guess who’s lucky? Yup, that’s me.

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So I don’t have a maid…

I don’t have a cook

Compared to most

I’m like a crook

I’ve made off with the health

I’ve made off with sweet kiddos

Safe home and a job?

Ditto and ditto

And so while there’s always some things I would swap for another

I’m one lucky wife. I’m a damn lucky mother.

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So with that this small poem

Is almost complete

I’ve got a bath to be taken

And a pit bull at my feet

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I hope that you readers

Can find blessings, too

In all who you love

And in all that you do.

Got any gratitude? Leave it in the comment below.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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At Last I See the Light – and You Can, Too

Anyone who knows me personally (or has read here long enough) knows how hard I am on myself. “If only I spent more time with my kids” or “If only I didn’t hover so much” or “If only I didn’t sing opera in Costco and embarrass them in front of the frozen fish” I’d feel like an adequate mom.

It’s dawning on me, more and more lately, that I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to show up as the best Andrea I can be. I don’t get the gold star of approval only when I fix some of my son’s tics.

I don’t get it when my paycheck goes above a certain amount or when I take my daughter to Hurricane Harbor and pay more for a locker rental than I normally spend on Starbuck’s during the week. (Oh my goodness, they rape you over there. It’s ridiculous!)

Happiness doesn’t come in the future of when’s. As one of my dear friends recently reminded me, “Someday is not a day of the week.”

As I mentioned in this post, my husband and I had made a huge mistake in moving the kids upstairs while we lived as servants in the room off the kitchen. Having shared a room their entire life, it was a HUGE deal for them to have a beautiful and huge space to themselves. It felt a bit traitor like to tell them on Tuesday, “Hey, kids, sorry. We know you adore your private islands, but you’re being downgraded to the kitchen and living room wings.

You know what? They took the news really well. Well, mostly well. When I asked Stink about how he felt, he looked at me with 14 year old disdain, grunted in his man/child voice, and reported, “You know when Donald Trump said he was going to build a pipeline? I feel like the Native Americans: Violated.

Fair enough.

A Faith Move

For some of you, moving rooms might not seem like such a big deal. For me, it was more than a physical victory. It was an emotional one. For so much of my parenting, I have lead out of guilt. Call it the Tourettes diagnosis for Stink, or the guilt of not being present enough for my daughter during the early years. But for some reason, it was there – driving how I treat myself. Subconsciously I was telling myself, through the oh so noble and selfless actions of “giving up my own space” that those kids were worth more than my husband and my relationship.

And they are not.

To love them best we must take care of ourselves. For us, that means decent sleep and energy to do the things we need to do to run this family with love, acceptance, patience and tolerance.

Odd or God?

Is it odd or God that immediately after giving our renter notice two weeks ago, and our kids “notice” about their switch on Tuesday, that the energy in this house shifted?

My husband has a new business opportunity.

I am sticking to my musical writing schedule. (Yes, I am writing a musical that involves camels and nasty Arabian horses. I’m not normal.)

And last week, while networking for my husband’s biz, I ran into the director of a local opera company who I had interviewed for the paper a few years ago. “We are always looking for young talent!” he told us.

Today my daughter auditioned, and she relied on me – her mama – to get her there. What a shift from two weeks ago when she wouldn’t get off the couch. We went over the song at least 24 times. She borrowed my makeup bag. She even, as a break in between, started reading to me a novel that moved her 13 year old soul and wanted me to share in the joy. I say this less as “Wow I Deserve An Award” but more as a “When I Lead as a Mom Who Values herself, my kid subconsciously gets this and feels safe.” It was a tough lesson to learn – many nights of yelling and screaming and overall crankiness, but I learned it.

As my sweet teen stood, back erect, in front of that baby grand piano and belted her song from Tangled, I teared up, because it’s so true of my journey up until this point. And maybe it’s true of yours, too.

All those days, watching through the windows

All those years, outside looking in

All that time, never really knowing

Just how blind I’ve been

Now I’m here, blinking in the starlight

Now I”m here, suddenly I see

Standing here, it’s oh so clear

I’m where I’m meant to be

And at last I see the light

And it’s like, the fog has lifted

And at last I see the light

And it’s like the sky is new

And it’s warm and clear and bright

And the world has somehow shifted

All at once, everything is different

Now that I see you

I See You Special Needs Mamas

And you’re going to be okay. Join me on this journey to showing our kids that we are worth, like the song says, “shifting” perspective. I can promise you, if you do, the sky will be new and the stars will be bright.

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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Refocusing the Blog: AGAIN

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Okay, I had this big thing going this summer where I was writing about:

* Tic Tuesdays
* Fun Fridays (Parenting)
* Writing Wednesdays
* Mystery Mondays!

Here’s the deal. As a writer, who is working on the side at a day job, I started putting what I wanted to do (a new book on fun parenting) into a site that mostly gets traffic for tics.

It wasn’t working for me.

As I look at the stats for this site, it’s clear that most of you come here for help with tics and special needs – so that’s where I’m staying.

If I’ve confused you, I’m sorry. Like our kids with tics and special needs, focus can get the best of us. I’m no exception. The key is to find my way home again, and that’s to you special needs mamas.

If you want specific tic topics, please leave a comment.

I’ll Be Here, 2 Days/Week!

I’m going to keep writing 2 days/week on tics and keep it simple. When my new book comes out, you better buy that one, too, though. Because the ultimate goal for me is to quit the day job and do what I do best – stay in my pjs, laugh and drink too much coffee.

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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10 Ways I’m Surviving the Teens

I’m not really sure what everyone is complaining about when it comes to having teens in the house. They are joys and help me learn and grow and become a better person in Jesus. I just turn on the Holy Spirit and it’s like Joyce Meyers on steroids round here. 

I’ve decided that having teenagers is akin to turning on one of those giant car vacuums. Except instead of using it to clean out your car, it gets attached to your body, and all your insides get sucked out.

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Until you’re left starting the morning feeling like this:

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And you end the afternoon looking like this:

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And then you get ready for bed with this tape playing in your brain:

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I’m fully aware that it’s not my job to make my kids happy. In fact, the more I give, the more unhappy they are. Too much does not breed contentment. It breeds entitlement. And while I aim to listen to my kids and not judge, the truth is that often I hear them complain about all the things they are not getting compared to some of their friends and family members (trips to Europe, extra curricular classes, new clothes, park passes).  I am getting to the point where it’s time to put the hammer down. They don’t need more stuff. They need more chores. (Yup, I’m going there.)

The trick for me, when it comes to getting off the rat wheel of, “Am I doing an adequate job with these kids?” is to engage in the following. It’s helps me so much. I’d love to hear your tips, too!

10 Ways to Be Around Teens Without Wanting to Stab Your Eyes Out

  1. Building Adults: I remind myself it’s not my job to give them everything. It’s my job to teach them how to be self-sufficient people so they can take care of themselves. (Yes, you have to do the laundry every Monday. Yes, you have to take the trash out every Tuesday. No, I’m not giving you an award for your mediocrity. Thank you have a nice day buh bye.)
  2. Talk to Others: When I share with others my insecurities about not providing enough “fun” for my kids, I feel better. “Oh, you can’t give your daughter a 24,000 dollar education at a private hippy school either? Phewww! Let’s slum it together at public school in a nice zipcode like inner city mall rats!” (I am very lucky. I know it. My kids don’t yet.)
  3. Stay in Gratitude: When I remind myself of all the amazing things they do do for others – when they are not being self-centered and pestering me for cash to get our ridiculously entitled pitbull fancy dog training to keep from massacring small rodents and cats- I stop being so hard on both them and me.
  4. Give Myself a Break: Every day I spend $3.00 on a Starbucks Americano for myself. Yes, that’s $80 a month. It’s a lot. But it’s mental health. I don’t buy fancy clothes, haircuts or even skincare. I’m worth this luxury. It’s not about the taste alone. The cup, subconsciously, shows my kids that I feel I’m worth spending some cash on when they don’t often see that.
  5. Remember I’m Important! Along the lines of #4, I need to remember that I matter. It’s not just about serving my kids. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.
  6. Model Good Behavior: It’s not all about me all the time (who knew?). I make sure to reach out to others every day and ask how they are. It takes me out of myself and gives my world perspective.
  7. Get Comfy with Change: Kids change. Life changes. It’s supposed to be this way. I can hold onto the past forever, but it’s not going to make a very fun present, and certainly not pave the way toward a new future.
  8. Take Time for Myself: Every day I take some time away and read. I’m actually starting to journal again, too. Sure, most people might not take Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” to Loews and sit in the patio section. But for me, it’s a break from my house. It’s a way to stay cool. And it’s a place full of beautiful lights, plants and furniture. It makes my “everything is perfect” portion of my brain light up. (Especially when life is far from perfect.)
  9. Let Go: I start every day with a list of things I can’t control. It sounds like I’m in victimhood, but I assure you, it’s to remember that there’s only so much I can do. I can’t change my son’s tics sometimes, or my daughter’s attitude, but I can write it on the list and then give it to God to handle for me. PS: This works out well because not only does my son not want me to care about his tics, but my daughter also doesn’t need me bowing down to her hormones. Just like my willingness to give my problems to a God bigger than me, I am not my daughter’s God. She needs to learn to self-soothe on her own sometimes. (And so do I.)
  10. Pray: This is the most important thing on my list. If I don’t pray, I’m a mess. I have seen over and over that God can heal what I can’t change. He might not heal the circumstances, but he can change my perspective on how to handle them. God is my rock (and my salvation) and someone who I know loves me no matter what. “Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”

And God loves you, too. (Even if your teenagers do not.)

What Would You Add to the List?

How’s teen life in your home? If you don’t have teens yet, what do you think of my list? If you’ve had them, I’d love your input!

Until next time…

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Can You Admit a Mistake to Your Teens? I’m About To.

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You know, I always kind of thought I knew what I was doing with this parenting thing. And then I had teenagers. And it went out the window.

It’s been a week since “The 24-hour/Sit on the Couch/ My Mother is a Horrible Human Being/Laundry Boycott/Summer 2017 Manifesto.”  Since that time, a LOT has changed. And much of it has to do with my thinking. What I’ve learned is that sometimes, as parents, the hardest thing to do is realize that we’ve made a mistake – and one in particular in our home is so gigantic that it’s turning our family dynamic completely upside down.

Post Recently Revised

When I first posted this, I went into specifics about what those dynamics were. I will again, but for now, it’s not really appropriate. (Annoying fact: My kids never read this blog – heck, they haven’t even read my book all the way through – why should I care? Plain and simple – because they aren’t babies anymore. I can’t just write what I want and post embarrassing photos and changes they aren’t even aware of. All parties need to be talked to first. On one hand, this is very annoying. On another, it’s called respect. I owe them that.)

 

The Power Struggle is Real

Someone I trust called me out on my dilema a few days back. I had mentioned to him that I was going to sleep at the neighbor’s house one night a week just to get 8 hours of sleep based on current living arrangements. To me, this seemed brilliant. To him? Not so much. Forgive me, Christian readers, for quoting my friend exactly. when he responded, “Are you FUCKING insane?”

To which I replied, “I’m not aware of that. No.”

To which he went on to prove wrong.

“You’re so used to giving away your power you don’t even realize that you’re living like a trapped animal. Tell the kids you made a mistake. That the way things are set up in the home currently causes too much discord. That there is no room for peace, love and tolerance.”

Me: (horribly guilt ridden)”They are going to Freak. Out.”

Him: “They will get over it. And when they see you and your husband calmer and more of a team they will, on the inside, jump up and down for joy. For you, my friend, will be stepping up as a parent – a parent who does the hard thing in the long run even when it hurts in the short term.

We Are Not the World’s Perfect Couple

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I admit it. We struggle like everyone else (sometimes more – sometimes less). But one thing we do not struggle on is giving our kids a solid place in a home that is structured fairly. I’m grateful that Rex and I are willing to team up on this, bring our lives back in balance, and love our kids enough to rip their delusions from them  admit we made an error in judgement last year with one decision.

I’ll let you know what we decide. Wish us luck.

Do Your Kids Have Too Much Power?

I really want to know. Do you do over indulge your kids without realizing? (Note: I really want to give my kids better enrichment classes. I’m not talking about education – I’m talking about arrangements in your family dynamics that put them above you or your partnership which could, potentially, harm them long term.)

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Fun Friday #3 – Gratitude Over Attitude

Life Ain’t a TV Show – But Sometimes A Commercial Gets Shot on My Street

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(Photo of a neighbor’s house 3 doors down. They shot a Walmart commercial there last night. It was fun to see the fake snow, talk to the actors, and let my kids steal granola bars and chips off the craft service truck in front of our house.)

As a kid, I always thought life would be like the sitcoms I loved to watch. Fade in funny family.

Action and fighting.

The makeup scene.

Fade out – Happily Ever After.

(Oh, and don’t forget the applause along the way. Even during the pie fight… hair would always look amazing!)

I was one of the lucky ones. I actually got to write for TV. It was during that time of life I met my husband – the slow and steady Ricky to my discombobulated Lucy. Family would visit me on the set and I’d introduce them to Roger Daltry who was playing an alcoholic in recovery. Or I’d have them chat up Lynn Redgrave who, in a glorious British accent, would run up to them and say, “Oooh, Frazer is lovely! How do you like California???”

Lest I sound like I’m reliving my glory days (which, well, I am) I have found that it’s nothing short of ironic to be where I’m at now in life… dealing with moody teenagers, moving toward the next phase of my writing career and working a steady day job – the only TV life being the commercials they shoot down the street from my house. If I’m not careful, I can get overwhelmed in regret fast.

“It’s a weird place to be,” I often tell Tuskany during our Thursday afternoon chats. While I sit in her beautiful wooden floor home with her seven perfectly groomed cats (yes… SEVEN cats) we talk about who we used to be at 27 vs. 47. We chat about public school vs. private school, politics and exactly what is the magic sauce that makes kids self-assured. God? Exercise? Education?

I asked my kids this very question on the way home from her house and my son’s answer was pretty simple: “We keep it simple. We like being weird. Mostly, we’re just wired like this.”

My kids might be wired for zen, but their mother certainly isn’t. I worry about everything. A lot. (And believe me when I say “a lot” is a drastic improvement over “all the time.” ) With my neurotic brain, I can’t change my genetics, or  some circumstances, but I can change my attitude. Which, when you’re dealing with teens, is everything.

Traffic… No Parking… Rocky Beach… OH MY!

The above statement couldn’t be more true than it was today, and that leads me to Fun Friday Tip #3 – Gratitude over Attitude. (Ten years ago, if I read that, I would have punched the writer in the face. Today, though? I cling to it.) I can’t change my kids’ attitude all the time, but I can change mine.

I can decide to be angry at the L.A. traffic, (it took 2 hours to get to the Santa Monica Pier) the closed parking lot (which took us a half hour to navitate to) and my one child who decided that the alternate “rocky” beach with the free parking ten miles away was a dull alternative to a roller coaster and bumper cars over the ocean.

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To her credit, she did not throw a hissy by any means, but she was wistful and disappointed to say the least.

To MY credit – and even more exciting – I didn’t throw a hissy either. I was not wistful, nor disappointed, because I’m learning to separate my kids’ experiences from my own. It is not their job to fulfill any lonely crevices in my soul, and it’s not my job to fill theirs. The only thing I am committed to these days is to do my best to walk next to them as they journey the complicated road of life’s ups and downs.

I chose to be grateful for the water. To be grateful for the sand. To be grateful for some extra cash in my pocket from a generous location manager who more than compensated me for use of our dirt filled backyard to set up tables and chairs.

Later that afternoon I texted their father.

Me: “Would you like to meet us at the Reel Inn?”

Him: “But we have all that food left over from the catering trucks in our fridge. Why eat out?”

Me: “Because it’s joyful. And spontaneous. And I want to.”

Him: “I guess.”

The Old Me: (worried about his opinion) “Oh, well, it’s okay if you don’t want to…” Or worse…”You’re right. I’ll come home.” (Cut to resentment, temporary depression, ultimate angry explosion. Helpful, huh?)

The New Me: “We’d love to see you! If you can’t make it, we’ll be home at 7!”

He came.

We ate.

It was lovely.

Takeaway: My attitude toward not owning my family’s feelings led to a fun day for me, even if was not an amazing day for them. I am not in charge of their emotions, nor are they in charge of mine. What a lovely place to live! (Well, not as lovely as the beach. My second time in a week… and I’m going tomorrow! It’s my happy spot for sure. If any of you readers live in So Cal, we should totally do a beach day one weekend!)

Andrea

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How are you at separating your emotions from your kids and family’s so you can have fun no matter what?

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB.

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