Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pitching Fits & Pointing Fingers - Parenting's Biggest Hurdle.

Anyone that knows me, knows I love my kids. But here's the truth..... I don't always like them (and I'm certain that those feelings can be mutual at times). I've worked really, really hard not to let them turn out to be a$$holes, but it's hard. It's a constant battle. The entitlement thing is the real deal and I struggle with it on a regular basis. And I know I'm not alone in the WOE (War On Entitlement). 

Entitled generation POV:
  • Don’t feel like verbally communicating? 
    • I’m too tired, too busy and would rather text.
  • Frustrated because you’ve been asked two times in a row to take out the garbage and your sibling hasn’t? 
    • Mom is a b*tch.
  • Feel as though your clothes and sneakers are outdated? 
    • Mom/Dad never make time to go shopping.
  • Don’t want to eat spaghetti AGAIN? 
    • Bojangles is so much better.
  • Xbox keeps disconnecting because wifi is on the blink AGAIN? 
    • My parents are so frustrating by not getting this fixed by now.
  • Made a bad grade on your test in school? 
    • The teacher is terrible. Ask anyone.
  • Can’t find your earbuds? 
    • The dryer ruined them AGAIN.


Real life:
  • Don’t feel like verbally communicating? 
    • Hey, YOU! Step away from the smartphone screen.
  • Frustrated because you’ve been asked two times in a row to take out the garbage and your sibling hasn’t?
    • If I say it’s YOUR turn, it’s your turn.
  • Feel as though your clothes and sneakers are outdated? 
    • Have you seen my closet? I have clothes from before YOU were born. (and I still wear them) Get a job. 
  • Don’t want to eat spaghetti AGAIN? 
    • Refer to “Get a job”. Too young for a job? Here’s extra marinara sauce, just like YOU like it.
  • Xbox keeps disconnecting because wifi is on the blink AGAIN? 
    • Let me get YOU Time Warner’s customer service number 1-800-TWCsux. Be thankful you're b*tching about lack of wifi vs. lack of food and shelter.
  • Made a bad grade on your test in school? 
    • Step away from the smartphone (again) and study.  YOU have to pay attention in class, read the material, and repeat.
  • Can’t find your earbuds? 
    • Stop leaving them in YOUR damn pockets!!
At some point I hope my words resonate with them, but realistically, it probably won't happen until my kids are older, independent and have someone complaining to them about wifi, and regular-ole spaghetti. 

Until then, I'm happy to be the Naggy-McNaggerston. They can hate me now and love me later. Sure beats the hell out of the alternative.

Loving me now (for giving in to their demands) and hating me later (for setting them up for failure).

Friday, September 9, 2016

Do You Believe in Reincarnation?

When my second son, Jacob, was born in 1997, he had a striking resemblance to my father who had passed away 3 1/2 years prior. It was quite comforting, yet a little on the eerie side. How could a tiny baby look so much like a grown man? We chalked it up to strong genetics. (But he happened to be the only one of my four boys with such strong Thompson physical traits.) 

As he got older and his personality was surfacing, it was evident that yet again, he was very much like the grandfather he never met. Jacob was quiet, analytical in his thought process, a savant with all things sports knowledge-related and very competitive. The love of sports and competitiveness ran strong through all four of my boys, but he was by far the most competitive. Unlike his older brother and 2 younger brothers, he was a bit of a loner at times who needed moments of seclusion to recharge. He was also the only early riser of our crew. Very much like his grandfather, he was a morning person, which was very much unlike everyone else in our entire family. 

Daddy - young adult
Jacob - age 15
Teen years approached, growth spurts hit, and I found myself straining my neck to have a conversation with him. At 6'-3", he reached the height of his grandfather. I walked in the living room one day after Jacob had decided to go with a cool new hairstyle and nearly fell over at the young man standing before me. This new "do" was identical to his grandfather's some 65 years ago. The person before me was the mirror image of many photos I had of my father growing up. Day after day, I watched Jacob morph into what I strongly suspect was much like his grandfather at that age. 
Creepy? Kind of. 
Cool? Absolutely.

Last year my mom passed away. I spent hours sorting through things of my father's, a lot that I never knew existed. I came across the photo on the right . This was my dad around the age of 20. To the left is Jacob at the age of 17. It stopped me in my tracks.

While the looks and personality freakishly parallel, I am taken aback even more so by the simplest and craziest of things between these two men.

Jacob is a freshman at Hampden-Sydney, an all male college in Virginia. My father graduated from VMI, an all male college (at the time) in Virginia. Both Hampden-Sydney and VMI abide by a very strict Honor Code. Both men were/are multisport college student athletes. Both men had/have an immense love of chocolate. And I don't mean the normal love of chocolate. I mean the - love of chocolate ice cream doused with chocolate syrup with a side of chocolate milk - kind of love of chocolate. And those similarities are just to name a few.

My mom used to say that she saw "Norris" (my daddy) every time she looked at Jacob. Do I believe in reincarnation? The beliefs instilled in me since childhood say profoundly, "No". The, hopeful 20-year-old girl who lost her daddy suddenly, part of me says "Yes, please!". The 43 year old me says "Maybe." Maybe, just maybe, there is a possibility that the spirit of my father lives again. It doesn't mean Jacob is "Norris". It means Jacob is Jacob who carried a gift with him when he came into this world. It isn't as if he knows he has it. It isn't tangible or obvious to him or to us. Maybe it surfaces in the subtleties of a hand the decision to put chocolate ice cream atop his piece of chocolate cake. And, quite possibly, it can be a little more apparent by similar decisions in life such as what college to attend and why.

Or maybe it's all just one big coincidence?

Either way, I feel lucky. When you lose someone, you want so much to see them one more time. I feel blessed to have moments of seeing a semblance of my father. 

I would like to believe our loved ones who have passed find an avenue to nudge us on occasion through others. It just so happens, due to "strong genetics", Jacob has the occasional ability to punch me right in the gut. 

In the nicest way possible, that is.

What do you believe?

(other than I've lost my mind)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Slammin' the Cam

Today my Facebook feed is flooded with lots of chatter about Cam Newton and his postgame interview. I was cheering for the Panthers because they are a Carolina team and have had an awesome season. Yes, I was rooting for my home-state team, but I wouldn’t consider myself a diehard fan. I don’t love Cam (sorry, Carolina fans!), nor do I own a Panthers sweatshirt or a koozie or a flaggy thing for my car. But since my team wasn’t in the Super Bowl ::cough-sputter-SKINS-cough::: then I was hoping the Panthers would win their first Super Bowl.

The game left a lot to be desired. It didn’t really matter which team you were cheering for, it was a snooze-fest. I kept thinking one negative turn of events for the Broncos would lead to the Panthers going on a run, but no such luck. As Cam said in his postgame interview, they got outplayed. The end. Which brings me to the point of my blog today… Cam and his postgame interview:
I have to say, ENOUGH ALREADY!! Listen, I’m not a professional athlete. (although I have mad skills on the hoop hanging on the back of my 12 year old’s bedroom door), but let’s put it in perspective. He just played the pinnacle of all games, the Super Bowl. And he lost. That sucks. As part of his job, he has to sit there and answer the media’s questions with grace and a smile. After all, he makes MILLIONS, this is part of being in the spotlight and the least he can do is fake it. There’s a minor detail we forget; he’s human. Think about having to deal with the biggest disappointment in your career or life for that matter. Then imagine cameras and microphones in your face and some dimwit asking for you to put into words your disappointment. Those who already have a bad taste in their mouth about you are going to find something, ANYTHING to continue to hate you. Had he broken down and cried, he would’ve been a wuss. Had he said he was disappointed and listed all the reasons why, he would’ve been a whiney baby. Had he put a pretty bow on losing, he would’ve been fake. Despite his answer, he couldn’t win…. after not winning.

America loves to hate someone. Today it’s Cam. Tomorrow it’ll be someone else. Could he have handled himself differently? Sure. Would it have made a difference for those who already hate him? Probably not. At the end of the day, he’s a millionaire, a professional athlete who is in his prime and just played in the Super Bowl in front of millions, and will return with a vengeance next season. We shouldn’t feel sorry for him. And I don’t. He’ll fly home in a jet to his mansion and his fancy car worth more than my house. But remember, last night and probably nights if not weeks to follow he will lie in bed wide awake, going through play by plays of the “big game”, internalizing and processing his own disappointment and frustration, warding off the “what ifs” and “woulda-coulda-shouldas”. You know……human-stuff. 

The world, as a whole, has a lot more to be irritated with than an NFL player walking out on an interview. Seems kind of silly in the big scheme of things. Then again, what do I know? I’m just a human too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

BPD - The Family Secret

2016 will be the first year I’ve lived without a parent.  There is a definite void and a sense of feeling lost without my foundation. Despite the challenging relationship my mother and I had the last few years, I miss her deeply. There was a time we were very close and that is the mom I miss to my core. I haven’t spoken of this except to those whom I am closest to, but my family had a secret. Our mom suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder*** for many years. Hindsight, I believe she always did, but the symptoms certainly got worse the older she got. As a result, my siblings and I had a very difficult time dealing with her mood swings and the wrath that would be bestowed upon us if we did not meet one of her expectations. At times, she was impossible to be around which would blanket my soul with guilt. After all, THIS IS MY MOTHER! Yet I had to protect myself and the only way I knew how was distance.
I sought professional help for answers to help me cope with the internal battle that began to break me. For the first few years, I blamed myself. Despite her hurtful actions and words, I felt I must deserve it. Why else would she act this way? One day my therapist introduced me to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and handed me the book “Stop Walking on Eggshells”. 5 pages in, I was sobbing. The words that my mind began to process paralleled the life I had been leading with my mom. There was a pinnacle moment when I stopped blaming myself. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief for myself and, equally, an overwhelming sense of sadness that this was something I knew my mother would refuse to acknowledge. It was up to me to change how I reacted, how I handled her moments of rage… this sensitive girl must learn to desensitize in regard to her mom; a nearly impossible task for someone who had spent her life trying to please her mother. There were times I was able to achieve my emotional tough skin, but there was a price. Now suddenly, I was her cold and callous daughter. No matter what I did, I could not win. My new coping mechanism only sent her into more rage and emotional manipulation.  I was left with no choice, but more distance, in turn, resulting in more guilt. This was a cycle that would continue for the last years of her life. Instead of talking every day, it became a couple times a week, then once a week, then a couple times a month. My heart was heavy because I missed her, but the distance also saved me from inevitable heartbreak. When she wrote me once stating “I always knew you wished it was me that died instead of your father”, the cold and callous daughter was there to stay. How does one recover from that? I can tell you……

They don’t.

While I KNEW it was the BPD talking, the vessel in which these hurtful messages were delivered was from the one person whom I adored, who once nurtured, loved and protected me. My mind tried so hard to adjust to her seesaw of “I love you. I hate you. I love you. I hate you” but inevitably, I gave up trying because, well…. I had no choice. When she started displaying BPD tendencies toward my boys, I had to draw a line in the sand. They were too young to fully process the whirlwind of confusion that came with a Nana’s love “with emotional strings attached”.

Now that she has passed, I see more clearly the personality disorder that took my loving, vivacious mom away from me years before she left this earth. It was difficult to completely comprehend while she was here, because I was too busy building walls and dodging bullets. My defensive mode overrode any sense of empathy toward her suffering. My reaction was 100% selfish, I know that. But I had begged her to seek an understanding of what she was doing to her family, to comprehend how her words and actions hurt those around her. My words only made her angrier, more defensive, sending her deeper into a mindset of emotional warfare. She held me in contempt and ridicule. The emotional tug of war was more than I could bear at times. And the guilt began to bury me. I knew the pain she inflicted on others was the result of a mental illness that left her feeling empty, neglected, lonely and sad. As hard as I tried to fix it, she was the only one who could truly fix herself.

It’s been nine months since mom left us suddenly. Thankfully I was still able to say goodbye, to find closure, to hug and kiss her, to tell her how much I loved her. I understand and fully realize that Borderline Personality Disorder had my outgoing, full of life mom trapped in a mind and body she had no control over. I mourn the good years with my mom and feel an immense amount of guilt for the years I had to push her away to save myself and, eventually, my kids.

Today, my siblings and I continue to clean up the debris left behind by BPD’s destruction. I find that I still continue to struggle with anger toward her for the emotional mess she left us with despite a full understanding that she had a mental illness. My brain knows she could not help it. I just wish it would communicate that to my heart so it could heal.

Mom, I am sorry for hurting you, for pulling away these last years. I did what I had to do to survive emotionally and to salvage our relationship. As I write this, I want you to know that when I find myself in deep thought about you and how much I miss you, BPD never crosses my mind. I remember ever so fondly, JoAnne, the mom who loved cooking Christmas dinner.
The mom who traveled around the world on church mission trips.
The mom that took care of me when I was sick.
The mom who got more excited about a chance of snow than us kids.
The mom who once got pulled for speeding leaving Disney World (and somehow got out of the ticket).
The mom who, without question, opened the car door for my invisible friend, Jimmy.
The mom who unapologetically screamed at her grandsons' games.
The mom with a contagious smile and spirit.
The mom who loved her family with her entire being.

That is the mom I look forward to greeting me at heaven's gate.

I love and miss you so very much.
***Borderline Personality Disorder: A serious mental illness that causes unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. It usually begins during adolescence or early childhood. Most people with BPD suffer from problems regulated their emotions and thoughts, impulsive and sometimes reckless behavior, and unstable relationships. They typically display 5 or more symptoms below:
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable relationships
  • Unstable self image; struggles with identity or sense of self
  • Impulsive or self-damaging behaviors
  • Suicidal behaviors or self-injury
  • Varied or random mood swings
  • Constant feelings of worthlessness or sadness
  • Problems with anger; including loss of temper or physical fights
  • Stress related paranoia or loss of contact with reality

Research has shown the outcomes can be quite good for people with BPD, particularly if they are engaged in treatment. With specialized therapy, most people with BPD find their symptoms are reduced and their lives are improved.


Do you have a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder? I highly recommend the books:
“Stop Walking on Eggshells”  
“I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me”
“Understanding a Borderline Mother”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Sports Mom: It's an Acquired Taste.

Being a sports mom, I find myself sitting in the most extreme of conditions in situations that tear my nerves apart, almost nightly. It is not for the faint of heart. I work all day and rush home to a game that will, inevitably, send me nearly into heart failure. Why would I encourage this chaos in a life with four boys? I know it may come as a shock, but it’s by choice! They love this life. And I happen to love watching them do what they love to do. But, I tell them often, if/when the time comes they stop loving it, it’s time to make a change. For now, this is this mom’s Sunday through Saturday and I’m okay with that.

Currently I am gearing up for what may be the busiest basketball season yet with all four boys playing.  The 21 year old is playing college basketball. The 18 year old, who recently wrapped up soccer, will now gear up for his last year of high school varsity basketball. The 15 year old is in the playoffs for football and will transition right into varsity basketball with his brother. The 12 year old is getting ready for his first year of middle school basketball. I think it goes without saying; I will live off popcorn and bottle waters, reek of sweaty gymnasiums and suffer from a severe case of bleacher butt from the end of November until February/March. Yep, it’s ridiculous. Go ahead and say it. I understand your concerns, your opinions, and the chatter of overscheduling.

It won’t be unusual for me to be tuned into college basketball on my phone while running between middle and high school games. If I don’t speak to you, don’t take it personally. I may not even know my name that day. If I look frazzled, it’s because I am. Didn’t you hear? Frazzled is the new glam. If my hair is gray, it’s best not to bring it to my attention. More than likely, I haven’t had time to color it, nor the money, because I was too busy robbing my car cup holders for loose change to get into games because I didn’t have time to go by the ATM.  If you see me in the same shirt two games in a row, just roll with it. I can be superstitious, finding the need to wear the green jacket that brought us luck during the game two days prior. If I look tired, I am. Everydamnday.

You read this and judge me in my choices and that’s ok. I will take time off for myself; sanity breaks if you will. The problem is I hate to miss. Witnessing my kids enjoy doing something so much is priceless to me. This is a window of opportunity that I want to experience and enjoy, because soon it will close. This crazy time, this crazy life of mine is not forever. One by one, the sports seasons will end. One day I will look back with a fondness and miss the chaos. As difficult as it may be for me to see that now when things are at their craziest, I know for certain, I am going to miss these days. So for now, I savor them. I will revel in my frazzled forgetfulness all the while suffering from near heart failure. I will yell and cheer with the intention of supporting my kids, enjoying the double bonus of embarrassing them. I will be okay in my mom sportswear and not dressed to the nines. Do you know how hard it is to climb bleachers in heels? I will spread myself as thin as I possibly can, because that’s what I choose to do. So yeah, it’s a life of sports chaos and I’m living it to the fullest right now.

I type this just one day after watching my 18 year old’s high school soccer team lose in their state semifinals. As the time began to close in on them and defeat was on the horizon, I watched him collapse into a sitting position on the field once 0:00 lit the board. A knot developed in my stomach for him and his teammates who were visibly devastated over the tough loss. I thought to myself, “If my kid is crying, I’m going to cry with him!” But something happened that surprised me. He sat there silent for a minute watching as the other team celebrated on the field beside him. He then stood up and walked over to his teammates who were in tears. He patted them on the back, he hugged them, he shook their hands. Even after the game, he took his role as a captain to heart and offered encouragement and support when it certainly would have been okay for him to be upset alongside them. In that moment, I could not have been more proud of him. Minutes after the game ended, as he approached me waiting by the fence, he greeted me with a hug and a smile. Sure a win would’ve been great, but this was greater.

And, THAT, my friends, makes it all worth it.


The Sports Mom

Friday, October 9, 2015

Be THAT Person

As I was exiting the interstate on my lunch hour the other day, there was a gentleman standing on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign. The sign stated he was homeless and in search of food. More times than not, I am the person that gets in the other lane to avoid him walking past my window. I am the person who doesn't make eye contact. I am the person who pretends to be on the phone. This particular day, I saw him from a distance and purposely switched to his lane. As I approached him, the stoplight turned red. I opened my window and called him over and handed him 4 dollars. It's all I had in my wallet. I looked him in the eyes as I handed him the dollar bills and he smiled graciously. During the time that it took for him to walk to my car, the light turned green and there was a row of cars behind me. On this particular day, I was THAT person. I was the person who held you up an extra 12 seconds. I was the person who made you angry. I was the person who made you lay on your horn.

But maybe, just maybe I was also the person who planted a small seed, so that next time you find yourself stopped at that intersection (or another one), you reach out and give someone in need a hand full of change or a couple dollars for a smile in return. We could question whether he is really homeless. I guess I'll never know, nor do I care. He was geniunely gracious. Isn't that all that matters anyway?

I am grateful that, at some point (as irritated as I probably was at the time), someone planted the seed for me to be THAT person.

Now I challenge you! Go be THAT person.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The House with the Red Door

Mothers Day 2010
Today I sit at my desk waiting with baited breath over some news; hoping, praying for a chapter in this book of grief to close. After months of trials and tribulations to sell my moms house, it closes today.

"Praise the Lord!" and "Oh My lord!" all at once.

My 15 year old and I went by the house last week to drop off the keys. The house still smells like her. He asked if we could walk around one last time and so we did. I made my way to back to her bathroom, he stood in the bedroom, our eyes met, both full of tears, still in disbelief that she is gone. Her birthday approaches and she isn't here. Then Thanksgiving. She's gone. And then Christmas. No Nana. I feel like the air has been deflated from my lungs. I find that the roller coaster of emotions makes me motion sick - sadness, anger, disbelief, immense grief, more anger. I don't know which way is up. The natural cycle of grief controls my emotions of the day and, while I can push much of it away, it has it's way of creeping back and punching me right in the gut when I least expect it. My head and heart are in constant battle as my head says "it's just a building with walls and a roof". My heart says "It was her home".

Mothers Day 2015
Today, I will rejoice when I hear the words that the closing is complete. And then I will sob; happy that we can close a very stressful chapter, devastated that the chapter even exists.
But that's life.

Until we meet again, Mom.