Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the tag “ideas”

Reality as a Geezer

There is no doubt I have lamented the aging process.  Having small children reminds me of how much energy I don’t have anymore.  And being a teacher of early high school students reminds me of how uncool I am.  These kids don’t even use the word “cool” anymore.

I am much nearer to 40 than I am to 20 (and to 30, for that matter).  I had never pictured myself at this age.  It’s kinda weird.

But, here are some realities I have come to understand about the aging process:

  • My body is older than my mind.  When I see a long hallway, I still want to do cartwheels all the way down.  I don’t, however, because I’d have to stretch for a half an hour beforehand and then take a bottle of Advil afterward.
  • My concept of time has shifted dramatically.  The concept of “a long time ago” has changed quite a bit.  I remember when Friends first came on the air.  It doesn’t seem that long ago.  It was 20 years ago, though.
  • My concept of “young” has shifted, too.  I once cried when I turned 24 because I felt so OLD.  Now, I work with people who have advanced degrees but are not old enough to remember the Challenger explosion.
  • I feel less grossed-out by plastic surgery.  I once wondered why people didn’t just “grow old gracefully.”  Now, I sit in front of a mirror and pull my face up manually and sigh as I wonder what it would cost for a nip and a tuck.
  • I actually care what I eat.  In high school, I came home almost every day and ate an entire family-sized back of potato chips (or an equivalently-sized snack of another type).  I wore a size 6 that my mother tailored smaller through the hips for me.  Now, I still love my potato chips, but each crunch comes with a side order of guilt, self-loathing and fourteen more pounds on the bathroom scale.
  • Nobody likes my music.  Two decades ago it wouldn’t have been hard to find someone who liked The Pixies, LL Cool J, Blondie, Nine Inch Nails, and who knew how to do “The Hustle” and understood that you were never supposed to “trust a big butt and a smile.”  Nowadays, we’re harder to locate.  Some of us came to enjoy modern music.  Some are stuck with the soundtrack to “Frozen” on repeat.  Some people switched over to “Adult Contemporary.”  Yeesh.
  • I’m okay (for now) with my glowing pale legs.  This time of year in my twenties, I was running to a tanning salon on rainy days and spending every damn minute outside to alter the color of my skin when it was sunny.  Nowadays, I don’t really have the time or the patience.  So, I just revel for now in the idea that I am staying away from skin cancer and/or wrinkles for one more day.
  • I don’t feel old.  This one is weird.  I don’t know what old is supposed to feel like.  I mean, I feel weaker and slower and fatter and more tired.  But, those things don’t alone signify an elderly status.  Are my knees supposed to ache when it rains?  Am I supposed to forget what day of the week it is?  Am I supposed to wear white button-down sweaters on 80 degree days?  I am not sure if I am doing this right.
  • I still feel like I am in high school — emotionally.  When all the stay-at-home moms gather to pick up their kids in their Lululemon or their Hunter rain boots and their big diamond earrings — and completely ignore the existence of those outside of their social circle, I remember feeling like this before:  for four straight years.

I still want to learn how to surf and speak a foreign language and read more books and run a 5k (no — actually RUN it this time — like, the whole time) and get a PhD. and a six-pack and a nose-piercing.

And I wonder if I will do any of those things.  Or even if I should

Be different!

It was brought to my attention by someone who is sexy and honest and noble and amazing (love you, sweetie!) that my last post about gifted kids seemed braggy.

So, I thought that perhaps I ought to follow up.

In a recent post, I pondered (not in the recesses of my private mind like a normal person would, but on the frickin’ World Wide Web) about how to nurture and encourage a capable and fabulous child.

For clarity’s sake, I will reiterate that my kids are absolutely phenomenal.  Best.  Kids.  Ever.  Got nothin’ but love for ya.

But, they are not perfect.  None of us is.  I’m certainly not.  You’re sure as hell not.

And, while I would brag about and embarrass the hell out of my kids if given the chance, that was actually not my point at all.

Each mother, father, guardian and caregiver has a gifted child in his or her life.  But, kids are all very differently gifted.  My question was just how to handle these differences.

I have worked with Special Needs kids, for example.  Just today, a young man who struggles socially and has been identified by a psychologist as having Asperger’s Syndrome, completely rebuilt my class website from the ground-up.  He restructured the code and redesigned my HTML settings to make it more user-friendly for me (a clear idiot who is lucky she can use the WordPress Dashboard).  I have a family member with Down’s Syndrome who can tell you (100% correctly) ever statistic and fact you could ever think to ask about his favorite NFL team.  A few years back I worked with a young lady whose learning differences were sadly never identified, but who clearly struggled academically due to some barriers.  She was the kindest young woman I had worked with, really, and she had a sense of justice and a clear understanding of right and wrong that is not often seen in 15-year olds.

We each have a gifted child.  Most are multi-gifted, even.  But those gifts vary from art to sports to languages to math to computers to mechanics to imagination to manners to leadership and beyond.

My pondering is related to how we as parents both harness the talents each of our kids have, and allow them to grow up to be well-rounded and well-adjusted.  The answer doesn’t seem to be simple.

I know, however, that we’re all certain that we don’t want to fuck this up.

And, we’re probably just as certain that somehow, despite anything we do, we kinda will anyway.

Some therapist will blame us for something someday.

Nevertheless, I’d like to remember (at least just for myself) that differences are good.  Great.  Fantastic, even.  They are to be celebrated.  I just haven’t figured out how, exactly.

Until I do, I would like to celebrate here a few people who have dared to be different and have brazenly flaunted their pride in their differences.

Have a great day…

And, feel free to add your own additions to the list in the comments section!

–Praised now for his innovation and groundbreaking theories, Albert Einstein was misunderstood and disliked in his time for some of his socialist political views and sorta-atheist religious thoughts.  He never attempted to run with the crowd, however.  As a result, he became one of the most revered scientific minds on the planet.

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–Everybody is “green” nowadays, but decades ago, a brave soul named Rachel Carson unearthed new ideas about preservation, conservation and environmental science.  It wouldn’t become chic to wear hemp clothes, go off the grid, reduce a carbon footprint and install solar panels on your house until years and years afterward, but her work and writing about the environment changed everything for the indistry.\

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–She’s not all boobs and lips, people.  While she gained most of her fame because of her looks, Pamela Anderson made it a lifelong goal to end abuse and unethical treatment of animals.  Long before it was cool to “eat local,”  be vegan, quit wearing fur and look down your nose at celebrity dog-fighters, she became a very public spokesperson for PETA and helped bring knowledge about the organization’s mission to the masses.

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–Best known perhaps for his role in helping to abolish slavery in the US, Abraham Lincoln chose to go against the grain in one of the most public and dangerous ways possible.  But, he did, indeed, stand up against the “normal” American life of his time and ended up  changing the course of human history as a result.

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–It might sound like a cliche now.  And, putting her on a list with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln may seem to be a bit…much.  But, Lada Gaga has, indeed, inspired a generation of followers and wannabes to get okay with themselves and embrace their uniqueness.

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–Centuries ago, Galileo risked his reputation and his life to ignore “norms” and reject popular view to pave the way for the changes in math and science that made the world what it is today.

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–The great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. created a new America.  He helped to pave the way for change, boldly standing up against the status quo.

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–Aasma Mahfouz helped launch a new view the world would have of Egypt. And, she helped fuel a revolution.

Aasma Mahfouz helped launch a new view the world would have of Egypt.  And, she help fuel a revolution.

— Come, on…You know the movement for a better understanding of Autism in America benefited from Jenny McCarthy’s publicity.

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