Category Archives: Parenting

It’s Finally Your Turn

Everyone has their own story of heartache, fear and disappointment as a result of this pandemic. While some are not as devastating as losing a loved one or being left alone in overcrowded hospitals fighting to maintain their last breath, they are still challenging nonetheless.

Covid-19 stole a year of my daughter’s college experience. She came home the first week in March from her Freshman Spring Break to unknowingly never return to college until…. TODAY. Jolie’s story is not so different than the millions of other students who missed out on the countless milestones; the in-person graduations, proms, study abroad programs, ACT’s/SAT’s, getting a driver’s license and the list goes on.

Prior to Covid, I was a happily divorced full-time working mom. My twin daughters were adjusting well at their preferred colleges while I was learning to live on my own for the first time in 18 years. I never imagined their Spring Breaks would’ve turned into 6 months of serious togetherness. I was an empty nester for a hot second. It took weeks to adjust to this new normal. I was an early riser while they were up late nights FaceTiming friends. Our schedules looked very different until.. quarantine, when I was furloughed from work and home 24/7. It felt like someone hit the pause button on our lives. We had nothing else to do but slow down and be with each other.

A few weeks into quarantine, it felt like I was given a gift…. that gift was time. Time during the day to do all the things I dreamt about doing but was at the office. Time to relax, reflect, exercise and reconnect with friends from all walks of life! Time to play catch up with my daughters. I was making up for lost time during their high school days. While it worked wonders for my health and overall well-being, it didn’t for Jolie. Being stuck inside and having to finish Freshman year online, took a toll on her mental health. She got very anxious and depressed. Every time Jolie expressed herself, I tried to help by suggesting she follow my zen lifestyle which only upset her more.

When Fall Semester rolled around, she watched her twin sister and home friends return to college while she had to stay home. Besides doing her schoolwork or when she babysat, I found her in bed, sleeping or scrolling through TikToks. If you ask me, it was some heavy stuff to handle for a 19 year old.

Even though Jolie had a challenging year, she didn’t give up. She learned the importance of being self-aware, vulnerable and knowing when to ask for help! She found effective coping skills that work for her in order to ride through the disappointments, panic and dark moments. To say I am proud to be her mom is an understatement. She taught me how to let go of the need to “fix things” and hold space for her to share her thoughts and emotions buried underneath the rubble. Jolie’s situation was unfair and she didn’t need to hear how it could’ve been worse because of Covid.

As I watched Jolie leave this morning for her Spring Semester at college, I was filled with mixed emotions. Thrilled for her to return to school and be with friends once again. Excited for her to pick up where she left off last Spring and have some freaking fun because she deserves it (of course, being safe, wearing masks and social distancing 🙃). But also sad because I’m saying goodbye to my roommate, daughter and best friend. This goodbye seems harder than the original one! 💗

Let Go and Let Grow: Summer Camp Lets Kids (and Parents) Thrive

For seven weeks each summer, I’m always left wondering who am I when I’m not being a mom. For the past five years, my twin daughters have attended sleepaway camp, leaving me and my husband with a lot of spare time. Every parent’s dream or nightmare? By now, I should be used to the separation and behave like a seasoned parent, providing pointers for the newbie mothers and advocate my children’s independence, but I find letting go of control is a lot easier said than done.

When it’s time to say goodbye on drop off day, and I’m waiting for my last hug and kiss, I’m the one tightening my hold more than my thirteen-year old daughters. So why do I behave as if I’m being sentenced to forty-nine days of solitary confinement? 

It’s not like I haven’t silently prayed for some space in our household and alone time with my husband to ‘rekindle’ our marriage. However, I find myself at the computer each day looking at the camp’s website to glimpse photos of our daughters having the time of their lives. I’ll sit for as long as it takes to get through all 400 pictures, incessantly clicking the refresh button.

It doesn’t take a therapist to tell me this is not a healthy behavior. In these moments, I’ve nicknamed myself, “Black Hawk,” and I’m horrified that I am acting like a helicopter parent. This is not good.

Let go, I gently tell myself. The girls are fine. They’re safe, learning and growing. As former campers, my husband and I can attest to the multitude of benefits after having lived on our own for a few weeks each summer. Now it’s our kids’ turn to share this same experience and return with confidence and a better sense of self. When the majority of their year is spent under watchful eyes, our kids need some freedom. 

Social media has played into my “homesickness.” I’m not sure I really need to see all those photos on a daily basis. Seriously, who does? When I went to camp, all my parents got were the occasional mailed letters and a few random phone calls. They sent a trunk full of clothes and never saw what we wore other than the first and last day of camp. The Internet didn’t exist and neither did camp photos. Parents didn’t constantly call camps to check in on their kids, at least not without the repercussion that you could end up being called a ‘mama’s boy’ or ‘baby’ and ostracized as a result.  When I went to camp, my parents celebrated their freedom while my sister and I explored ours. I have to remind myself of the ultimate benefit of sending my kids to overnight camp—to help them differentiate. It’s a huge step in their psychological development when they’re learning about self-perceptions and who they are in the world—without their parents.  

So why is it so hard? I’m not sure I know the reason, but I understand why it’s so hard for so many of us to let go and let our children grow. We discover quickly that our kids don’t need us 24/7. That can be disconcerting to a lot of people who need to feel wanted. But in the end, what message are we sending our kids when we don’t give them the space or trust to develop on their own without us intervening or knowing every detail?  The real issue is that too many of us, myself included, have had to redefine our identities when are kids are not at home—be it camp, college or anywhere else. 

As my girls mature into teenagers, our family dynamics are shifting, and I know it’s more important to support and nurture them from afar when they are at sleepaway camp.  I have to trust that I gave my children the autonomy to flourish in the world. Sending them to summer camp gives me a place to start practicing letting go and experiencing a healthy separation. What kind of person am I if I disrespect my children’s independence? I don’t own their lives, their bodies, their emotions or their spirits. I know they are not meant to cling to me forever. If I constantly interfere and problem solve, how will my girls develop the skills to handle their own affairs?  

My generation (X) has defined itself by the things we provide for our children and the influx of “open communication” but too often that morphs into over protectiveness. The moment we give birth, we’re thrown into the deep end of the unknown, doing our best to make the right decisions for their futures. Camp is as much about parental separation as it is for our children.

Once I stopped ‘refreshing’ the button to see camp photos and focused on refreshing myself, the process of letting them go became that much easier. 

For the first time in five years, my daughters could actually see the problem of overprotective parents and kids who couldn’t deal without them. 

“They are totally lost without their moms!” my daughter recently told me on visiting day, sharing her observations. I pulled her close and hugged her, this time letting go with a proud smile. Summer camp has given my kids, and me, self-awareness, independence and coping tools—skills that will help us grow into the mature, capable people we know we can be.  

Not My Buddy is Available Now!

Not My Buddy is Available Now!

Not My Buddy is a whodunit medical mystery and a love story between one woman and the dog who restores her spirit while she fights her way back to health.

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    We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    -E.M. Forster