Category Archives: Advice

How Do You Deal With Missing Your Kids?

(I still have to take my last final and finish my paper.)

This is a question that only applies to those of us who share kids with another parent we don't live with, but I bet everyone can help us out. Now seems to be the time of year when our kids are on vacation without us. (Mine are with their dad for three weeks. I'm 8 days in.)

In the past, I haven't even noticed they were gone for the first three days, because they're with their day three days a week anyway, so nothing felt different. Then in days 4-6 I started to feel weird. And then it got really hard because I just missed them so much. Calling and Skyping and texting and emailing only does so much.

I'm not quite as nuts this year, I think because I've been so busy and stressed about school, and now I'm in New York. And also because they can initiate contact better now, so it's not just me reaching out to them.

But I'm wondering how others of you deal with not having your kids for longer than usual.

(And I'm thinking about what it's going to be like when they leave my house for good. Help. Seriously.)

I think of myself as a decently busy person. So it's not like I'm just sitting around wishing they were with me. But it just feels like something's missing without them.

Thoughts? Commiseration? Shut up and deal? Thoughts from the other side?

 

My Q, your A: Quitting while you’re ahead?

If you want to see what was in the mystery boxes in my garage, check out the pictures in this post.

In honor of the Olympics, Shannon and I have decided to have tea every day for the duration of the games. Join us, please. We'll be doing it at 4 Eastern/3 Central but you can do it whenever makes sense for you. I think Shannon is actually doing tea and scones, but I'll be doing coffee and celery-with-peanut-butter.

I am insane for the Olympics, and have had all the qualifying round soccer games on whenever they show them on NBC Sports. How about the US women, eh? I'm very sad that I'm missing the Opening Ceremony because I'll be in class tonight. (Not least of which because I'll be in class tonight. Sigh.)

So here's a dilemma: My kids finished their swim lessons for the summer this week (before leaving on a road trip with their dad) and both did well and advanced to the next level. My 10-year-old, in particular, is getting very good–he knows all four strokes, dives well, is increasing his stamina and refining his technique. His teacher said he'd do well on the swim team. But he doesn't want to keep swimming.

I'm kind of baffled by this. I COMPLETELY understand not doing things you're NOT good at, and that's been the struggle of my whole life. I think running may be the first thing I ever stuck with that I sucked at, and I am so, so glad I did.

But being good at something and not keeping going with it kind of stumps me. Especially when it's a sport, and he knows he has to be involved in some kind of sport (his dad and I think it's important), so why not go with one you're good at?

Has anyone been through this? When I was in high school I was a pretty serious singer, but made the decision to go to a liberal arts college instead of pursing singing. But I'm not sure it's the same thing, since I didn't stop singing, I just didn't pursue it professionally.

Have you flat-out quit something you were good at? Has your child? If you did something well and continuedd doing it even when you didn't want to, did you eventually enjoy it?

 

Janet Evans on doing what’s in your soul

Am I the only person getting completely pumped for the Olympics? I have always been more of a Winter Olympics fan, but since I've become a runner and have started swimming I'm getting excited about the Summer Olympics, too.

I was watching the US team time trials a few weeks ago, and was amazed to see that Janet Evans, who is 40 years old and a mother of two little kids, was there competing for the first time in 16 years. She swam really well, even against swimmers less than half her age. She did not earn a spot on the team, but the fact that she showed up and was good enough to be there was amazing to me. After one of the trials, they interviewed her, and this is what she said about it (transcription mine):

"I think swimming was always in my soul, and it was who I was, and I got to a point in my life where my kids were good, and were sleeping through the night, and I thought "I want to swim again!" I don't want to swim to make the Olympic team; I want to swim to see what I can do to be a mom and a wife but also to have a little something for myself at the end of the day, and this is in my soul and what I love, so here I am!"

I'm taking two important (IMPORTANT) things out of that:

1. You are still you, always you, even when you're a parent and your kids are in the front of your mind. And it's ok and wonderful that whatever those things in your soul are–swimming, graphic design, music, actuarial services, etc.–are calling to you even when you can't make time for them, because eventually your kids will need you less and the things you love will be able to be a bigger part of the daily mix of your life than they are when your children are little. And even if you're older than anyone else doing those things, you can still hang, if you love it and work hard at it.

2. Everything is easier once your kids sleep through the night.

Stories, please. What is it you don't have the energy for because you're still in the weeds with little children? And those of you with older children, what have you gone back to once you came out of the long tunnel of babyhood?

 

Q&A: Changing adult friendships

B writes:

"I have a friend who I met about 12 years ago. At the time, we had much in common – both sang in a local group, both single and starting out in our careers. Fast forward to today. I've been married, and divorced and am raising a boy. I've recently altered the direction of my career and I'm thinking about dating (finally) again. She remains single and has had some ups and downs in her career. She desperately wants to get married and have kids.

I don't have a lot of available time to simply hang out. The time that I do have (when my son is with his father) I divide between errands and alone time and other girlfriendships that, frankly, satisfy me more. I have tried putting a little distance between us, but if I don't answer her texts quickly enough she responds with something like "I guess I'm not important to you" which just pisses me off.

Is this typical of adult women friendships?"

I don't think it's typical, per se, but I do think it happens.

I think it especially happens when you're in different places, and I don't mean situations. You can be in radically different situations (I bet you have other single friends without kids, for example), but still be in the same emotional place, or at least able to identify with that place. It sounds like you're in a place of gratitude and exploration, and she's in a place of scarcity.

(I'd also argue that you didn't really have that much in common in the first place. One activity and a few demographics. It was pretty much, "You like peanut butter, too? *I* like peanut butter!" But when you're young that can seem like enough. See: Story of my first marriage. But that doesn't make for the kind of bonding that can weather a lot of stresses on the friendship.)

When people are happy with themselves and the direction they're going, it's easier to let go of friendships that may have served them at some earlier period and understand that things have changed. Ironically, though, it's also easier to maintain friendships with people you don't have much in common with anymore if both of you are happy with yourselves.

It sounds like you're happy with yourself, but she is not, and that's causing a huge disconnect. And you're willing to move on to relationships that nurture you and let this one go. So I guess the question is whether you want to talk about it with her and get things out in the open, or just hope she gets the message and moves on herself.

Readers? How would you deal or have you dealt with changes like this?