Do you feel like the apocalypse is just around the corner? I sometimes do. I am an optimist at heart and never really liked dwelling on the negative for too long. But, geez, it just feels like we are stuck in this dark period for awhile, with big heavy clouds hovering above us that simply would not go away. From the Vegas massacre and Puerto Rico’s hurricane devastation to taking the knee during the national anthem, our world is burdened with many vexing issues that can make us all feel sad, confused and angry.
Naturally with all these developments, our children, especially younger teens and below, absorb what is going on and internalize family discussions heard at home. They then become our little ambassadors to the world representing the views held by us, their parents. The only problem is that we live in such divisive times where no one can seem to agree on many things. Debates, at least at my older daughter’s middle school, often leads to an “us versus them” mentality, which causes rifts even among the closest of friends.
I am not sure exactly how much I should interfere in my girls’ lunchtime discussions. But there are a few things I do try to tell them. First, I encourage them to hear the other person out and not to get too emotional about the issue. After all, no one likes to feel like they are getting attacked for their personal views. Second, I urge them to seek out people not like them so they will get exposure to others’ viewpoints and thinking. Third, I try to steer them to the causes of the underdog, the vulnerable, those who may not have the voice to defend themselves.
Again, with the polarization of America, it is hard not to offend others these days. I do hope that the foundation we have given our girls to accept others and embrace diversity will have a lasting influence on them as they venture further in life. I hope that they will also always remember that a little kindness and empathy go a long way. What about you guys? How are you handling these difficult times with your children?
It’s only been three weeks since the girls started school and yet I am already beginning to feel a bit lethargic and stressed out from our usual routine. The constant driving to and from activities, the numerous school forms, the different deadlines are enough to make any parent seek those dog days in July when the kids were driving us bonkers from restlessness and boredom. It is easy to feel frazzled and stressed out but we must keep in mind how easy our inner moods and disposition can permeate and affect our kids’ attitudes toward schooling and activities. Our kids are smart and sensitive and they can easily detect when we support or hate certain things that they are doing. So how do we cope with the drudgery often associated with parenting and avoid burn-out? Here are a few ideas:
- Think of the end goal – Remember why you are taking your child to different activities. Is it to help him get more comfortable with Math? Is it to work on his soccer skills? Don’t resent him or the activity because of the time commitment, just focus on why you are doing what you are doing and help your child get there.
- Days are long, the years are short – Another mom said this to me when the girls were little. I had a hard time agreeing to this expression then when I was constantly sleep deprived and pretty much in zombieland 24/7. However, now that the girls are grown and high school is not a distant reality for us, I realize how precious the remaining time I have with them. The girls will be gone one day and this juggling act will be nothing but a distant memory. Just remember to make everyday count!
- Three things – I recently heard this meditation strategy at my older daughter’s school. At the beginning of each day, think of three things that you are grateful for. Then at the end of the day, think of three acts of kindness that you might have done toward someone. Reflecting this way grounds us and helps us remember what is good in our lives and forces us to think in selfless terms.
- Have fun with your kids – Make sure that you have fun quality time with your kids. When you are in the car with them, listen to the music they like. Unplug and tell them not to use their cell phones. Kids are usually more relaxed in the car when they do not have to look directly at us. Start by asking small questions about their day but let them take the lead; they are likely to clam up if you pry them to open up beyond their comfort level. And make sure that you give them undivided attention when they do finally open up.
- Take time for yourself – Regardless of whatever utopian or benevolent approach we take in parenting, we all need to have time away from our roles as parents, providers and caregivers. Make sure to do something just for you on a weekly basis. What were your passions before kids? Do you have new interests you would like to pursue? Remember to always stoke the fires of creativity and individuality that make you vital and happy.
Hope some of the ideas above help. Let me know what your strategies are to cope with parenting juggling act. I would love to hear them!
I always enjoy the first September weekend edition of the New York Times when its Art section dedicates a whole supplement to upcoming museum exhibits and shows. There are endless possibilities of things to check out that I often wish I have an infinite amount of time to go museum hopping and do nothing else. One day, I will have the luxury of time when the girls are grown but for now I’ve limited my list of must-see fall exhibits to six venues that I’d like to share with you.
- Met Museum: Retrospective on David Hockney – An amazing exhibit that has traveled from the Tate in London and Centre de Pompidou in Paris is now here stateside. I saw this exhibit in August in Paris and was blown out of my mind with the expanse and breadth of Hockney’s work. Hockney simply does not stop creating and innovating even in his advanced age of of 87. On view from 11/27-2/25.
- MOMA: Louise Bourgeois’s Unfolding Portrait – Famous for her sculptures, this exhibit highlights Bourgeois’ talent in drawing as hundred of her prints will be on view for the first time at the museum. On view from 9/24-1/28.
- Montclair Art Museum: Charles Burchfield’s Weather Event and Philemona Williamson’s Metaphorical Narratives – Okay, I have to admit I’m a docent at the museum so I am a little biased here. I do love the fact that the museum follows last year’s very successful Matisse exhibit with Burchfield, an artist fairly unknown to us today but was highly popular during his time and was the first solo artist ever featured at MOMA. Last year’s Janet Taylor Pickett exhibit has been replaced by Williamson’s works, also highly vibrant and colorful but mostly focuses on adolescent subjects in large canvases. On view from 9/15 – 1/7.
- Jewish Museum: Modigliani Unmasked – Never been shown in the US, 150 early drawings of Modigliani will be shown in this exhibit. On view from 9/15 2/4.
- Noguchi Museum: Gonzalo Fonseca – A showcase of the Uruguayan scupltor’s small buildings made out of stone. His creations are interesting blend of whimsicality and creativity, all in one. On view from 10/25 -2/12.
- International Center of Photography, Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth – In her first retrospective, Greenfield showcases 25 years of her work in documenting the eccentricities and whims of the uber rich. On view from from 9/20 – 1/7.
Images via (1), (2), (3)
Just want to mention that I was recently asked by the self development secrets.com to recommend a self-help book that has helped me the most in life. You can read the write-up here, where you will also find books that got mentioned the most by other bloggers. And while your on the site, enjoy other previously published posts on how to lead the life you deserve to live, happily and purposefully.
Images via (1) and (2)
And just like that, summer 2017 is over. Every summer feels more poignant now that the girls are older. These days, it seems that I’m always counting how many more years I’ve got with them before they leave the coop. This way of thinking may be a bit harsh and melodramatic but it’s my way of of facing the sad truth — that the remaining time I have with my daughters is brief and I should make the most of now.
The girls started school this week, both of them at the end of a milestone — grade school and middle school. But before we headed back to the rhythm of things and harsh realities, we spent Labor Day weekend in Mystic, Connecticut. To those of you who are familiar with Mystic, the photos here will be familiar with scenes of ships, boats and Mystic Aquarium.
Hope you’re having a great week!
An old Viking ship
Place of worship
Charles Morgan, a true whaling ship that sailed from 1841-1921. Actually got to go inside this vessel!