Every family has a structure of ‘power’ so to speak. It’s a dance between allowing everyone to have their say and getting individual needs met. Let’s say you are on a 15 hour road trip one way (true story), and it comes time to decide where and when you might make a pit stop. Each member of the family is allowed input and then a family vote is taken.
Voting System Breakdown
(should be noted this is Mad Dog’s creation):
As an adult and as a child over the age of twelve, myself and Full Speed are afforded one vote respectively.
Full Speed = 1
Mom = 1
Got it so far? It seems straightforward but gets infinitely more complex as the process continues.
T.Puzzle gets a half vote since he is under twelve. However, if he agrees with Mad Dog he gets a full vote.
T.Puzzle = 1/2 vote, bumps to 1 vote when he aligns with Mad Dog.
Mad Dog gets three votes.
Mad Dog = 3 votes
Yes, you read that right… three votes!
In the rare event that T.Puzzle’s half vote slips under the radar and a tie ensues, Mad Dog automatically becomes the tiebreaker.
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
It’s hard to believe, but another year is drawing to a close. To date, this has been a year of tremendous change as Full Speed became a teenager (!) and T.Puzzle jumped more solidly into the double-digit realm. It’s not the age-number per say, 13 and 11 respectively, but the growth and maturation I’ve seen from them. It’s been a lot to process as I am seeing more clearly the young men they are becoming.
T.Puzzle continues to surprise us. He developed a love of distance running. How Mad Dog and I produced a distance runner is still a bit mystifying, but it is awesome that T.Puzzle is finding his own interests and pursuits. LEGO construction and playing video games remain firmly at the top of his list, but nice to know that he likes to get up and go sometimes, too.
Full Speed became a middle-schooler this year (it starts in seventh grade in our region) and he has adjusted beautifully. He shows leadership to his classmates willingly coaching them through Algebra assignments, and has a zest for presentations in class. A recent assignment in Civics had him debating school politics and he was in his zone. Leadership qualities and a passionate debater, hmmm…does that sound like anyone we might know? He also learned that not every dream is realized as he tried out for his school’s soccer team and didn’t make the cut. My favorite part about this life lesson was his genuine happiness for a long-time friend and classmate who did make the team this year. It’s not to say Full Speed’s given up on soccer forever, but oh my, isn’t there a wonderful world of possibilities out there waiting for him?
One of the very best parts of 2017 was the addition of our newest family member, Miss Lady. She is by no means a perfect dog, but she absolutely has been the perfect dog for our family. She keeps things lively here which I’m not so sure our senior resident (Little Guy) appreciates.
If you ever need to feel like you are the most amazing being alive, come on over and hang out at our house for a while, Miss Lady will not disappoint with her enthusiastic snuggles and love for you.
Mad Dog continues to travel all over America and then some as the scope of the call centers he oversees grows and grows. As hard as it is to be away from him sometimes, I see how fulfilling his position is and know it is keeping him challenged and inspired. That’s truly all I want for all three of my boys, to be challenged and inspired.
As for me, I’ve made a little more space in my life for the things I enjoy. I continue to walk our dogs every day, have started a daily yoga routine and write as much as possible.
Life is short so whatever brings us joy is absolutely what we should pursue. It’s as simple as that.
Hope you had beauty-filled 2017 and that the lessons that lie ahead for all of us keep us growing in the direction of love.
There’s something about a margarita that makes an ordinary weekend feel like a vacation. As the thick air enveloped the patio of my favorite Mexican restaurant, I savored the tang of salt that lined my delicious cocktail. I was hanging with my three favorite guys and munching on chips and salsa…life was good.
Mad Dog raised his glass to meet mine. He looked to our boys and asked, “What should we toast to your Mom?”
T.Puzzle jumped right in, “Make a toast to the greatest human alive….me.”
Mad Dog said, “This is supposed to be about your Mom, not you.”
T.Puzzle replied, “Well, I guess we can pretend you are the greatest human alive if that would make you feel good, Mom.”
More tequila please.
No matter, I laughed out loud. This was even before the margarita had worked its way into my system.
The meal and conversation progressed beautifully. I ate all the things I don’t normally allow myself to and it was divine. I asked Mad Dog his thoughts on his spicy jalapeño drink and he said it was good. It had been garnished with a pepper that had remained free and clear of the drink itself. This is when Full Speed boldly declared that he would give eating the garnish a shot.
We warned him but also applauded his bravery.
Things quickly went south.
His face drained of all color. He was losing control ever so slightly. It started out slow and then reached max capacity.
I did the only natural thing a mother would do after imbibing on a way-too-strong drink.
I had the worst (best?) giggle fit of my life. The more Full Speed looked like he might expire lent to another torrent of giggles.
At that moment I knew I really was the greatest human alive, but maybe not the greatest mom alive.
I went through my first year of posts to edit the boys’ names. I originally referred to them as Frick and Frack. These were the nicknames my mom gave them when they were very little. You could see how this could become confusing to a reader so I went back through and updated their names to Full Speed and T.Puzzle. There are a lot of posts in that first year that made me laugh out loud and made my heart swell with love. There are touching posts, posts about the loss of my mother and posts about how Mad Dog is always right (not really!) and as a married couple we never fight (no comment!). There are some posts I read through where I cringed and broke out in a cold sweat. It was like I was right back in it. Reliving those vivid details of some of the epic power struggles I endured with my boys (especially T.Puzzle at the onset of his terrible threes) was not for the faint of heart. After reading these I fully understand why I never felt compelled to expand my brood. However, I am deeply grateful for the two that I have. One of the biggest takeaways in terms of my parenting abilities is NEVER ASK ME HOW TO POTTY TRAIN! I failed repeatedly and miserably not once but twice. There was a point in time that I wondered if I should buy stock in Pull-Ups as I was fairly certain my boys would be wearing them FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES! Again, I could not do that again. Two is my absolute limit. I heard the Pull-Ups people were really bummed to hear that.
There were some stand-out posts and there were some where I was clearly phoning it in. However, there was one in particular that floored me. It is the one I wrote on the year anniversary of Writes for All Mommies’ inception date. Here is my favorite passage from it:
I think the biggest change for me has been coming to terms with motherhood. I think sometimes when we are unhappy with who we are, we blame our choices and our circumstances. I will admit, especially in the newborn years, I struggled with my all-consuming role as a mother. I thought that maybe if I had made some different choices, like continuing to work or if I was somehow parenting better, I would feel happier. Turns out, it wasn’t my boys or motherhood, it was me. It doesn’t matter what I accomplish outside of motherhood that determines my value, it is ultimately up to me to determine that. Whether I become a world-famous author or if all I manage is to raise two, well-adjusted boys, my value remains constant. I get that now.
From this I would like to take it one step further. What if I actually don’t have to do a thing to prove my value? What if our value is actually tied to who we are and not what we do? Is it possible my value was already locked down before I even decided to have kids or pour my heart out on my laptop keyboard?
I now know this is not only possible, it is absolute truth.
Some evenings the stars do not align and my boys have practices at different times. This is never a problem if Full Speed is the one waiting for his start time. All I have to do is bring a book for him and he is content to wait it out. T.Puzzle is more complicated. Sometimes he likes books and sometimes he hates them. Sometimes he’s chatty and sometimes he is belligerently bored. And, being that I am a stubborn sort myself, I don’t allow electronics during the week. Basically, I’m stuck with him for better or for worse. Recently, I’ve been able to embrace this time with him a little bit more. Working on word puzzles with him is a good bet and I find his self-centric worldview to be incredibly entertaining.
As we were sitting in my car waiting for his practice time I was overcome by a wave of love for him. You remember the kind maybe? It’s like that moment when you crept into your child’s room to gaze upon them when they were small and peacefully asleep. Watching the sweet rise and fall of their chest made you feel like your heart would burst right out of yours. That is the best feeling and one I felt I wanted to share.
“You are so cute!” I gushed.
T.Puzzle’s instant response with dimples blazing, “I know.”
This kid. He thinks he is the G.O.A.T. (the greatest of all time).
A few weeks back I got a call from his school informing me he had hit his head. All was well but recently he asked me about it. How did I know he didn’t have a concussion? I said that the school nurse had asked him a bunch of questions that he answered correctly and that indicated he was fine. What were the questions he wanted to know?
“Well, she asked you who your favorite person in the whole world was and you said ‘my mom’ and that’s how we knew you were okay.”
“I know your lying, Mom. That couldn’t be true. If the nurse did ask me that the answer wouldn’t be you, it would be me. I am my favorite person in the whole world.”