This Thursday July 2nd I will enter yet another decade of life as I turn 50. I am in awe that I am this “old” yet without feeling old.
I have actually enjoyed aging, as for me it seems as if life, like good wine, gets better with age.
My twenties were spent maturing and learning how to be comfortable in my own skin in an uncoupled state. I gained confidence in being bold enough to dine alone in a restaurant and took my first solo vacation.
My thirties and most of my forties were spent learning how balance full time work, marriage, and motherhood while trying not to lose myself in the process.
In the last few years of my 40’s, I desired a simplier life one in which I was kinder and gentler to my family while making my mental and physical health a priority .
Recently I have lost about 35 pounds and I am back to my old self where I can feel comfortable in my smaller, but still plus sized wardrobe. As my reward I recently went “crazy” and bought a pair of “ripped” jeans, way too hip and cool for a 50 year old. However, I did it anyway because aging has also taught me to stop worring about what others think.
I have always felt that the true me belonged on a farm, growing a garden, having animals, and in my “spare time” I would build furniture.
This was always spoken with jest because anyone who knew me, knew I didn’t like animals, I hated yardwork, and finally, I have never built anything in my life, and if I did it would probably come out wonky.
It has been in my 49th year where dreams have become a reality.
I moved from New Jersey to Utah thus fulfilling my belief that I would thrive in a more rural area, and it turned out to be true.
We now own 15 chickens and two ducks in our own coop. Our backyard neighbors have lamas, goats, mules, and more chickens. This feels very farm like to me.
I built garden boxes, and we planted our first garden ever.
And just last week I harvested broccoli, sugar snap peas, romaine lettuce, basil, parsley, lavender, and thyme.
I have been obsessed with the idea of building furniture since I was a teenager hooked on “This Old House” with Bob and Norm, the way teens today are obsessed with TikTok.
And a few weeks ago I paid homage to them when I built from scratch (no kits here) a picnic table and benches for our backyard.
I was very proud of the end product, everything was level and square. I think my father was channeling me from heaven, as I constantly heard the words he often uttered to me when I showed little patience and wanted to rush something, “Measure twice, and cut once”; “Measure twice, and cut once” It became a mantra every time I stood in front of that miter saw ready to drop the blade.
So as I head toward 50, I realize how blessed I am that I have had the opportunity to learn so many valuable lessons in each decade of my life.
I am blessed that for me, age has brought me the confidence and wisdom to know when to push myself forward and to know when to acknowledge my limits.
When I was in my 30’s, I thought people in their 50’s were half dead, now that I am turning 50, I now know that the best is yet to come.
So to all my friends who are seeing the Big 5 Oh this year, I hope life has taught you more than you anticipated and what is yet to come is better than you ever imagined.
I wanted to thank you for supporting the Parent Support Network blog. Since its inception in October 2019 there have been almost 10,000 views of my stories. I am humbled.
The Parent Support Network has undergone a transformation and in addition to the blog, the Parent Support Network is now a Parent Coaching Company. We have a fully operational website, new Logo, and a robust new Facebook page.
I am requesting that you take a moment to visit the new links below, and to please Like, Follow, and Share if you continue to like the content .
I truly have appreciated your support with my desire to share and help other families.
With much gratitude.
Cheryl Mignone, Certified Parent Coach and Founder
For the past two weeks I have been in a full blown sloth mode. My days of getting up naturally at 6am, hopping in the shower, and starting my list of tasks was abandoned. The other members of my family saw no need or urgency to accomplish anything within a time line, either for the day or week; and in reality, why should they have.
However, for me to not have a daily schedule or purpose results in me having zero motivation to do anything, and as a result everything started to look grey and dull. Definitely not the way I am used to seeing the world. My world is generally filled with joy and happiness and an occasional rainbow shooting out someones a**. My husband calls me a freakin’ Pollyanna, because I can see goodness in almost anything. I can be annoyingly optimistic.
My kid is struggling- “We will get through it”
My husband lost his job- “We will be okay”
Unemployment reviewing a claim- “It will all work out for the best”
Waiting for someone to respond to me- “I am sure there must be a valid reason”
That is until two weeks ago. After several months of this living with non-urgency crew (husband and two teens) I gave up my strongly maintained and structured schedule, and adopted the it will eventually get done attitude. This is great for a vacation, but not good for everyday life. I found my self lounging in my pajamas until noon watching the television or doing something inane like playing games on my ipad, or watching crazy people on TikTok.
I didn’t see any urgency in doing laundry, nor yard work, or anything else, as it would all get done eventually, right? Well, because of my new “attitude” the last two weeks have been the blahest of the last three months.
I need a schedule. I need a purpose. I need structure. I need to be doing something to push me forward. I now have a better understanding of how hard it is for our teens to have a sense of urgency about anything, when to them there is no immediate purpose. Why get up at 8am if there is no where to go or to be. The level of what appeared to be laziness, but I think was really apathy, eventually wore me down and I joined them.
Just this week I voiced to some friends that I have been the least productive person in the last two weeks, I felt like a slow moving no motivated sloth. Only after repeating it a few times did I realize that I had to snap out of it, and get myself back into a routine. While my family could live without urgency or a schedule, I just couldn’t.
So this week was a new start. Back to getting up early, making a To Do list and getting stuff done like the timeliness mattered. I realized, it does matter. It matters to me. I am not good being a slow moving sloth. So I have to say I feel like my old self again. I have purpose, even if that purpose is getting stuff done around the house, based upon my own personal timetable.
My mood is better, I feel human again and I feel like I have a purpose. I am back to being the me I like.
Being a parent is hard, I also know that being a teen today might be harder, and for that my empathy grows even stronger for them. We look into their eyes and sometimes our only wish is that we knew what they are thinking, or at least I do.
My son completed his final essay for English class last week. This was the one assignment that stood between him and summer vacation. Honestly, I just needed him to put something on the damn paper and submit it; I didn’t care how much of a piece of crap it was, as long as he did it. Online learning in a house of Adhd slow processors was not our friend, and we just wanted it to end.
He finished it and asked me to email it to his teacher and like all good mother’s I figured I would read it to gauge the load of crap he threw onto the paper. After I read it, my head dropped, through he words I was able to understand his experiences. I suspect every person will draw something different from his essay, for me it was understanding. With his permission, I have put the essay below. I encourage you to take 5 minutes read it if you want to understand what goes through the mind of a teenager with social anxiety, adhd, and a processing issue. It has taken almost two years but reading his essay and seeing his view point were priceless.
Quarantine Struggles to Quarantine Success
My life during quarantine has not changed a lot on the surface. But you can’t tell what is happening if you only look at the top of the water. Below, there are things happening, and in order to understand, you have to go deeper.
Life Before: challenges, emotions, frustration
Every day now feels like Groundhog Day, in both a good and bad way. Before Covid-19,I would wake up late and struggle to get myself together, and then I would sleepily shuffle to the bus stop. I would then purposely go to the back of the bus to have an entire row to myself to sleep. I got myself another 20 minutes of sleep on the bus before I arrived at Farmington. I would fight to stay awake in class, and often I would lose that fight.
I was pretty lonely at school and didn’t have many friends, but lunch was the highlight of my day because it was the one opportunity during the day that I felt slightly comfortable talking to people. Lunch was over and then spent the rest of the day messing around, trying not to do my work, and figure out ways that I could leave early. School for me made me feel like an outcast. I didn’t have friends, this was my first semester, and I was new to Utah, I felt like a black sheep. I never had time to make friends or to figure out who I was and what I was going to do. I didn’t know my role in this new community. I felt so overwhelmed I just shut down and ignored everyone. I felt like; if I could ignore it, it may go away. Most of my friends in other states continued to live their lives, and I was on the sidelines. I saw their social media and wished I was with them. I felt like I was missing out on their fun things, and I felt left out.
My mornings are still hard. They haven’t changed too much. They haven’t changed how I felt about school, but my mornings now look different. Now I sleep in until 10\12ish or until my mother screams up the stairs to my room,” Edwardddddd, get up” I am not so exhausted anymore, and I still don’t do anything productive, but my anxiety has gone down, and I have been told I am a different and happier person.
Life After: Peace, clarity, contentment
I have always felt a sense of missing out on things before COVID-19, but now most people are missing out on things, so I know I am not actually missing out on anything. Before COVID knew how to be by myself, but I didn’t like it because I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Now, I am still alone, but it feels different because I have been focusing on my animals. I have ducks, chickens, horses, goats, mules, and llamas in my backyard, and I have been focusing on them, and they make me feel good about myself. It is interesting to recognize that to them; nothing has changed. They don’t know about COVID; they don’t know about the changes in the world; they still just eat their grass, and walk around the same as always. Their stability has helped me. I still don’t have people to talk to, but I have animals to interact with, and their attitude helps me.
Since COVID-19, according to my family, I am a more enjoyable person to be around and interact with. There is very little hostility between me, my parents, and my brother. It seems counter-intuitive that all this time together would make us closer, it seems like many people are fighting more. But we have bonded, and we are more productive now. My relationship with my brother has improved. Since we are the only ones who can see each other, all of this time with him has made us closer brothers and friends. I feel happier, and there is less pressure on me, and it’s better for my mental health.
I have been able to focus on personal things; the school took up so much time before. The free time helps, it clears my mind and allows me to focus on me. One of my new favorite activities is to walk around the neighborhood. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had almost forgotten that this was a new home for me, and now I see things that I didn’t see before.
It is also nice to get more movement in. I had stopped moving and became inactive unless I was forced to. The forcing made it difficult to move and not fun. But now, when it is my choice, I enjoy it more. I have begun to skateboard more, and I really enjoy it. I am getting a little better, but that’s not what it is about. It provides me freedom, fun, and is easier than walking around. I have more time to talk to my friends. It is nice to connect and be involved with each other. No one is hanging out or doing anything, so I know I am not missing out as much, and I still get to connect with them.
I have taken a step back; it has helped me realize what I need to do to be successful in the future. I now know I need a support system, I need people to be with me, to help me, and to teach me. In the past, I thought I could do it myself; I didn’t think I needed help from anybody. I thought I could do it all on my own. In some ways, the losses from COVID-19 have made it clear that we all need to rely on others.
I know my life will be easier if I take the help that is offered. COVID-19 has been hard. It has challenged me, but I have realized that a little distance is actually a good thing. In the future, I will use it as a tool to better myself instead of insisting that it is something negative that I must avoid. I now know how to use my free time. I don’t have to waste it anymore by lying around. Interestingly, the abundance made me wiser, instead of wasting it with no direction. The relationship with my family has approved. The removal of stress has cleared us all up, and we are closer than ever. ### E.L.M
I am so very proud of the work we are able to do at PSN.
Cheryl has been there for me countless times as our family made the journey through residential treatment. As a parent from the same RTC she provided tireless support, offering words of wisdom on how to let go of our son, how to support our son, how to survive the separation from our son, and ultimately how to best transition him home. She’s been there and has truly embraced the parallel process. She has a warm heart and sees the good in struggling kids and their parents. She has turned her own family’s struggle into positive outreach for other families who unexpectedly find themselves on this scary and often disheartening path. Her support is inspiring and empowering – essential as you make the journey.
So I would say my kids have done well overall these last few months with all the restrictions that have been placed on our society.
So last week when I started to notice that one of them was being distant, disrespectful, and really obnoxious it made me wonder what was going on. I asked him what was up and if I did something to cause this behavior change I would like to know about it, so I can address it.
After much huffing and eye rolling he said I was annoying because I said the same things to him every day. “You constantly tell me to put my bowl in the dishwasher, pick up my glasses, and put the milk back in the refrigerator, I eventually do it.” My retort to that was, “yes you do, but putting a breakfast bowl in the dishwasher after dinner just doesn’t do it for me, and if the milk stays on the counter for seven hours it will spoil.”
I didn’t believe his reason and I honestly wanted to knock his obnoxious, ear pierced head right off his body. Instead I went outside to mull it over and cool off. The mulling turned into the beginning of a panic attack as I managed to take nothing more than him showing irritation for me and I turned it into a full blown flashback to our old life and all the things that I experienced and how I couldn’t possibly go through that again, etc. etc.
I convinced myself that he had fallen in with a questionable crowd, despite the fact he has never failed to communicate where he has been. I was certain that he was smoking pot and probably even growing it, or figuring out how to start a dispensary business, with absolutely zero clues or evidence. The more I got worked up the more it oozed out of my system, and despite me thinking I was containing it, I knew that wasn’t the case.
Drug testing has been a part of our life since he has been home from treatment. Most recently in an effort to be empathetic to the fact he finds it insulting and demoralizing, I offered to put $50 toward the money he is saving to buy a car each time the test is negative. If the test comes up positive, no cash, and no driving for a month, until the next test. I felt this was fair to reward him for something that isn’t easy for him and many other teenager these days.
My husband told me he would give him the test on Friday, so I spent the next few days living the life of the old me, the me I didn’t like and the me that didn’t serve me or anyone in my family well. I was paranoid and analyzed everything he did. I had a constant desire to know where he was and what he was doing, and while I didn’t verbalize it, I was exhausted from the thoughts running through my head. I felt horrible both mentally and physically because my mind was in the past.
PTSD is defined as a disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. In my mind this was reserved for people who were really traumatized, like military personnel or someone who was assaulted. It took me a while to acknowledge that my terrifying event was watching my child self destruct, and almost two years later it is still very easy for me to be triggered by what some would call typical teenager behavior; being obnoxious and moody.
So on Friday my husband took him to our bathroom and gave him the test. A few minutes later, I heard this laughter coming from my bedroom. My husband walked out first and my son yelled from behind him with a huge sh*t eating grin. “Show me the money”. My husband and I looked at each other and then at the test, burst out laughing and said, “Well I guess we were wrong, he is just a regular teenage a**hole.”