Yesterday I managed to get a sunburn, cut myself with a screwdriver (twice!), and get a swollen and bloody lip from…wait for it… getting hit in the face with a garbage can lid (wind came up and blew it off the garbage, directly into my face).
There is really no point to this post other than to say I hope your day was better than mine and Happy Friday, y’all.
Q:You're a wonderful mother, and person. I wish that more parents would aspire to be like you. Empathetic, concerned, and open-minded... Giving free rein to their children and treating them as equals. You've heard this often, I'm sure.
Thank you so much for the note! I’ve left it sitting in my inbox for a few days now because 1) it made me happy and 2) it made me a little embarrassed.
It probably goes without saying, but I’m not a perfect parent/person and my kids aren’t all sunshine and rainbows (though I know the sunshiny things are usually what I write about). We have days where I’d like to lock them both in their rooms for the afternoon and days where they’d probably like to lock me in my room for the afternoon.
I’ve mentioned this before but maybe should again:
They each do or say something that makes me laugh, something that makes me proud, or something that awes me every single day and those are the moments I chose to focus on.
Positive reinforcement, especially for kids, is so incredibly important… for them and for me. Babies are ridiculously hard work to take care of for the first two years… if you don’t focus on those tiny moments of wonderfulness you’ll go crazy. They get easier as they get older, but there are still days…oh there are days.
So throughout the day, I focus on the adorable. I record the hilarious conversations. I pay attention to these tiny, awesome people that live in this house and celebrate all the moments of kindness and empathy, insight and wisdom.
Thanks again for your message! I really appreciated it. :-)
THIS IS WATER
” In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn’t become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we’ve ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education.
This video was built around an abridged version of the original audio recording, with the hopes that the core message of the speech could reach a wider audience who might not have otherwise been interested. However, we encourage everyone to seek out the full speech (because, in this case, the book is definitely better than the movie).”
If you watch just one video today, make it this one.
Mental Illness (kid’s version)
I rarely talk about this topic on the blog, but my son and I discussed it this morning so it’s probably a good time to mention it again.
First, a bit of background: I have a family history of mental illness and have struggled with depression off and on for much of my life. Severe depression runs in both sides of my family, leading to the suicide of several members, drug and alcohol addictions, hallucinations, disappearances and hospitalizations.
I didn’t personally have to deal with any of the aforementioned issues, but that’s only because of my cousin reached out to me when I needed it most and I sought help with her encouragement. But I often think how my life might have been different if I was given the help I needed when my symptoms first started around junior high.
Given my history and my family’s history, I am a HUGE proponent of education and awareness of all types of mental illness. And I believe you can and should start talking about mental illness with your kids when they are young - so they can seek help if they need it and be alert if they see it in their friends. No one should have to suffer in silence.
Me: Do you know what a mental illness is?
My 8-year-old son: Umm…no.
Me: Do you know what an illness is?
My son: Duh. Getting sick. Like the flu or a cold or a rash.
Me: Right. So you know your body can get sick - you can get a stuffy nose or a fever or a rash. But your brain can get sick as well. And when your brain is sick, it’s called a mental illness.
My son: Okay…
Me: You have chemicals in your brain - good chemicals that can make you feel happy, give you a burst of energy to run really fast, calm you down when you’re upset, or make you fall in love. In a healthy brain, those chemicals are balanced - you get happy and excited, but you don’t stay that way for weeks with no reason. You get sad when something bad happens, but then you get happy again. You with me so far?
My son: Yup.
Me: If your brain stops producing enough of one of the chemicals, or produces too much of another one, you can get sick - you can get a mental illness. If you have depression, for example, your brain doesn’t make enough of the chemicals that make you happy. So you’re sad. All the time. Even if there are fun things going on all around you, like you’re getting presents and you get to have friends over, you just don’t have enough of the right chemicals in your brain to feel happy. You might cry. You might just want to stay in bed and sleep. You won’t want to do things you used to think were fun because you just can’t get happy. It’s impossible, because you don’t have enough of the chemicals.
My son: So how do you fix the chemicals?
Me: That’s a great question. Everyone is a little bit different, but there are almost always things you can do to help balance out those chemicals. It’s just like when your body is sick… you can help your brain by eating healthier foods, exercising, even just going outside more.
My son: Is that why you make me go outside every day?
Me: Yes, partly! Let’s go back to depression. Let’s pretend your brain doesn’t have enough of the chemicals that make you happy. You tried all the things we just talked about, but you still feel sad all the time. What do we do?
My son: …..?
Me: What do we do if our body is sick and not getting better?
My son: Oh! Go to the doctor!
Me: Right. If we don’t get better on our own, sometimes we need to go to a doctor to get a medicine that will help us get better. And there are medicines that can help balance out those chemicals in our brains.
My son: Cool!
Me: It is! So I’m telling you all this right now for two reasons: 1) I want you to know what a mental illness is, of course, and 2) I want you to know that there are medicines for them. Because a lot of kids don’t know anything about the chemicals in their brain… so if they get sick, all they know is that they feel horribly sad all the time and they will do anything to feel better. So maybe they’ll try drugs or alcohol to see if that helps.
My son: Like [name withheld]?
Me: Exactly. And you know, drugs and alcohol DO change the chemicals in your brain. So that kid might actually feel better for awhile. But then the effect will wear off and he will feel terrible again. So then he’ll try drugs again and again hoping he’ll feel better.
My son: And get addicted.
Me: Right. And maybe get addicted. AND still have the mental illness, so now he has two problems that need to be fixed. But if he had known about the brain chemicals, he could have gone to the doctor and gotten help right away and started feeling better.
My son: Will I get a mental illness?
Me: I hope you never get any type of illness! But you could have a mental illness someday, yes. Or one of your friends. Or one of your friend’s parents. I have the one called depression, which is why I take medicine every morning. Some people have one for a while and then get better again. Some people have them their entire lives and have to take medicine all the time.
My son: Okay. Mom?
My son: I love you.
Me: I love you too! That was kinda a weird transition though…?
My son: I’m just glad you tell me stuff like this.
Me: Oh! Anytime, kiddo. ~JJ