I wish the garden could be my medicine cabinet. But it can never be my medicine cabinet. Because I kill gardens. Even when I try not to kill gardens. I under water my pots. I go three, four or five days without watering my pots. Then I realize I have neglected my garden. So I over water my pots. I over water to compensate for the poor decision to under water, which in fact is just another poor decision.
Everyday we are given hundreds of choices. We are not conscious of the impact each microscopic decision makes in our lives because they seem to be so small. But one choice leads to another and those pocket-sized choices create the change we see in our lives whether it is for the good or for the bad.
Tired from a night of intense practice, I sat on the dance floor with my friends and we laughed as we unwound the ribbons that curled around our small ankles. As we pulled our feet from our broken pointe shoes and rolled back the thin layer of pink tights, our feet reflected our exhaustion. Swollen, slightly bloodied and aching, we hardly noticed the pain as we chattered in unison. Minutes before we were pushing our bodies to exceed their limits as we flew across the dance studio, whipping our legs into the air with precise instruction from the counts of the classical music and the snap of our ballet teacher’s fingers. 1…2…3…4…, “Again, girls!” 5…6…7…8, “Again!” And so the evening would progress by the count of 8.
What is the purpose of your blog? I am hoping to create a change in the conversation surrounding mental health especially for the sake of children. I grew tired of the public discourse: anti-depressants or not? I didn’t see anyone writing about nutrition. I didn’t see anyone discussing exercise. I didn’t see anyone taking a holistic angle to mental health for children and adolescents. There is so much more to add to the conversation. I wanted to open the discussion. We have to admit the medical model is not working. If it were, we wouldn’t have the statistics we have currently. A 400% increase in children using psychotropic medications since the 1980’s has not slowed the march of mental illness in America. A suicide rate that has doubled among teens in the last 10 years; a 30% increase in anxiety and depression among adolescents – these are horrifying trends. As a parent and as a therapist, I felt that we were missing some very basic connections and that is the purpose of my blog – to make the connections for people. And I want to help people. Ultimately, help as many people as I can.
Despite the best of intentions, modern parents are ushering their children by the droves into emotional mousetraps. Caught between a parent’s own desire for enmeshment and rapidly shifting societal norms, children are left ill-equipped to navigate the spectrum of their own emotions. The trends tell a story of children and adolescents, who are facing suicidal ideation and behavior; children who are medicated by the truckloads; children who are – for loss of a better word, unraveling.
When I am not swimming in laundry or dirty dishes, I like to take a few minutes to reflect on who I am as a mother. Because I am always trying to stay afloat, this rarely happens. Until this year. This year I celebrated and stole moments to silence the chaos and this is what I found out about myself as mother:
I will be the first to admit I reward my children with food on the occasion. I love to find reasons to celebrate. Ask my mother-in-law. When she visits I find ways to spice up the day. Anything and everything can be a reason. You made it here in one piece – let’s celebrate! You recovered from jet lag – let’s celebrate! You survived our household for an entire week – let’s celebrate! Going for coffee (my mother-in-law) and tea (myself) is a primary example. And with the kids in tow, it may be a hot chocolate from our favorite chocolate store or an ice cream from our favorite chocolate store. Yes, they are one in the same. Because I like to frequently celebrate I have to find alternative ways to party with my children. A cupcake every time they smile wouldn’t be conducive to healthy living so I opt out on the food and zero in on the quality time.
Have any of your children ever made a mistake? I don’t mean an I-accidently-stepped-on-the-dog mistake. I mean a big, nasty mistake that left intense emotional repercussions. A fallout you had to pick up and show them how to manage. Maybe Susie hit her brother. Maybe Timmy excluded a friend purposefully and hurtfully from play. Maybe Michael didn’t let Janet be part of his little singing group. Maybe Marie lashed out at Donnie and told him a hundred reasons why she didn’t love him. You get my drift.
Bullying and its offshoot, cyberbullying are two terms, which carry heavy weight. Since Columbine, Americans are quick to identify what is disproportionately normative behavior in childhood development as something sinister in its origins. With the advent of social media, one phrase misplaced can create a tidal wave of social destruction. Children are learning about boundaries in a world that cannot contain them. Before you jump to conclusions that your child may be a victim of a bully or the one busy doing the bullying look for signs that may help point you in the correct direction.
Waiting for perfection to arrive, we sacrifice. We sacrifice without knowing. We sacrifice daily. We lose out to the unattainable leaving ourselves frustrated and stressed in the pursuit. Is this the road trip we want to take in life? One of the things I love most in life is an unplanned road trip. Maybe it is just another paradox of my life. I love the unexpected but I want to plan the unexpected. I don’t want it to creep up on me in my sleep. I try to constantly find ways to control my daily existence. Strange, I know. But I am human and I do. And isn’t that what control is all about? Wanting a world to respond in perfect order. Like all the time. 24/7. I sacrifice everyday in small ways and large as a slave to perfection. Chances are perfection is pulling you away from the very thing you want most out of life. Waiting for perfection to arrive: