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Kids, Life

Guilt Is A Dirty Word


We carry it around on our back like a heavy toddler screaming for a piggy back ride. Every time I hear “Let it Go”, which is several times a day in a house with five kids, I think about how nice it would be if I could. I was reflecting on guilt last night, both my own and the guilt that other people so generously place on me. It occurred to me that every bad decision I have made in my life, every single one that I regret to my core, was made because of guilt. Someone convinced me that THEIR needs were more important than MY needs.

We do this all time. We tell our kids “No” but they give is that face. You know, the cute one that could melt ice during a Pittsburgh winter. Or we tell someone we can’t attend something because we don’t feel good and then after a guilt trip, we decide to try anyways. This is bad for a lot of reasons, but the worst part of guilt trips is how you feel towards the person afterwards. Here comes that “Let it go” theme again. Now please hear me, I know that holding a grudge is not the Christian thing to do. I am well aware that forgiveness always needs to take place. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Chances are, if you put a guilt trip on me and it results in a bad outcome, I will not be able to forget that.

We are not taught to put our own needs first. We are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, employees, and friends. I have always tried to put everyone’s needs before my own because I do believe that is what God wants us to do. However, I am pretty sure He is ok with boundaries! Nowhere in the bible does it say “Thou shalt never say No”.
I am raising a lot of teenagers right now, and I want them to say “No”. I don’t want them to fall prey to guilt trips like I did. Guilt makes you drink with your friend so she doesn’t have to drink alone. Guilt makes you sneak off to parties and lie to your parents about where you are going because your boyfriend tells you “If you loved me, you would want to be with me”. Guilt makes you do adult things that you are not ready to handle.

As a parent, I want to balance teaching my children to put others before themselves with taking GOOD care of themselves. I talk about stress a lot, and so much of our stress comes from guilt and the misconception that we have to meet everyone else’s needs.

How do you balance teaching your children to put others first while not falling for guilt? This Oily Mama needs your suggestions!

Kids, Life

How Stressed are our Kids?

I am willing to admit, I probably stress my kids out.  Not as much as I stress my husband out, but I’m sure the kids are a close second.  I want my kids to get good grades.  I want my kids to practice their instruments.  I need them to keep their rooms clean, their fishtanks clean and for heaven sakes, themselves clean!  I need my oldest to go to the grocery store for me and drive her brother to hockey practice.  I feel like I’m always barking commands at someone in my house!

I never realized how stressed our kids might be until I got my Zyto Compass.  Now don’t get me wrong, the Zyto is not meant to diagnose, it just tells you what your body may prefer.  I scanned my kids, I scanned my friends’ kids, and I have scanned kids I don’t really know.  I am amazed how often stress seems to be the recurring theme.

I am a true believer that stress is a killer.  It weakens our body’s defense mechanisms, and causes all sorts of other problems.  Stress is a terrible thing!  And yet we as parents are pushing our kids harder than we have ever pushed ourselves.  We are expecting things out of our children that no one ever expected from us.  It’s not enough that our kids play baseball or hockey….  no, they need private coaching lessons in addition to the four days a week they are already practicing, and just to make it worse, let’s make these sessions before school, at 5 am.  And it’s probably not enough that my child plays an instrument in the band at school.  I should probably sink huge sums of money into extra private lessons, even though my child hates to practice.

Don’t get me wrong, I want my kids to be successful and happy.  I don’t want lazy kids who do nothing except play video games and watch television all day.  But what ever happened to letting our kids have time to go out and play?  Why can’t they have time to be kids?  Who are all these lessons for?  If you have a kid who is driven and loves every minute of what they do, that’s awesome.  But if your kid (like mine) begs to skip lessons because he is so tired, because he has so much homework, because he doesn’t even want to take those lessons anyway, it may be time to reevaluate.

Our kids are stressed.  I know kids who throw up on their way to baseball games because they are so nervous about playing well.  What happened to “it’s a game”?  Parents, please stop trying to live vicariously through your children!  You had your chance.  We are leading our children down a path straight to therapy.  Sure, they will know how to push themselves.  They will know how to practice and work hard.  But will they know how to be happy, and satisfied?  Will they know how to relax?  Will they know that they are good enough?  If they aren’t good enough for us, their parents, they will never feel like they are good enough for anyone else, including themselves.

Now slap some Stress Away on your kids and let them go PLAY!



Kids, Life

Dear Girls

Dear Girls, why do you have to be so mean? Was it really necessary to ruin someone’s day so that you could have a good laugh? Did it make you feel better about yourself to expose someone else’s insecurities? Did you go home and feel better about yourself when you looked in the mirror?

Dear Girls, did you forget to listen when they taught you about what it means to be a bully? Did you determine that the rules don’t apply to you, or that bullying isn’t as bad as people make it out to be?

Dear Girls, do you know how many teen suicides happen because of bullying? Do you know how many school shootings occur because of bullying? Bullying is bigger than hurting someone’s feelings or ruining someone’s weekend. Your words, your actions and your character have lasting impact on the people you come in contact with each day.

Character isn’t taught in school, character is taught at home. I understand, dear girls, that it’s not entirely your fault that you are bullies. I have sat next to your mothers during school events, and I have overheard their loud whispers as they poked fun at my child. I’m so sorry that you had to grow up with a role model like that.

Dear Girls, I know you are still too young to realize it, but our world is falling apart very fast. I worry for your future, but I trust in God, who has overcome the world. We are called to be the Light. Bullying is not being the light. Taunting someone in the hallway so they can hear you is not being the light. Making plans at the lunch table in front of someone and purposely excluding them is not being the light. Making someone feel ashamed of her appearance, making someone feel inferior, and unaccepted is not being the light. I know that is not what they taught you in school. Even if you don’t believe in God, surely you’ve heard of the Golden Rule?

Dear Girls, please think about how you would want someone to treat your little sister or brother. One day, we will all have a daughter, a son, a niece or nephew, a grandchild or friend who may not fit the exact mold of what “normal” or “cool” means to you. How will you want the world to treat them? Remember Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world”? This needs to change and the change starts with YOU.

Every person you come in contact with is someone’s child, someone’s sister or brother. You know nothing about their situation or their battle. As a mother, you girls infuriate me. I know we are called to turn the other cheek, but when you hurt my child, I take it very personally. You see, it’s not my daughter’s fault she’s different, it’s mine. So dear girls, next time you taunt someone who is different, or talk about where you are going Friday night but purposely don’t invite the one other person at the table, please stop to think about the effects of your actions.

PS… I wanted to call you out by name, or maybe even beat you up, but my child, who has more character than all of you will ever dream of having, taught me a lesson about making the world a better place.  Please pass the lesson along to your parents for me.


For Pita’s Sake

Ten years ago, we started calling my middle daughter “Pita” for obvious reasons.  She was only three and had no idea what it meant, so don’t judge me.  Through the years, Pita has earned her nickname more times than I could ever attempt to count.  It’s not so much that she is a pain anymore.  God just passed her over when he was giving out common sense.

Prior to yesterday, I was under the misconception that I was doing a really good job of raising my kids, even Pita.  I mean, the oldest is almost 18 and has never had detention, doesn’t smoke, drink, isn’t pregnant and as far as I know does not have any tattoos.  All three of the kids (17, 13 and 10) have always gotten themselves up and dressed for school, can cook their own food, and can do their own laundry……  I think that is impressive!  My mom did my laundry until i was at least 20 and I still take her anything with a tough stain or a button that needs sewn on.

Recently, Pita set me straight.  She gave me the wake up call I needed to let me know that I am not doing nearly as good a job as I thought.  It started with detention.  The guidance office called to tell me that Pita got busted taking a selfie in the bathroom with her friend and a 7th grader ratted her out (Really???  No one likes a tattle tale).  Because the “No phones in the bathroom” rule was broken, Pita was headed for detention.  Well, since I had detention once (true story), I was not really concerned.  When I picked Pita up after detention, I expected her to be in a bad mood, which is the norm now that hormones are on board, LORD HELP ME!!!!.  She jumped in the car with a big smile and said “That was so much fun!  I got all my homework done and I’m going to go again tomorrow and maybe everyday from now on”.  ?!?!?!?!?  I translate this as, there is a really hot 8th grader in detention.  Or a hot teacher.  But somehow there is hot male involved.

Yesterday, Pita had to cook dinner for cooking class.  My angst began when she asked how to wash the apples.  Then she had trouble following the recipe on the box of rice.  By the time she got to cutting vegetable, I grabbed the knife off of her and made her back away.  She refused to touch the meat, didn’t have a clue how to clean vegetables, and I had to help her set the table.  I know the child doesn’t like to eat anything except pizza and mac ‘n cheese, but I had no idea she was this clueless.  I may have told her she really stinks at cooking.  “Do you think I will make a good surgeon though,” she asked me?  To which this mother of the year replied, “The thought of you going near anyone with a knife quite frankly scares the hell out of me”.

Pita and I butt heads a lot (I’ve been told the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), but today she redeemed herself.  We were picking up dinner and she said “Mom, I bet everyone thinks we are sisters”.  I know moms shouldn’t pick favorites, but today, Pita is my favorite.