10 Life Lessons I Want My Children To Learn

PAY ATTENTION. The world has a lot of offer you. From the vast unknown out in the universe to right in your backyard. Your father has lived a very interesting and diverse life. He has so many talents to teach you if you pay attention. He’s an expert carpenter and handyman. He’s my modern-day McGyver and has a lot of tricks up his sleeve that will save you a lot of money down the line before you call a repair man. He will teach you how to install a Wood Stove, chop wood and save your future family thousands of dollars in heating bills down the line. He can fix that squeaking sound on your washing machine and even teach you how to build a deck or an entire house, if you want. He’s done it all. He also holds a degree in Business and History and can teach you in the importance of investing your money wisely, as well as how to learn from the world’s past mistakes so that we don’t repeat history. He has a vast knowledge in hunting, survival skills and raising animals on a farm. As a former police officer, he is an expert marksman and knows all the rules and regulations of the law. Ask him questions. Use him to learn, and pay attention.jeff-working

RESPECT & KINDNESS. Respect and kindness will get you farther in life than you may ever realize. Speak to authority with respect. When I got my license my father’s only advice was to be as respectful as possible to fellow drivers, and especially law enforcement. If you happen to ever get pulled over, you should always use the words “Yes Sir/Ma’am” when addressing a police officer. Same goes with teachers and anyone in an authority position, as well as  anyone are not on personal terms with, especially elders. You’ll be surprised where it gets you. 

Respect women. Always remember that “No” means “No”. Alternatively, don’t let anyone force into doing something you don’t want to do either. The first time you meet your girlfriend’s parents, make sure to offer a strong handshake, look them in the eye, and call them Sir, Ma’am or Mr. & Mrs. Wait until they correct you and invite you to call them by their personal name. Until then, stick with the formal Mr.& Mrs.  The first time I met your grandparents, they immediately stopped me in my tracks and said “Oh please, don’t be silly, call us Bev & Lou.”  Your father, on the other hand, is still calling my father Mr.Devaney, because even after ten years, he has never offered your father to call him by anything else. Life is funny. People are funny. You’ll figure out what makes people tick by using these respectful tricks, and in turn, gain their respect.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Even though you should be respectful to law enforcement, my father reminded me that it is your right to not give consent to let them to search your car. You have the right to refuse.  This may end you up in more trouble down the line, but you do have the right to refuse.  Your dad can help clarify this for you.  You also have the right to say no to anything at anytime to something that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you find a time where someone is doing something or speaking to you in a way that makes you feel weird, you can say NO. It’s OK. I make this promise to you…you will never get in trouble for saying no to something you don’t feel is right. Your father and I will have your back no matter what.  When you get older, and find yourself in a situation that suddenly becomes too much, I give you full authority to use me as a scapegoat. “No, I can’t smoke that pot with you… my mom will drug test me.” Make me the bad guy, I don’t care.  Then call me, and I’ll be happy to play whatever “mean mom” role you need me to play in front of your friends to get you out of that situation… I don’t care if it’s 3 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning.  I have your back. The teenage years are tough; this way you can save some face, get out of a bad situation and blame me.  (I have a secret to tell you… I don’t give a shit if your friends like me… especially any so-called friends trying to make you do something that you don’t want to do.)  While on this topic, Here is a tiny little tip… I was a teenager once as well… and my underage drug and alcohol detection skills are KILLER. Don’t believe me? Try me. Don’t forget this. Oh yea, and your dad was a cop… if you think my detection skills are on par… he is the King. I wouldn’t test us.

FAMILY LOYALTY. Your family should always be top priority; whether you are 10 years old or 56. Life goes by in the blink of an eye.  At the end, all you will have will be your family by your side. Treat them well, and they will treat you well. Stand up for your siblings. Protect your siblings. Watch out for each other in life, in school and later on in life. You will need each other at different times in life. Be there for each other, without question.  Visit family members in the hospital, send cards of encouragement and make an effort to call your parents and grandparents. One day, you will meet someone who you fall deeply in love with and decide to spend the rest of your life with. Treat them with respect and treat them kindly. They will be your best friend, your ally, and will most likely be there for you during the most difficult and elating moments of your life. Don’t spend more time working than with your family.  Your children won’t remember the times you weren’t home, but they will remember those bedtime stories you read to them, the snuggles, the hugs and the words of encouragement you offer them.  Genuinely apologize when you mess up; really mean it, and make an attempt not to do it again.  Be good to your family… even when it is hard to be. Disagreements will come and go, but the cornerstone of all relationships and family is LOVE. Always bring it back to love.

LOVE.  This is simple. Do what you love, find someone you love, act out of love, and love will come back to you. When you’re married one day, a simple act of love may be helping your spouse wash the dishes. It’s as easy as that.  I’m jumping the gun a little, and before I get away with myself , when the time comes, I’ll share some mama knowledge with you… the cliché saying “Happy Wife, Happy Life” is true. Learn to cook. I will teach you. Learn to do your own laundry. I will teach you that too… ask your wife if she needs anything from time to time. THIS, my friends is the secret to a happy marriage. Appreciating each other and helping each other out with acts of love. Do this, and you’re golden.  You will thank me one day for these words of advice.

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SELF AWARENESS. Throughout your life, you are going to continually change. I am watching my little boys play with logos, dinosaurs and trucks right now.  In a few years, you will be onto new interests… then you’ll become a teenager and have an entirely new set of interests. I look at myself, and almost don’t recognize the person I was in college. (My wise cracking sarcastic attitude was and will always remain with me), but I have little interest in the life I lived then than I do now.  It’s alright to change.  Just make sure you stay true to yourself.  Deeply ingrained in you are a set of morals and values that will lead you in the right direction. Listen to those voices, deep down inside and make sure that regardless of what your interests may be at the time, you are always following the right path.

SAFETY. I don’t have much to say in this area. This topic is complex because you are so young now, but you are growing up so quickly.  For now, don’t run in parking lots without holding my hand. Cars can’t see your tiny chubby bum and I’d hate to see something bad happen.  As you get older, protect yourself. I’m going to leave most of the Birds and the Bees to your father later on… but I’ll be on the other side of the door to make sure to interject if I feel the need to. CAR SAFETY.  This is hilarious, seeing how I am quite possibly the worst driver in the world, but actually, none of my safety tips have to do when the car is even in motion.  Maybe it’s my city upbringing, maybe it’s the fact that I am a female and girls are told these things more often than boys, or maybe I’ve seen too may mob movies…. but here is the low down with the car.  When out at a mall or shopping place, I instinctively always try to park as close to the door as possible. Your father assumes this is because I am lazy. Contrary to what he thinks, it’s a ingrained defensive mechanism within me. When you return to your car, you don’t have to walk with a million bags in your hand, in a dark mall parking lot, distracted, trying to find your car.  Exit the store, look around for any shady characters and get to your car as soon as possible.  Don’t text, don’t get distracted and pay attention. Now here is where my city girl and female upbringing is really going to sound a bit crazy. Use your common sense. Before entering the car, check the back seats. Check under the car, get in, and lock the doors. Like I’ve said, I’ve seen too many mobster movies to NOT check the backseat of my car before getting in. (I’ve also been diagnosed with Anxiety and OCD, so this may have something to do with my car routine haha)- regardless… listen to your mama and just do it please.godfather-goodfellas-scarface-560

BE A LEADER. Don’t be a follower.Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and speak your mind. This doesn’t mean to bully people into believing your ideas, but offer them.   Don’t feel pressured to the “coolest kid”… I’ve learned after many years in High School and College that many of the “cool kids” later in life end up to be deadbeat balding men. Be your own person, a good role model, try your hardest at everything you do, and I promise you will succeed.  Believe in yourself.

REMEMBER THAT MOM & DAD HAD A LIFE BEFORE YOU. You are without a doubt, the best thing that has ever happened to us, but we weren’t the boring old parents you see now. We were silly, crazy and always had a good time.unnamed

It’s important for us to spend time together…alone; to go on dates together and spend quality time with each other. The stronger our marriage is, the stronger our family will be. And remember….we always come home after a night out… and the first thing we do is go into your rooms and kiss you goodnight. We both love you from the bottom of our hearts.

DON’T EVER FORGET HOW MUCH WE LOVE YOU. We absolutely love you from here to the moon and the back…. and we always will.moon

 

The Silent Issue No One Is Talking About

My mother claims it started when I was about two or three years old and would complain about my socks. They were never on correctly or comfortable enough. I’d spend 5 minutes getting them just right. As I got older my list of weird quirks grew. To this day, I hate the touch of newspaper; wash my hands about 15x a day and refuse to get into bed with dirty feet. I refuse to drink out of reusable plastic cups at diners, and I will not wear clothes that have been dried on the the clothesline- need to make sure to fluff them in a the dryer before wearing them (otherwise they’re  too stiff).

Back when smoking was allowed in bars when I was college, I made a boyfriend take a shower after we went out to a bar before staying over because I couldn’t stand the thought of all that bar dirt in my bed. (Forget the fact that he didn’t even smoke but I did! I would shower every night before bed as well).  I’ve driven half way to work just to turn around to make sure the oven was off- more times than I’d like to admit. To say the least, I have a mild case of OCD. While I don’t have counting issues and repeating rituals, this OCD results in extreme anxiety. I started getting massive panic attacks, which resulted in mild depression. Why couldn’t I just be normal like everyone else?

 According to The Mayo Clinic Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Depression can occur at any age. 

I’m not convinced if it is hormonal differences between the genders, or the simple fact that women reach out for help more often than men do. Regardless, what I do know that it is mental illness is a colossal issue that is mostly overlooked by society and actually looked down upon by many, as if someone is simply not trying hard enough to be normal. It’s not talked about enough. It’s embarrassing to share why seemingly normal activities can cause you a massive panic attack.

In a broad overview of the heinous acts of mass violence that has occurred across our country over the almost the past twenty years; from Columbine to Sandy Hook and other many devastating incidents in between and since (unfortunately too long to list here), the only consistent correlation between all of these events is that the person executing and carrying out these acts were not of sound mind.

There has been so much debate about gun control, boarder issues and honestly just a lot of bickering bullshit that has nothing to do with policy change on important issues. We are brushing the real issue of mental health under the rug. We’re in the midst of electing a new President and the only issues being debated relating to these problems are gun control and planned parenthood and abortion. Why is no one paying attention to the bigger underlying issue of MENTAL HEALTH?!

This is after all, a mom blog so I will bring this back full circle, I promise.  I don’t claim to be an expert on any of these political issues, or even have an answer to propose, just my own experience to share.

There is a silent issue among many women I know that isn’t being talked about. There’s a stigma of treating mental illness and many don’t realize it trickles down and effects the most “seemingly normal people” you’ll ever meet and probably don’t have a clue that they’re suffering with some major issues; specifically women and mothers.

In hindsight, I now have come to realize that I had post partum depression after my first child was born. Yet, at the time I wasn’t visiting my regular doctor anymore and was busy taking my newborn to a slew of one week, two week, one month pediatric appointments where all the questions were directed to and pertaining to my extreamly colicky child. No professional asked how I was coping, and I was on the verge of a breakdown.

My depression and anxiety has put a stress on my marriage and at times I have felt as though I’ve let my children down because I haven’t been the best mother at times. My mind was constantly focused on the next task at hand and was running a mile a minute.

Dishes needed to be washed, lunches needed to be packed, bills needed to be paid. My second child didn’t sleep through the night until he was two years old and still occasionally wakes up. I was exhausted.

Working full time and trying to be the perfect mom was putting immense pressure on me. I was wound so tightly, I was always pissed off. I picked fights with my husband and was generally just completely overwhelmed. If you know me, this may surprise you because I like to present myself as if I’ve got it all together. I am successful at work, outgoing and not an introvert. I was just suppressing all of these feelings. I was not IN the moment and constantly stressed about the next thing that needed to be done. I was trying to be perfect and placed way too much pressure on myself.

After three long years of living like this, I finally decided it had become too much and made an appointment with my doctor. This was by far the best decision I have made. It took my family and and I little while to get adjusted  to my new medication and it’s still a work in progress but I’m headed in to the right direction. I’m much more patient with my children and husband and I’m actually happy.

 I’m not saying that medication is for everyone. Exercise helps, seeing a therapist works for others, dedicate a night to yourself for some alone time if you need to, grab a coffee with a friend; but whatever you do, make sure you take care of yourself. 

Life is short. Managing a family and children is hard work and there is no shame in asking for help. You deserve it, and your family does as well. Don’t stay silent. Continue this conversation with your friends and family and you’ll be surprised how much support you’ll receive if you just open up to someone.  Lets work on getting this issue out there more so women like me don’t have to suffer as long as I did. 

I’m with you, mama ❤️

Xoxo,

Coastal Mama 😘