Brothers in Need

Do you always get along with your sibling(s)?

My oldest often thinks his younger brother is super annoying. I remember my sister feeling the same way about me when we were in high school. It isn’t often you see my oldest interacting with his brother outside of meal time or out in front of the TV. They have different interests, friend groups, activities, etc.

We went hiking over the long weekend. We were nearing the last steep climb when my youngest, who was trailing us all, yelled “stop! I need help.” We turned to find him off to the side of the trail in pain. He’d lost his footing, his ankle rolled and he heard a pop sound. 😬 We were at least a mile away from getting to flat ground and where he could be helped. It was one of those moments where you think how are we going to get through this? We had him rest on the side of a hill, while we dug through our packs to see what we had (of course, we’d ran out of ace bandages and hadn’t replenished the pack, and started to think in terms of building a splint out of sticks). Before we proceeded we asked our son if he could move his foot – it hurt, but he could. We asked if he could put weight on it – it hurt, but he could. We asked if he could walk – it hurt, but if we went slowly, he could.

His father and I attempted to have him walk and lean on us, but both of us are shorter than both of our sons by 4 to 5 inches. Our oldest is about the same height as his brother and works our regularly, so being able to support his brother was a better fit, but would he do it?

Once he saw the pain his brother was in, he agreed to help without any opposition. He had his brother put his arm across his back and told him to take weight off his injured foot. He encouraged his brother, “it’s going to be okay. Make sure you watch where you’re putting your feet. You can put more of your weight on me, I can take it.” It was a wonderful moment to witness. It took considerably longer for us to finish our hike, but we were able to get our son out without issue.

We talked afterwards about what we’d remember most from this trip. The fun we’d had together, or our son hurting his ankle? While his ankle still hurts, I’m guessing his older brother showing his love for him might be what he (and his father and I) remember most from this trip.

When have you experienced (or witnessed) sibling love?

Dinner Outside

The weather has gotten unseasonably warm where we live. It’s a joy, as normally we don’t get warm temperatures well into July. The weather has allowed us to eat outdoors. On nice weather evenings, we like to go outside — it’s more relaxing and has the ability of getting our oldest to open up a bit more. 😊

Our oldest was finishing his meal with us outside, and we thought he’d stand up and leave without having much further dialogue with us the rest of the day. Instead, he leaned back in his chair, took a deep breath, and started asking his father and I about college, and work. You could see his mind processing the information. As I shared I tried to be mindful of what and how I was answering his questions. I’m trying to walk with him, not manipulate him. I wanted to answer his questions honestly, from my experience, but not over-index to stress my position (e.g., resist the temptation to influence him around what he should and shouldn’t do post high school).

It was really nice sitting and talking with him. It was special just having him be with us. Being outside with the sun going down and flowers and trees blooming around us made it that much more memorable.

Having dinner in the backyard is special for our family. Where do you have special meals? Your backyard, at the park, another’s house, etc.? What settings get your child to open up?

I will be off next weekend enjoying time with family and friends, and will be back in June. Hope you enjoy the holiday weekend.

Thank You for Being a Friend

I recently lost one of my best friends, rather unexpectedly. I got the news while I was on Spring Break vacation so my family saw my reaction to the news — dropping to the floor, and crying. Not pretty. I had to figure out how to talk to my boys about my friend’s passing, what happened, and how I was processing the information. My stages of grief go from denial to trying to come to acceptance back to denial.

What has impacted me the most to this point is the loss my friend’s family will feel. She leaves behind twin 13 year olds. They are just at the age where they are becoming young women, their bodies are changing, puberty setting in, and they are starting to navigate who they are and want to be. I know their father is strong, and they are surrounded by loving friends, and family, but it is still tough to absorb.

On this Mother’s Day we honor those women who have loved, raised, cared, fed, sheltered, guided, mentored, and done so much more to help us become the girls or women we are. I would be remiss if I didn’t honor my friend on this Mother’s Day, and acknowledge beyond her being an awesome mom, what a great friend she was. She’ll be with me forever, much like those she touched.

Happy Mothers Day to all!

Instagram Catfish

My youngest is on the spectrum and struggles making strong connection with his peers. This can be especially hard when you’re a teen, going through puberty, exploring your sexuality, and becoming more independent.

Our youngest son is one of the most ‘innocent’ people you could meet. His emotional intelligence is through the roof (he has empathy that is beyond compare), he loves animals, and spends countless hours online learning about world geography, other cultures, transit systems, and follows politics. He has very little interest in things I think most parents of teens fear — nudity/pornography, alcohol, or drugs.

My husband and I are aware our sons are on Instagram, but thought it too, particularly for our youngest, was innocent. We found out we had reason for concern when my husband saw our youngest son texting (chat function) with another user and appeared to be trying to hide what he was messaging from his father. My husband decided to inquire who our son was talking to while we were at the dinner table. My son got very quiet and seemed embarrassed. He shared he had started to confide some of his secrets to this stranger including his wants and desires because it felt ‘safe.’ When we challenged our son on who this person was, how old, etc., we learned this person was in their 30s. I appreciated my son’s honesty but was beside myself, as we’ve talked to our boys about being online and never sharing information or trusting who is on the other end, especially if you haven’t met or seen them in-person. I was more upset by the adult on the other end who allowed/continued the conversation even though he knew my son (based on his age being on his profile) was underage. Beyond the emotions I was experiencing, I could see how lonely my son felt, and how he’d been looking for an outlet to share his feelings and thoughts with others. outside mom and dad, and while I get it, it still terrified me.

My son realized the errors of his ways, blocked this ‘friend’ and gave me his login information so we can monitor the app and ensure he’s connecting safely with others his own age. He wants his independence but realizes he lost some of our trust but hiding this from us. We’ve always advocated for our kids to talk to us about anything and everything, even if it’s uncomfortable (for them or us, especially us (meaning my husband and I)). He feels like he lets us down, and we feel like we let him down (how didn’t we know?, how could we or should we have been helping him?, etc.).

We talked about making mistakes, that’s how we learn and grow, and while he’s becoming more independent, he still has knowledge to gain. He agreed, though still feeling embarrassed and ‘stupid’ for not knowing better. We just reminded him now he does.

Social media, like any technology has its pros and cons. I like that it allows users to connect on their interests or passions. I’m not a fan of some of the unforeseen risks inherent with letting younger folks (whose frontal lobe hasn’t fully formed) converse easily with folks who may be legit, or may be a catfish.

I’m still working to recalibrate my brain around what we learned. Some of my son’s innocence is gone, but I should expect that with age. I’m reminded I need to stay on top of how my son is connecting with others and getting his needs met (e.g., making friends that allow his to be himself, share openly, trust with secrets), and what my husband and I (and his therapist) can do to help.

How do you keep a pulse on your teen’s interactions on social media? How are you helping them know the dangers, while giving them freedom to explore who they are and their interests?

Walking Beside

My oldest is becoming a young adult and thinking through what they want to do beyond high school. As I’ve previously shared, I thought college for them was a given, and they don’t share that view (though their view tends to change from day to day). 😊

It was helpful being with a large group of our friends (we were celebrating one of their birthdays). As we sat together we raised the issue, shared our concerns, and sought other points of view and feedback. One friend offered this was our opportunity to “walk with” our son on his journey as he continues to figure out who he is and wants to be. That was so helpful for me to hear and think about. It reminded me not to try to control, manipulate, or be passive aggressive about the situation with my son out of fear, but to have more open dialogue with our son, set a plan to help him make the best decision for himself (my husband’s idea—brilliant). We want him to know he’s supported and loved by us no matter what.

It’s tough when you have to let go—let your child test the waters, earn their wings and fly. They’ll make mistakes—it’s the only way we learn and grow. I just need to walk beside him. Not carry him. Not push him. Just walk beside. It’s something new I’m learning, but already feeling optimistic about my own growth as a parent of an almost-adult child. It’s a transition and definitely not easy for me.

How are you helping your child be more independent? How are you supporting goals they have that don’t align with your vision for them?

Change in Scenery

When was the last time you had a change in scenery?

We were fortunate enough to take in many of the National Parks over Spring Break in the southwest — Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, and several more. The landscape was both awe inspiring and a bit overwhelming — the vastness of open land with little beyond the road showing signs of life or movement against the looming mountains or desert.

My oldest petitioned to go to the parks — Arches specifically. My youngest, whose more into trip planning, helped contribute on where else we’d go on the trip so he could do some things he wanted to do as well.

Cell coverage was spotty, which can be good or bad. We warned the kids encouraging them to download content in advance. It was nice to unplug and disconnect. Stop thinking about work and commitments (that would still be there upon our return), and just take the change in scenery in.

Some places we loved, others were ‘meh’ (according to my kids). Some places we pushed ourselves to get to a site via a steep climb, or drove on dirt roads (not well marked) to take in something unique to the landscape. The scenery was constantly changing.

Much like parenthood the landscape can feel familiar and vast at the same time. There are experiences and sites you treasure and others that are ‘meh.’ 😂 There’s landscape that goes by too fast (kids growing up), and others slow (dirty diapers), but oh how wonderful it all is.

What change in scenery have you experienced lately? What landscapes have brought you joy or you’re glad are passed?


How did COVID impact you and your family?

I feel like my family was one of the lucky ones. We have a house (vs small space), with a yard, and an ability to get out and walk around our neighborhood without issue. I know for many others this would have been a luxury during COVID. I’m still coming to terms with the impact it had on our kids (we all are). How did this disruption change their course in life, or did it? How many of them are dealing with undiagnosed stress, anxiety, etc.? Including my own kids. They appear fine, but what if they aren’t?

A big part of parenting is helping your child and trying to keep them safe. COVID threw us all into unchartered waters and it feels like we’ll be finding out the true impact of the pandemic in the coming years. The pandemic impacted/continues to impact all of us.

Like many health care workers during the pandemic, our youngest son’s therapist decided to leave the profession. They needed a change. We couldn’t fault them. Finding a new psychologist for our son proved challenging—therapists not taking new clients, long wait lists, and more. And the days of “seeing if the therapist is a good fit” seem long gone, when you feel fortunate to have gotten an appointment with anyone at all.

After many calls, emails, and follow-up calls and emails, and research. We found someone for our son. What a relief. At least for now. My son is getting to know the therapist, and we’re providing feedback to them on what’s working for my son and what isn’t. What gives you even more relief is my son being advocating for himself and his therapist being open to the feedback.

How did the pandemic impact your child? What brings you relief now that we’re coming out of it?

I will be stepping away to enjoy Spring Break with the family and back later this month.

Know it All

Is your child/teen a know-it-all?

I recall going through this phase in high school, around the same age as my oldest is now, thinking yea, I understand pretty much everything, what else is there to learn? I can even recall some male classmates raising this and we all agreed. We thought we had it all figured out. Cue laughter, right?

I realize my son’s brain is still forming and he is trying to gain more independence and determine who he is, but the angst I feel — particularly as his time under my roof is shortening, I stress. What have I not taught him? Will he still listen to me, my advice, and guidance? Or has that period of time already passed me by? Does he see his good qualities, does he recognize his strengths? What logic is he using to make decisions? And the list goes on.

He’s a good kid. Yes, I’m biased but believe it to be true. He’s not rebelling outwardly (other than minimal communication). His grades are good. Friends nice. He involved in activities. Than why do I feel so uncertain about preparing him for his future? What have I missed? How can I still help shape who he’ll become?

You might say ‘listen to him’ — when he speaks, believe me I listen. 😊 Don’t judge or criticize — that one may be hard for me especially if I think he’s making a mistake, but I’m going to try. Work to understand him — if he’ll let me, I’m there! And I’m sure there’s more (including being empathetic).

It’s funny how you think you have everything figured out as a teen, and question what you know when you have one. 🥰 Im trying to practice empathy for myself during this period and trying to take it one day at a time.

What advice help you get through uncertain times with your kid?

March Madness

Are you watching the NCAA basketball tournament?

I used to follow college basketball and still enjoy watching a good game on occasion, but I haven’t watched the tournament or really paid attention to it for years. That changed when my oldest came home after practice and I had a game on. I don’t know why I put the game on, but glad I did. My oldest stayed, watched the game with me, and even shared his thoughts (mostly which teams he was rooting for, and how watching the games kind of stressed him out when he thought a team might lose). While there wasn’t much depth per se to the conversation, I’ll take it. I rarely get more than a grunt of acknowledgment out of him on a daily basis. 😊

I suppose I’ll have the tournament games on a lot more in the coming weeks with the hope he’ll continue to engage (even a little conversation from him goes a long way with me).

In what unexpected settings do you get your kids to open up and talk to you?


Reconnecting with old friends feels wonderful.

Our youngest is enjoying high school, though he can feel a little lost sometimes with the large number of students and teachers that can only give each student so much attention.

He was asked by his middle school to come back and be a student judge for the school’s STEM fair. While interested to see what the students came up with, he was more excited to see former teachers, admins, and younger classmates. He was greeted like a rock star, it didn’t hurt that he’s grown considerably taller since he left which added to him standing out. He gave and got big hugs from teachers and admins. I lot of ‘hellos’, ‘how are you?’, and ‘what’s high school like?’ from his old classmates. He relished being seen, acknowledged, and valued (wouldn’t we all?). It was so awesome to witness.

The school is looking for opportunities to bring more of my son, and his peers back on campus. I can share from his experience is was more than worth it. He may have helped judge the competition, but reconnecting was the true prize.

Where does your child feel seen, acknowledged, and valued?