Do you lose sleep over your adult kids?

blond brother and sister with yellow lab

My kids with Angus more than 10 years ago. When they were young and I worried about other things.

A little over a year ago, I wrote this post. It was during the lockdown and I was in high amped worry mode. I was extremely anxious about my daughter who was laid off and was frustrated because her unemployment was on hold — along with 1.5 million other Californians who were lost in the system. She wrote to her assemblywomen, senators, governor, etc. but nobody helped. She’d call everyday to the EDD and nobody answered the phone. They had an 8 a.m. to noon window where they would accept calls. The one time she got through, the person said they were hired to answer the phone but couldn’t access the system. To this day she is still owed thousands of dollars from 2020. I’m going off track, but here’s what I wrote  in October 2020: I read a fascinating story that said “Study Confirms That Parents Still Lose Sleep Worrying About Their Adult Children.” I am definitely on of those parents who loses sleep and I know my dear friend Gabby, who shared this story on Facebook is one, also.
Even before our children are born, we worry about them. We’re relieved when we count the 10 fingers and 10 toes in the hospital, but we still worry. We’re relieved when they do well on their tests in school and make the team, but we still worry. We worry about safety, about their grades, about what they’ll do for a career, about who they’ll one day marry or if they’ll get married at all. The list of things to worry about feels endless. We hope that our worries will ease as our children get older, but it turns out that’s not the case.
Brother and sister staring at eachother

A photo from our beach vacation two years ago.

Can you relate to this as a parent, too? On my current list of worries is the bad air quality from California fires, my kids driving through the Cyclone Bomb weather, which is a rare event with high winds, rain and even snow, plus their general safety living in the Bay Area. I worry that they are secure in their careers and find their work satisfying and are able to make a living. Here’s more from the story about parents who worry about adult kids:
A recent study conducted by Amber J. Seidel of Pennsylvania State University confirms what many parents already know – you never stop worrying about your children. Her study went on to show that parents actually lose sleep worrying about their adult children. Parents, it looks like we’ll be worrying forever. If your children are already adults, you may already know that to be true. In Seidel’s study, 186 heterosexual married couples with adult children were surveyed. On a scale of 1 to 8, they were asked how much assistance they offer their children. Assistance could include financial, emotional or even chatting on the phone. Choosing 1 meant daily assistance and interaction where 8 was only once a year. The parents were also asked to choose from 1 to 5 regarding stress. In this case, choosing 1 meant no stress, and 5 meant the maximum amount of stress. The third thing these parents tracked was how much sleep they got at night. Moms got an average of 6.66 hours and dads got slightly more with an average of 6.69 hours. The results were not the same for moms and dads. For moms, it didn’t matter if they were the ones offering assistance or if their husbands were the ones offering assistance; moms were stressed out and sleeping less either way. Dads showed a lack of sleep and more stress only when they were the ones offering assistance to their adult children. If their wife offered assistance, it didn’t affect them. This either means that dads are not affected in the same way as moms or that the wives weren’t telling their husbands about the assistance causing the dads to be stress free due to lack of knowledge about the situation.
I found it interesting that the dads didn’t lose sleep if their wives were the ones offering support. Or, like the article said, maybe they weren’t aware of what was going on. But the moms lost sleep regardless who was the main person offering support to their kids. Do you worry about your children too, regardless of their age? What do you worry about most?
brother and sister back to back with pug

A more recent photo in our old back yard with Waffles the pug.

The dog days of summer….

I was curious what I was up to a year ago — during day 139 of the COVID shutdown. I was reading a Julia Cameron book called “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again” trying to find motivation. I’m feeling lackadaisical just like I did last summer. Maybe it’s the prospect of more COVID mandates, getting back to my routine after being gone for a week — or maybe it’s just August. The dog days of summer.

pug staring out the car window
Waffles in the car with me when my daughter ran into my son’s house to retrieve my sweater.

What are the dog days of summer? I found this on Wikipedia:

The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius (known colloquially as the “Dog Star”), which Hellenistic astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.

It is hot, humid, we’ve had thunder storms. I’m lethargic. I don’t have a fever, I don’t see any mad dogs and I’m not buying into the bad luck. But otherwise the phrase “dog days of summer” fits.

Okay. About that bad luck. My daughter just called me and said she fell in the dark on her stairs last night trying to get Waffles back in the house. She broke her foot. Now she’s on crutches and trying to get in for an MRI appointment without missing any work. This means she can’t exercise, walk Waffles and will be struggling for weeks to come. I feel like I should be up there to help her. I am thinking this is not good for her mental or physical health.

pug selfies
Selfies with Waffles while he’s intent on watching my daughter outside the car.

Are you feeling the dog days of summer? What are you doing to stay motivated?

Back to Mom duties

Flowers in Berkeley. My daughter took this photo.

I’m on day two of being a mom full time and it’s exhausting. Yesterday was surgery day. We (my son, his girlfriend and me) drove across the Bay Bridge to a UCSF orthopedic surgery center before 8 a.m. We got our son tucked into bed by 3 p.m. In between, my son’s girlfriend and I had a wonderful breakfast and walked around the hills of Mission Bay. Then we drove to Hayes Valley and walked around some more looking at cute shops, the Opera House, San Francisco Ballet and City Hall.

Another one of my daughter’s photos.

I’m loving the cool weather. I’m loving the scenery and spending time with my kids, his girlfriend and siblings.

More Berkeley flowers.

The tiring part was waiting for surgery and feeling relieved but exhausted once it was over and we knew it was a success. I’m staying in an airbnb a mile from my son’s apartment. I walk over carrying a handbag and my computer. I feel like a pack mule on the way back. Yesterday, I logged in more than 26,000 steps. Most of that was the walking around during surgery, but still.

The mom duties include filling the ice cooling machine that wraps my son’s shoulder. Helping him in and out of his sling, buying food. Handing him meds. Helping his girlfriend with dishes and laundry. She’s working as hard as I am. I wondering why it takes two grown women to take care of my son? It’s not really that hard, but just constant every 20 minutes or so. Way more than what I’m used to.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am SO THANKFUL my son wants me here. And that I get to help him! His girlfriend is so wonderful to be with, too. Plus, my daughter and I get to walk Waffles the pug and have time together, as well.

I’m posting pictures of some of the gorgeous flowers I’ve seen on my walks around Berkeley.

Berkeley flowers.

Coincidence or a blessing?

My kids with my dad pre COVID year.

My dad had surgery this morning. I know he wanted me to be there with him. But, my son asked me first to take care of him because he’s having shoulder surgery. So. I’m leaving to take care of my son. My dad joked that I could come to Palm Desert to take him to surgery and from there fly to San Francisco to take my son to his surgery.

I feel badly that I couldn’t be there for my dad. But I called two of my close friends that he knows who are available for anything he needs in the next few weeks. Plus his neighbor agreed to take him to and from surgery. He said it’s a minor procedure on one finger.

This is where the coincidence happened. I got a text from a fellow mom from my kids’ elementary school days. She said “He’s doing great!” She texted me a photo of a note she wrote to my dad, “Tell Elizabeth hil!”

I felt so reassured! So comforted to know that a good friend who was a nurse was taking care of my dad when I couldn’t be there.

The same thing happened when my husband had shoulder surgery. She was the assigned nurse. When my husband opened his eyes post surgery, he said “What are you doing here?” She had come into the waiting room to reassure me everything had gone well before she led me into the post op room to see my husband.

This has happened more than once. When my dad had surgery on his ankle, I was allowed in the pre-op area. Another good friend, a fellow swim mom who is a devout Christian, was his nurse. She knew my dad from the pool deck, where he was a proud grandfather at all of our kids’ meets.

Then when my son fell off his bike his freshman year of college, he had to come home for surgery. I was so nervous. The anesthesiologist walked in and was a husband of a good friend. Our son had tutored their daughter in high school for math. He said, “I saw his name on the list of incoming patients, so I asked to take his case.”

Playing croquet in our old back yard.

What do you think? Are these coincidences or is something else at work?

The secret to handing out unsolicited advice

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I learned from my daughter that she didn’t like my unsolicited advice. Really, nobody does. I catch myself giving unsolicited advice to people I see in the park, to other parents, especially on the swim team, and to my adult kids — my kids really don’t like it. I’m sure all those other people are so appreciative of me, right?

I saw an interesting article called How I Secretly Give Unsolicited Parenting Advice To My Friend Without Hurting Her Feelings, by Diane Mtetwa on the website Moms.com. Naturally, I was interested to find out what her secrets were. Here’s an excerpt.

Unsolicited advice can be turned down fairly quickly. This is how I offer advice to a mom friend before assuming she needs it.

Nobody likes unsolicited advice. The desire to receive unsolicited advice diminishes, even more, when you become a parent and it literally comes at you from every angle. You don’t even have to wait until the baby arrives before everyone you know has an opinion about how you should raise your child. People who don’t even have kids somehow think they know more about how to raise kids than you do and don’t hesitate to put their two cents in.

This barrage of unsolicited advice makes most parents learn to tune it out together or show resistance to the advice before they even hear it out. For the most part, this is for the best in order to keep your sanity as a parent but some advice, even unsolicited is good, might actually help you out, and doesn’t hurt to listen to. As much as I hate unsolicited advice myself, I know that I’ve gotten some good ideas when I’ve been too stubborn or prideful to ask for help. I don’t know if it was doubt in myself about my ability to raise a child or not wanting to admit that motherhood was as hard as it was but in many ways when I first became a mother, rather than asking other people for advice, I was determined to make my life harder by re-inventing the wheel and figuring it out on my own.

What I learned from my own experiences is that I didn’t love unsolicited advice for several reasons. The first being that people who knew nothing about my situation were keen to offer up advice not knowing if I’d tried whatever they were suggesting already or not. That was my biggest pet peeve about it and when people insisted that they knew my child better than me. I also deep down inside took it as someone questioning my parenting and assuming that I was doing it wrong. I’m sure this was true in some cases, but friends and family members who truly were concerned and knew how rough of a time I was having just wanted to help. I keep this in mind when I’m giving my own unsolicited advice but try to do it as secretly as I possibly can to avoid resistance.

Some of the author’s secrets to giving out unsolicited advice sound like great skills for all people to develop better relationships. Her tips include listening, sympathizing, and lending a hand. The article is definitely worth the read. She said she makes sure she tells the friend confiding in her that she doesn’t know her situation or child better than she does, but she can empathize. Also, she pulls out a story similar to her friend’s to say, I know someone who went through something similar. The end result is her friend will usually ask her for advice. And then it’s not unsolicited.

randk 11
When we were all much younger.

What are your thoughts about unsolicited advice? 

The Case Against Parenting Advice

Mother with young son at the beach.
Back in the day when I believed I was a great parent.

I used to be big on giving parenting advice. I’d talk to newer parents on the pool deck and give them advice about swim parenting. I had after all learned from great parents with older swimmers. Lots of advice gets handed out in the stands — like what to feed your kids between prelims and finals and how to start the college recruiting process.

My advice around the pool deck morphed into a weekly column of sports parenting advice. You can read my five years of articles here. But then the COVID year hit and I no longer believe I have anything valuable to share. OR the right to give advice.

My daughter had a very tough year with being laid off and struggling with anxiety and depression while sheltering in isolation. I looked on without knowing how to help. For a month or two she didn’t want to talk to me and I’d learn how she was doing from my husband or my son. It was beyond hard. When that passed and she texted me, I was so grateful. But, I learned from her lots of things that I’d done as a parent that was awful and wrong. I think I overlooked signs of her anxiety and depression for years. Why on earth would anyone want to take advice from me? Maybe I can share what not to do. If anyone wants to listen.

This hard, hard year makes me understand that most parents don’t want to hear advice from anyone. I know I never liked unsolicited advice from well-meaning parents. We’re all winging it and it’s a job that doesn’t necessarily get easier as our kids get older. We’re trying to do the best we can.

Mother with baby girl.
Me and my baby girl.

What are your thoughts about parenting advice?

Speaking of parenting advice…

black and white photo from 1960s of siblings
Me and my big brother in the 1960s.

I ran across a fascinating article today filled with more than 20 parenting tips from the 19th century. I’m researching what daily life was like for women in the late 1800s and early 1900s for my great-grandmother Nellie’s cookbook project and I ran across 24 Puzzling Parenting Tips From the 1800s by Ellen Gutoskey on Mental Floss.

From lancing gums to hanging babies in cages out the window, there were many bizarre parenting tips. Their idea of what was safe wouldn’t fly today. Many of their kitchen cures included alcohol and opium laced concoctions to soothe stomachaches and crankiness. Also, the article references many parenting books, so they were a thing back then as they are now.

Here’s an excerpt:

A lot has changed between the 19th century and today, but one thing that hasn’t is the plethora of available parenting advice—though the following tips would likely make today’s parents scratch their chins. From giving a single slice of bread as a snack to lancing gums, here are a few puzzling parenting tips from the 1800s, adapted from an episode of The List Show on YouTube.

1. Put babies in cages hanging outside of windows to get them fresh air. In his 1894 book The Care and Feeding of Children, Dr. Luther Emmett Holt introduced the concept of “airing,” or exposing infants to cold temperatures in order to improve their immune systems and overall health. Though Holt didn’t necessarily tell people to attach cages to their windows, products like the Boggins’ Window Crib soon cropped up for city-dwellers who were short on yard space (although it should be noted that a 1916 ad for the Window-Crib appealed to city-folk and country-dwellers alike, even claiming that the grandchild of President Woodrow Wilson was a happy window baby). The cages were especially popular in smoggy London, and they didn’t fall out of fashion until well into the 20th century.

2. Instill obedience by never giving kids what they want.

Many parenting books from the 1800s held that obedience was the first and most important quality to instill in young children. People thought it was the best way to ensure that kids didn’t grow up to be greedy, capricious, or self-absorbed adults

To teach obedience, Cassell’s Household Guide from 1869 outright forbade parents from giving children—babies included—what they wanted. Ever. According to the guide, “It is commonly believed that no harm can come of letting a child have its own way, so long as it is a mere babe. But this is a serious delusion.”

What if your 2-year-old pleads for a few measly grapes between breakfast and lunch, you ask? According to Cassell and company, the answer is a resounding “Absolutely not!” Giving snacks to a hungry child still counts as giving in, and it encourages them to expect food at “unsuitable times.”

To the authors’ credit, they do say that “No harsh words, no impatient gestures, need be added to enforce the rule,” but it’s still probably a stricter snack time policy than most parents would enforce today.

A lot has changed since the late 1800s and early 1900s. When I young in the 60s and 70s, it was acceptable to spank children. Teachers had paddles hung up threateningly above their desks. I remember the great show one teacher would have of paddling a rowdy boy in front of the entire class. Can you imagine that happening today?

Our eating has changed, too. My mom, who was a home-ec major mind you, believed that canned foods like Chef Boyardee or fruits and vegetables were just as healthy as fresh foods. She said they tested the vitamin levels and there was no difference.

We rode our bikes without helmets, rode buses on our own throughout downtown Seattle, and walked to school alone beginning in kindergarten. Yes, the world has changed.

Parents didn’t believe in praising children when I was a kid. That would lead to big heads.

BW photo of toddlers in the 1960s

What parenting practices do you remember from your childhood that are now out-dated?