Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Being The Mean Mom

I've always been a mean mom. I believe that my kids need to know that there are consequences to their actions and that life isn't fair. Otherwise, how will they grow to be well-adjusted adults? As a result, I have very well-behaved kids. I'm not always mean, but when the situation calls for it, I have no trouble rising to the occasion. I yell, I spank, I ground, I punish whenever necessary. But this week I'm having to do one of the hardest things I've ever had to do under the 'mean mom' banner.

Big Sister has been dancing since she was three, competitively since she was five. She's really good and she really, really loves it. Which is why when she failed her first class, I threatened that if she didn't get her grades under control she wouldn't be able to dance anymore. Certainly it would hit home at her core and instill just how important her school work was. Right? That was about this time last year at the end of fifth grade when she got her last report card and her first 'NI' grade. Because dance team try-outs happen at the end of the school year, it came with a "last-chance" since we were already contractually obligated for this year's dance team by then. Unfortunately, she must not have thought I was serious... because she has consistently failed to turn in her homework all year and has failed, literally, at least one class each semester - sometimes more than one. Now I'm faced with the hardest thing I've ever had to do: not let her try out for a team next year.

I found out yesterday that even though she's known for months, she hasn't told any of her friends on the team because she is so sad. And every time I think about not getting to see her do something she has such passion for and is so good at, I want to cry. But I refuse to give in. (Plus Hubby adamantly won't let me even if I had a moment of weakness. Not that I've had that many of them...) She's heading into Junior High and, if she couldn't find the balance between school and extra-curricular activities this year while still in elementary school, she has little chance of doing so when she's thrust into the insanity of seven different classes and seven different teachers with homework every night. Instead of enrolling her in summer dance classes, I'm enrolling her in a summer reading program to teach her study skills - because god knows she hasn't listened to anything I've tried to teach or instill in her the past couple of years.

Being a parent sure sucks sometimes. I watch my friends struggle with kids who don't know what they love yet or have decided that video games are all they want to do and I know I'm not alone in these kinds of struggles. But it doesn't make it any easier. Clearly Big Sister would rather dance than do homework but if she can't graduate high school or college, I've failed in my duties as a parent. It frightens me to think I only have six more short years in which to influence her actions and help her figure out how to be an adult and then, whether either of us are ready or not, she will be an adult.

Here's hoping this is only a year break that proves to her how important it is to keep up on her homework so she can return to the thing that I always knew would keep her out of trouble when she gets to high school. I can't fathom if that plan backfires on me. I wish this kid had come with an owner's manual because I could sure use one!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Confessions - and exciting new things

I've been writing (with the purpose of someday being published) for eight years. And for that entire time I've been a solitary writer with the exception of my amazing writing group. After LTUE, I started to network with other writers I'd met and authors I had connected with from their panels. This was relatively easy to do thanks to social media and my addiction to Facebook. One of my new author friends joined a Facebook group that intrigued me. It wasn't one with thousands of members who didn't actually interact but rather just promoted their own things and would junk up my news feed. There are tons of those out there but I have nothing to promote yet and really wanted something that had a personal element to it. This group had rules like you had to live in Utah and either it was relatively new or very select in its membership since there were under fifty members. It sounded like everything I could want so I asked to join.

And then they had to vet me... like they do for the supreme court or something. Apparently the Facebook group is just the online presence for an in-person group. Even cooler! One of the rules were that you had to write with the purpose of being published or already be published. And when I got the email asking for validation of my writing credentials before my membership could be approved, I got just as nervous as I do when I'm applying for a job. And also disappointed figuring there was little chance I would be qualified without actually having any publishing credentials. But to my delight, I did get approved. Apparently my humble blog here and finishing two novels is credit enough which I hadn't even given myself. Fodder for another post perhaps?

I am now a proud member of Utah Fantasy Authors! 

Which brings us to the confessions part of this post... Because the minute I joined I felt like I was cheating on my writing group. I was very secretive about my involvement until well after I'd attended my first monthly meeting. Partly because I didn't know what to expect or if it was going to fulfill the needs that I had joined for in the first place (plus what if I didn't like anyone?), and partly because let's face it I was kind of cheating on them. However, as I went from new girl to full group member, I realized it is completely different. My writing group only focuses on the craft of writing and critique for each other so we can improve. Utah Fantasy Authors is more about banding together to market our books and giving back to other writers who are just starting out. It is actually no different than belonging to a professional organization in my corporate life - which I do - only for writers. I have since confessed to my writing group and they have forgiven me for my indiscretion - even though they all agree it wasn't really cheating. My writing group buddy who has a book coming out this summer is a member too now which also helps alleviate my personal conflict.

This group is full of fabulous writers who are also very cool people. We're planning local author signings, will have a booth at Salt Lake ComicCon in September, and I will be on my first panel as a writer for a presentation at a public library sometime in October. And I will be having guests here on my blog when I get to read and review advanced copies of books that are getting ready to release. Stay tuned - it's going to be a ton of fun... if I can keep up with all of it, that is!