Monday, February 25, 2013

A lesson in parenting from supermom Maya Christopher

c. maya christopher

 “…Because you know I had a stroke and that was a big eye opener for me.”

A stroke, I thought, YOU’RE 34!

“I had no idea what was happening. I felt my face tightening up, I didn’t know what was going on.”


I met Maya through a friend in the wonderful world of Facebook, after she posted this status. I had initially wanted to interview her about the stress of parenting.

My child just learned a tough lesson in being grateful. We never have a traditional Christmas in my household and open their presents early. I got her an iPod Nano and Lil Miss (while turning up her nose), "You couldn't et the BIG one?" ......... Well as it stands now she got tears and a $22 1Direction CD for Christmas. Nothing else. A small iPod is better than NO iPod. Not raising no ungrateful, spoiled, unappreciative kids around here. So while her brother enjoys $100 gift card and baby girl enjoys her toys; she'll be sitting here looking stupid. #NoPunkAssParentsAroundHere

I was so impressed! In an age where too many parents seem to be propagating an entitlement myth, it was refreshing to see good parenting in action.

So how did she respond?

She learned her lesson. The next day, she came and apologized. I said to her, ‘You still understand that you’re not getting anything for Christmas?’

She said, ‘yes, I understand.’

You’re not obligated to get these gifts. I don’t have to buy gifts. Christmas is not about gifts it’s about being thankful for what you have.
Anyway, her dad surprised her with Justin Beiber tickets.

Oh, very nice!

Maya shares custody of two teenagers and an 8 year old. They stay with their dad during the week, and see mom every other weekend and holidays.

I’m the disciplinarian when it comes to her. Her dad never really disciplines her. So, [He] is getting all the teenage trouble. I believe a lot of parents want to be friends with their kids, and if you want them to be active members of society you have to discipline them….They have their chores, I don’t baby them.

I’ve found that kids today are totally different from when I grew up. There’s no respect.

I became a parent when I was 20, I was a baby myself
I still go to my mom for help, we have a really good relationship. I try to mentor a lot when there are a lot of younger parents, like 12 year olds think it’s “cool” to become a young parent. No it’s not cool.

They have no idea that this is a child that you have to raise for the rest of their lives.
There’s a lot involved in being a parent, a lifetime job.

Back to the stroke,  How in the world did this happen?

It happened on New Years Day 2012. I was living in Louisville, KY at the time and was cooking, baby sitting a friends kids and about to eat. As I was chewing my food my face felt really tight. I went to the mirror and my smile was crooked. I immediately went to the ER and after many tests was told I had a stroke. I never had high blood pressure or any other health problems. I couldn't believe it. It took a minute to process I had a stroke and it left the right side of my face paralyzed.

But 33 year olds don't usually have strokes...

My body just finally got tired and just started pushing back
I would snack, snack, snack, snack, snack, and started gaining weight that was a wake up call.

I made the best of it though and used it to help others and become healthier and eliminate my stress.

How do you handle stress?

If I can’t control it there’s nothing I can do about it just let it go, it will work itself out. The big thing was that I learned to say no. I started to spend time alone, letting my brain relax. Working out helped a lot

First thing first, I pray and then you work out I pray about it and let it go.

So you do your exercise, and pray. The kids are agreeable about the alone time?
I would imagine they would realize the importance of it.

They are actually really good about that. Other people are shocked by that.

What sorts of things do you do in your alone time?

Things like walking, reading on the couch.

 How did your kids respond to the stroke? I’m sure they were scared.
We make jokes about it because that’s the way they [the kids] cope.
My son is my mini husband. We practice smiling.
We joke, we are still the same people our faces just don’t work the same.

How do your kids handle stress?
They are really open with me. They know they won’t be judged.
They can go to their grandparents and not be judged.
I have conversations with my daughter
I can pretty much hone in on what s wrong

c. 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fear, Dread, Anxiety


I was watching an old episode of 30 Something where Michael and Elliot have 4 days to come up with an incredible ad campaign for an art museum. A daunting process, to be sure. Made all the more complicated because it was for a friend. It shows their creative process along with fear, dread, and anxiety personified.

I know I experience those three emotions on a regular basis. I got to thinking, how would it change my reaction if I began to literally think of them outside of my head, as 3 annoying people?

How would we treat people who talked to us that way? Would we let them paralyze us? Would we let them sap the energy out of us? We tell them to get lost, in no uncertain terms, and we would stay away from them, right? Or at least not be welcoming. Why, then, would we even think about entertaining these same statements, making them feel the least bit comfortable, just because they happen to be in our heads?

In a sense, it would almost be easier if emotions like fear, dread, and anxiety were people. Then you could just lock the door, tell them to go away, or get a restraining order. Unfortunately, they are very real nagging emotions, which are almost impossible to evade. They simply don’t go away that easily, despite our telling them to.

They show up uninvited at all the right situations; well, right for them, anyways. The little nagging voices in your head will swarm to stress situations, like bees to honey. They will thwart even your most well prepared venture, or try to, at least. If only we could learn to treat them like the uninvited guests that they are, and simply show them the door, or at least tune them out.

So how do we do it? It's actually very simple in theory.  It just takes conscious effort, and many "re-efforts"to get rid of them.

• "STOP!" the negative thought; Saying it out loud, cheesy as it may seem, is even better.

• Truth is your best weapon to combat these guys. Of course anything can happen, but you are well prepared and competent to withstand even the worst situation. List the reasons why you will succeed.

• Think of something else. Anything else.  Do not give them space in your head.

Back to the show: In the end, it turned out, that Michael and Elliot were indeed thwarted by fear dread and anxiety. Their campaign sucked, just because they allowed the terrible trio to invade their space.

We won't make the same mistake.

c. 2013