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My Daughter Will Get Kicked Off Campus if She Tests Positive

It’s come to my attention that I get more stressed than my kids do when it comes to back-to-school. There’s always a couple of weeks before I take that first day of school picture when my anxiety is a little heightened and I’m feeling sad that time is passing so quickly.

The last couple of years have been even worse with all the uncertainty of Covid and wondering what we should do to protect our children.

This gets even more complicated as we send our kids off to college. In years past, we’ve hoped they make good decisions because that can impact their futures. Now, we’re hoping they make good decisions because it could impact their lives and the lives of others.

But what if it’s the university that’s making dangerous decisions?

I have a student attending Belmont University in Nashville, TN this year as a junior. Like most parents who have had kids starting college these last couple of years, there have been a lot of ups and downs. She started out strong in the fall of 2019, came home for spring break in March of 2020…and then didn’t go back until January 2021.

There have been a lot of tears. A lot of unmet expectations. A lot of adjustments.

When Belmont University allowed students to go back in the fall of 2020, they handled the health crises beautifully.

  • A dorm was set aside for students who had tested positive.
  • Masks were required both indoors and out on campus.
  • Students were not allowed to go into each other’s dorm rooms.
  • When my daughter was sick and had to have a Covid test (which, thankfully, came back negative), the school brought food to her dorm room so she could quarantine until she got the results.
  • She was able to get vaccinated even before I was because the school offered it.

So, imagine my surprise this year when I received their latest Covid policies:

  • If you are vaccinated and experience a breakthrough infection, a plan for an off-campus isolation space for a minimum of 10 days. If you have experienced a close contact, as long as you have uploaded proof of your vaccination to Belmont’s Health Services portal, you will not need to quarantine but will be asked to monitor for symptoms.  
  • If you are NOT vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19, a plan for an off-campus isolation space for a minimum of 10 days. If you are NOT vaccinated OR have not uploaded your vaccination record to Health Services and experience a close contact, you will need to have a plan for an off-campus quarantine space for a minimum of 10 days.  

On her second night in her dorm room, my daughter attended a dorm meeting. She was texting me because they had to put in writing what their “Covid plan” was going to be.

We live in Colorado. We have no family or friends in the area. Our choice will be either a hotel or an AirBnB.

Not only that, but it was announced at the meeting that if they test positive the university will take their dorm key away so they cannot come back until the quarantine period is finished.

Here are the issues with this policy:

  • Belmont University has an out-of-state student population of 70% (Source). This means that possibly thousands of students could be unleashed in the Nashville area over the course of this year because they have no place else to go.
  • I’m sure many students would hesitate to disclose a positive Covid test knowing they will basically be homeless for 10 days.
  • If my daughter tests positive, that means her roommates have already been exposed. Instead of all staying together and quarantining, now three kids might possibly have to find outside accommodations.
  • If a kid DOES have family or friends in the area, now they’re exposing another group to the virus.
  • If the solution is to go to a hotel, now even more people have been exposed.
  • If the student is from out of state and the parent has to fly in to take care of them, this could lead to more exposure because the parent has to go BACK at some point.

I have talked to many other friends who have college-age students around the country. In most cases, the school is offering “quarantine housing” or the student is able to quarantine in their dorm room. So far, I have yet to find another school that has the same “you get kicked off campus” policy.

And the part that I need to own as a parent is knowing that this was going to happen before I sent my daughter to school. I’ll be honest – I read the policy, but there was a big part of me that didn’t believe it. It wasn’t until my daughter told me that the school would take their key that I began to panic.

The message there to all of us parents is read the fine print and question it.

Our kids’ lives (and the lives of others) could depend on it.

Catherine Tidd is the owner of Social Seed Marketing and the bestselling author of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow . Based in Denver, Colorado, she loves to golf to escape her three teenagers and can often be found in her garden (when it’s not snowing) with her beloved dog, Max.

My road-trip through Dolly Parton’s America during a pandemic

I just got back from taking my oldest daughter to college in Nashville, a trip I’d been dreading since…well…I guess since March 2020. Haley had come home on March 9, 2020, packed for a weeklong spring break. Ten months later she went back.

The 2020 spring semester was scary, but easier – the school had made the decision of whether or not she should return to campus for us when they closed like so many other universities. But I spent the summer sweating (literally), wondering if she would return in the fall. After careful consideration, she decided to stay home and take online classes, saving the money for room and board, and I had a four-month reprieve on making a trip I didn’t want to take. But in January 2021 it was time to go back.

This was stressful for me for a few reasons:

  1. She’d gotten a car, which meant she (meaning we) now had to drive it from Colorado to Tennessee.

  2. Out of an abundance of caution, we were distancing ourselves from my parents, so they weren’t available to stay with my younger kids (thank you for stepping up, Aunt Kristi).

  3. I had to fly home after driving with her – something I’m not excited to do when the entire country is healthy.

  4. Did I mention we had to drive across the country?

As anxious as I was to get out of the house a little, driving across the middle of America during a pandemic and overwhelming political angst was not really what I wanted to do – I was thinking more along the lines of an easy stroll through HomeGoods. Fortunately, her Honda Civic, Rhonda the Honda, got amazing gas mileage, which meant that we could keep stops (and exposure) hopefully to a minimum.

If we didn’t have a pandemic going on, I’d advise everyone to take a road trip to see how people are dealing with the pandemic. I live in a somewhat liberal bubble – with a few gun-toting Republicans to give us some spice – and while I know that not everyone handles the pandemic like Colorado, it was eye-opening to see how different everything really is.

The moment – and I do mean within the first mile – of crossing the Colorado/Kansas border…everything seemed to change. Lots of large, permanent-looking signs supporting Trump lined the highway and while every gas station had a sign on the door requiring masks, “required” doesn’t mean the same thing in Kansas as it does in Colorado.

As we headed east, things got even looser. By the time we stopped for the night in Missouri, I looked in disbelief at the packed restaurant parking lots as I picked up a quick sandwich for my daughter and me to eat at the hotel.

So this is what it’s like in America.

I can’t say I was angry – I was just pretty much in shock. I’m an avid news watcher (something I’m actually trying to cut back on), but you don’t really understand what’s going on everywhere else until you see it for yourself. And I will admit that I am pretty quick to judge people who aren’t handling the pandemic as I believe they should – just as they’re probably pretty quick to judge me.

Which is where Dolly Parton comes in.

Dolly Parton’s America

Last spring, as the kids were trying to make the most out of being at home, my girls would often get a speaker, beach towels, and sunscreen and sit out on our back porch doing homework or making bracelets – anything that would make them feel occupied and a little normal. Through most of this time, they listened to music – until my oldest daughter turned on the Dolly Parton’s America podcast. I heard snippets of it as I worked in my garden (the thing that was making me feel more normal), but I didn’t get to listen to the whole thing. So, my daughter and I listened to it in the car.

Now, the week before the trip, I’d been listening to the TED Radio Hour discussion on conflict. Ironically enough, the man who interviewed Dolly for the Dolly Parton podcast, Jad Abumrad, was a guest on that conflict show. To paraphrase, he basically said she was fascinating in how she handled conflict. How at her concerts, a MAGA guy could be standing next to a drag queen, but they’re all having a great time. How she has an uncanny ability to lift herself up without disparaging anyone else – and that it’s sometimes frustrating. As the interviewer, he would sometimes get mad on her behalf about something that had happened to her. But she would never take the “anger” bait. After hearing this, I couldn’t wait to listen to the full podcast to answer this question:

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE???

I’ve listened to some Dolly music and I’ve always liked her, however, I’ve never really considered myself a fan. But from the beginning of the podcast…I was completely hooked. I mean, this woman is so fascinating that there are college classes totally dedicated to analyzing Dolly (which I kind of feel bad about. Who would want THAT??). I learned the words “Dollitics” (how Dolly handles politics) and “Dolliology” (the study of Dolly Parton) and listened to her talk about her story, her beliefs, and her philosophies (can I coin the term “Dolliosophies”?).

For an incredibly self-deprecating woman…she is brilliant. The podcast played snippets of her in situations where people are pressing and pressuring her to take a stand and her ability to side-step these questions while still giving thoughtful answers is nothing short of remarkable. She really never says anything bad about anyone and up until that point, I didn’t even know that was possible. I mean, we all have opinions and I always thought it was human nature to voice them. But somehow she doesn’t.

A Surreal Audio/Visual Experience

I’m not sure if I can adequately explain what it’s like to drive through the heart of America in January 2021 while listening to a woman deftly navigate a minefield of questions about current events somehow without insulting anyone.

As I passed sign after sign supporting different sides of politics, abortion, and religion, all while listening to a woman so sure of herself and her own beliefs that she was able to successfully work and be friends with people who might oppose what she believes in all while keeping her own counsel…it was weird. Even as I type this, I don’t know how she does it, but she makes it look effortless – and for that I’m envious. The only time I heard her use the word “hate” in the entire podcast was when she talked about people who say they’re Christians, but don’t walk the walk.

And who can argue with that?

Now, keep in mind that not everyone is on board with her Dolliosophy (I seriously hope someone picks up on that). Her own sister thinks that by keeping silent, she’s not helping anyone. Which brings up the more complicated question: If you’re quiet…are you complicit?

I know many others will think so. And maybe I do too. It’s complicated.

But after driving through four – no, wait. Five – states (my daughter and I somehow didn’t realize we would be going through Illinois. It’s seriously amazing we got to our destination), I began to wish that I really was living in Dolly Parton’s America.

It seems like a pretty great place to be.

Catherine Tidd is the author of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow and the owner of Social Seed Marketing. She also fancies herself as a professional boxed wine taster and the best triple digit golfer in the Denver area. Find out more by visiting www.CatherineTidd.com.

 

I Wish My Teenager Would Panic a Little More

I’m seething just a little bit as I write this, and my poor keyboard is getting the brunt of my frustration.

I have been addicted to my social media feeds over the last couple of weeks, so I’ve seen many articles about how to help our kids get through this unprecedented time. Suggestions for how to get your younger children to stay on track now that schools have moved online, tips for activities that will keep them busy, and how to talk to your kids without panicking them have been all over the news and social media.

What I need is an article that helps me panic my kids.

I have three teenagers, one of whom is home from college. She came home for spring break on March 9th and I suspect that she’s here for the rest of the semester (although her college hasn’t communicated that quite yet). We went through what many teens are experiencing: disappointment with canceled activities and the abrupt end to her freshman year in college. 

But that’s moved on to, “Hey! The rest of my friends from high school are home from college, too!”

Being a mother to an 18-year-old during a quarantine is a little difficult; they’re legally adults, but you still hold the majority of the power. While I can say, “No, you can’t do that” to my 14 and 16-year-olds, that’s a little more difficult with someone who has lived across the country on her own for the last 6 months.

As many of us have experienced, I’ve fluctuated between feeling like I’m overreacting to feeling like I’m not reacting enough. I’ve done what the experts say as far as preparation, but when it comes to reigning in the kids and how much social interaction they’re allowed to have…that’s been more of a grey area for me.

However, it’s about to turn more black and white.

I’ve talked to other parents and asked what they’re doing (although I wish I had more confidence to just say, “This is what we’re doing”) and most seem to be in agreement.

So, why did my daughter just get home from a trip to buy a guitar with two of her friends?

I had given them permission to go through a drive-thru and have lunch at someone’s house. The next thing I know, they’re walking in the door with my daughter’s new purchase with little smiles on their faces like, “We know you won’t like this, but we did it anyway.”

And that’s when I started beating on my keyboard to write this blog.

I looked at those girls – those church-going, straight-A, amazing young women – and said, completely stunned, “I’m about to use a word I never thought I’d use about you three. You’re being selfish.”

I’ve tried to find the balance between being supportive and understanding about all they’re missing during the spring semester…and wanting to shake them and say, “Do you realize there are real problems going on out there? That you’re worried about a sorority formal while I’m watching the economy tank? That by doing what you’re doing, you could prolong this isolation even more?”

From the conversations I’ve had with other parents, I don’t think I’m alone in this. Yes, I want my children to feel safe and secure, but I’m starting to think they also need a wake-up call about what’s really happening. I think that they need to understand the bigger picture. At the very least, I think they need to have their car keys taken away.

Or maybe that’s just what’s about to happen in my house.

Catherine Tidd is the author of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow and the owner of Social Seed Marketing. You can read more of her blogs at www.CatherineTidd.com

 

Take THAT, Dead Husband: Decorating my House for Christmas

In some ways, Christmas is the one time of the year that I embrace my widowhood.

I know that sounds a little heartless, but hear me out before you make that judgment.

It has nothing to do with how much I miss my husband – that’s something I can’t even put into words. And every year, I go through the usual heartbreak that most people my situation do: I stare at the empty chair my husband used to occupy for Christmas dinner. I apologize to my dad because he is now the person forced to wrestle my tree into the stand. I grit my teeth while shopping for the electronics my kids have on their Christmas lists that I don’t understand and will never fully know how to operate.

Single on Valentine’s Day: Is a Reservation for One Really So Bad?

I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day.

On the one hand, I can’t get enough chocolate.  When I was pregnant with my son (who was born on February 11th), my craving went into hyper drive and I went through several boxes of Hershey’s Pot of Gold.

Every day.

I’m kind of surprised he didn’t come out covered in some sort of caramel with a nougat center.  And when he didn’t sleep for weeks after his birth, I wasn’t sure if it was due to the typical newborn nighttime-is-the-best-time-to-be-awake schedule or if he was all hopped up on sugar and trying to detox.

So, that’s the part of Valentine’s Day I like – the candy that I could buy any time of the year, but somehow seems more acceptable in the middle of February.  The part that I don’t like is the sympathetic head tilt and soft “oh, you poor thing” when I tell people that I’m single.

Yup.  Single.

What most people don’t realize is that I’m fine with it.  Or I’ve learned to be fine with it and the fact that my late husband hated Valentine’s Day with a passion has certainly helped.  For the first couple of years as a single parent, I held a pity-party for one every February 14th but by the third year, I picked myself up, wiped the melted chocolate from my mouth and said, “Wait a minute.  He hated this day anyway and probably would have handed over those wilted roses with a frown.  So, why am I so upset?”

Like many men out there, my husband hated the idea that greeting card companies insisted that he give me flowers and chocolate just because of a random date on a calendar.

“It’s a racket!” He pronounced our first year of marriage (after he had duped me with wine and roses while we were dating).  “WHY do I have to do this just because Hallmark tells me to?  I should just be able to do it on my own time.  That’s what Valentine’s Day does!  It takes away the element of surprise!”

Well.  That may very well be true.  But a stronger point would have been made if he actually did surprise me on another random day.

While being single in my 40s was not something that was on my radar when we married in 1996, I’ve made peace with it.  As a new widow, I dated early mainly because I had a fear of being alone for the rest of my life.  But with time usually comes wisdom and I know I don’t have to be alone if I don’t want to be.  But for the first time in my life…I don’t mind that I am.

So, now I’m single – no roses and no disgruntled husband handing me the gigantic box of chocolates that I crave every year.  And while I miss my husband with all of my heart, I will still spend the evening with the people I love, my children, probably making heart-shaped pancakes for dinner and watching them rifle through the boxes of Valentine’s Day cards they received at school.

And for me, that’s not such a bad way to spend an evening.

When they go to bed, I will sit with the chocolate that I bought myself, a glass of wine that I alone picked out, and watch a chick flick that I love.  I will put on my comfy PJs, lounge on my couch, and probably answer the phone call of at least one friend who is annoyed with her husband for eating the enormous dinner she cooked for the occasion and then promptly sitting down on the couch to watch The Military Channel while she did all of the dishes.

And although she won’t be able to see me, my head will be at a sympathetic tilt while I say softly into the phone, “Oh, you poor thing.”

Catherine Tidd is a widow, mother, and the author of the book “Confessions of a Mediocre Widow.”

Need a to Plan a Kid’s Party or Parents’ Night Out? Win a Karaoke Party for 25!

I don’t care how old you are…there’s an inner Dancing Queen in all of us.

Wait. I’ve got to back this up.

Years ago, a friend of mine told me about a magical venue in another state where you could rent private rooms and sing karaoke. I was secretly jealous that she had experienced such a place and wished the same enchanted experience, where I could spend the evening with a microphone in my hand as I danced the night away.

Well, guess what, Denver? That place is here.

The minute I heard that Voicebox had opened in the RiNo District downtown, I knew I had to try it. I invited my friends and their kids to check out their largest suite, which accommodates up to 25 people, and we all counted the days and added to our playlists until it was time to go.

We weren’t disappointed.voicebox

This is not your average karaoke lounge. Yes, there’s a full bar for the adults and a great and highly-rated food menu that my kids enjoyed…but that’s just the beginning. Before you even get there, you can start uploading your song list and when you get there, just enter the code for the room into your phone and you’re immediately connected. You can manage the songs you want to play and the lights in the room that swirl, making everyone jump to their feet and dance while you each get a turn on the mic.

Not only that, but tambourines are provided for your backup singers.

I watched my brother-in-law who is a vice president at a large corporation get up and sing “Shake It Off.” My mom and I sang a song from The Beatles. The kids ranged from Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez to The Eagles. My best friends jammed to Cyndi Lauper, Bon Jovi, and our time was cut short just before we got up there to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Although we had booked two hours, we could have easily stayed longer; rarely have I been somewhere where the adults of all ages have just as much fun as the kids. And with affordable prices and rates set up for anything from a bachelorette party to a kids’ birthday party (yes, I would host a party there for my kids – each group is kept very separate), I know we’ll be back.

In fact as we were leaving, my friend leaned over and whispered, “We need to come back for a girls’ night out” just as my daughter grabbed my hand and said, “Can I have my birthday here?”

Contest

Voicebox wants YOU to karaoke! Win a night out with your friends kids, a birthday party or a parent’s night out. The reservation is for up to 25 people, plus an assortment of bites. Good for birthday parties and parents-night-outs! You may enter as many as five times.

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Dead Men Don’t Talk…Or Do They?

The weather is getting cooler. Bare branches make eerie shadows in the moonlight.

There’s never been a better time to go look at some dead stuff.

I’m sure there’s a historian out there who just cringed a little.

But really, when you’re talking about kids and history at this time of year…what better way to entice them?

It was on a cool, fall evening such as I described that my kids and I headed out for an adventure. And here’s what we discovered.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is temporarily hosting a remarkable exhibit called Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs. By combining historical facts with new scientific discoveries, this event is sure to please everyone in the family – from the mom who enjoys looking at the beautifully intricate ancient art…to the kid who can use a CT scanner to investigate a replica mummy.

As an added bonus, the museum is showing Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, the perfect complement to the exhibit. This IMAX film shows not only how archeologists discovered valuable ancient tombs, but also how current scientists are using DNA from the mummies they’ve uncovered (no pun intended) to help find cures for diseases humans still suffer from today.

Did you know that the Egyptians were meticulous in detailing almost everything they did…except the mummification process, which is still a mystery? Neither did I until I saw that movie.

The IMAX film was the perfect introduction to the exhibit; it gave us some background on new and old breakthroughs that really enhanced our experience as we walked through the mummies and other pieces on display. My kids loved listening to the experts scattered around, speaking about ancient techniques and rituals. And I enjoyed learning more about both the Egyptian and Peruvian cultures.

So as the weather gets colder and you’re looking for something to do while you stay warm…go check out the mummies at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Usually mummies don’t go anywhere, but these will only be there until February 5, 2017.

 

Going Viral: Thoughts from a Contagious Blogger

When one sits down to write a blog on a Saturday night because one is stuck at home with a bad cold and one cannot breathe through their clogged sinuses, one doesn’t usually expect to check one’s blog stats and find that one’s blog has been read by hundreds of thousands of people.

But there you have it.

Frankly, right now I don’t know whether I should take credit for that blog or bounce the attribution to Mucinex – it certainly did its part.

As a writer, I’ve done pretty well over the years: I’ve gotten a book published and I’ve built a brand entirely from scratch, developing a modest but healthy following under the name Widow Chick. My pieces range from dealing with grief to life as a single parent and, most recently, a blog where I can express anything that comes into this hyperactive brain of mine.

My blogging career has progressed much like anyone else’s – with slow gain and a few leaps along the way.

I just wasn’t expecting this catapult.

As all of you writers know, expressing yourself is a very personal undertaking. Sitting down to a blank screen and trying to write what you really want to express can be cathartic at times and downright intimidating at others.

And then to press “publish” and allow others to read what you’ve written…that can be a scary moment. To be honest, when I hit that button on October 9th I really didn’t think anyone would read that piece. I’ve written blogs somewhat similar to what I published that night and while I’ve always gotten a “good job” or “you suck” comment on social media, it’s never amounted to more than a few thousand reads – if I’m lucky.

The irony of that post – that it’s about politics when I am probably the least political person I know – and that it’s gone viral is not lost on me. When I told my sister, “I don’t get it. This wasn’t full of stats or scientific or anything,” she said, “That’s probably why people like it.”

Okay. I guess I’ll go with that. And as my agent said, “Just enjoy it.”

It came at the right time, as far as where I am as a writer. If this had happened years ago, I would have basked in the compliments but focused on the negative comments. I would have taken anything that someone didn’t agree with and stewed on it for weeks.  I have an overall five-star status on Amazon for my book Confessions of a Mediocre Widow, but for a while all I could think about were the few comments from people who didn’t like it.

At this point in my writing career, I’ve realized that all of that may be about my writing, but it really has very little to do with me. I’m still the same person. I still think the same way. My writing style works for me. It’s my art. I can see that my job as a writer is to allow people a small glimpse into my life while keeping most of it private. People agree with what I’ve written or they don’t – but whatever it is might prompt a conversation they might otherwise not have.

Unfortunately, my parents haven’t been trained to have such thick skin. With every negative comment, my mom calls and cries, “Don’t respond!” (which I have no intention of doing). My dad has been silent through this little episode, but I have a feeling that “what were you thinking?” has crossed his mind a few times. However, when I told my 10-year-old that some people were writing some not-so-nice things she exclaimed, “That’s when you know you’ve really made it!”

As my agent told me years ago, “True writers don’t write to earn millions. They write because they feel they have something to say and to connect with people.”

Well, connect I have…however unintentionally. (But the millions would still be nice.)

And so far, the only bad thing that has really come of this is that I’ve had Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” stuck in my head for days.

Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate….

Now you probably do, too.

Oh, well. You can leave your negative comment below.

Catherine Tidd is a writer, widow, and mom who is constantly trying to get her kids to put their dishes in the dishwasher. She is also the owner of Social Seed Marketing. You can find more of her pieces here on Mile High Mamas, the Yes, You’re Crazy blog, and the blog Widow Chick. Her book Confessions of a Mediocre Widow can be found on Amazon.com.

Is Teenage Depression Contagious?

It’s hard to believe that the beginning of the school year is around the corner here in Colorado.  And with that comes many things I’m looking forward to.

A quiet house.

A quiet house.

Did I mention a quiet house?

But it also comes with things I’m not so fond of: Purchasing school supplies like paper and electricity for schools with ever-shrinking budgets. Arguing with my daughters about what shorts are appropriate to wear to school and what should not be worn outside of their bedrooms. Going “shopping for clothes” under my son’s bed. Finding out that I forgot to clean out their lunch boxes from last year.

And, of course, the drama.

Sure, we’ve experienced a little here and there over the summer, but it really increases once the kids are back in school.  With children who span elementary school through high school, I get to experience it all – from the “she didn’t invite me to her birthday party” to “I’m trying to stay away from that girl because bullies everyone on Instagram.”

Fun times.

But one of the most trying experiences I’ve had as a parent is the year depression went viral.  Yup.  You just think it’s not contagious, but get a group of teenage girls (and sometimes boys) in one room together for a late-night sleepover and you’ll be surprised at what they pick up.

What has been shocking to me as a parent (and something I don’t remember from my own teen years) is how depression has become the “in” thing; having serious mental issues is “awesome” and threatening personal bodily harm is what all the cool kids are doing.

Fortunately I have a daughter who seems to march to the beat of her own drum (which I am thankful for in this case) and who seemed completely unaware of what some of her closest friends were doing. 

I was finding out from parents who would call and say, “Did you hear so-and-so did this? Her parents had to bring her to the hospital because they didn’t know what to do!” Then I’d talk to my daughter who would give me a blank look and say, “Huh?  I had no idea.”

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

But I watched the “depression bug” spread through her social circle like a bad cold; one kid would say “I’m sad” and the next thing you’d know six girls would be called into the counseling office because one girl threatened to cut herself.  It was the easiest way to get attention from your friends – but in this case in order to be “better” than everyone else…you had to be the most disturbed.

This article in Radical Parenting puts it so well:

It’s like we’re all glamorizing the ideas that there are problems inside some people’s brains that cause extremely serious and life threatening problems. No one really grasps the concept that having a disorder is a bad thing and you shouldn’t want one. I never hear anyone around school saying, “Life is good.” It’s always “life sucks,” or “I hate everything.” Being normal or happy is almost boring to some people, so they create something to make sure they aren’t “boring.”

The episodes these kids experienced turned families upside-down and affected everyone around them. As a parent, I felt helpless right along with the other parents of these girls (and sometimes boys).  After all…you don’t want to argue with a teenager.  All it would take is for you to dismiss them and say, “Oh, you’re not depressed” and they might prove you wrong just because they’re angry.

Terrifying thought.

I was gearing myself up for years of this, thinking this is what modern-day teenagering is; constantly looking at my daughter for signs that she might be catching the bug and wondering what I would do if she did.  Again, she seemed somewhat unaffected by this other than dealing with the friends who seemed to be carriers.  But I was scared that at some point she would see some sort of benefit to embracing this lifestyle.

Then one day we were riding in the car and she said, “You know, Mom.  I don’t think most of my friends understand the difference between being sad and being depressed.”

I looked at her in surprise. “That’s probably true.  Do you?”

“I think so.  Depressed is when you can’t be happy at all. Sad is just when you have a bad day or something.”

“That’s a good way of putting it. Do you ever feel like you’re really depressed?”

“No,” she said. She thought for a minute. “And I don’t think most of my friends do either. They just think it’s cool to say it.”

“What do you think?”

She grinned at me.  “I just want to be happy.”

I squeezed her hand.  “Me, too.”

Catherine Tidd is the author of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow.  You can find more of her writing by visiting her blogs Yes, You’re Crazy and Widow Chick.

A Relaxing, Adventurous, Family-Oriented Place to get Some Alone Time: Cheyenne Mountain Resort

As a parent, it’s hard to find the right family getaway.

On the one hand, we need to find someplace that our kids enjoy; a spot where they can play and smile and look at us with undying gratitude so that we can take their picture, post it on social media and our friends will say, “Wow.  She really is Supermom.”

Then there’s the other part of us: the one that wants to lock all of the kids in the hotel room for one blessed minute so that we can actually feel like we’re on vacation.

This is a tough combo to find.  But I have discovered this magical place.  And it’s right in your own backyard.

Well, not literally.  That wouldn’t be any fun at all.  But just a short ride away in Colorado Springs, the Cheyenne Mountain Resort is waiting to pamper you and entertain your children.  With activities that are equal parts active and relaxing, it’s the perfect getaway without the hassle of getting on an airplane.

As a mother of three children, it’s sometimes hard to find one place that will entertain a 10-year-old girl, 12-year-old-boy, and 14-year-old-girl.  The teenager never wants to do what the younger kids do and the younger kids are tired of watching the teenager roll her eyes.

kayakOkay.  We all are.

But during our weekend at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, the eye-rolling was definitely at a minimum.

After checking into our room that had an exquisite view of Cheyenne Mountain itself, my oldest daughter and I brought the two younger kids to Kidz Camp where they played tennis, created a craft, swam, and participated in other games and fitness activities.

“Our Kidz Camp provides the campers with a variety of activities from all the departments in the Country Club of Colorado to keep them engaged and active,” says Amy Beman, Assistant Fitness Manager. “Every week the children have two golf and two tennis sessions with our professional golf and tennis staff. The fitness staff also works with the children every morning playing different games such as fitness monopoly and cardio dodge ball. The camp is based out of the Aquatics Center which is ideal for pool and lake activities where the kids swim, build sand castles, paddle board, hydrobike, and kayak. Even when the sun isn’t shining we keep the kids busy with making shirts, crafts, and in our club game room.  Our goal is to have them experience the wonderful opportunities the club has to offer while making friends and creating unforgettable memories.”

Genius.

spaBut, wait.  There’s more.

While the younger kids were doing what they wanted to do, my 14-year-old daughter and I decided to do something we wanted to do.  I was ready to spa the day away, but I wasn’t sure if the Alluvia Spa and Wellness Retreat on the property would have something for her.

I shouldn’t have worried.

Looking at their extensive Teen Spa Menu, my daughter decided to have her first facial ever.  She and I talked and relaxed in the tranquil common room in our robes provided by the spa until it was time for our appointments.  Once we met up again and I saw my daughter’s face…I knew I had scored some major Mom Points, all while getting my own relaxing massage.

The rest of the weekend was spent taking advantage of the resort’s four pools, tennis courts, golf course, fabulous restaurants, and private lake.  We were able to kayak for the first time, ride around on hydrobikes, paddleboard, and play in the sand on the beach. 

Our evenings were spent watching sports on one of the many enormous screens in the Elevations Lounge and giggling over the creations we made at the deluxe s’mores bar the hotel hosts on Friday and Saturday nights.  I was able to enjoy the Complimentary Craft Beer Tasting on Friday night while the kids and I played cards at one of the many tables set up on the patio overlooking the golf course. 

smoresNight swims and the Saturday night Dive-In Movie (complete with pool toys and popcorn) had us all tuckered out (apparently I snore when I’m really tired – thanks for letting me know, kids), but not too tired to get up for the Zoo Breakfast in the lobby.

We left (sadly) on Sunday, feeling as though we were all able to do the things we individually wanted to do without sacrificing family time together, vowing to come back another weekend. The kids couldn’t wait to tell their grandparents about their adventures and how we should all go back together for an extended family stay; Pop could play golf, Nana could relax by the pool, the kids could play at the lake.

And if they need to find me, I’ll be in the center of the activity.

After all, the spa is right smack in the middle of the resort.

Thanks to the  Cheyenne Mountain Resort for hosting!