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On Strike

10 Oct

That’s it. This mom is going on strike. 

I am tired of having capable beings in this house not doing their age-appropriate part. I know I’m to blame for this. I spoiled them too much. We make them pick up after their messes but don’t ever make them do set chores. 

Let me break it down.

  

  • When the 12-year-old only washes her lunch dishes and ignores what else is in the sink or drainer to put away.
  • When the almost 10-year-old who can make an awesome diving catch for an out in baseball and always knows the next play can’t seem to figure out how to put his dirty clothes in the hamper and not stashed in hidden (or not hidden) places of his room.
  • When both children leave their shoes and dirty socks scattered about the house.
  • And did I mention the food wrappers and trash they “throw away” on the tables or couches or bedroom floors?!
  • What about that time when aforementioned children put clean clothes they were supposed to properly put away for a week back in the hamper because they couldn’t tell what was dirty or clean?! And no, they don’t get credit for putting in hamper because I had to say something to them FIVE TIMES before the mix-n-match pile made its way to the hamper. 
  • Then there is the attitude I get when I tell them to contribute and help. 

I must simmer down now. After all, I’m on strike. No more washing their clothes. Nope. Not doing their dishes either. Just Andrew’s and mine. He helps beyond measure and I’m so thankful for him. He is most definitely in the strike-free zone and I know will support my stance. 

Done. And done and done. Starting now. 

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Homemade Sauce, Lyrics and a Little Girl Growing Up

5 Oct

The time to clean out the kids’ clothes is always tough. As if the actual task of sorting through it all isn’t a drag enough, there’s that whole sentimental hurdle we have to face while conquering the closets. 

It’s such a tangible sign of how they are growing. This most recent gutting was especially stinging. Even more so than the time we first received this keepsake for the students to wear on the first day of Kindergarten.  

Then, 2021 seemed so far away. Sure, it still made us aware of its presence but that would be something like 12ish years away. Now, it’s less than SIX school years away. I gasped at this slap in reality and then gently folded the shirt and placed it in the pile of “special” things to keep safely in storage.

I didn’t fully feel the sting from the slap until later that night while I was making the homemade spaghetti sauce I learned how to perfect from my mom who learned how to perfect from my grandma Nancy. Nia was sitting at the kitchen table doing her homework and we were listening to “mommy’s” music. I’ve known and felt the lyrics from James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” but never like this. That night, they had me adding tears to the meatballs. I looked at Nia as her eyes tightened at a thought she was writing, unaware of the emotional montage I was producing in my mind.

No matter where that brilliant brain and lovely personality take her in life, I will come running. 

Class of 2021.

  

 

A New Leaf

5 Aug

A little more than a year ago, Nia was plagued with worry. She obsessed and fretted about the smallest thing. For a 10-year-old, the worries were heavy and I — a natural-born stress case myself — didn’t always know how to help her. It also started to — get this — worry me. I felt like I was absorbing her feelings and carrying them around with me.

Naturally, all this lead me to venture into the dangerous world of web searching. I found several articles that made me worry more but I also found a few that offered relief. To make sure I covered all my bases, I also took advantage of a work program that offers employees a free counseling session. I came away with two things to help us both manage our anxieties:

  • The counselor told me to picture my worry as a streaker. (Yes, a naked person.) You may see one run by but you never chase after the bare body. We agreed to modify this to be age appropriate for Nia. She suggested an animal that Nia would never chase. The streaker thought is pretty funny though.)
  • One bit of online information I learned said to visualize a tree with a leaf about to break free. Place your worry on that leaf and then watch it fall and gently land in a stream. The stream then carries the worry away. I told this to Nia and she asked, “Could an animal also eat my leaf?” I’m thinking, sure. Whatever works. (Here’s a blog that has more about the leaf relief.)

Both of these techniques have helped us both but now it seems it’s Nate’s turn to worry and he just doesn’t relate to those. His little heart is filled with concern – so much so that I wonder if it’s been contributing to him sleepwalking. A few nights ago, I actually caught him opening his bedroom window while sleeping. We’ve since child-proofed his windows but the thought of him accidentally hurting himself while we all sleep was too much for me to take. I told him about the ways Nia and I have used to ease our hearts. He asked, “Huh?”

With that, I tried something different. My own thing. Last night, I cuddled with him before he fell asleep and I put my hand on his heart. I told him I was collecting all the worry from his heart so he wouldn’t have it anymore. He giggled as I gathered but then really let out a laugh when I told him I was going to eat all his worry. “I also have room for dessert,”  I told him, “so let me get that worry from your head too.”

Sure, kind of twisted. But you know what? I think it helped some. He went to sleep with a lighter heart and didn’t sleepwalk.

Of course, it could be because of all the other techniques we researched online and tried too (earlier bedtime, consistent sleep and wake time, quiet time before bed, earlier dinner, more water throughout the day …) but I want to claim the giggles as the victory.

I know it made us both feel better. (And me quite full too …)

 

One Thing

16 Jul

So many lists these days.

17 things to say to your daughter
12 things to explore with your son
5 things never to say to your daughter
7.5 ways to raise a son
10 life hacks to make things easier
14 things your kids should know before they’re teenagers
11 parenting FAILS
30 ways to have more energy

Too many lists.

I have one thing I want my kids to keep safe and keep always as they grow up through this crazy, overwhelming and amazing world we call life.

A sense of humor.

Not at the expense of others but for the well-being and sanity of others and themselves. Don’t take life too seriously. Don’t worry their hearts about the things they can’t control. Find a way to smile. Find the healthy memory in what seems like a miserable or sad situation and make a lighter heart.

Joy is something we can control no matter what we are going through. We can determine whether we mope or grumble through any given day. I’m not saying they shouldn’t ever be sad or mad or throw a fit, I’m just hoping that their humor finds a way through and lifts them up and out.

I see signs of their great humors now. They deliver lines to me that make them seem smarter than I ever was or will be (not in a smart mouth way, just their pure and light perspective).

It makes me feel so great knowing they get it — without a list to follow.

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Her Latest Happy Thing

30 Sep

It all started this summer when Nate and Nia began playing wiffle ball in our driveway. Nia became interested in the sport that she’s watched her brother play season after season.

Driveway Ball

Driveway Ball

“Can I have a softball glove?” she soon asked us. Yearnings for a bat, helmet and bat bag followed next. Before we made the purchases though – we needed to know – was she going to use all this gear to play on a softball team? Or just when we go to the field as a family to play? Without hesitation, she said yes, she wanted to be on a team.

Since we were purchasing all that gear, we told her she needed to give it at least a season. Now that the season has started, it seems the gear will be used for a few more. Softball is the new “happy thing” she tells me before falling asleep most nights. She loves it. Even after a loss or a strikeout, she happily chants the dugout cheers (even hours/days after the game) and has even started teaching them to Nate.

I’m so proud of her for trying something new that’s challenging for her. She’s doing great but this isn’t coming as easily for her like many other things have. Doing well in school hasn’t been a worry at all yet. Getting along with others is going swimmingly. She feels confident during dancing and I think she really rocks at clogging. Softball is something that’s requiring her to practice hard, overcome disappointments, and understand what it’s like to be a part of a team.

I love this for her and can’t wait to watch her growing moments on the field.

Our Ball Players

Our Ball Players

Hot Pink on the Field

Ready for a Play

Me Worry?

16 Aug

You name it, chances are I’ve worried about it. In fact, I’ve written a blog or two about it. (I got four pages of results when I searched the word “worry.”)

I think I’m a pretty smart person. I realize worrying doesn’t get me anywhere. It doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t change the outcome of things. It doesn’t prevent things from happening.

Why then? Why all the worry? It’s such a waste of energy, time, sanity, happiness. It’s what I’ve been reminding myself when I feel the senseless anxiety bubbling up within me. But that’s also when I start worrying (of course) – if I don’t worry, does that mean I don’t care?

I’m not sure I know how to care about something without worrying about it. If I let go of that worry, will it change how I care about it or make it seem like I don’t care?

Ridiculous, I know. See what I mean about me worrying?!

To quiet that inner loon, I’ve been trying a few things to help ease my mind and heart. They’ve been working for me so I wanted to share because they may help a worrier you know.

When I feel the worry invade my space:

    • I think of my kids. They see me worry too much. What am I teaching them? As Nia’s sweet note shows and I’ve written about, it makes her worry. If nothing else, it can’t be fun to always hear me say something worries me. That has to change. They need to be carefree kiddos.
    • I think to myself, will this worry fix the issue? No? What will fix it? Anything? Focus on that.
    • Is this going to matter next year? Next month? Next week? No? Toss it.
    • Will this define me? In 15 years, am I going to remember this moment or issue? No? That was an easy one.
    • Will this affect my family in some way? No? Not worth an ounce of stress.
    • What happy, beautiful things am I missing out on around me because I’m stuck in the fret zone? Sucker. You are letting worry rob you of the present.

The last point actually came from something recently talked about in church. I don’t always connect with what’s taught but this spoke to me. It was about how we are only supposed to think about we need for today. “Give us this day our daily bread” refers to that. This day. Focus on today, not tomorrow. Be content and full in the present because if it was my last day I wouldn’t want it spent on worrying about what might happen. I’d want it filled with rejoicing and cherishing.

That’s what brings me to the thought that seems to soothe me the most.

Am I satisfied?

I think of my here and now and feel at peace.

Teach Them Well

9 Aug

I’ve been trying to come to terms with the unsettling fact that I cannot shield my children from the wrongs of the world – nor can I keep them from contributing to them. I’m worrying I’m not doing enough to make sure they make the right decision or react the best way when mom and dad aren’t around or watching.

Recently, two things happened to Nate that hurt his heart. Other kids caused the pain. One involved a group of kids surrounding him while repeatedly calling him a word that should not have a negative feeling/meaning attached to it but obviously they’ve been guided to think that way. We do not think that way and Nate and Nia both know that. Nate was overwhelmed and didn’t know how to respond. The other situation was because he likes a little girl who one child said wasn’t Nate’s “type.” The child said that to Nate because the girl has darker skin than Nate. Apparently, the child’s parents made him write sentences for liking a girl who wasn’t his “type.” (!) This made Nate sad. (Heck yeah it should!) He didn’t understand. I told him we don’t think that way. “Is your girl friend nice to you?” I asked him. “That’s what matters to mommy and daddy. Not what a person looks like. You like the person you want to like. Don’t worry what others say. We do not judge whether we are going to like someone because of skin color or hair color or size or teeth or …” He told me he knew and then went on to be happy about this little girlie who makes him feel special.

These are 7-year-olds. They are taught this. I can only hope our teachings speak louder to Nia and Nate than what others are taught (or not taught for that matter).

I want them to remember to be kind, caring and considerate. Protect those who need it. Consider how their words or actions affect others. Have a helping heart. To instinctively know how to react when they witness – or are the target of – a hurtful act. Don’t turn to anger first as a solution. Think through their thoughts and be smarter than the pain and hate. Apologize with an excuse. Forgive without conditions attached.

Among the kindness, I want them to be strong and stand their ground when they know it’s the right thing to do. Fight back when absolutely necessary. Make mistakes and work to fix them or do better next time. Don’t let a fear of failing – or not being 100% at something – keep them from trying. Make the best/most of things. Find the bright spot through the darkness. Don’t be bored. Savor the still moments among the adventures and appreciate the challenges and tough times because they are blessings too. Be grateful.

I think through all those hopes for them and then realize – that stuff is hard for me to do as an adult and I want my kids to remember do it? I can hardly control my own responses to things. How can I control theirs? They are going to mess up. I know I’ve had many selfish and road rage moments of regret. All I can do is teach them well and hope they hear the guidance over all the wrongs.

I will try to remember too.

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