Don’t Wish Away A Day

This entry is gonna be one of those “whiny because I’m gonna miss my kids” entry. If that kind of stuff bores you then you might wanna skip along to the next blog.

I’ve been counting down the days left of school and the days till graduation. I have this really cool app that does countdowns. I’ve pretty much counted down to everything in the year 2012. If you wanna know how much longer till Labor Day or Flag Day just let me know. Anyway, I did this for them. However, all it is managing to do is depress ME!

I’m not sure what I’m gonna do with my days/weeks when they go to college in August. I won’t have a calendar full of soccer practices and soccer games or tennis practices and tennis matches. What am I gonna put on my calendars? I have been a stay at home mom/soccermom/tennismom/homeschool mom for 18 + years. How does a mom be a college mom? How do I go from day to day without knowing everything my kids are doing or knowing every place they are going?

I am looking forward to being able to travel more with Ron. But he doesn’t need me to parent him – although I do manage to do so occasionally. With my health as it is traveling won’t always be an option. Then I’ll just be sitting here staring at the walls talking to Faith and the cats – of course I do that a lot of the time now.

Who will need me? Who will text me that they forgot something at home and need it at school? What will I do each afternoon between 3:30 and 6:00 when I would have normally been at some game.

I know the idea is to raise children just for this stage of life. But I never realized how much of a hole this stage of their lives would leave in mine. When I sit and think of the rough days we had sometimes I remember wishing the days away. I remember thinking “if we could just get out of diapers” “if we could just get them to the stage that they can open the fridge and get their own cup out” “if we could just get to the day when they would stop whining”. How many days did I wish away by thinking those things? I regret every one of them. If I have any advice to stay at home moms and/or homeschooling moms it would be don’t wish ANY days away. They go fast enough already. Before you know it you wake up and it is 59 days until your kids graduate from high school. Soak up every moment, every tear, every hug, every tender minute – someday your wishes will come true except they will be preparing to jump out into the real world without you. It’s a great accomplishment for all of you. But it’s also very sad.

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Are You Really There When You’re There?

While I was doing a little blog housekeeping I came across this post I put up a year ago. I immediately thought it deserved a repeat posting.

How often does your family spend together bonding with one another each week? I know it is difficult to get everyone together in the same place at the same time. But there really isn’t anything more important as a parent than putting all else aside to spend time together with your family talking and laughing and focusing on them and only them. Those are the times that your children are gonna remember when they are grown. Well, those are the POSITIVE things they are gonna remember. When your children are adults do you want them to remember you as a parent who liked you and enjoyed being with you – a fun parent who made time for his/her family? Of course you do! None of us want our children to look back on our parenting skills and think “she/he was always working and was rarely home for family time” or as a parent who always “complained about having to take time off from work (even if it’s not work hours) to go to our sporting events/school or church activities”. Our families (whether we are the mom or the dad) should be our number one concern. Whether we realize it or not we are teaching our children how to be parents to their own children some day. When that day comes for them we should all want our children to say that we were a great example of how to be a mother/father. None of us want to think about the possibility of them saying they don’t want to be like us. Are you parenting in such a way that makes them proud to call you their mom/dad? Do you think they say positive things about you behind your back or negative things? It should matter to you! And if you think they are saying negative things it should be a warning to you that something needs to change in your method.

Parenting is time consuming and is a full time job – whether you work away from home or are a stay at home parent. And growing up is hard. Our responsibility as parents is to teach our children how to be a positive contributing member of society as adults. That takes TIME! Time with our children (and our spouse for that matter but that’s not what this is about today) speaks the language of love to them. Our children don’t care about all the work that’s piling up on your desk at the office. They care about the sacrifices you make in order to spend time with them. And as a side note the time you spend with them doesn’t mean a hill of beans if the whole time you are with them you are complaining about being there, talking on the phone or keep checking your email. All of those just act to negate the positive you think you are accomplishing by showing up.

So how are you doing? Where do you fit in the quality time puzzle in your family? Are you really THERE when you’re there? Do you SHOW UP when you show up? How would your kids answer that question?

Parenting Teenagers is NOT for the Faint of Heart

There’s just something about parenting a teenager that makes you wanna cry. Sometimes you wanna cry because they are growing up and will be leaving home soon. Sometimes you wanna cry because they make you so angry you don’t know what else to do. But sometimes you cry because you know what is ahead of them and they refuse to listen to you and learn. I understand that these years are all about independence for them. They are putting into action things you have been teaching them for the past 15 years. But there are times when what you, the parent, knows what is ahead. You know what they need to do to prepare for something but they fight with you so much to wrestle the control from your hands that they refuse to hear what you have to say. As parents we can see many miles ahead of them. We know what THIS decision will lead to or what THAT decision will lead to. You can have the best relationship in the world with your teenager but you still can’t MAKE them listen to you. The days of making them do what you say are over. If you have younger children who are nowhere near the teenage years yet be prepared! Don’t fool yourself by replying here “MY child will do what I say because I’m the parent!!” If you enter into the teen years with that thought process you are in for a world of hurt and more arguments than you ever thought you would have.That works when they are young. But if you don’t bend and become more flexible in your parenting turbulent years are ahead, my friend.

Sitting back and waiting for your child to learn in their time is hard to watch sometimes. You have to sit back and watch them hit wall after wall after wall. You have to have a hands off attitude because the more you try to control them the worse it gets. You can talk till you are purple, seeing them shut you out long ago. The only way to have any control whatsoever is by prayer. You want the best for them above anything else in your life. But God loves them even more. He’s the only one who can reach them at times. So you depend on Him leading all of you. You think back to that Sunday morning 16 years ago right after they were born when you stood before that church body and dedicated them to God. Remember that promise you made to God and to that little baby when you promised to bring them up in a Christian home led by God. The teen years is when the greatest test of that commitment will play out. Lean on that promise and count on God to do His part. He’s always listening – even when your child cuts you out. And He’s the only one who can get through to them ALL the time….

 

Dear Mommy…

I know I have been very quiet for the last week. I’ve been sick and in Ohio and now back home and still sick. I’m dressed and ready now to go to the doctor. I had a little bit of time left so I thought I would share something special my mail carrier brought me yesterday.

As you know, Lauren has been away at JH Ranch. I will write much more about that after she gets home Friday and starts telling us about it. But yesterday I got a letter in the mail from her. I’m sure that part of the program is to write a letter to your parents about how much you love and appreciate them. I am grateful for that as well because this letter she wrote me was just exactly what I needed to hear from her. Here is her letter:

Dear Mommy,

I don’t know a more selfless, loving mom. YOu just strive over and beyond to comfort me. I don’t always let you in or give back to you, but I’m gonna try my best to change that. You deserve so much. I know on your bad days you’re so easily discouraged and you know what? God is strength. When we call on Him, He will show up. YOu’re not alone. You don’t have to be anyone except yourself because God made you perfectly. When God created all the mountains and animals and even man, He said “this isn’t enough” and created woman also. You are so special and He loves you. So do I. I’m so glad you’re my mom and on your good days it makes them so so special to me. I want you to know that I appreciate you. I miss you so much! I can’t wait to hug you and to smell you. There’s that one smell you have that I love so much and I never want to forget it. YOu’re such a strong woman, Leigh Anne Tuohy. YOu stand up for what is right. That’s very admirable. I can’t wait to see you and know that I love you. – Lauren

(Readers: The Leigh Anne Tuohy reference is an inside joke. She and her friends tell me I am just like Leigh Anne Tuohy from the movie The Blind Side.)

Oh my heavens! Does that soften a mama’s heart. She hit every insecurity I have. She spoke to every broken part of my heart and healed it with her sweet words. There are so many times I feel inadequate – racked with guilt and frustration. So often I feel forgotten, unappreciated and ignored. To know that there is any time in her life that she recognizes and speaks to that begins to heal the wounds. My girl is sweet and under that rough and tough shell there is my little girl who loves and recognizes the sacrifices made for her. How I love her! From the second she was born she held a piece of my heart with a death grip. There have been times in the last few years that I’ve felt her letting go trying to venture farther from me. I’ve had to just stand in the same place and help her see that I will always be here – standing and waiting – reserving that piece of my heart. This letter has shown me that she knows that and even remembers where that heart piece still is. She may be hundreds and hundreds of miles away from me till Friday night. But really she is right here with me – in my heart.

 

Parenting Teenagers Begins Long Before The Hormones Kick In

Constant bargaining with what I say…taking someone else’s things because they want them and not considering that the other person may be using them…leaving their belongings all over the house for someone else to clean up…laziness…speaking disrespectfully to others…pouting till they get attention…being inconsiderate of other people’s plans…expecting others to stop whatever THEY are doing so that we can do something for THEM…expecting someone else to buy them whatever they want just because they want it…begrudgingly doing what they are told to do if they do it at all…

Can you guess what group of people I am talking about above? If you have teenagers then you know I am talking about them. Who are these people? What happened to my sweet polite children? Who replaced those children with these selfish people? I look back and see all the things I did wrong to produce selfish and inconsiderate children. And I realize that it’s because I’m human and that it’s just a regular part of parenting. As they spread their wings and learn to fly I am also doing the same. I’m learning as I go. I wasn’t expecting this phase. Why didn’t someone tell me this was coming?

We have always been very honest with our family dynamics. Ron and I have never been ashamed to seek help in our relationship when we would hit a bad patch. We’ve been to marriage seminar weekends. We’ve been to counseling. We’ve talked to older and wiser couples who have been married longer than we have about issues we have come across. How did we overlook seeking help in parenting this stage of life? Who do you go to to ask how to FIX your teenagers?

I’m learning that it’s ME that needs to be fixed. I needed to be fixed a long time ago but didn’t see it. I wish someone had said to me “Pam, I’m seeing some things in your kids that I think might cause a problem in the future.” But I’m not sure that anyone would have said that. We are all too tight lipped about not offending another person’s parenting skills – including me. Although I did have a talk one time with a close friend about their children and some issues that I saw. I gave them some suggestions. I noticed them trying those things for a while and they seemed to work. Now I look back and wonder what on earth made me think I knew anything about parenting.

I know that parenting teenagers is difficult for everyone. It’s just a hard stage. As far as I’m concerned it’s the most difficult stage in the parenting process. And you know, there really isn’t any benefit in looking back and wondering about where you went wrong. All I can do now is to try to make the corrections that I can. The problem comes in instituting those changes. Change is hard for anyone (although I don’t really mind it much) – but especially for a teenager. They will tell you to your face that “you’ve never made me do this before and you’ll give up on it in a week so I’m not gonna do it now”. That makes it even harder because in the back of your mind you pretty much know they are right.

One thing that we have tried very hard to abide by consistently – but we do fail because, again, we are human – is the instructions given for parenting in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 – Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

It is the Biblical way of instilling God’s Word and His ways into our children. We have learned that it’s never to late to start that if you have been lax in following those Biblical instructions before. It’s still hard. But with the Word of God and His power behind us we press on and it truly helps.

So when someone warns you about the teenage years double check what you are doing NOW. That is what is going to determine how easy or difficult those teenage years will be. They are still their own individual people who will be venturing out to discover their independence. That’s how it’s supposed to be. But if you maintain a good relationship and follow the Master Parent’s instructions above I would imagine that you will be a little more prepared than I was. Things are just running along smoothly and you think things are perfect when all of a sudden a stranger walks out of your child’s bedroom one morning. It’s a totally different child than the one who walked into that room the night before. But what YOU did that day before will determine what YOU do with that stranger who walks out the next morning.

I’m learning not to focus on the mistakes that I’ve made in the past. I can’t change those. I can, however, learn from them. I can refocus and do a lot of praying for guidance so that the Lord will help me to impress spiritual matters directly to their hearts, like a blood transfusion. It starts with our heart though. Is my heart in the right place with God? I can’t pass on those spiritual matters in my heart to their hearts if my heart is not open to the commandments of God. I pray that the Lord will continue teaching me and changing me so that I can be an example to my teenagers constantly. I want their first reaction to something to be a spiritual reaction. But how can that happen if that is not the case for me?

You get me?

Children Are The Anchors That Hold A Mother To Life

As a mother I have always heard that we should be our teenagers parent and not their friend. I’ve never really completely understood that. The opposite of friend is enemy. I surely don’t want to be their enemy. So I have worked hard to cultivate a genuine friendship with each of my children. It just seems natural to me that the best way to parent is to do so from the standpoint as a friend. So I can’t say that I agree with the view that you shouldn’t be your child’s friend. If that makes me a bad parent then I’ll just have to pay my dues to that club. Continue reading