Nineteen of The Happiest Years of My Life

Nineteen years ago today God blessed us with our first child, Michael Devon Hunter. This is the first birthday that we are not together. It’s also his first birthday at college. We celebrated it this past weekend. He has been wanting a bike to use on campus. So we bought him a bike. It’s just so hard to think of how many birthdays have come and gone. I remember the cakes, the candles, the parties, the sleepovers, the presents….and now he isn’t big on cake so I made him a pumpkin pie. And he tells us what he wants and goes with us to pick it out and we pay for it.

Michael was actually born at 11:00 a.m. on November 14, 1993. It fell on a Sunday. However my labor began when my water started leaking at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday November 13, 1993. Yes, that is 27 hours of labor. I am proud to say it was all natural! No drugs. No epidural. I remind him of that on a regular basis when it benefits me as I’m sure all of you mothers do. It’s especially useful to my benefit that I pushed for two hours. As it turned out his umbilical cord was too short so every time I would push him down he would move down but when I would stop to take a breath he would bounce right back up again. After two hours the vacuum was my best friend – even if it did give my baby a misshapen head for a few days. It all became clear when the doctor was barely able to get him out enough to cut the cord. I do remember my doctor saying at one point “if you want him out you’re gonna have to push harder”. Thinking back on it now I’m thinking I should have kicked her in the teeth with my foot – the proximity was so close. But looking at Ron and telling him to “make her get him out” was sufficient enough. (I really wish I had thought of kicking her though!)

At any rate, 27 hours later I had a beautiful baby boy. In looking for the right picture of him I decided to spare you the freshly born pictures. Here is a picture taken when he was about 3 weeks old. Considering my actual due date was December 4th and he was born November 14th this picture is a little closer to his actual due date anyway.

Can you stand the cuteness?! I realize that everyone thinks that their baby is the cutest baby in the world. But look at those chubby cheeks, that perfect little nose and those big brown eyes. PERFECTION!

Just to show you how much he has grown the following picture was taken in church this morning in church while Pastor Rob was preaching. I don’t know who the man is sitting further down the row. If I knew anything about editing photos I could probably edit this. But I love this picture of Michael. He’s grown into quite the man of God that his dad and I have prayed for him to be. We couldn’t be prouder of him if we tried.

Happy Birthday Michael! You’ve given me 19 of the happiest years of my life. I couldn’t ask for a better son. You are exactly what Daddy and I prayed for you to be. We continue to pray that you follow God’s leading for your life and follow his will for your life whatever that is and wherever that will lead you.

A Warning Within Our Spirit

There are so many things I have been wanting to blog about. But as it turns out I don’t get much visitation time with a computer these days. So I’m kind of on the schedule of “you can use the laptop when either everyone else is asleep or when everyone else is too cross eyed from using theirs that they need a break”. My desktop computer bit the dust a year ago. We bought the kids laptops for Christmas last year and of course Ron has his laptop. The problem is that now the kids have gone to college and they had the nerve to take their laptops with them. And Ron is working on his PhD program and uses his almost constantly. Yes I have an iPhone and he let’s me use his iPad, which is just an iPhone with a bigger screen. But I don’t like blogging from those devices. So, I am getting a Mac laptop of some sort for Christmas. If Ron doesn’t get it for me then I will be going and getting it myself. So yeah……all of that is just a rant and has nothing whatsoever to do with what I actually wanted to blog about. If you made it through all of that, thanks for sticking around. I’m not too sure anyone else really listens to me when I vent these days. So I greatly appreciate your making it to the end of this paragraph.

Now, on with what I actually have on my mind. I’m going to assume that my children are too mortified to actually come to my blog much less read anything I might write for fear I might mention them. Little do they know that this entire blog – from day 1 – is all about them. So I feel safe in writing about what I’m troubled about these days. Have your children ever had a friend or friends that you did not like? And I’m not just talking about you didn’t like that they didn’t say “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am”. I’m talking about something about them just rubs you the wrong way. You can’t quite put your finger on it but you just feel deep in your spirit that they just aren’t a good match in the friend department for your child. Maybe you don’t like the way they treat other adults. Maybe they seem “fishy” to you. Maybe you get the feeling that they aren’t quite who they appear to be. Maybe they are completely the opposite of who you’ve taught your child to be. You have to wonder to yourself what attracted your child to this person in the first place.

That’s kind of where we are right now. Well, that’s kind of where we’ve been for a number of months now. I keep hoping this person will just kind of disappear off the radar and drift on to the next person. But this person is still hanging around. Every other friend our children have had has always had a great relationship with us. We are the kinds of parents who open our home to the kids and their friends. This was always the hang out spot. All through high school I’ve always tried to be available to their friends as a second mom – available for advice, a ride to a game, a meal if they were hungry, a hug if they needed one – just always available to them. While I may have only had two children I always had many more who called me mom. But this one kid has never made any effort to come around. That always seemed strange to me.

This child’s values are completely the opposite of ALL the values we’ve ever taught our children. I just cannot see the attraction. We’ve had numerous talks with our child explaining our concerns – firstly in a concerned manner and then each time more and more forcefully. It’s as if our warnings and concerns go in one ear and out the other. It’s like nothing we say really matters. Our child listens to us because they have to. They placate us with “we’re just friends”. And then things go right back to the way they’ve been for months. Ron and I firmly believe the warnings within our spirit about this kid and this relationship are from the Spirit. But our child is now an adult and we cannot make him/her do what we say. We have prayed – and continue to pray. We know at this point the Lord is the one who is gonna have to get the message across. We don’t know anything else we can do.

I think why I have shared this is to ask you, my readers, to partner with us in prayer that this bond will be broken. And to ask if you have any advice that we have not tried. But at this point we just covet your prayers! Thank you!

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.

Where Do We Learn How To Mother?

I asked each of my family members — including my parents – what they learned from their mother. I got answers from my Michael and my mom. I thought a few moments of focusing on what a mother’s job is might help us to remember what we have learned about mothering.

Mothers are the nurturers in the parental unit. They are the ones, whether they work inside the home or outside the home, that are credited with the physical well being of taking care of the children. Traditionally if a child is sick mom is the one taking care of him. They are the ones who generally take care of the home. Many mothers have the option of staying at home in order to make those jobs easier. But some must work outside the home because of financial reasons. While hugs and kisses are wonderful pay for a stay at home mom they don’t go very far in buying groceries. Those moms who have to work outside of the home really have TWO full time jobs and should be given credit for that.

Our mothers teach us how to take care of our homes by cooking, doing laundry, taking care of younger siblings – basically how to run a home. Someone needs to teach our young people that family is the most important part of our lives. Sadly when that doesn’t happen children grow up with the idea that they are not part of a family unit and spend a lot of time searching for a group to belong to which leads to trouble. I love to bond with my kids’ friends – especially those whose parents are absent in their lives or don’t have a loving home to feel safe in. Those are the ones that I’m drawn to. I want them to see what a loving family unit looks like and how it works. Mostly to see that “home” can be a safe, fun and loving place to be. That may be why the kids at school call me Mama Hunter. This is the mom’s “job” – to be the driving force in her children’s lives. Sometimes her children are not even children she puts to bed at night in her home.

Our mothers teach us how to love, interact with the opposite sex so when it’s time for us to search for a spouse we have learned what to look for, what to say, what to do. Their job is to raise children to be good citizens, Godly spouses and Godly parents. They teach us perseverance in life with love. We all need that lesson – continuing on with life when you want to just give up. There have been times when Michael and/or Lauren have wanted to quit something they have committed to whether it’s a sport or another organized group. We have refused to let them quit. I may have been killing myself running them here and there at all hours of any day or night. But that, too, was part of the lesson. I’m willing to do my part to make sure they keep their commitment.

Unconditional love…..that should be part of the Webster’s Dictionary under the word “Mother”. We all fail those we love at some time but a mom will always love us regardless of the poor choices we make. Our children say hurtful things to us, they take us for granted, they hurt us by disobeying us but in spite of all of those things we love them unconditionally. Children learn how to love others by watching the love they see in their homes. Mothers guide that lesson. They teach us how to be sympathetic to those who are hurting, how to empathize with those around them, how to reach out and befriend the friendless and how to help those who need an extra hand. But they must see all of those things from us. We are the nurturers. We teach them how to nurture others as they are growing up and someday how to nurture their families as well.

Mothers are a blessing and a necessary part of the home. God made us that way. We spend the rest of our lives living out the lessons we have learned from our mothers growing up. I hope you say I love you every day. They give up a lot of themselves for their children. They spend a lot of their lives teaching lessons that they were created to teach. It’s our job to appreciate them and learn those lessons.

So, what lessons have you learned from your mother?

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?

He Had A Seizure

“OMG!! There is an ambulance at Keven and Katie’s house!” That is a text my neighbor sent me about 8:30 this morning. I immediately flew off the couch and out the front door. Because I’m nosy? I am nosy but that’s not why I jumped up and ran. Our neighbor, Katie, is about 6 months pregnant. At the beginning of her pregnancy she had some complications and a cancer scare. She is fine now – at least that’s what we all assumed here on our little cul-de-sac. That is what got me up and running. If you are a regular reader of mine then you know how close all of us (well, most of us) are on our cul-de-sac. We are always looking out for each other and keeping up with one another. We are not one of those streets where no one knows their neighbor. So we were all concerned.

When I got outside I wasn’t sure what I thought I was gonna do but I just kind of went where my feet carried me – which happened to be right up to the back doors of the ambulance. I could see Katie inside holding their 2 year old, who was crying. I called her name and asked if she was ok. All she could say was “get his tee shirt”. I immediately went to the front door and went in the house to get the baby’s tee shirt like she wanted. When I got inside her husband was in there – who was getting everything together. I asked him what happened. He said that the baby had a seizure when he woke up. I could see that he was very calm and on his way to drive behind the ambulance so I excused myself and went back down the street so as not to get in the way. I informed all of the others what was going on. We all stood in the street as the ambulance drove away. We all chatted a few minutes. Pretty soon we heard the siren leaving the neighborhood and we went back into our respective homes.

That’s when it all came pouring back in my mind. I relived it all again. We lived in Auburndale Florida where we pastored a church. It was 1998. I had a hard time sleeping one particular night so I decided to sleep on the couch instead. About 5:00 a.m. I heard a thump! I take Ambien so most of the time I don’t have any trouble sleeping and I could sleep through a tornado. So the events of that night were out of the ordinary. I got up to investigate the thump I heard – which sounded like it came from the kid’s rooms. I stuck my head around the corner of MIchael’s room and didn’t see him in bed. I glanced across the hall to the bathroom to see if he was in there. He wasn’t so I walked into his room. I saw my five year old boy had fallen out of his bed. I bent over and picked him up under his arms like a baby and gently laid him back down and covered him back up. I turned to leave his room. However, when I got to the foot of his bed about to leave the room I literally felt something stop me. I remember feeling pressure on my chest. I glanced back over at Michael. That’s when I saw that his head was cocked to the side in an unusual way and his eyes were open but blinking in a very regular and quick manner. His right hand was also drawn up on his chest. I went back to him to try to wake him up. I assumed he was having a dream. I called his name and laid my hand on him to give him a little shake. That’s when I noticed his body was as rigid as a board. I screamed for Ron. When Ron got to Michael’s room he picked him up and carried him to our bed and turned on the light. We could clearly see then that he was jerking in a regular pattern as he continued staring to the side blinking his eyes and clinching his teeth. I told Ron he was having a seizure. I have never seen anyone having a seizure before – I just knew. We grabbed the phone and dialed 911. Then we called one of the deacons in our church because we needed someone to come stay with Lauren. Ron left with the ambulance. I waited for the deacon to get to the house to pick up Lauren and then I took off.

That was probably the scariest parenting day we have ever had. As it turned out Michael’s seizure was a fluke of sorts. He wasn’t running a fever. He hadn’t been sick. We spent the next month with him sleeping between us in bed to be sure we would notice if he had another one. He endured tests. Everything came back clear and he’s never had another problem of any kind.

I’m thankful that I wasn’t able to sleep that night so I could be on the couch – close enough to hear him fall out of bed. I’m thankful for that hand on my chest that stopped me from walking out of his room. I’m thankful that he never had any more seizures. I’m thankful that I recognized the problem even though I had never had any experience with seizures before. I’m thankful for a caring church family who responded at a moment’s notice when we needed them.

And tonight I am thankful that Keven and Katie’s little boy is better and checked out fine. God sent me straight to the back of that ambulance this morning so I could find out what was going on because i truly understand what they experienced this morning when their little boy woke up with a seizure. So much to be thankful for tonight.

The Gift of An Ordinary Day

This morning a sweet friend sent me this video. It says everything I have been saying for the last year about how quickly our time with our children flies by and suddenly you realize things are going to change sooner than you are ready for them to. Of course this made me cry. It hits very close to home. Take the time to listen to it. But grab a kleenex first. If you have young children, treasure every day and don’t wish any of them away. If you have teenagers this will grab your heart and shake you up.