What We Teach Our Children.

I am on the verge of teenage-hood in  my house.  My oldest is 10 going on 13. The little one is 8. They keep me on my toes. The 10 year old is working on his delivery. By this I mean he thinks everything is funny but I don’t always agree. So we are constantly discussing what is and isn’t appropriate. It exhausts me. He loves to chime in on adult conversations and he also has super good ears. So he hears everything. This. Is. Challenging. I have to give him the freedom to express himself and hold conversations with grown ups but I also need to teach him what conversations are appropriate for him to be a part of. So these are really small life lessons I am working on everyday. He is a good kid but they are all learning, right? Everything is a life lesson in my opinion.

I know that academics are important but for me, I’d really rather my child grow up being kind because that will get you far in life! Building relationships, engaging and caring about others. These are imperative life skills. Yes, good academics will help you as well but it’s all of the other things in life that will help you along even more. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be humble. Be aware. Be mindful. Be playful. Most of all, be an example of who your child should and could be. Be hopeful that you help shape them into compassionate do-gooders that will inspire others. Help shape them so that they will put good energy into a sometimes messy world.

Kids

Photo source unknown

I’ll leave you with this poem was on the web today. For the article that goes with it, click here.

We read it in the papers and hear on the air; 
Of killing and stealing and crime everywhere. 
We sigh and we say as we notice the trend, 
this young generation…where will it end?

But can we be sure that it’s their fault alone?
These kids who do things that we don’t condone;
Who was it shaping their first twenty years?
And who made the world they enjoy with their peers? 

Are we less guilty, who place in their way.
Too many things that lead them astray?
Too many credit cards, too much idle time;
Too many movies of passion and crime. 

Too many books not fit to be read,
Too many damaging things they hear said.
Too many children encouraged to roam,
Too many parents who won’t stay at home. 

Kids don’t make the movies, they don’t write the books.
They don’t make the video games with gangsters and crooks.
They don’t make the liquor, they don’t run the bars,
They don’t change the laws, they don’t make the cars. 

They don’t make the drugs, that muddle the brain;
That’s all done by older folks…eager for gain.
Those self-absorbed teens, oh how we condemn,
The flaws of our nation and blame it on them. 

But rather than fixing blame, let’s fix the cause,
Let’s look in the mirror and conclude as we pause;
That in so many cases — it’s sad but it’s true –
The title “Delinquent” fits older folks too. 

There is a great article that goes along with this. Please visit Tim Elmore’s site at http://growingleaders.com/blog/kids-products-world-created/

Parenting, My View from 10 Years in the field

My sis in law has made me an auntie to a super cute little guy. He turned 1 on March 10th and I have provided her ‘mommy advice’ since day one.  I don’t claim to be an expert by any means but I’ve been around the mommy block. Twice. Plus I have lots of mommy friends. I hear lots of stories, tips and insight. I take it all in. Because you never know what tricks other mommy’s have that could be the magic cure for your parenting er, situation.

Maverick

I love this sweet picture of my cute lil nephew.

I have two boys – they are polar opposites. The things they have in common:

  1. Same parents
  2. Daddy’s chin dimple
  3. Stubbornness
  4. The love of being in the water
  5. Sugar

I’m pretty certain that is it. They do not look alike. One is white blonde and fair and the other is dark blond and tans in two seconds. They have the most different personalities and likes. One likes to try new things and is quite the explorer, the other swears by carbs and meat and Legos and his iTouch. Seriously. Night and day is happening in my house.

 BrothersAren’t they cute?

What I’ve learned:

  • No two children are the same.
  • Parenting styles are different. That is OK.
  • It’s OK to ask for help. We are all human and parenting is a hard job. Period.
  • Be consistent. {The hardest thing but it really is worth the results!}
  • Love them.
  • Follow your gut.
  • Holding babies too much won’t spoil them. Plus it goes by fast. Enjoy those snuggles before they are are so big that carrying them kills your back. Trust me.
  • A good night of sleep makes all the difference in a good day or a bad day. Sleep train but use whatever method works for YOUR family.
  • No two parenting books are the same. Take what you can from them but they are not the Bible.
  • All babies start out with their own personalities. You will see that your parenting style will need to be tweaked with each child. My oldest requires me to be more firm and constant while my youngest is more sensitive so less firm works just fine.
  • Be honest. When they ask questions, give them answers. Again, they all process different so use words they will understand. Never shut down their curiosity. Communication is a door you will always want to leave open.
  • Give them freedom but also set limits. Tricky uh?
  • Love them even when they are naughty.
  • Teach them forgiveness.
  • Show them that even though people are different, we all deserve to be treated with love and respect.
  • Hug and kiss them every time you say goodbye and every night before bed.

I know the list can go on and on but these are some of my best bits and pieces. What parenting advice do you have to share? I’d love to hear it.

 

Mommy Nostalgia

First off, I have been feeling so nostalgic {ie — boo hoo} as of late. Another school year has wrapped up and that means that my babies are another year older. While I cherish what this age brings — freedom, independence and just new experiences, I miss the other ages and stages. Friends are telling me that it’s the elementary years and that junior high and high school are so different that becoming attached to teachers is not the norm. There is something about my son’s second grade teacher that just makes me sappy. My oldest had her and now my youngest. Both boys have named her as their favorite teacher and they have had several amazing teachers so this says a lot.

When I helped with Mason’s party the day before the last day of school, it was a constant tug at my heart. The kids playing field games {I was in charge of limbo but due to my ‘too tight jeans’ I thought it best I not attempt to limbo. I would have quite possibly traumatized the kids for life!} They had this sweet energy about them. Cheering each other on, giving high fives, being highly competitive — it was just fun! While the kids went to lunch the parents set up the sundae table. Well, most kids went to lunch. Mine was stuck to me like glue! Throughout the games, and ice cream set up, eating ice cream and then after. He was a bit of a mess. Not in tears but on the verge of when I was about to leave. So the teacher suggested I just check him out early so he could be with me. Well this mama had plans for that last hour of freedom {don’t judge ..} so I pulled him from school. We proceeded to run some errands and he was just my little buddy for that time. It was sweet and sentimental. He is my little boy. My love. And this is all going SO FAST!

 

boyartEtsy – Lacey Fields

The last day of school went something like this: me crying in the car on the way to school, me hugging boys on last day of school, me telling oldest child to have a great last day of 4th grade and letting him run to class solo {cause he likes to do that — I am only cool when I am at my car, not near the classroom}, saying hello to mama friends behind my sunglasses and attempting to not start the waterfall of tears, a few mamas ask how I’m doing and they can hear the warble in my voice and the tears start inching down my face, me walking into the 2nd grade classroom for the last time, I.can’t.keep.it.together!!! Major tears and the teacher is hugging me. One hug, two hugs, three hugs. I’m a mess, the kids are looking at me like I am crazy. Yes, I am THAT mom. At least that day I was. No worries, I own my ‘mess of emotions’. As I walked out of the classroom I held in the flood that was about to overcome me. I pulled myself together and walked away. A few moms wondered why second grade made me this way. I think it really is the teacher! That and I also feel like 3rd graders are more like ‘big kids’. Sigh. It flies by. Nothing makes time fly by like being a parent. I swear to this.

I use the word bittersweet often. The moments are sweet but the bitter creeps in cause those moments won’t happen again. I don’t know that I want to think of any part of these moments as bitter. Perhaps that takes away from the beauty of it all?

Anyway, I could go on and on and on … about how I feel and how nostalgia creeps in daily but I thought I’d leave you with this fabulous article that I stumbled upon last week. It showed up at just the right time for me.

 

Why I’m (Finally) Done with Nostalgia

By Katrina Kenison

I’ve sometimes wondered if I’ll spend the rest of my life missing my sons as the little boys they used to be.

Though it’s been years since I reminded anyone to look both ways, the sight of a mom crossing the street hand in hand with a little guy with sleep-tufted hair and rolled up jeans can still fill my eyes with tears.

Arriving at an elementary school to give a talk one morning not long ago, watching parents bending low to kiss their children good-bye, observing the sea of bobbing back-packs, the bright art on the walls, the exuberance of six-year-olds beginning their day, I was so overcome with emotion that I had to slip back out to my car for a few minutes to compose myself.

Still, standing up at the podium in that room full of young mothers, I wasn’t quite sure I could trust my voice.

“Do you know,” I wanted to say to them, “how quickly this will all be over? Do you realize how sweet and rich your lives are right now? How fleeting?”

Of course, this is what older people have been saying to younger ones since time began. And no one wants to hear it.

Busy, distracted, wondering how to transport the kids from point A to point B and pick up some food for dinner and get the homework done without too much of a fuss, an over-stretched, over-tired parent isn’t worrying about the end of childhood so much as how to survive the hours between 3:00 and bedtime.

I know that. I’ve been that mom, too.

But my sons are 23 and 20 now. It’s been a while since I had two boys living at home full time. And what I’m most aware of, looking back, is not how endlessly long those days could be, but how quickly the years flew by.

At times my nostalgia for our family life as it used to be -– for our own imperfect, cherished, irretrievable past –- is nearly overwhelming.

The life my husband and children and I had together, cast in the golden light of memory, seems unbearably precious; what lies ahead, darker and lonelier and less certain.

Adjusting to my new empty-nest reality, after over two decades of 24/7 mothering, has been a slow, bittersweet process.

Even as my days fill with new joys and occupations, I live in the shadow of that darker, lonelier future. With both sons grown and gone, I wonder if any as-yet-unwritten life chapter could ever feel quite as right, quite as challenging and fulfilling, as those years of intense, day-in-day-out togetherness.

It is such a raw, relentless business, motherhood.

How many times have I been brought to my knees by the sheer intimacy of tears and blood and poop, fevers and sweats and strange skin rashes, sibling battles and wild nightmares and crazy, irrational fears?

And then, within the same hour sometimes, I’d be lifted right up again, exalted and turned inside out by wild laughter or a whoop of glee, a whispered confession, a cuddle, an imponderable question, a kiss delivered to an elbow or a knee (why there?), some random joke without a punch-line that made us all giggle anyway.

When all that ended, when first one son and then the other had the audacity to grow up and leave, I was pretty sure our family life would never again be quite as good.

Last weekend, both boys were home. We didn’t have much of an agenda –- watching some basketball on TV, a couple of family dinners. The guys did laundry. I made chicken potpie from scratch.

On Sunday, between basketball games and my marathon in the kitchen, my husband, the boys and I took the dog for a walk, our favorite loop through the woods.

Gracie trotted ahead, glancing back every few steps as if she couldn’t quite believe her good fortune. For a border collie, heaven is having your entire herd in the same place at the same time: ideally, outdoors and sticking close together.

I knew how she felt. I was happy, too.

In fact, as we tramped along the path it suddenly occurred to me, for the very first time, that I wouldn’t turn the clock back now even if I could. Not for one hour, not for one day, or for one year or ten. Not for anything.

It hit me with the power of epiphany: this sudden, unexpected end to the nostalgic longing I’ve carried like a bruise on my heart for so long that I’ve nearly forgotten what true ease in the here and now feels like.

Who we are, what we are, where we are at this moment is different from what was, absolutely. But it is in no way less than.

And the surprising thing is: I wouldn’t trade our beautiful, complicated, ever shifting and fleeting present for any simpler golden-hued yesterday.

Instead, I’m struck with wonder at who we are right now: four still-growing human beings, each of us irrevocably, mysteriously connected. Each of us finding our own way in the world.

And at the same time, each of us gratefully returning to this hallowed place called home: this piece of earth, this house, this dinner table, this history, this tangled web of us-ness.