Tag Archives: Parenting

Sorry Momma, but She Doesn’t Want to be You

It’s a Wednesday evening, and as my daughters and I drive home from the evening’s church activities (youth games and worship for my teen, aerobics for me, and aerobics and handbells for my younger), we talk about our time apart and share what the experience was like.  I might say something like, “Tina about killed us tonight!  I’ll be good until tomorrow when I try to laugh.”  Or, “Dang!  Celeste still has her soccer moves!”  My youngest will talk about how they’re supposed to play and sing for the Hanging of the Greens service, and she hopes she remembers her part.  My teen is more reflective as she talks about her peers, some of whom have moms in aerobics with me.

“I really feel sorry for Bethany*,” she might say.  “Her mom is so hard on her!”

“How do you mean?” I ask, knowing her mom.

“She doesn’t let her do anything.  When we went on that trip, while the rest of us ate the awesome cooking, her mom made her eat salads.  And when we stopped for breakfast, there was this grill, and the breakfast sandwiches smelled to-die-for.  I could tell Bethany wanted one, but her mom wouldn’t let her have it.”  I know Bethany, and she’s a trim, athletic, healthy teenager, certainly not one who needs to worry about her weight.

“She was talking about how her mom is making her do cheerleading.  Bethany used to run track, and she really misses it.  She didn’t want to be a cheerleader, but her mom insisted on it.”

It sounds an awful lot like Bethany’s mom wants her daughter to be like her for whatever reason.

My teen goes on to the next person, a lovely young lady who tears it up on the basketball court but who feels forced to one day don crinoline and parasol for an annual event – all because her mom wants her to follow in her footsteps and do it.  This girl is tanks, ponytails, and Jordans; not lace gloves, sausage curls, and hoop skirts.

At this point, I tell my teen to let me know if she ever feels like I’m pushing her to do something she doesn’t want to do.  She assures me she will and expresses gratitude that I am happy to let her be her own person and do her own thing.

So this message is for all you moms of teen girls out there:  Your daughter doesn’t want to be you.  Your daughter is a separate, unique person, and if you’ve done your job as her mother well, she owns that.  Daughters of healthy mothers are free to embrace their wishes, wants, dreams, and desires and feel accepted in following them.

Healthy mom-daughter relationships don’t have a mother creating a her-clone in her daughter.  They have stages of accountability (Mom is still Mom, after all) and through the teen years, friendship begins to overlap the parenting responsibilities.  But parent, a mother always will be, even after her daughter has grown into this really wonderful, likable adult.

Healthy mom-daughter relationships create space for both to grow.  They create room for the daughter in particular to become the person she wishes to be.  Sure, it’s cool seeing your daughter doing things you did as a teen.  Mine dances, so we talk about how our experiences are different and similar.  And, certainly, I get certain emotions when she mentions toying with minoring in Psychology (my major).  (Usually, those emotions are along the line of, “Don’t,” but I don’t voice that.)  When I was receiving my second Master’s hood, my teen was an infant, and the dean who was placing it across my shoulders predicted I’d be sharing it one day.  The idea thrilled me at the time, but given my daughter’s talents and gifts, I want her to pursue her interests.  My feelings don’t come into play here; my role is simply to support and encourage.

So, fellow moms of teen girls, lay off your daughters.  They are wonderful beings created by a loving, wise Creator who gave them gifts, skills, and talents.  They have their own knowledge bases, their own ways of looking at the world, and their own ideas of what they wish their lives to be like next year, three years from now, and five years from now.  What God did not create them to be are clones of their mothers.  God did not create our teenage girls to be the fulfillment of the best and most-wished of our own teen years.  As well and as intimately as you know your daughter, God still knows her better.  Stop trying to play God with your daughter’s life.  Wait.  That’s not what you’re doing, because even God allows them to exercise free will.


*Not her real name.


How GenX Made Millenials into Snowflakes

We love them, but we look at them with scorn or derision.  We look at them and wonder how they could be so __________ (fill in the blank).  They are Millenials.  They are in high school or college or freshly out of college, poorly equipped to handle the big, bad world and having no clue why.

They’re spoiled.  They’re entitled.  They believe they’re all that and more, even though they feel like they’re nothing so much of the time.  We adults in GenX and GenY look at these kids and call them “wusses” and “snowflakes.”

Last week, we were discussing these kids.  My teen is a Millenial with none of the above characteristics and a great deal of disdain for her fellow Millenials who have them.  Frankly, I’m quite proud of the fact that she doesn’t have these traits, but as the conversation continued, she said, “Mom, it’s your generation’s fault that we’re like this.”

Well, that bombshell put a serious pause in the conversation, and as my mind raced over the past 20 years, I couldn’t help but come to one clear conclusion:  Damn.  She’s right.

My generation came up with “participation awards.”  Then we gripe about how they reward mediocrity.

My generation decided we need to “protect children’s self esteem” by never giving them negative feedback or poor grades.  Now we wonder why they don’t seem nearly as smart as they should.

My generation got rabid about protecting children from everything – germs, hurt feelings, human traffickers, TV violence, feeling bad, physical punishment… You name it.  We invented “time out,” thinking that two-year-olds are capable of sitting in the special “time out chair” in the corner and understanding how what they did was wrong.  (I studied childhood development from every aspect.  Trust me when I say, they are incapable of doing this.)  Now we have a bunch of kids who are too traumatized when an election doesn’t go a certain way that they can’t fulfill their responsibilities to go to their college classes – and the schools allow this!  What a bunch of fragile, whimpy, weak snowflakes!

And who made them this way?  Yes, my fellow GenXers.  We did.  We screwed up big time with this one.  We didn’t create strong kids at all.  We successfully created children who grow up physically but who can’t handle life.  According to an article in the Washington Post, some Millenials take their parents to job interviews.  Are you kidding me???  They are so used to Mommy and Daddy taking care of things for them that they can’t even handle a job interview alone.

That same article cited a 30-year-old woman who struggled through college, because she didn’t know how to manage her time on her own.  She was used to her parents doing it for her, so 2 a.m. often saw her awake and finishing homework.  This same lady was unable to do her own laundry at 30; her parents had never taught her how, and why should they, when they could do it for her?

We laughed at the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Again, to us, it looked like a bunch of Millenials crying about not getting their way.  They’d gone to college on high-interest student loans, majored in weak fields (e.g., Underwater Fire Prevention), and didn’t understand why they couldn’t find a job that didn’t require asking, “Do you want to supersize your order?”  Mommy and Daddy had taught them for 20+ years that they were special and unique, just the most wonderful kids in the world, so surely these young people’s problems weren’t their fault.  No, they figured it must be the fault of those people who had all the money, the Wall Street folks with the corner offices, like that guy who started out in the mail room and worked his butt off for 20 years to have a window at all and another 10 years for the corner.  And that was after busting that same butt to earn his MBA.

We GenXers passed “Zero tolerance” policies against bullying, and bullying has increased, getting nastier, more hateful, and more vile.  From as young as 6 and 7 years old, children are bullied daily in school, even in schools with these zero tolerance policies.  This isn’t simply some big kid stealing lunch money; it’s two or three big kids against one small one.  And what happens?  The psychologically strongest kids fight back, landing them in the principal’s office for violence.  (I know; I had to go meet with the principal when my teen was in first grade.)  What happens to the weak ones, the ones who’ve been pampered, the ones who are just sick of the bull crap?  They google, “How to make a bomb” and plant one in the school cafeteria halfway through lunch.  They get Dad’s automatic and walk the halls at school, shooting everyone they see.  Often, they get killed by police or eat the gun themselves.  The evangelical conservatives call them “evil.”  The far-left ignores them and cries for more gun regulations.  I call them simply screwed up in the head because of systems we have put in place.

In molly-coddling these children from infancy and well into their 20s, finding ways to build their self-esteem and doing all we could to protect them, GenX created worse problems.  One, we have this generation of young people who literally can do nothing for themselves.  Two, we have a generation of young people who can’t cope with reality.  They are unable to cope with disappointments, bad college roommates, terrible bosses, and time management.  If their failures to handle the responsibilities of reality result in negative consequences, their helicopter parents will be right there wanting the professor or boss to make everything all better for little 30-year-old Susie and little 28-year-old Billy.

Bottom line, reality sucks sometimes.  And sometimes, Mommy and Daddy live several states away and can’t drop everything to rescue their grown children who M&D expect to be able to handle life by now.  When reality crashes so violently against one’s expectations of life, anxiety and depression are often the outcomes.  In fact, an article in Forbes states that depression is on the rise in Millenial business leaders, citing poor boundaries over health and an inability to handle difficult situations.  Furthermore, over the past 20 years, reports of anxiety and depression have increased by 16% and suicidal ideation or acts have increased by 44% among Millenials.  Wow!!!  We have created this mental, psychological, and emotional quagmire that teens and 20somethings are finding themselves in.

So how to fix it?  It’s not enough to say, “Suck it up, buttercup” and expect grown and nearly-grown children to be able to do that.  They have no experience at rolling with the punches.

First, we GenXers have to start NOW making our children do things for themselves.  Problem with a teacher?  Try a bit of empathy with accountability.  “I’m sure it felt like Mr. Jones was being unfair with how he graded your test.  If it’s that important to you, make time to speak to him about it.”  Then – and this is the hard AND important part – back off.  You have just transferred power to your child for dealing with this.  Will it be scary?  Of course.  Will it teach them how to deal with conflict later in life?  Absolutely.

“You’re out of clean clothes for school tomorrow?  That’s tough, but if you start now, you can get a load through before tomorrow morning.”  Then encourage them to Google “how to wash clothes.”  I’m pretty sure that having to research the “how” themselves will make it stick better.  (Our children wanted to learn how to wash their own clothes, so we could teach them at young ages.)

Second, we have to stop rewarding mediocrity.  I’m sure the younger parents will be grateful not to have to dust one… more… meaningless… trophy.  Real life means, you don’t get rewarded for doing what you’re supposed to do.  There’s no special treatment for showing up for class, being on time for work, or doing a day’s worth of work in seven hours instead of eight.  Your “reward” is getting paid or learning the material the professor wants you to know.  The “reward” is not being fired or flunked for being a slacker.

There are already systems in place to reward excellence.  In secondary school, it’s called graduation.  In college and graduate school, it’s a degree.  In the working world, the reward is often a merit raise and a promotion.  It is not the dean’s fault nor the boss’s fault if an individual fails to get the reward; it is purely the fault of the person who didn’t meet and exceed the expectations.

Third, we have to help these millennial children reframe their thinking.  If things don’t go their way, they need to stop blaming others – other people, authority figures, society, or government – and discover what they have done to contribute to the problems they’re facing.  If the problems are legitimately placed onto them from outside sources (i.e., the rent increases by $200 a month), then this is a time for these young people to figure out how to change themselves in order to meet the challenges – them, not Mommy and Daddy.  They need to see problems less as obstacles to prevent their progress and more as opportunities to find different solutions.

I’ve seen this in adults who are… Let’s say, a generation ahead of GenX.  These people are an anomaly but have all the characteristics of current Millennials.  Failures at work are the fault of teammates or bosses.  Money problems are the fault of the government – and Momma is quick with the bail-out.  Afraid of conflict, these people go along with what others want them to do, be it friends, colleagues, or bosses.  So long as these people, along with their Millennial cohorts, can maintain the image they have of themselves – you know, that “you’re so awesome!” image Mom and Dad implanted in them from birth – all is well.

Ask yourself this, and try to be as objective as you can:  Is your child someone you’d want to put up with if they weren’t your child?  Would you want to do everything for them that they need done, or would you want to be around someone who is more responsible?  What feedback have you gotten from others?  The grasping of reality will be brutal and harsh, but it’s completely necessary for young people to grow up to be adults society wants to deal with.  We may love our children to bits and think they are all sorts of amazing, but truth is, they’re only ours to deal with for 18 years.  After that, the rest of the world has to deal with them.  It’s our job as parents to raise children that society has to tolerate.  What do they look like?


Every Super Hero Has a Weakness

I see you, Mama.  You’re worn down.  Physically exhausted.  Emotionally exhausted.  Spiritually exhausted.  Even when people surround you at home, you feel lonely.  You’re Supermom, no question.  You get up in the morning, make sure everyone has a good breakfast, and get the kids dressed and off to school and day care on time.  You go to work where you spend the better part of 8 or 9 hours on your feet.  At the end of the day, you come home, and your second job begins – cooking dinner, cleaning the kitchen, washing the dishes, doing laundry, getting the kids to bed, picking up toys, and putting all the laundry away before collapsing into bed, exhausted to tears.  In the midst of these hours of work, you would occasionally look over at your husband, drink in one hand, remote control in the other, and fight the waves of resentment as he “rests” from his job in front of the TV all evening.

Supermom graphic

SuperMom! Ever notice that no male superhero has as many tasks?

So, what’s the deal?  Why is your man leaving you to do all the housework and childcare when you both work full-time jobs?  And why are you putting up with it?  Here are a couple/few thoughts.

(1) You make it look so effortless.  You’re like a well-oiled machine, organized, able to bring up doctor’s appointments, hair appointments, play dates, sports practices, and parent-teacher conferences with a few taps on your phone.  Bam!

(2) It’s your job as a mom.  After all, your mom did it.  Her mom did it.  Her mom before her did it.  Built into the collective unconscious of women is “The man works all day, so the woman takes care of the house and kids.”  Sadly, this message hasn’t changed with the changing status of women as degree winners and bread earners.  The stereotype of the June Cleaver mom – happily doing housework with dress, heels, pearls, and a smile – still influences us, two generations later.

(3) It’s your job to sacrifice yourself.  This has a LOT of religious undertones to it by religious figures – men, of course – who continue to perpetuate the idea that a woman’s job is in the home taking care of her family.  This gets stretched to include the message that, “If you complain (get tired, feel worn down, etc.), then your faith isn’t strong enough and you’re less of a women/wife/mom/Christian.”

Right here, right now, I’m calling BULLSHIT!!! on every single one of those reasons/excuses, because that’s exactly what they are.

Whether or not he’s your favorite superhero, I think we can easily agree that Superman is a pretty awesome superhero.  He’s got the muscles and the speed and those killer blue eyes.  How easily does he seem to guide a crippled passenger plane to a safe landing!  Then he goes on to foil a bank robbery, fearlessly progressing as bullet after bullet strikes his chest.  (Then the robbers throw their guns at him.  What’s up with that?  Like the bullets won’t kill him, but a 14-ounce pistol will?)  And then his supersonic hearing picks up the faint feminine cries of “Superman!  Save me!” and he flies off to pluck Lois Lane out of mid-air, depositing her safely to the ground and, once more, earning her undying gratitude and devotion.  The citizens of Metropolis look up in admiration and applaud him, so grateful he’s once more saved the day!  Ahhh!  If only we Supermoms got that kind of adulation, at least every once in a while!

But Superman has a weakness that those Metropolitans know nothing about.  Superman knows what it is, of course… And so does Lex Luthor.  Things start going bad in the big city of Metropolis, and Superman is nowhere to be found.  People start wondering, speculating, and worrying.  What will happen to their beloved city if Superman doesn’t appear soon?

In an abandoned warehouse near the docks, Superman is bound against steel beams, weaker than a mere Earthling.  Lex Luthor has left him there, intending to deal with him later.  Nearby, a chunk of emerald green stone glows in the darkness of the warehouse.  A couple of teens ditching school duck into the warehouse, looking for a bit of privacy.  The green glowing rock catches their eyes, and then they see the Man of Steel nearby.  Scared and alarmed, they ask him, “Superman?  What happened?”

With a hoarse voice, he manages to rasp out, “Kryptonite.”  The teens get it.  The girl grabs the stone with a pair of nearby tongs and runs it outside, going to the end of the dock before flinging it with all her might into the ocean.  On her way back to the warehouse, she gasps the story in broken, breathless sentences to a couple of guys fishing.  They follow her into the warehouse, shocked to see their hero so weakened.

One of them asks, “Superman, how can we help you?”  A modicum stronger now, he says, “Sunlight.”  The four work to untie him and they carry his heavy, muscular body outside, laying him down on the weathered wood of the boardwalk.  The midday sun is strong and bright overhead, and it takes almost no time for Superman’s strength to return.

Superman was brought low, and he had to communicate (1) what was making him weak, and (2) how to get his strength back.  Supermom, you do, too.  What is exhausting you?  What is making you feel worn to your soul?  What is making you feel stressed, anxious, lonely, and sad?  What has diminished the light in your eyes?

It’s time to open up some communication.  What is making you feel weak, despite sleeping well, eating right, and having a faithful worship and prayer life?  You have to let your family know these things.  They see the nearly effortless way you handle the home and family and don’t realize you are exhausted.  They don’t know your resentments or your anger.  It’s time to release that, to communicate your feelings in a loving, empowering way.  When my words seem to fall on deaf ears, I turn to writing out those feelings.

It’s also time to speak about what will help you regain your strength.  Do you need space to meditate or practice mindfulness, whatever that looks like?  (There are some faith-based meditations, too.)  Do you need your husband/partner to watch the kids, including getting them fed, bathed, and to bed, so you can take a fitness class or do yoga practice?  SAY that.  Don’t pussy-foot around it and be nice; none of this, “Honey, is it OK if I take this class once a week?  It’s OK if it’s not, and I’ll make dinner and take care of the kids before I leave.”  NO NO NO NO NO!!!  Try this instead:  “Honey, I need to take care of me so I can have the strength to take care of y’all.  There’s this class on Tuesday evenings I want to take.  So I can do this, I’ll need you to cook dinner those nights and be front man on getting the kids bathed and to bed.”  That’s clear, concise, and to the point.

As you start feeling better after a few weeks, make time to thank your partner for supporting you in your continuing efforts.  Also, thank your children for being good for the other parent and making his/her life easier.  Occasionally, make something in the crockpot for dinner so your husband/partner can get a little bit of a break.  Weekly, thank your other half for what they do.  This will encourage them to continue supporting you; gratefulness leads to people wanting to help, and everyone likes feeling appreciated.

It’s time we SuperMoms owned up to our weaknesses and claimed what we need to regain our strength.  I was diligently doing cardio 2-3 days/evenings a week and strength training at least twice a week.  I ate a healthy, balanced diet and got sufficient sleep.  My body was healthy.  I taught Bible daily, prayed at least once a day (not including blessing meals), and still went to church each week.  My spirit was healthy.  Yet, my spirit was also feeling worn down.  My body was feeling worn down.  Why?  Because my mental and emotional health was weak.  I had a big ol’ dose of compassion fatigue on top of anxiety, and those two things were negatively impacting the entire rest of my being.

Now, since my being is tied to others’ beings, my being worn down also adversely affected how well I was doing at the wife thing, mom thing, and friend thing.  Once I realized what was going on, owned it, and asked for help and support from people in my circles (my church circle has been especially supportive!), I am on my way back to complete, wholistic health.

SuperMom, you have got to claim a break for yourself every single day.  All you need are ten minutes a day to be quiet and mindful.  Some days, you need more time, especially if you’re working out.  Your children’s dad needs to realize that there’s more to parenting than his 10-second contribution.  Giving him these moments will help him build bonds with his children that’ll last a lifetime, so you’re doing him a favor, too.

Helping Children Soar

Yesterday, we got to church for our weekly groups early enough that my younger daughter had much-loved time to play on the playground.  She wanted me to support her across the monkey bars.  WOW, did that test how well my knee rehab is going!  (Quite strong and stable, given that I was standing and walking backwards on loose beach-type sand holding 45 pounds.)  My daughter loves to swing, and, sure enough, she hopped on the swing, asked me to push her, and informed me, “I want to go high!”

I pulled her back and gave her the initial pushes.  As every parent knows, though, when you’re pushing a child on the swings, there’s not but so high a parent can push their child.  The parent can start them, but then the child has to pump her legs, and truly, her height is completely up to her at this point.  The child pumps and rises, eventually getting to the point where the chains start to go slack and she can see over the bar at the top.  She can lean back in the swing, letting her hair flow back and down in the breeze, or the more adventurous can decide to jump out of the swing at this point (with hopefully no broken bones).  The point is, though, once the child takes responsibility for her own swinging altitude, she can then choose what to do with it.

2016-03-16 17.51.21

On her way to the sky

As I stood with my daughter, watching her swing, I thought about a situation a friend is going through with his daughter.  The daughter’s mom think she’s “keeping her safe” by doing everything for her, way more than a near-teen needs to have done.  As a result, this young lady is lazy and slack about her self-care, especially pertaining to her medical needs.  You see, this mom doesn’t know that it’s time to stop pushing and time to trust her daughter to pump her legs.

Watching a child getting crazy-high on the swings is a bit heart-stopping:  Will she fall?  Will the chain mysteriously snap?  What happens if she loses her grip?  Answer:  She’ll get hurt, but likely survive.  In the meantime, there are squeals and giggles carried on the wind, fading and growing with the Doppler effect as she goes back and forth.  There’s the memories of exhilaration of being a girl on the swing, feeling that “oh my gosh!” as you remember seeing the chains go slack and feeling like you were so high.  And you realize, you just can’t take that away from her, because this child will likely never fall out of a swing, but she’ll experience a million moments of soaring thrills as her legs pump her higher and higher and higher and she leans back to feel the wind in her hair.

Sure, a child is safer being kept close under mother’s protective wing, but she’ll also never learn what she can do on her own.  That child will swing as long as she’s in mom’s reach, but she’ll never soar if mom won’t let go of her.  Sadly, the child will never learn she actually can soar.  As parents, there has to come a time when we let go of our children, trusting them to hang onto the chains, but only as long as they want to.  This is the only way we will empower our children to rise up to be all that they possibly can be.

Discipline is Hard!

Discipline isn’t easy, because discipline done correctly leads to teaching subordinates of some sort (i.e., children) how to do things correctly or better.  I don’t care for the definition that aligns discipline with training using punishment as a consequence of misbehavior.  To me, discipline requires patient teaching with the end goal of the recipient of the discipline growing and learning something new.  There are consequences of not following the teaching, but it’s important to be clear about these from the beginning.  That way, they are the consequences of choices, not knee-jerk punishments.

Given that discipline requires patience, consistency, and love, then it follows that disciplining someone is a fairly challenging task.  As parents in particular, we risk dealing with push-back from children, the pouting, the drama, the pain on both parts.  Well, we generally know that the pain of discipline usually rests solely on the shoulders of the parents (“This will hurt me more than it will you.”), but children will convince us that they’re mortally wounded because we want them to play outside instead of playing video games, or we’d rather they read than watch TV.

Some other ways we discipline our children is by setting appropriate boundaries on their behavior.  This has to be immediate; otherwise, they’re just not going to get it.  “That doesn’t go in your mouth!”  <whispered> “No, you’re not ready for Communion, yet.”  “You need to hang your wet towel up, because if you don’t, the cat will pee on it.”  We know that these are simple boundaries that will have lasting consequences; they lessen the risk of putting bad stuff in their mouths, they’ll wait and go through the spiritual growth necessary before taking Communion, and they’ll learn to hang their stuff up (we hope).

But, heavens, doesn’t it seem to go on forever?!?!  “Don’t leave your colored pencils strewn across the living room floor.”  And didn’t I just tell her that 37 minutes ago for the eleventh time today, and it’s not even lunchtime, yet?  Wouldn’t you think she’d learn after doing it so many times that it’d be habit?  But, no.  Consistency, but then comes consequences.  “Daddy, you broke my pencil when you stepped on it!”  “Well, sweetie, would Daddy have been able to step on it had you picked it up and put it away when you were done?”  Damn Mommy logic!

Discipline means risking the anger and tears.  I have a friend who suffers a lot of unnecessary headache because he doesn’t want to deal with the anger from disciplining his daughter.  He just doesn’t “want to get into it with her.”  She is learning she can get by with a lot that doesn’t seem to bother her but that only irritates her dad.  My eldest can dish her own anger and attempts at manipulation.  Just today, she was reading something and asked, “What does ‘venerable’ mean?”  I replied, “Find the dictionary and look it up.”  “But it’s the first day back to school!  It’d be nicer if you’d just tell me what it means.”  Sure, I could’ve done that, avoided the drama, and she’d remember the definition until…  Oh, right around lunchtime.  If I’m lucky.  I grinned and said, “No, I’m not spoon feeding that to you.”  She huffed and dramatically flung herself out of the chair and strutted into the office, slamming the door behind her.  Ahhh…  Tween drama.

What is so hard about teaching children how to behave correctly and guiding them as they learn what it will take to grow into responsible, productive, happy adults?  Oh yeah.  It’s work.  Hard work.  Seemingly never ending work.  Work with no time clock, no paycheck, and certainly no vacation or sick leave.  But the results are invaluable.  Just the other night, my eldest told me all the way home and through dinner and after dinner about the opportunities she has this summer to break out of her comfort zone and do something different and independent and for others.  Two of these somethings cost money, but she didn’t even think to come to us to ask for the money.  (OK, so she’s having to ask for the deposits.)  She immediately started coming up with a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timeable) plan for earning the money.  She’s driven and excited, and these events will mean even more to her, because she’s working for them.  Our work is far from done, but we can and will enjoy the small reward.


Motherhood and the Journey Into Hell

For my “light” (haha) summer reading, I’m reading Dante’s Inferno for the first time, fabulously translated by Robert Pinsky.  Pinsky’s translation illustrates Dante’s reactions to some of the people he encounters along his journey through the circles of the underworld.  The traveler recognizes people he knew from above, and knowing their sins, he feels their judgment and resulting punishment is just.  Yet, at the same time, seeing their eternal torments, he feels compassion on them for the torturous pain they must endure.

This morning, my older daughter left for camp.  She’d worked all weekend getting her clothes and other things together, and come 5:00 this morning when her Daddy was ready to roll out to take her to church, she got into the car, raring to go.  Then from my warm, snugly bed, I heard the front door open and close again.  Then suddenly, lights.  Bathroom light turning on.  My daughter’s lamp turning on.  The lit screen of hubby’s cell phone sweeping around the room.  What in the world???  My daughter.  Had lost.  Her glasses.  It would be deucedly hard for her to hit that coveted archery target if she can’t see it.

Finally, it was time for them to leave – the absolute latest moment they could still make it to church, so she had to go without her glasses.  At around 5:05 (yes, in the morning), she’d asked me where her old pair of glasses were.  I had no idea.  We promised we’d overnight them to her if we found them (STILL no luck in that department).

My daughter’s sweet, myopic self was off to camp, sans glasses.  Because of their delay in leaving, they couldn’t stop at Walmart to get her a disposable waterproof camera as she’d hoped.  Being sight-limited is going to make camp less fun than she’d hoped, less fun that she’d anticipated.

She’s reaping the consequences of choosing not to be responsible  for keeping up with her glasses, just like the “shades” in Dante’s Divine Comedy are reaping the consequences of their choices in life.  Like Dante, I feel compassion for my daughter, sad that she’s having to go through this ordeal.  Unlike the “shades,” though, she has the opportunity to learn from this experience and make better choices when she comes home.  It’s hard watching this, but we’ll both be OK – and maybe the glasses will turn up tomorrow.  We can hope.

Teacher? Or Counselor?

Friday presented one of those situations in which the mom who is also the homeschool teacher experienced tension with mom who is also a counselor.  I’d given my daughter an assignment out of her spelling book:  Write about something you learned how to do.  Whereas usually writing is cause for distress and drama, she instead announced, “I’m going to write about learning how to wrap presents without a box!”

I affirmed her choice and she was off.  About fifteen minutes later, she announced she was finished and I looked at her work.  She’d gotten distracted from her plan and instead had spent the majority of her paper on visiting the counselor, why she’d gone and how she’d felt.  *sigh*  The teacher thought, “I need to either really take off points or have her rewrite this to fit the assignment.”  The counselor (and really, that side is strongest in me, anyway) determined that, if she needed to write about her counseling, then she needed to get that out.  In the end, I praised her for writing in her newly discovered voice, commented on what I’d noticed and gave her a B-.

It raised a dilemma, though.  It also made me realize that I’m never “just” teacher or “just” chaplain/counselor or “just” mom.  I am often all these things at one time.  Did I handle this the right way?  I’m confident that I did, given my daughter’s needs.  What would you have done similarly or differently?

A Time for Hugs and a Time for Muffins

If you’re a mom and you’re reading this, what I’m about to say won’t come as any surprise to you:  Being a mom is hard work!  This morning as my daughter and I were preparing to begin our homeschool day, she threw a drama fit.  “I don’t want to brush my teeth!  I don’t like my toothpaste.”  Then came “I don’t like my hair!”  Followed by “I don’t like homeschooling and I’m not going to do it!”  The fourth drama fit came after I assigned her a writing assignment:  “I’m not feeling the love here.”  Four drama fits in under two hours.  Whew!  How exhausting!

Somewhere between drama fits three and four, we were sitting down in the living room and I broke through her tears to ask, “Honey, what in the world is all this drama about?”  She told me she’s still scared.  We talked about that for a while, with me asking the right questions and giving her the right assurances.  And just to prove she’s a counselor/chaplain’s daughter, after I said, “Being scared doesn’t feel good, but it’s not wrong to feel scared.  It’s OK to feel that way,” she replied, “I know it’s OK to feel scared.  I know it’s not bad.”  I was beaming on the inside when she said that.  My husband, when I told him, just rolled his eyes and grinned.

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I still don’t know how to take her fear away.  I can’t.  I can give her a million reassurances and tons of hugs, but there’s no magic wand I can wave to make those bad feelings go away.  And isn’t that just a kick in the keyster?

She gave me a huge hug after our talk and we snuggled for a bit.  Then she wanted to sit right beside me while we did our morning homeschool routine, all except for her spelling test.  Even then, we weren’t more than two feet apart.

The morning passed successfully and we got through lunch and moved on to math.  Two extremely ripe bananas demanded my attention before I was forced to throw them away, so my daughter and I decided we wanted to make muffins out of them.  I dragged her white board into the kitchen so we could work out the math for doubling our muffin recipe.  She’s been introduced to fractions, but she’d never done things with them, like adding, converting or reducing.  With just one explanation, she got it!  We were both flying, because she finally had a challenge in math, she was still learning it quickly, plus we now have a bunch of yummy whole wheat banana muffins for breakfast.

Repeat After Me


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“I am a fabulous mom!” Go ahead, say it! Sure you might feel funny talking out loud to your computer, but go ahead and say this. Now say it again, but with conviction this time.

Hard time believing it? Try this. Are your kids well-fed, dressed and reasonably clean? Do they sleep pretty well at night, secure in the safety of your love and home? Can they laugh, sing, dance and share their love with others and you? Then you’re doing a GREAT job as a mom!

So, one more time. Shout it! “I am a fabulous mom!” With feeling this time! “I AM A FABULOUS MOM!!!”

About This Blog

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All of us, men and women, need regular doses of encouragement and support.  We need someone to look at what we’re doing well and say, “You are great at that!”  So often, we receive a shopping list of “areas of improvement,” either from someone else – like bosses – or in our own minds, usually in someone else’s voice.  Rarely do we hear what our areas of greatness are.

That’s what this blog is for.  While titled for Moms and geared toward them primarily, certainly we know that Dads often need words of encouragement, too.  Ladies, when’s the last time you told your husband or significant other, “You’re a fantastic dad!” or “I’m lucky to have you in my life, because you’re wonderful at ______”?

Not only will this blog offer words of encouragement and insight, I’ll also be inviting you into my life.  What does my life look like?  I’m a wife, mother, small business owner and a homeschool teacher.  I’m behind by two loads of laundry, my bedroom has clothes scattered everywhere, there are dishes in the sink and I’ve got purple circles under my eyes today.  In short, while I’m doing a lot, I’m hardly doing it perfectly.  And you know what?  That’s OK, because I’m created to be used as God wants to use me, not as people think I should be.  My children know they’re loved, they’re going to have delicious leftovers for dinner and at least one load of laundry will be done by the time I turn my light out tonight.

I’ll be honest.  I have days where I think I fail as a mother.  Do you ever feel like that?  I bet you do once in a while.  How do you get out of that?  What helps me is when someone besides my husband tells me, “You’re a great mom!”  I’ve got friends to lean on and I enjoy reading well thought-out articles written by some down-to-earth parenting experts who are parents themselves.  I’ll post links to those articles from time to time.   I will try daily to remind you, “You’re a good parent,” because we really do need to hear that on a regular basis.

If there are any topics you wish for me to cover, please let me know.  I’ll admit, I don’t know a whole lot about parenting teens, as my two are 7 years and 14 months; if you’d like to guest post, absolutely let me know that, too!  We’re all on this parenting journey together.  Let’s have some fun with it!