When your children want to know the gory details…

(Original Post July 2015)

 

So I found myself caught between a rock and a hard place (sorry for the cliché) the other night.

My daughter wanted to know if I was a rebel when I was younger.

Maybe it was the deer in the headlights expression that gave it away, but she knew immediately that I was not always the straight-laced, button-down, Christian woman that I am today.

Don’t get me wrong, I was always the one who everyone’s parents trusted, including my own. And for good reason.  For the most part, I stayed out of trouble, rarely broke the rules (I was usually too scared) or at least was smart enough not to get caught. But my daughter wanted the dirt, the gory details.

At first I told her that if she could guess something that I had done, that I would fess up. She couldn’t really come up with anything, to my relief, but she was relentless.

So what’s a parent to do? Make up something? No, that’s not my style. I’m too honest for that. I mean, really…honesty has always been my enemy.

This was a dilemma. If I told her a rebellious story she may use it against me further down the line. You know, throw my words back at me…”But YOU did it!” That would be bad. Or she could go the other way…”Just because YOU never did it doesn’t mean that I can’t do it!”

There really was no way to get out of the messy situation. It was a teachable moment…for both of us. So I thought of something forgivable, and told her a brief story from my rebellious youth. It was entertaining and not something she could really duplicate, so I was safe there. No one in the story got hurt. I told her how I learned a lesson and why it wasn’t a good idea to begin with.

Discernment…that’s what I learned. I learned that it isn’t so bad to tell my kids the gory details of my past mistakes, as long as I keep them in my past, and as long as my kids can learn a lesson from them. I think I’ll be ready for the next time one of them asks about my history, and I’ll keep the gore to a minimum. I’d like to keep my straight-laced, button-down reputation intact.

I’m just glad I got to live my teenage years BEFORE the internet.

Do you tell your kids about your gory details?

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When You Don’t Fit in the Box

Have you ever felt different than everyone else? Guess what? Everyone has felt that way at some point in their lives.

I’ve talked before about the area where we’re living. It’s super competitive. Which is good when you’re talking about having good schools. Our schools don’t just want our kids to strive for excellence. Sometimes it feels like they demand it…even if you don’t fit into the Excellence Box as defined by their terms.

Our school districts encourage…nah, that’s not the right word…they PUSH for excellence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. And there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s quite admirable.

Except for one thing: NOT EVERYONE FITS IN THE “STEM” BOX.

I have at least one child that fits that description.

She would rather get a root canal than sit through a math class. Okay, that might be an exaggeration. But she hates math with a passion. She’s a “creative” down to the depths of her soul. She can tolerate science because it’s kind of fun and creative in its own way. And technology, so long as she’s using her computer to create some elaborate artwork, then, yeah…she’s in. But engineering and mathematics…forget it.

Almost every day I get an email from the school district about some new opportunity for a STEM camp or Advanced Placement Exam or Advantaged Student Experience (whatever that is). But rarely does something come across my email for “Regular Kids.” You know, the ones who fall through the cracks because they don’t fit in with the AP kids and don’t fit in with the Athletes. They don’t fit in “the Box.”

We used to send our kids to school to prepare them for life…ALL parts of life. To teach them to be well-rounded, to expose them to culture and history (and some reading and writing), and to teach them how to work together in a controlled environment. Oh, and to have some fun along the way. Now it seems, we’re sending them to school to prepare them for “a Job.” But that’s what College is for. There’s plenty of time for that.

I can’t tell you how many high school kids are depressed or experiencing crazy amounts of anxiety. Oh, and I get emails about classes to help your teen manage those emotions too.

Look, I’m not saying that striving to be the best you can be is a bad thing. I’m just saying that maybe we’ve become a little too one-sided. Maybe we need to lighten up a little bit. Maybe we need to not panic so much when our kindergartner gets held back a year because they aren’t ready to move forward just yet. That’s okay. Everyone is different.

I’m also not knocking the kids that are excelling in STEM. More power too you! Good job! I sometimes wish I had those skills, or even that interest. But I’ll tell you that the adults that have their Master’s Degree and the ones that barely made it out of high school both buy their groceries from the same store. Their basic needs are the same.

I’m just saying that there are a lot of different paths to get to the same goal…being a healthy, fulfilled, responsible, contributing member of society.

Maybe we should consider that ONE BOX does not fit ALL.

Because at the end of the day, all we want is for our kids to be happy and our educators not to be exhausted.

And if your kid is one of those that doesn’t fit into the Box, relax. They just haven’t found the right Box yet.

I’m raising Average Kids and I couldn’t be more proud.

Letting Go…but Not Giving Up

My life with my children has been a series of “letting go.”

I let go when you didn’t need me to rock you to sleep when you were an infant.

I let go when you didn’t need to hold my hand to stand and walk on your own.

I let go when you could hold the spoon to feed yourself.

I let go when you walked into preschool that very first day and waved goodbye.

I let go when you learned to write your name all by yourself.

I let go when we took the training wheels off your bike and you balanced on your own.

I let go when you started choosing your own friends in school without my help.

I let go when you stood on the stage in your first Christmas play and sang your heart out.

I let go when you spent the night at your first sleep over and didn’t need me to tuck you in.

I let go when you got on the bus your first day of middle school and rode bravely without me.

I let go when you didn’t get the grade you wanted and learned you had to work a little harder sometimes.

I let go when you had private conversations with your friends.

I let go when I learned I wasn’t necessarily privy to every corner of your life, and that privacy didn’t mean secrecy.

I let go when I gave you the keys to the car and you drove out of my sight only to return safely.

I let go when you went on your first date, and I prayed you’d make wise choices. You did.

I let go when your choices weren’t necessarily my choices, and that was okay.

I let go when holding on tighter would only strangle you and make me crazy.

I let go just far enough so that you would know I am always here, waiting, when you need to come running back, no matter how far you wander.

I let go in so many ways, but my love for you will never lose its strength.

Confession – I’m Guilty of Enabling My Kids

“I’ll just do it myself.” Even if I don’t say it out loud, I often think it. Not out of martyrdom, not out of self-pity, but just because I can do it faster, and get it done when I want it done, whatever the “What” may be.

Am I alone on this?

I wouldn’t say my kids are spoiled, not in the traditional sense. They don’t have the latest iphone, they don’t get showered with unnecessary gifts, I don’t buy them brand name clothes. They aren’t spoiled in that sense. But when I step back and look at what I do around the house in comparison to what they do around the house, I realize that I am an “enabler.”

It started because I was a stay-at-home-mom, and my only job was to take care of the kids and the house. But the kids got older (12 and 16) and yet I still do almost everything.

I do their laundry, I make their lunches for school (except the 16 year old makes her sandwich), I make dinner AND wash the dishes AND put them away when they’re dry. Our dishwasher is broken, so I hand-wash everything. I dust, I vacuum, I clean the bathrooms, I empty the trash and take the bags to the garbage…I do way too much.

And it isn’t helping them AT ALL.

These are vital survival skills they need. But rather than engage in yet another argument, I just do it myself.

But ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

With my back being injured this past couple of weeks (it’s getting better), it’s become very apparent to me how I’ve cheated my kids out of figuring things out on their own.

Please don’t misunderstand, they are good kids. Put to the test, I’m sure they would survive. But I’ve made it really easy for them to sit back and not have to take responsibility.

But this week, due to necessity, I’ve been forcing myself (and them) to take on some more responsibility. Doing the dishes without pushing back has been the biggest change. And when they argue about whose turn it is, I’ve stepped back and let them figure it out for themselves.

Tonight was a big step forward for me and the kids. We decorated the Christmas tree (we have an artificial tree and it’s our tradition to set it up the day after Thanksgiving). And for those of you who “re-decorate” after the kids have had their shot at the tree (you know who you are), you know this is a big one.

I didn’t hang a single ornament…not a single one! I couldn’t. The mere act of getting up and down off the floor and bending and stretching hurt my back. I even passed the torch of arranging the lights on the tree to my oldest and she did a fabulous job. It was my job to take the ornaments out of the box and hand them to the kids (and my hubby) to hang.

Somewhere along the way, I lost track of time, and forgot that they weren’t babies anymore. I forgot where my responsibilities ended and theirs began. I forgot when “helping” became “enabling.”

My hope is that I can keep it going and not slip back into my old enabling ways when my back is better. Maybe everything really does happen for a reason.

Can you relate to this? I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one.

Never Buy a Model Home

This is a bit off topic from my usual posts but consider it a tongue-and-cheek PSA from someone who made that mistake. On the surface, buying one of the models in a new home tract seems like a bonus. It’s move-in ready, right? Well, not exactly.

We sort of “fell into” buying our house. We were renting, and our landlords offered it to us for a great price. Since we were looking to buy, we were familiar and happy with the area, and not having to pay to move was a huge plus, we decided to jump in. And for the most part, it was a good decision.

But there was one main drawback – it was originally one of the “model homes” for our townhomes.

That means a few things, which I’ve learned along the way.

The first drawback is a term I learned almost immediately. EVERYTHING IS “BUILDER GRADE.” And I mean everything! Every home repair person we’ve had to the house grimaces when they see what they have to deal with. In fact, just today, I went to clean out the p-trap under the bathroom sink only to find that it doesn’t have a nut on the p-trap which could be easily removed. Our p-trap is GLUED TOGETHER!  A short cut the builders took to hurry up and get the model home done first.

Now, getting the model home did mean it came fully decorated, which, at first glance, looks fabulous. But the more we started looking at details and corners, the truth started to make itself apparent. We have crown molding in several rooms. But where the crown molding ends and a new room begins, for example at a corner, they didn’t bother to miter the corners. The molding just ends…chopped off…sometimes before the end of the wall. This would have frustrated my engineer father to no end.

Let’s talk appliances…all builder grade. Not just the cheap built-in microwave and stove either. We’re talking toilets, faucets, shower doors, bath tubs, and garbage disposals. Not a single brand name.

And counter tops? Tile? Granite? Soapstone? Marble? Not even close. Try plain white laminate that stains the MOMENT something like a drop of red juice is spilled on it. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is my new best friend.

Can we talk cabinets? Not a glimmer of chrome or brass hardware on any cabinet in the whole house. Not in the bathrooms and not in the kitchen. But they did remember to use industrial strength magnets to keep the cabinets shut. If only there was a handle to open them up!

Now there is one thing that none of my neighbors have. We ended up with what only a handful of the neighbors have…a two-car garage. Apparently, after they made our model, they decided that a two-car garage would not let them cram as many places in here as they could. So, they got rid of the two-car garage option.

Oh, we also have a fully painted and dry-walled garage complete with green trim and a small closet. It seems that our garage served as the “front office” for the complex. So at least our pipes in the garage don’t freeze every winter. And there were heating ducts in the garage when we first moved in until we sealed them up because having heating ducts in a garage that is attached to the house is potentially lethal. (Something the inspector missed, by the way).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am eternally grateful for our home. I love it and know that we are very blessed to be able to own a home. I just want others who may be looking to buy a home to be aware of what it means to buy a model home.

If you buy a model, just be prepared to make a lot of upgrades and get used to the term “Builder’s Grade,” and the pity look the repay people will give you.

What is the worst or quirkiest thing about your home?

Why Moms Need a “Village”

When I had my first child, over 16 years ago, I was elated. Growing up, I never aspired to be a CEO, or a big executive (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I just wanted to be a Mom and a Wife. My dreams were coming true.

And then the hard work began.

For starters, I have a minor disability which makes me somewhat dependent on others, which I hate, by the way. But it can’t be helped. That’s where my “Village” comes in.

I knew going into parenthood, that I would need help, especially getting around town with the kids. And it became evident immediately when the doctors screwed up my C-Section (a small portion of it opened back up) which sent me to the wound center EVERY DAY for the first 10 weeks of my daughter’s life. My husband couldn’t take that much time off work, so my village took me there and waited with the newborn while my wounds were cleaned.

Because I can’t drive, I try my best to be close to schools, grocery stores, and doctors, and God has provided that for me. But there are times when stumbling blocks get thrown in the way. That’s when I need my village. Sometimes it’s made up of good friends or family and sometimes near strangers.

The truth is parenting is hard, whether you have a disability or not. There are times when you’ll be criticized, and judged, and you’ll need your village to support you even when you’re wrong.

My Village comes in all shapes and sizes.

I’ve had friends who are like surrogate parents to my children. They love them almost as much as their own. They’ve watched my kids early in our friendship when my husband had a gall stone attack (we didn’t know what it was at the time) and had to be rushed to the hospital. They’ve picked my kids up from school or watched them when I was stuck on the bus or they’ve taken them to school functions when I couldn’t get them there on my own.

Sometimes the “Village” support comes in emotional support as well. When I thought I was losing my mind as most of us Moms do from time to time, they picked me up off the floor and reminded me that “this too shall pass.”

My kids are now in their teens, and I still need my “Village.” Moms with older kids who have gone before me to advise me with high school decisions. Moms with younger kids to remind me not to take any moment for granted, because they pass quickly. Moms with kids the same age to support each other in the insanity.

My Village…I love them all and there’s never any way I could every repay their kindness. Somehow “thank you” doesn’t seem to be enough.

What about you? Have you found your village?

When Your Teen Doesn’t Share Your Beliefs Anymore

 

The following post is a reminder to myself in this season of my life and my teen’s life. But I thought someone else might benefit from it as well. I hope you can find some comfort in the following words if you’re experiencing growing pains of your own.

My child’s “unbelief” was pre-ordained. It’s only a surprise to me, not to God. He knew this was coming, and He knows the outcome.

It’s not my job to “convert” my child. It’s my job to guide and let God do the “converting.”

Forgive myself. It’s nothing I did wrong. Sometimes when your child is coming to their own conclusions, it means they are acting on their own. They are doing exactly what you taught them – to think on their own. They are maturing and thinking about what life means to them.

Don’t take it personally. Sometimes their unbelief is out of rebellion, but more often it’s out of discovery. Sometimes I think it can even be out of sheer laziness – they don’t want to be accountable to God, so they are taking the easy way out. It’s the “because I don’t want to” reasoning.

It’s a growing pain. Both my teen’s and my own. Just like growing out of dolls or playing with legos, they’re maturing and deciding what works for them. For me, it means learning to let go. They’re getting closer to adulthood, and my belief will not always be their belief.

The best thing I can do in this time of their life is to love them. It should be a time of “show” and not “tell.” Lecturing will only push them away. They need to know I love them. They need to know that my love for them doesn’t come with conditions like sharing a belief in God.

Let them experience Grace – mine and God’s. Forgive when they don’t deserve it, be kind to them just because. Really show them God’s love with how I respond to them.

Most importantly, this is God’s battle, not mine. I don’t have the ammunition or the army or the stamina to run the race with them, but God does. He’ll be there when they choose Him. And even if they don’t choose Him, God will love them in spite of themselves.

God tumbled down the walls of Jericho by having men walk around, time and time again He brought people out of despair and raised them up when they didn’t even know He existed. He waited while his followers groaned and walked through the wilderness for 40 years, and He was there every step of the way.

What makes me think He will not do the same for my child?

Take a breath and say a prayer and love your child. There is a time for everything under the sun. And now is a time to wait.