Everyone Has Something…

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(This post was originally posted in 2016)

As a society, we’ve become masters at “labeling.” We know all our disabilities, all our flaws. We’ve given them names and can diagnose them earlier and earlier. But I’m not so sure that’s always a good thing. Sure, early diagnosis can help, even save, a large amount of people. But sometimes giving it a label predestines a person to limit themselves, to limit their life in ways that they may have pushed through had they not been labeled. Because here’s the thing: Everyone has something. Everyone!

Next time you’re in a crowd, even a small crowd, look around. Statistically speaking, EVERY SINGLE PERSON in that crowd has something in their life that they find challenging. A limitation. Sometimes they wear their challenge on the outside and it’s easy to spot. But more often than that, it’s hidden. It’s under their clothes, it’s under their skin, it’s in their brain. And it’s unique to each person.

Even the people that appear to have it all together, they too have something bubbling just under the surface. No one is immune.

One of the most valuable lessons we can give to our peers is to learn to push through challenges. No matter what life has dealt you, you can use that experience to build or to tear down. And everyone has something.

I think our beauty comes from those “flaws,” from those experiences, and from those challenges.

I think it’s our job, as parents, as teachers, as mentors, to help our children and those around us, with our flaws and our challenges, but don’t stop there. It’s our RESPONSIBILITY to show them how we push through our challenges and don’t let them limit us. To show them that even though we have a disease, disorder, or disability, it doesn’t have us.

People watch our every move, our every reaction, especially our children. They look to us for examples of how to handle the stuff that makes up life, both the good and the bad. A parent with a challenge has to shine through their disability, and show their children that it’s not something to stop them from doing what they want in life.

Even when we think our challenge is too big to get over, we can still show our kids what it means to HOPE. But hope isn’t necessarily proactive. Being hopeful can change your state of mind. The lesson is in how we ACT on that hope.

Think about some of our most inspiring people. Why do they inspire us? Usually it’s because they’ve achieved something IN SPITE OF or even BECAUSE OF a limitation. They’ve overcome and made things better for themselves or for those around them.

Everyone HAS something, but not everyone will DO something. How are you going to use your limitation to inspire those around you?

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Sticking to a Meal Plan

Given the choice, I’d rather not cook at all. It doesn’t bring me joy (unless it’s brownies and I get to lick the bowl) in the way that I hear a lot of women describe. Feeding my family, for me, is just part of my job, like dusting or vacuuming or the laundry. It isn’t that I’m a horrible cook, I’m just not “into it.” I just don’t like to do it.

I can easily plan a week of meals thanks to Food Blogs and Recipe links. But sticking to the plan…ahhh, there’s the rub.

Fast food is my weakness. I know it isn’t good for us, any of us. And I hang my head in shame admitting how often I beg my husband to “just pick something up on the way home.” There are so many other things I’d rather be doing than preparing a meal for a family of four that will spend two minutes at the table after I’ve just spent at least 30 minutes in prep and cook time.

But our budget, and our health, is telling me that I MUST do it. So, I’m going to try, once again, to make it through the week without dipping into the “fast food cesspool of convenience.”

I thought that maybe if I announce the plan publicly, and then blog the results, that I’ll “peer pressure” myself into keeping to my plan. Maybe a little public accountability (or humiliation, whichever the case may be) is what I need.

So, without further ado, here’s the plan:

Sunday:               Minestrone Soup and bread

Monday:              Soy Veggies, steamed rice and teriyaki chicken (Chicken marinated in Kikoman’s Teryaki glaze)

Tuesday:              Spanish Chickpeas and Rice service with guacamole garnish and tortilla chips

Wednesday:        Rigatoni with Italian Chicken– this is a new recipe to me. We’ll see how the fam likes it.

Thursday:            Chicken Fritz over mashed potatoes with green beans

Friday:                 Pancakes (because you have to live a little)

That’s the plan. I may switch things around a bit, depending how the week goes with snow days, work, and the unexpected. But I’m going to try my best. I have to…because my family is depending on me.

Wish me luck! I’m going to need it.

How about you? Do you have trouble sticking to a meal plan?

The Problem with Being A “Fixer”

 

I never thought of myself as being “controlling.” I don’t “bully” people to get my way, I’m not abusive, I don’t have combative relationships. If anything, I run from conflict.

But I am a “Fixer.”

What is a “Fixer?” Well, if someone comes to me with an issue or a problem that’s plaguing them, my first instinct I to “fix them” or “fix it” for them.

The car is broken? I find a way to “fix it.” The doctor over-billed me again? I “fix it.” Kids need help with a personal situation, I’m the mom to ask. Husband wants a better paying job? Let me help you find one. Friend is buried in emotional turmoil? Let me help you find the right professional to call. I mean, if they’re asking for help and can’t see the forest for the trees, then they need someone to help them, and I’m that person, right? Not necessarily.

What’s the problem with being a “Fixer”? I mean, it’s just wanting to help, right? Well, there are a lot of problems with being a Fixer.

First and foremost, it’s emotionally exhausting! Taking on other people’s problems as your own only adds to your own laundry list of problems.

Secondly, not everyone WANTS their problem fixed. Not everyone wants to even recognize their problem (including the fixer). Sometimes, someone just needs you to listen.

Another problem with being a Fixer is assuming that you have the answer or are qualified to give one. I certainly don’t pretend to know everything, and I do research all the time to find solutions for my own problems. Why shouldn’t I do the same for you? Sometimes it just isn’t any of my business. Some problems are too big for someone else to fix. Some problems can’t be fixed at all.

I recently joined a study at church where we are working through the book “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. What an eye-opener! I wasn’t even aware I had boundary issues. I mean, that’s something you have with a mom that won’t stay out of your business, or for people who don’t know how to say “no.” Trust me, I have no problem saying “no” to people. And I’ve learned to “handle” my mom in recent years. How was I to know that I was the person with the boundary issues?! LOL

I think, as a Mom, it’s an easy trap to fall into. We generally run the household: we decide on the weekly menu, we make sure homework is done, we make sure people get up in time for school in the morning, we watch the clock like a hawk some days because if we don’t, no one else will! The responsibility falls on our shoulders. If we don’t help our kids “succeed,” then we’ve set them up for failure, right? And who wants to be THAT mom?! Who wants to be the mom that didn’t have her act together to give her child every opportunity possible to be the best they can be?

Who wants to be the mom that doesn’t dry the tears, give the hugs, fix the hurts, celebrate the joys?

Who wants to be the mom that FAILS HER KIDS?! Not me! And probably not you either.

I can’t speak for your situation, but for me, being the “fixer” hasn’t made my kid a straight-A student. It hasn’t made them the happiest kid in their class. It hasn’t kept conflict out of the house or their lives.

True, there’s a point in their lives when they rely completely and totally on us for everything. But we have to learn to let go of the rope a little at a time…to set boundaries. Otherwise, we end up hating ourselves for every time they fail, asking what we did wrong when they do the exact opposite of what we taught them.

In actuality, they’re pushing back is a completely natural response. It’s what they are supposed to do when they get to their teen years. They don’t WANT us to fix ANYTHING for them at all. And if that’s the role you’ve set for yourself, “The Fixer,” then what are you supposed to do? What is your role? I ask myself these questions on a daily basis.

So, as my kids go through their teen years, and I reach my 50s, we’re both learning to redefine our roles, to set up NEW boundaries…not walls. Boundaries are made to go through with permission, not shut out completely. And I’m not going to lie to you…it’s a very hard thing to balance. It’s a tightrope that is constantly moving. But I’m learning. And I pray…A LOT.

So being the “Fixer” is not all it’s cracked up to be. You don’t have to “fix” them to still be their hero. You don’t have to “fix” things to still love them. “Fixing them” won’t “fix” anything. It’s an illusion, something we’ve built up in our minds as our role as “Mom.” But it’s not true.

Now as situations arise, I try to pause and ask myself if they need a “fixer” or a “Mom” because the two are not synonymous. I’m finding that they need a “Mom” more often than they need a “Fixer.”

How about you? Are you a “Fixer?” Do you have to stop yourself from “fixing” everything? Please tell me that I’ not alone. LOL

To the Mom with the Fussy Toddler

 

I was working at the Grocery Store when you came down my aisle. Your toddler was fussing, and you trying desperately to calm your child. You seemed embarrassed when I smiled at you. But I want you, and every other mom who must shop with a fussy toddler, to know that it’s okay. I get it.

All of us moms have been there.

There are going to be times when your toddler is not going to cooperate with you when you need to get your errands done.

I remember those days.

The child arching his back making it impossible to strap him into the stroller or car seat.

Bargaining with the child that they can have the treat if they just make it through this one more stop. Trying to hurry, and forgetting half the things on your list, just to avoid the dirty looks from the clerks, or worse, from the other mothers who don’t seem to remember those days.

I remember apologizing as my child knocked over a display while I tried to help clean up and wrangle my child simultaneously.

I remember thinking I had done something terribly wrong, and that my child was going to behave like that forever. And then being jealous when they didn’t behave that way for other people. Those days were long and frustrating, but they will get better.

I remember wanting to avoid social situations that I knew would take too long, and then I’d end up walking the halls, or pacing outside, while I waited for my child to “get it together.”

I am thankful for my tribe of moms (and some dads) who would see my frustration and offer to entertain my child while I finished a cup of coffee.

So, to the woman in the grocery store with the screaming toddler, I get it. It won’t last forever. It is a season and it will get better. I know you’re doing the best you can. And I smile out of empathy. I wish moms had a universal sign to show solidarity and understanding. Maybe we need to invent one.

Rest assured, you aren’t doing anything wrong. Your child is doing just what they are supposed to do: asserting their independence. They just don’t know anything about timing. LOL

And I hope I get the same sympathy when you see me struggling with my teenager as they give me an attitude when I set boundaries for them. Again…we need a universal sign.

It gets better.

A Letter to My Kids – My Fear

In this life, you will face a lot of decisions. Some of them will be easy, others will be hard. Some will affect you immediately, others not so much. You won’t see the results, or the consequences, of some decisions for a long time. Those are the ones I worry about the most.

Your life’s journey will be, at times, like walking through a marketplace with vendors screaming for your attention. Tempting you with their offers that you can’t refuse. There will be snake oil salesmen and tricksters looking for unsuspecting victims. You need to watch out for those people the most.

There will be times in your life when you will feel like a square peg in a round hole, trying your hardest to fit somewhere. That’s when you will be most vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to seek wise counsel in those moments from people you trust. And I don’t mean people you meet on the internet.

When you are without confidence and haven’t figured out who you are, there will be people that will be looking for you, waiting for you to seek them out, and that’s when they’ll strike. Some call it grooming, and I don’t necessarily mean in a sexual way. They will be looking to form an emotional connection with you, one that you haven’t found from your peers. But that connection will be trivial at best. They will see you coming, they will sense your insecurities, your vulnerabilities, and they’ll use them to get what they want from you.

I know you don’t believe me and think I’m being over-protective and even over-reactive. But it can happen in an instant and take a lifetime to heal. These people will cross your boundaries and push you further than you are comfortable with and won’t care what harm they do.

I will always be there for you, even if I have to watch from afar. I may not agree with some of your decisions, but it doesn’t change my love for you.

The best thing you can do is arm yourself, first with God, but also with confidence. People who want to cross boundaries hate confidence. It undermines everything they try to do. It means you don’t “need” them. Confidence will put a road block in front of every trick they have.

So, be the square peg in a round hole. You don’t have to fit in. You don’t have to conform. Some of the smartest people are known for not conforming. Embrace your “weirdness.” Because even when you think you are the only “weird” one out there, you’ll soon realize that we are ALL weird in some way. That’s what makes us human. That’s what makes us beautiful.

When you feel the worst, listen to Christina Aguilera’s song “You Are Beautiful” until you believe it to be true.

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?

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.