I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Posts tagged ‘motherhood’

26 Years Ago

On this day – August 15 – 26 years ago, my life was irrevocably altered.  Forever.

On that day I became a mother.  My body was cut open, a completely independent, unique individual was delivered through that most welcome scar, and my husband said, “It’s a girl.”

And EVERYTHING changed.

I discovered that I possessed a larger capacity for love than I had ever imagined.  I could stare at her sleeping face for hours and not get bored.

I discovered that I was willing to do anything to protect her.  The first time another child pushed her down to take a toy away, I was willing, just for a second, to cause that child severe pain in defense of my duckling.

I discovered that I could hear the change in her breathing when sound asleep and once it woke me, I wouldn’t sleep for hours out of fear that something was wrong.

Her laughter could make my breath catch in my throat and her sticky-faced kisses were the best part of my day.  And the first time she smiled at me?!  Tears were shed.

She got older and the teen years proved to be a challenge.  She was trying to find her own way, spread her wings a bit, explore a bigger portion of the world.  And I was still trying to keep her safe.  Maybe trying a little too hard.

Adulthood.  This is where parenting gets hard.  Elizabeth Stone said it best –

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Moving away from home, having her own daughter . . . that little bundle of joy-beyond-understanding has done both of those things.  She’s well-respected at her work, has regular clients that prefer to work with her over others, knows what she believes and lives by it and has recently become a mother.  Watching her love on that precious little girl who made me a grandma?!  There are no words.

Most days I breathe a huge sigh of relief and say a quick prayer of thanksgiving that I didn’t screw up too terribly.  And I will forever be humbly grateful that I was the one lucky enough to get to be “mom” to such a stellar human being.

 

For the Ladies

What I’m going to say here isn’t new.  It’s all been said before.  Many times before, actually.  By many voices.

But so many people still don’t get it.  So I’m going to say it again.

Ladies – until we learn to support one another even when the decisions we make differ, we cannot expect men to have our backs.  Period.  When they see us picking at each other, going after the weakest in the herd, belittling, bashing, taking cheap shots . . . why should men hold themselves to a higher standard?!

My oldest duckling gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in early May.  It is such an amazing experience, watching her navigate the waters of motherhood.  And little Henry – yes, my granddaughter’s name is Henry – is an absolute gem.  Being a grandmother is a pretty sweet gig!

All throughout her pregnancy and these first few months of motherhood, my oldest has often lamented how vicious other mothers can be.  No matter the choice, someone will tell you it’s wrong.  This. Has. To. Stop.

If you breastfed, great.  But you better have the back of every mom who uses a bottle.  And you bottle mamas?  You need to stand with our breastfeeding sisters who are STILL fighting for the right to nourish their precious little ones without having to hide in a bathroom.

If you gave birth naturally, I have MAD amounts of respect for you!  But I’m asking you to cheer on others who used pain medication to get through the process.  And PLEASE understand that for some of us – myself included – the only way to safely deliver our little ones was to undergo surgery.  How the baby got here matters less than getting that little one here safely.  So let’s just end the argument over what type of delivery is best and agree that any time a baby arrives healthy and loved, how he or she arrived really doesn’t matter much.

Home school, public school, or private school?  Or maybe even “unschooling” (at least I think that’s what it’s called!)?  I have to be honest, that decision wasn’t easy years ago when my kiddos were little and it doesn’t appear to have gotten any easier today.  What matters most is parents who care and are willing to do their part to help their children get the most out of their education regardless of where they are getting the education.

The list could on for quite some time –

Do you supervise your children during their play or do you adopt a more “free-range” philosophy?

Organic food or boxed mix mac and cheese?

Homemade baby food or store bought?

Do you let children explore all sorts of activities – sports, dance, martial arts, etc. – or do you make them select just one thing and focus on that?

Have you chosen not to have children at all?  Awesome.  But could you please love on a kid or two as an aunt/friend/surrogate mom?  The more positive influences kiddos encounter, the better the odds that they will be fantastic adults!

You get the idea.

And my request is simple – have each other’s backs!  If another mom asks you for advice, let her know what worked for you and then cheer her on REGARDLESS of whether she does it exactly like you or not.  Just as each of us is unique in our personalities and preferences, the ways we approach mothering will vary from one woman to the next.

I’m so very tired of watching women shred each other for the choices we make.  We can do better.  And I’m hoping we will choose to do just that.

 

 

Mothering Adults

Before you ask the question, “Is this crazy lady EVER going to talk about anything but her empty nest experience?!”

Yes.  I promise.

But I’ve given myself the month of June to “actively process” this new normal.  I’m the type of person who processes by talking thing through.  The really personal stuff is landing in my journal.  Some of the “this is what I’ve learned” is landing here.

But I promise – pinky promise, even – to not let it be the only topic of conversation past the end of the month.  It may still come up from time to time . . . but it won’t be the dominant topic of conversation!

When my kids were itty bitty, my role was clear – keep them fed, dressed, clean. . . fairly easy even if it was slightly sleep-depriving.

The toddler and pre-school years brought the demand for a watchful eye with a curious, mobile child.  Educational play, outings to the park and potty training rounded out the experience of those years.

School years?  Bring on homework, dance classes, little league, sleepovers . . . their social circle grows and shifts as they grow.

With the teen years, the challenge of “how much freedom is enough” arises.  They want more say in running their own life and you want to keep them away from bad influences and lousy choices.

Then they become adults.  Suddenly, you are not an active participant in their lives anymore.  You move from the playing field to the sidelines.  You are now a spectator.

But there are things you can – should – do when parenting adults.

You can . . .

. . . agree to a web chat when a duckling living out of town asks.

. . . schedule or agree to a lunch date.

. . . send a random text to let them know you love them.

. . . plan a day trip to visit a married daughter and her hubby.

. . . spend a private moment with your daughter on her wedding day and let her know that you will always love her.

. . . always have sleeping space available when ducklings living out of town want to visit.

. . . re-affirm, as needed, that your daughter’s instincts are trustworthy when it comes to her newborn daughter.

I’m still learning where the line is.  What line you ask?  That line that stands between a healthy mother/adult child relationship and being a meddling mother.  The trick is, I’ve discovered that the line is in a different place for each of my ducklings.

But I know one thing for sure – since all four kids are grown and gone, I should probably consider ditching the mom van.  I don’t exactly need it anymore!

To a Mom I Never Knew

An Open Letter to the mom in Barnes & Noble:

I saw you.  You and both of your adorable little guys.  At least, I assume they were both yours.  One called you “mom” and I’m not sure who, besides a mom, would brave the mall on the day after Black Friday with two young men who didn’t look quite old enough to be in school yet!  Big crowds and two little ones in tow without another adult along?!  Only a mother would be that nuts!

They were adorable. I’m not just talking the mini-sized flannel shirt and little “work boots” on the older boy.  Or the adorable curls and blue eyes on the littlest guy.  The way they interacted with each other was just too cute for words.

They were SO excited to be at the bookstore.  And they were EXTRA excited that they EACH got to take a book home.  They were showing each other the “best parts” of their books, pointing excitedly at the Christmas decorations hanging in the store, talking about the “cool sweatshirt” that another customer had on . . . they were having a blast.

Were they loud?  Not really.  I mean, not for their ages.  They were excited and the volume was that of a child who was having a moment he simply did not want to forget.  There was so much to see and be excited about – they didn’t want to miss any of it so they were very eager to point it all out to each other.  But too loud?  Not even close.

Those boys were wonderfully well-behaved  – they excused themselves when people needed to get down the aisle they were in, when the youngest dropped his book the oldest stopped and said, “I can get that for you”, the oldest was careful to warn the younger one when he almost stepped in front of a customer . . . all in all, very well-behaved men-in-training.

Then I took a good look at you, mom.  And I saw the tight set in your shoulders, the fact that your eyes kept darting to all of the adults within hearing distance of your little men . . . you were just waiting for that one cranky adult to rear his or her ugly head.  You were waiting for the first eye roll and sigh, for the first comment along the lines of “It would be so nice if people would teach their children how to behave in public” to be said just loudly enough for you to hear.

And my heart hurt for you.  There was nothing about the way those boys were acting that should have angered anyone and certainly nothing for you to be worried about!  But the way you kept “reading the room” told me that you had heard unkind things before.  You’ve run into people who have nothing kind to say about anyone who isn’t exactly like them.  The oldest smiled at me and said, “Mom’s getting me this book!” and showed me his choice – Giraffes Can’t Dance – so I smiled back and said, “That’s a great book.” (It really is – fantastic lesson in that one!) His smile got even bigger and he said, “I know!” Then he turned to you – “Mom!  She likes this book too!”  I think I’m officially a cool kid with the preschool/early elementary set now.  You simply smiled at him and said, “I heard honey.  Shall we go pay?”  And the little guy piped up, “Then ice cream, right?!”  This time it was your smile that grew when you said, “Right.”

I tell you all of this, stranger, to say that it was a joy to watch your two boys even for a moment or two.  They were enjoying one another’s company, being very good to each other, and were excited about having a new book to read!  I wish I could have told you all of that in the store.  I wish I could have encouraged you to simply enjoy the friendly banter and ignore the cranks.  I wish I could have told you that you must be doing more than a few things right after what I saw today. Oh! And enjoy the ice cream!

And those cranky people who feel the need to roll their eyes, sigh or make negative comments?  Just remember this – some people have to leave their emotional “ick” all over the place in the hopes that other will step in it and become just as cranky as they are.  They have to find SOME way to justify their own grumpy attitude!  So ignore the grumps, cuddle your boys, and read them those awesome new books you bought for them today.  (And one last thing – spoiler:  Gerald the Giraffe finds out that he can, indeed, dance after all!)

A New Stage

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” – Debra Ginsberg

Today was a life-changer.

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My baby walked across the stage and received his diploma.  My youngest child graduated high school.

*gulp*

This is the end of an era, as they say.  For 18 years I have watched a child walk in to a K-12 school building.  18 years of field trips, permission slips, Friday folders, spelling lists, fundraisers, parent/teacher conferences, concerts, plays, musicals, projects, snow days, . . . four children, a countless number of teachers, friends, highs, and lows.  I have been a band mom, a soccer mom, a choir mom, a theater mom, a basketball mom, . . . you get the idea!!

kids

These four have brought me more joy than I could ever have imagined.  They have made me laugh, tested my understanding and patience, proven that I am NEVER to old to learn and no one is ever too young to teach, and have filled my heart to bursting too many times to count.  I have NO clue what this new phase holds.  My eldest duckling (in the sunglasses next to her brother) has been living on her own for awhile and working a full-time, “grown up” job so I’ve already dipped my toe into the “empty nest” waters.  But I still had kids in school which felt comfortable.  Today all of that has changed.  I still work for the school district but that is just not the same as being a parent.

I’ve shed my tears through the “lasts” – last choir concert, last band concert, last large group contest, last musical . . . you get the idea – and I shed a few more today when he gleefully tossed his cap into the air.  I love my kids and am fascinated by the individuals they have become.  I cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of them but I would be lying if I said that I was not at least a little bit nervous about what it means for hubby and I as we tread these new waters.

Congrats, sonny boy.  I could not be more proud of the man you have become and I cannot wait to see what life holds for you!

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An Open Letter to My Children

Hey Ducklings!

Just to give you the background, I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about parenthood lately.  And it’s mostly motivated by a comment I heard recently.  While out running errands a few days ago, I overhead a woman venting to her friend about the tribulations of motherhood.  I SWEAR I wasn’t eavesdropping.  This woman was VERY frustrated and her volume had risen accordingly.  From her comments (while she and her friend were waiting ahead of me in the checkout line) it became clear that she had kids and one of them was a daughter somewhere around the age of 12 or 13.  I’m not going to lie – that is not exactly a “fun” age with girls.  This mother kept . . . oh, let’s be honest and call it what it was . . . she was complaining.  Just as the friend finished paying for the items she had purchased, the cranky mother said something that has stuck in my brain – “After all I’ve done for her, that little brat owes me.  Big time.”

That stuck with me.  And not in a pleasant way.

So I’m taking this chance to make myself ABSOLUTELY clear:

Esther, Margaret, Janessa and Jay, I want to say to all of you – categorically and without any misunderstanding – that you owe me absolutely NOTHING.  Nada. Zilch.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve just known I was going to be a mom.  And God got crazy with the blessings and gave me four of the funniest, most creative kids any mom could have.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all fun and games.  Being up repeatedly with a newborn made for some very tired days.  Four children so close in age made the schedule a little crazy at times.  Sick kids, cranky toddlers, stubborn temper tantrums, mouthy attitudes, teen-aged angst . . . there were moments that made me want to scream or pull my hair out or put myself in time out just so I could get my head back on straight.

But none of that matters.  You don’t owe me a thing.  I did not become a parent as a way of setting up some sort of “savings account” that I could tap into down the road.  I didn’t create a score card on the day that you were born so I could start tracking the time I spent being a mom.  Being your mom has been a privilege.  It has allowed me to learn about myself and to grow as a person.  It’s taught me that I can solve problems creatively, that my “mom instincts” are pretty good and that the simplest solution is sometimes the best.

I did not do what I did as your mom to “earn points” or set you up for a big payback down the road.  I chose to have children and I chose to love each of you unconditionally.  Watching you grow, learn, try and fail and try again . . . all of it has brought me more joy than I could ever have imagined.  There are many parts of my life  that I have loved and many experiences I will cherish.  But next to being married to the love of my life, being mom to the four of you is the richest blessing I could ever have hoped for.

I make no pretense about my “mothering skills” – I’ve gotten it wrong as often as I’ve gotten it right.  Might have even screwed up MORE.  But you have been loved since before I met you and nothing will ever change that.  I love you “to the moon and back.”

“Love you forever, like you for always.”

Sincerely,

Mama Duck

Best Christmas Gift Ever!

 

The beautiful young ladies in this video are my daughters.  (Ignore the close-up moments of a teary-eyed me; my son was under strict orders from his sisters to zoom in on my face because they knew it was highly likely that I would cry!).  The song comes from a movie called “The Chipmunk Adventure” that was a childhood favorite of my girls.  The movie stars the Chipmunks – Alvin, Simon and Theodore – as well as their female counterparts, the Chipettes – Brittany, Jeanette, and Eleanor.  My girls watched the movie CONSTANTLY and loved this song.  And each of them can tell you EXACTLY which Chipette is “theirs”.They decided to surprise me by performing an original three-part arrangement of the song for Christmas this year.  My youngest daughter arranged the piece – with some helpful tweaks from the oldest – and they rehearsed in secret when the two younger girls were home from college for Christmas break.  I am blessed beyond words and humbled that they felt I was worthy of such a priceless gift!

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