Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Things We Have to Find a Way to Make Peace with   Leave a comment

Things we have to find a way to make peace with:

Aging.

Our responsibilities to love and care for our children and help them toward adulthood.

Loving our children as they are, not as we imaged they would be or think they should be.

Years ago, before I started through this middle phase of life I thought I knew all these things were important things to accept.  It’s not like I’d never heard about these things.

Now I’m not so sure.  As in I’m not sure I accepted them nor did I know how hard it is to accept things that I can clearly see are right and rational.  Knowing something is true does not cause my mortal mind to accept it and move forward.  I know that I believe it.  I know that it’s true that these realities will happen and unfold around and in me and that they are in fact destined to do so.

But I still don’t truly know how to accept these truths.

That aging will happen, is happening to me and those I love.

(Not easy, still think I’m immortal just like a 10 year old does.)

That I had/have a responsibility to love my children well and help them an appropriate amount as they grown up.

(Not easy, because how the heck do you figure out what is truly needed for each child person you live with and what you’d better not even try?)

That I also have a responsibility to fully accept my children as they are, not as my foolish self thinks they should be.

(And not like I don’t love them and like them as they are, but I wonder if I must not fully accept them as they are, since my brain brings up sentences I could say that start with phrases like, “If you would just try…..,” or “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if you….,” or “Here’s how you….,” when advice is unasked.  Thankfully at least part of the time I don’t say these sentences, and remind myself that the particular thing I’m getting stuck on isn’t truly important.)

The second and third things make a great paradox don’t they?  I hope you noticed I have to make peace with my responsibility for my kids and my not responsibility for my kids.  Where’s the easy 1, 2, 3 step plan for that, please?  Did I miss the instruction manual?

 

Posted August 14, 2019 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Parenting Solo   Leave a comment

This phrase usually means without another parent, but for me today it just means on my own in some way.  I am supposed to be able to do this on my own.  Nobody is saying that single parenting is ideal long term, but for the day, week or even a month, if I’m an adult I’m expected to do this crazy hard job myself.  I care for, love, dress feed clothe heal comfort and teach because that’s what parents are expected to do, and rightly so.

But I’m telling my children a story and not in a good way if I make them think I can do it all, I have all the answers within myself, if I live in such a way that my message in our lives is that doing the next thing is all there is.

And honestly they figured that out themselves!  My kids know that I can’t fix their problems or answer their questions on my own.  I have lost track of how many years ago my son told me he knew that I couldn’t do that.  He wasn’t an adult yet, that’s for sure.

I don’t have all the information I need to guide them perfectly.  And even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have the power to implement it.  I can’t possibly parent solo.

Frankly, I need the gospel in order to do this job at all.

What do I have to offer my kids without it?

Posted March 13, 2019 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Normal   Leave a comment

I observed last week that my life seems to be zipping along at a ridiculous rate, and I now have quite a bit to look back on.  What this made me think about was that in many ways, I’ve managed a variety of difficult situations, or chronic problems, over the years.  What I didn’t know starting out was how ongoing the problems would be.

There was always something that I was waiting for the resolution of.  Always something that wasn’t done.  First it was waiting to have my first child.  Then I had to recover from the experience of having my first child.  Then once I had adjusted to motherhood, I had to figure out what happened to me during that first labor and birth.  Once I figured that out I was ready to have another baby.  Then I had to contend with over two years of secondary infertility.

In all those months, things really weren’t normal and they weren’t wrapped up.

I did finally become pregnant and I did have my daughter, at home, avoiding all the problems of the first time.

The transition to parenting two was still a bit difficult, but after the first few months things were normal for a while.  Then she started waking up at night.  Once we got past that, we had diagnoses for my older child, who then needed some therapies.

By the time I had my third child, I figured things would sort out once I dropped the volunteering.  But, my third child slept much less at night than the first two had and we spent months trying to get that challenge sorted out so I could sleep again.

You can see where this is going.

I can count only a couple stretches of time where things were normal, where I wasn’t dealing with some challenge in life with either my children, their health and well-being, or my health.  So I’ve been living it for over twenty-two years now, and that was it.  That was my normal.

And, this year, we just finished a couple of months of what I guess I’d call sort of normal? it was summer, so there was travel, and family, and college orientation, and things to fit in that we didn’t do during the year, and recovering from family events, but there weren’t any major crises besides watching my husband deal with Boston area traffic, so I guess that was normal.  Maybe?

But, then school started with a bang this fall, and the one going to college locally has required more support than expected, and things have really picked up at work for my  husband, so…

Maybe you can take something from this, especially if you are at the beginning of the journey of parenthood.  I pray you get periods of time where it stays the same or there are no major problems to solve.

But it will be normal if you don’t.

Posted September 25, 2018 by swanatbagend in parenting, reality

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The Path   Leave a comment

Twenty-three years ago today I stepped into the circle of life.  I had a baby son.

Days, weeks, month become years.

Little ones become big ones.

And here’s what I know.

I can’t control outcomes.  I work now and live now, while looking back occasionally to my past, a past in which I did not know how important living now is.  I didn’t know what my part was to play.  I still don’t.  I just do my part–I carry my leaf section as valiantly and faithfully as I can.  I want to learn to be content, and to acknowledge that all my opportunities are just gifts.

I see myself being ushered in twenty-three years ago to the phase of my life that I am now close to ending.  I had no idea how the path was going to unwind before me then.  I can only see it looking back.

Perhaps what I think about my inability to make things turn out the way I think they should is false–but that’s the view from here, approaching the last several years of my career as a homeschooling mom.  I don’t think I am going to find a way to get more control over the daily events of my life and the behaviors of others and the things that happen to me as I get older.  I really doubt that there is a secret of control I just haven’t discovered yet.

I still have no idea where the path unwinding will lead me.  I just know that I’m going to keep going.  I’m going to do the best I can.  I’m going to live right on.  I’m thankful that I am watching my children grow up, and that I’m still walking beside them, for a few more miles, on this part of the journey.

I just can’t believe that the time has passed so quickly.

Posted August 24, 2018 by swanatbagend in motherhood, parenting

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The Photos you Don’t Need   Leave a comment

I have a strange recommendation: print, keep, scrapbook with and otherwise save some of the photos you don’t like and don’t want.

I scrapbook, so these thoughts apply directly to those who also do so, but if you prefer to upload to Shutterfly and make a book, or to just print and drop in a box, consider this.

You probably select photos to work with based on their excellence: composition, color and print quality, were the kids smiling? do they help tell the story? are they of an occasion important enough to save? that stuff.  Most people select photos based on some kind of criteria, and nobody wants to use a photo that looks messy, has red-eye, or doesn’t fit into the overall plan for the page.

That’s understandable.

But if you only use the best photos, you will miss something good.

How do I know? I looked back through an album of mine from eight years ago. In the process, I discovered there was a six month period of our lives for which I only had one page. There were a couple of photos of the snowman the kids made in a spring snowstorm and there were several of my youngest son’s 6th birthday.  All well and good, except I thought to myself, where was the rest of our life?  What on earth happened, or didn’t happen, that I did not bother to record it?

Life had been so full that I had not looked at old pictures for years.  So I took the time to go through every file I could find that might have pictures from that six months.  I came out of that session with about 25 more pictures.

Oh, those red Cars slip ons that he used to wear every day!  I had forgotten all about them.  We went hiking out there?  Yes.  Oh, that was the day we couldn’t find the jackets and had to go back for the stuffed animal we left behind.  My children are eight years older now, and I am here to tell you, they were darn cute back then.  I found myself wondering why on earth I did not print these photographs.

I think it was because they just weren’t good enough.  They weren’t perfect enough.  But these are the images of the moments in which my life happened, the messy, glorious life I really had with my family.

Go ahead and print the goofy pictures of your family setting up the pop-up camper for the first time, including the one with dad’s back side as he’s bent over the trailer hitch.  Go ahead and print the ones where the kids aren’t looking at the camera or are poking each other or are rolling their eyes.  Go ahead and print the ones that don’t fit the theme.

You won’t regret it later.

 

Posted May 24, 2018 by swanatbagend in humor, parenting

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Just Faking It   2 comments

So yesterday was a homeschool day for our family.

Yesterday, that meant that I wrote the day’s work for each student up on the wipe-off board.  I read with both kids, which is a highlight and a fun time of day for me.  I often help with questions or math or whatever gets done in the morning.

Yesterday, we had an art teacher come to the house for an intro session with my high school senior so they could get to know each other and make a plan for what the weekly lessons will look like.

While they were talking my 8th grader and I went upstairs to get some work done.

That afternoon, he and I did a baking experiment together and rapidly found out why leavening is such a tasty thing.  Baking soda by itself is not appetizing, but the cupcakes that didn’t have it weren’t anything I would want to eat.

The senior helped me make fish tacos for dinner, as I’ve decided these two aren’t leaving the house without a modicum of kitchen experience.

The 8th grader learned how to do goulash the night before.

I think that covers it.

So, that sounds like a pretty good solid homeschool day, right?

I did pat myself on the back for it and wanted to brag about it on Facebook.  However, the rest of the story is that yesterday was probably the single most awesome day in my homeschooling career.  I’m coming up on eighteen years of experience, and I can assure you that most days have looked nothing like this.

I have been intending to teach the kids to cook by having them sous chef with me for literally years.

Usually I don’t do experiments.  I assign pages to read in a science book.

Usually we don’t have an art teacher coming to the house!  That is an exciting new development that just worked out this year.

I do read to them every day.  But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t usually look this wonderful.  It’s not pretty.  It’s just doing the next thing each day.

Ask me about the day the then preschooler threw something at me and knocked over the celery stalk/red food coloring experiment which then got all over people’s papers.  Ask me about how I never used to even get up on time so school started whenever I got my crap together.  Ask me about all the mornings I lit a candle in the den to just lighten the place up in January and February because I was so depressed I did not want to do anything.

Or better yet, ask them.  Yes.

Somehow they survived.  They are people rapidly approaching functional adulthood, in spite of me, not because of me.

 

 

 

Posted February 11, 2018 by swanatbagend in homeschooling, humor, motherhood, parenting

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Now   1 comment

Your days with your small children are difficult.  They are long, and challenging.

But trust me when I say–this really will end.

Your child will grow up.

Depending on his circumstance, the point at which he becomes an adult–moving out of your house and not coming back, will vary.  In some situations, your child will not leave home, whether through disability or disease.  Even there, the future with your child will be different, whether he is living his life somewhere else or if he is still with you.  He’ll be different.  You will be different.

Believe it or not, this is not a post about how you must adore every moment you spend rocking/singing/nursing/carrying your baby to sleep.  It’s not a post about how you must seize the day.  It’s not that you must schedule your time so that none of it is wasted.   It’s not a post about how you must parent well precisely because your time as a parent is fleeting.  You have already been told that, and felt guilty about your inability to fully extract all the joy from every minute.

I just want you to know that the moment you have now does not guarantee anything about the future.

What I want to tell you is, whether the moment is horrendous, tedious, messy, awful, or wonderful, accept that it is now.  Live in that now moment, however good or bad it is.  You don’t have to plan for the future in every moment.  You don’t have to do it perfectly or even do it well.  You don’t have to even like it.

Just be in it.

 

Posted January 27, 2018 by swanatbagend in parenting

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