Archive for the ‘children’ Tag

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?

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Posted March 13, 2019 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Freedom   Leave a comment

The first track on Michael W. Smith’s album Freedom gave me a vision once.  In the years after it happened, there were times I wasn’t sure it would come to pass.  But in June, my son did what I saw him doing 17 years earlier.  My son did launch, and it wasn’t his first plane trip.  He took a flight back to his life on the other end of the continent.

It was one of those unforgettable moments–not the flight departure this year, but the time when he was just five years old.  His baby sister was sick that morning and I didn’t want to take her out in order to get him to his morning preschool.  I asked his dad to do the taxi job for me.

My husband was able to do that, and as they left for town I was sitting on the couch near an upstairs window with the baby.  The Subaru Loyale pulled out of the driveway; I glimpsed my boy in the passenger window.  For some reason I already had music playing that a.m. and the first track of Smith’s album was on.  I swear it’s true; the final transition of the piece where the music soars upward into the future was playing at that very moment.

Nobody else had ever taken my son to preschool before.  He’d always been with me.  This was the first time, and he was leaving me.  Just for a few seconds then, I got a glimpse of the future.

It’s come back to me every time I hear that music.  That look into the future, that insane moment in which one leaps forward months and years to something different.  It’s so crazy.

That moment is totally in the past.  But for me, I think it will remain eternally the present.

Posted August 1, 2018 by swanatbagend in motherhood, waiting

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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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Fail Mom   Leave a comment

In a previous blog post I mentioned that the primary maternal role I did not expect was that of Fail Mom, and that it deserved an entire entry.  So here goes.

I sincerely hope I am not the only person in the world to have assumed success at parenting with no logical reason to do so.  I can think of some reasons why we think motherhood can’t be too difficult.

1. We have forgotten any agony our mother expressed while she was raising us.

2. People have been having children and raising them to adulthood for how long now?

3. Anyone can have a baby.

4. I’m an intelligent person.

5. Everyone is doing it.

These are all understandable assumptions based on basic observations.

But, the key assumption we make is that we are logical, moral people.  We can observe other people saying and doing things to their children that are clearly not the right thing to do.  It’s just so obvious that one should ignore the tantrum, not buy the candy, correct misbehavior, teach necessary skills.

Ah…but we don’t realize how the complexity of life creates challenges we can’t imagine.  We don’t understand that the love we have for our children will twist our reason.  We can’t imagine the responsibility for another life in our hands.  We think we have, but we haven’t.

So we end up being unfair, impatient, even mean sometimes.  We are inconsistent.  We let them have pineapple Fanta even though it has food coloring in it.  We pick up the mess they made because we’d rather not have to ask one more time.  We scream at our child for throwing up on his bunk bed stairs.

We push them into activities they don’t benefit from, just because we think it would be a good idea.  We don’t actually listen when they are trying to tell us something important.  We spend much more time staring at electronic screens than we do at their faces.

There’s a Baby Blues comic I love which has a place of honor on my fridge.  Each frame shows the mom doing something for the kids that before parenthood, she knew she would never do.  She tells her daughter she’ll help her figure out how to do the math later; for now here’s the answers.  She tells the kids they should finish brushing their teeth in the car.  She sends them into the den with cookies to watch TV, so she can finish making dinner.  She burns the dinner.  Her husband says, “Shake it off.  You’re human.”

Her response: “I was a great mother–until I had kids!”

Exactly–I’m human–and having kids has taught me that.

Posted April 2, 2015 by swanatbagend in motherhood, parenting

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The Top Ten Mom Roles I Did Not Anticipate   Leave a comment

Every potential mother has ideas about what it will be like to have children.  We all have expectations.

OK, maybe delusions would be a better word.

There were areas I could imagine–just barely–but I could understand and foresee them.  I could visualize myself reading children books, tucking them in, taking them camping and giving them Christmas presents.

Hmmm.  That’s actually about it.  I don’t think I ever really understood that I would be cleaning up their messes, feeding them 6 meals a day, and all the rest.  Diapers were purely hypothetical until I actually had an infant and my husband and I had dropped off Grandma at the airport for her return flight. There I was in the restroom, baby on the changing table, to discover a giant explosion that could not be contained by any diaper.  I didn’t have enough wipes. There was nobody else in the restroom.  I think I called, “Help!”  (Yes, really.)

Then I did what any new mother ends up doing.  I waded right in with paper towels because that was what I could reach without moving the baby.  I don’t know if those little pants were salvageable.

So you learn the basics pretty quickly.

But there are surprises that no one could have predicted.

Here are my top ten unexpected roles.

10. Amphibian search and rescue team.  I found myself with a salamander in one hand, moving leaf litter with the other hand, so that the second salamander could be given its worm.  I had to peel back layers of rotting leaves before I found the thing sandwiched happily into the decomposing strata.

9. Chauffeur.  Needs no explanation.

8. Ship’s counselor.  I knew that I would be comforting children when they scraped their knees, and sympathising when the boy didn’t notice them and went out with the best friend instead.  I just had no idea the span of support that actual people need, and how hard it is to comfort and guide when you don’t have all the answers.

7. Home school teacher (with fifteen years of experience). Absolutely not!  Not in my plans, no way, no how; I am looking forward to my child leaving home so that I can do other things and have some time to myself already.  Hmmmm…..what’s that?  You say my child will be bored in public school and needs more stimulation?  You say, kindergarten is easy; anyone can teach kindergarten?  Give it a chance?  I turn around, and whoops!–I had to count up the years of experience to put in this list, because I’ve lost track, it has been so long.

6. Short order cook.  Again, this probably needs no explanation.

5.  Tooth removal patrol.  By this I mean the fact that you as the parent are ultimately responsible for removing your child’s loose teeth, because if they don’t come out within 48 hours of the dental hygienist mentioning their eligibility to be removed, it will cause dental damage that can only be fixed by expensive orthodontia. Thus, you are supremely motivated to get the tooth out of your child’s head.  However, it is your child’s head, not yours we are talking about here.  So, you turn into the tooth removal patrol and take up a full-time job nagging the child and getting slime on your fingers, until the tooth is finally out weeks later and dental disaster is averted.

4. Family cheerleader.  Some children need more encouragement than others. You, Mom, are it!

3. Sherlock Holmes.  Specifically, Sherlock who specializes in finding lost tiny items. Tiny items are incredibly precious and thus must be taken to bed. When they cannot be found amongst the bedding, you are the Sherlock who will find them.  At 2 in the morning, in the mostly dark.  While simultaneously averting the potential emotional tragedy of this event for your child.

2.  Amphibian Houdini rescue team.  Ah yes, this is what happens when you allow your children to keep the tiger salamander they have found because your nature-type Fish and Wildlife friend says they are so easy to keep and care for!  Not endangered so no problem there.  When your child loves amphibians, and you don’t want her to get a tree frog, you can always just keep a salamander.  Why not?  What you don’t know is that your child will occasionally get the salamander out of its terrarium, because after all everyone needs exercise.  Did I mention we actually got two salamanders instead of just one? oh well, they can keep each other company in there.  Another thing I didn’t mention is that when you first adopt salamanders they do not prefer bright open places and are always looking for some dark corner where they believe they will feel more comfortable.  So, when the active salamander takes a walk straight into the doll pants that have foolishly been left out in the “salamander play area,” it will be up to you, the amphibian Houdini rescue team, to get the salamander back out of the doll pants.  She cannot walk while encased in doll pants. You must painstakingly, tenderly, cut the pants off the salamander (who is much too fat for the pants to be pulled off of) without damaging the plumpness of the salamander, while it writhes and wriggles in your hands.

And my number one role I did not anticipate playing…Fail Mom.  Yes.  This one is worth a whole other blog entry.  This is the role you know you will never play, because…how hard can it be?

Posted March 19, 2015 by swanatbagend in parenting

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