Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Tag

Learning to Let You Go   Leave a comment

One of the hardest things to do is to let your children go.  I have two adult children.  One is on his own, the other still at home, but, probably not for too much longer.  My youngest is much taller than I am and working on getting his driver’s permit.  I’m confident we’ll see his eighteenth birthday in what will feel like just a few weeks, and he’ll be off soon as well, leaving me thinking, what just happened here?

It’s so strange to be at this end of the parenthood continuum.  It was just a few years ago that my oldest was born.  I remember thinking, with not a little panic, “I have eighteen years of this — how will I ever survive?”  How will this tiny baby grow up when I don’t know what I’m doing?  How am I going to make it through this parenting thing?  What have I gotten myself into?

But here I am with an almost 25 year old, a 20 year old and a sixteen year old.  And now I’m having to ask very different questions.  They sound a lot like the original ones, but at the same time they’re quite different.  Try this one:

“I don’t have many more years of this — how will I ever survive this change?”

Or how about, “How will I grow into this new phase when I don’t know how to empty-nest?”

And, “How am I going to make it through this big life transition?”

What have I gotten myself into?

I’ve given my heart away to three very different, very precious, very wonderful people who are no longer small.  The time that I just couldn’t imagine coming is right at hand.  For a long time, they needed me a lot.  Now they are strong, owning their lives.  It’s good, very good.

But I’m finding it hard to let them go.

Posted August 17, 2020 by swanatbagend in motherhood, 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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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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Get Ready for It   Leave a comment

What is the most important skill you will need as a parent?

If you have read books, blogs and articles, or attended classes, I’m sure you’ve been told many things about what it takes to be a parent and how you need to handle various situations with your children.

I submit that what you need most is forgiveness.


Because you will not be a great parent.

I know.  If you haven’t already had children you think you will be.  You’ve looked around you, seen it done wrong, had it done wrong to you, and you know what to do.

And it isn’t really that difficult; people have been doing it for generations.

And you know that you will do parenting just as well as you’ve done everything else–school, work, competitions, hobbies.


But if you think this, you will be wrong.


You will make the same mistakes with your children, over and over.

You will be impatient and lose your temper at least once, or perhaps many times.

You will handle situations in the same way that your parents did, even though you know in advance that you do not plan to handle situations the same way your parents did.

You will be unable to implement all of the skills you learn in the parenting class.

You will not teach your child some of the things he needs to know because you will be unaware of what they are or that he needs to be taught them.


You will damage your children.

So, their forgiveness will need to be asked.


Posted August 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in motherhood, parenting

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Kids, I Promise   Leave a comment

I really am attending to your statements that I need to not hover so much.

Just like Princess Atta in A Bug’s Life, I have a tendency to overdo and overanalyze and over advise my children.  So when they literally say, “I can’t count when ya hover like that!” I know what they want.

I really truly honestly I promise am learning to honor their need to do it themselves.

I promise I am listening.  I often think of something I could say–but I don’t.  I could have done something for you that you didn’t need help with–but I didn’t.  I stop to evaluate whether my instantaneous reaction to a problem is really the best thing to do–and I hold back.

Thanks for telling me.  I am getting better.

Posted March 30, 2017 by swanatbagend in 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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Are you sure I’m Wonder-Mom?   Leave a comment

I might be, but only if the definition is “someone who wonders what the heck she’s doing as a mom.”

That much I could agree with!

I thought of this when a couple of people reassured me on Facebook after a parental fail that I was being too hard on myself (probably true as I have a history of that)  and then one friend told me she thought I was Wonder-mom.

And I was like, wow, you have totally got to be kidding me!

I appreciate the vote of confidence, I really do.  But I can tell you there is a long road of mistakes behind me.

There is for every single mother because there is no parenting manual for your child, since he is completely unique.  Then there’s you, also completely unique, with your own history, strengths and weaknesses.  Now you can try to find a how-to book….but when I was a new mother, one of the first things I  noticed was that you could pick up any book about parenting, and almost all of them would tell you their methods were fail-proof.

However, one book asserted that the Bible teaches that children need to follow a schedule and the sooner you get them used to it, the better off everyone will be.  I’m thinking of a book about babies here, don’t know what they would have said about older children as I’ve slept since then and don’t remember, but let’s just say it came from the traditional camp.

Then there was the other book that encouraged me to attachment parent, because attachment parenting was really the only way to meet my baby’s needs in a loving, Biblical way.

Since I couldn’t put these two together, I just left them both behind.

You have to figure out how to mother your child on your own, trial and error.

And believe me, there will be plenty of error.  Even when you have the best intentions, and even when you are truly doing the right thing in any given situation, the crazy thing about parenting, is that you will still damage your child.  You won’t mean to, heavens no, but in this fallen world, you aren’t going to do it right, even though you want to.  It’s just not possible.

That’s one of the things I really, really hate about being a mom.  I hurt my kids.

There a couple of others: I can’t make things turn out all happy for everyone.  I can’t make everything all better. It goes by too fast.  It’s scary.  Those are a few.

Yea, so, there you are.  My definition of Wonder-Mom.  A Mom who wonders what she’s doing.

Let me know when you find the other kind of Wonder-Mom.  I’d love to meet her.

Posted October 4, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Success as a Parent   Leave a comment

What is that anyway?

How do I know that I have done a good job as a parent?  There don’t seem to be any grades handed out for this long-term project…which, of course, I learned 17 years ago, was not a project, but a person I couldn’t do without.

Does my kid have to be a movie star or a doctor or lawyer for me to know I’m a success?

Does she have to be another Mother Teresa?

Does he just need to be a decent human being who works hard to do his job and take care of his family and the creature of the earth?

What if he turns out to be kind of a jerk, or maybe even a real big jerk?

What does that say about me?

I think it says much more about the child than it does about me.

But because I love the child, raise the child, know the child, and am so deeply invested in the child that I’m a bit entangled…I want the child to be okay.  I want her to be a success at being a human being.  I know that means she’ll suffer and mess up as all the rest of us human beings do.  But I also want to know that I did everything I could to show him the path and help him start on it.

However, I don’t think anything my child does can confirm that I did my job.  I have to determine that for myself.

Posted October 4, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Gifts   Leave a comment

I spent my birthday noon hour with my parents yesterday.  They thoughtfully offered to take me out to lunch at a local Ethiopian restaurant they hadn’t visited yet, so I met them there.

They were somewhat delayed due to a combination of vision difficulties and the ludicrously lacking street signage in downtown Louisville, so I had time to get comfortable at my table, order my birthday Coke (there isn’t any in the house due to my youngest having a minor addiction to it.  If I buy it, he finds it, and I’m not OK with that) and check out the buffet.

I also had time to reflect on the oddity of being another year older and creeping toward fifty.

But the main thought in my mind was the lovely courtesy of my father, whose idea the lunch date was.

My folks have a variety of volunteer work, hobbies, church events, friends, and appointments that keep them busy, but they still thought it would be fun to take time out of a day that already had a schedule to have lunch with me.  And, they wanted to pay for it!

Birthdays are traditionally a day to celebrate the person whose birthday it is, and that’s certainly a tradition I’m very fond of.  But if there is anyone, other than the Giver of life, who ought to be celebrated on a birthday, it should be the parents.  Without them, you wouldn’t be having a birthday in the first place.

So at one level, it would really make more sense for me to take my parents out to lunch on my birthday, as a way to thank them for the wonderful life they gave me.

But that’s the funny thing about parents.  They really enjoy giving you presents, doing nice things for you, surprising you, helping you.  It’s (usually) not an obligation, but a pleasure to do something lovely with or for your child.

I know that, because I also am a parent.  It has obviously given me a whole new perspective on how my parents raised me.

As I thought about how I really should be paying for my parents’ lunches, because I owe them so much, I realized that is the funny thing about the parent-child relationship.

A child owes her parents everything.

But at the same time, she doesn’t owe them anything.

It’s a paradox.  You have an obligation because of bringing another person into the world; but the obligation is yours, not your child’s.  You love that child with all your heart, teach the child what life is about, and then accept that the child is his own person.  He will make his own choices and do what he thinks is best.

You gave him the gift of being alive.

But by definition, it’s a gift.


Posted July 16, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting

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What’s This Supposed to Look Like?   1 comment

Zach came home from college on April 28th and I haven’t written much since then due to spending my time trying to figure out how it works to live with an adult child in the best possible way.

I think I know what I ought to do and what I want to do, but I’m not sure it’s actually working out that way.

It is clear that a child who is now over the age of 18 and has been eating, sleeping, studying, working, and traveling without you for the past eight months, clearly does not need your help.  He is a paid employee of the university he attends.  He went to a country on another continent and back, which you have never done.

But since you’re the mom, and you’ve been refining your mom instincts and your mom gig for the past almost 19 years, it’s very difficult to just put that down and set it aside.  It’s programmed.  It’s biological. It’s common sense.  It’s your life’s work here.  You’re good at helping, shepherding, cleaning, feeding, directing and loving.

How do you do that only enough to be supportive and useful, not annoying?

As an adult child, I know what I like from my parents.  I like encouragement , respect, and an attitude of confidence that I’m doing well and I can handle things.  I also like to know that if I change my mind about being able to handle things…..they will be there as backup.  Of course, it’s possible that my adult child has a different list for how he wants to be treated now that he’s an adult.

Zach and I have talked about it a little, and there have been a few times since he’s been home when he has let me know, usually with a little gentle sarcasm, that he will survive if I will back off.

Like the evening last week when he left for a night tutoring appointment, and apparently I was  hovering too much, because he told me he was unlikely to get killed traveling there and back, that I should go to bed instead of waiting up for him, and that he had the sense to call me if he needed something.

At the same time that he requires respect and autonomy, he is glad to be home enjoying home cooking and hugs from his mother and father.  He needs time with us, to enjoy our company, and get some TLC after a challenging first year of college.

It’s not either/or, it’s both/and, I guess.

Posted June 18, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting, transitions

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