Category Archives: Parenting
Where did my spunky, smiley-faced, strawberry blond headed boy go? The spunk is still there and the strawberry blond has turned into a wonderful shade of auburn. The smile still makes its way out even amidst the teenage-ness.
This is the tension where I sit these days.
Thinking of how nice it will be, when the coach decides practice should go an hour later than he told parents and I sit waiting thinking of all I could have accomplished, and he can drive himself home, but knowing I’ll miss those afternoon conversations. How he laughs when telling me something goofy one of his friends did or how he made a great play in practice.
Terrified that he will be on the road, without one of us in the passenger seat telling him to slow down or not turn so sharp or a thousand other instructions, while thinking how nice it will be not to have to deal with morning school traffic or dropping everything to take him to the batting cages or something he and his friends planned at the last minute because he is not a planner. God made me a planner. Then he gave me a child who is not and laughed.
So yes this is the tension in which I sit these days. With him in my usual place as we move from one of his activities to the next.” And while some days I have to catch my breath from getting him one place to the next I try to stop myself from complaining. In eight short months he will be driving on his own.
Yes, this is where I sit these days. It’s one of those tensions you realize it’s best to embrace because you know you don’t want to miss it.
I think God sits up in heaven laughing at us sometimes. Especially when it comes to us and our children.
I mean God gave us this amazingly talented kid. Seriously. He has skills when it comes to sketching and drawing. I draw stick figures fairly well. So while I may not have amazing artistic talent if you know me you know it’s not inconceivable that my child is artistic in some way. It was very obvious even from toddlerhood he was artistic.
So we’re moving along through his childhood and while parenting is never easy, parenting the artistic child part made sense to me.
We never pushed him to play sports. I always thought that should be up to him. He did go play golf with his daddy, and did several kids golf clinics & some tennis lessons. A few days in the summer or one night a week. Easy peasy.
But spend 5 nights a week at the ball park? No thanks. I’m a firm believer in not over scheduling a child and just letting them be…well…a child.
And then a funny thing happened. He hit junior high and decided he wanted to play more sports. More team sports.
So we started with golf in 7th grade. No problem. Drop him off at the course after school. Pick him up at dark. Play a couple of tournaments in the spring. Great coach we really like. I’m good with this.
Then the next year he decides he wants to play basketball too. Umm…well. Okay. It’s not too bad. It’s indoors. Coach who believes in being punctual with ending practice. There is a fair consistency to the schedule. My brain that needs advance notice so I can plan is good with this. Games are almost always on the same nights each week. I think I can handle this.
The next year he decides to run cross country. No problem. The coach was one of his math teachers and she has been one of his favorite teachers. Plus she’s a mom of boys. There are only 4 or 5 meets. Run your heart out kiddo. Run like the wind.
Then our second year of basketball under our belt. I’m not earning sports mom of the year but I’m not getting a big fat F in it either. I’d give myself a solid B.
And the kiddo is a decent athlete and basketball player. He keeps at it and improves every week.
But then, my friends, God decided he needed some comedic relief from this dismal world of ours. I’ve never been accused being funny. Trust me. But God is obviously finding great humor in what is about to happen.
The kiddo decides he wants to play baseball.
A game that not two years ago he said was the most boring game ever.
A game that is played outdoors.
A game whose high school season begins in February. Do you know how cold it can get in February? Yes I know. I live in the south, but we still get our fair share of cold winters down here. And have I mentioned how cold natured I am? I mean I get cold in the shade in the summer.
I was absolutely clueless what all he would need for baseball. Sure I knew a bat and a glove and cleats. (Now they call them spikes. Growing up my softball playing sister had cleats. She didn’t even know what spikes were so I didn’t feel too bad about not knowing that one.)
I had to ask another mom. Thankfully I like his cross county coach also and knew I could ask her.
Do you know how much paraphernalia you need for baseball? Practice pants and shirts and socks. Unless you want to wash clothes every night then sure they can practice in their game clothes!
Let’s not forget a helmet and a bag and a belt and batting gloves and compression shorts and some crazy padded thing to wear on the wrist.
I was in over my head people. Way way over my head. Like deep end of the pool exhausted after treading water for way too long. (Have I ever mentioned I’m not a good swimmer.) My sister’s child was supposed to play ball. Mine was supposed to be perfectly content painting and drawing and playing the piano and reading.
You know. Like me.
Yeah. That’s God up in heaven laughing at me. Go ahead. You can laugh too. It’s okay. I won’t get upset.
Turns out most practices never end at the time the parents are told. (The basketball coach spoiled me.) Every day’s practice schedule may be different and it may change at the very last moment. And have I mentioned they played in the rain? And the kid ended up with pneumonia? And do you know how hard it is to get red dirt stains out of those pants?
There is no consistent game schedule either. And turns out not all coach’s are good at planning or communicating.
The planner side of my personality struggled people. Almost went over the edge kind of struggle.
Jesus come quickly.
But some things you just do for your child no matter the inconvenience to your need for advance planning and respect of ending on time.
My awesome kiddo thrives in a group. Teenagers can be negative creatures, but in a team setting he becomes an encourager. He’s a team player never grasping for all the glory, but doing what’s best for the team not himself. There were times he was the first base coach during the games and I loved hearing him cheer on the players batting. Even though he had never played before and missed a couple of weeks of the season due to sickness and a family emergency, he still improved. I’m so proud of how he keeps trying and doesn’t give up.
The season is over now and he’s still picking up his glove and ball to play catch with his daddy and wanting to improve. I’m thankful for time to rest and a normal art lesson schedule for him again, but I know he will keep on with baseball, practicing and improving until the season begins again next year.
In April of 2012 we took a step of faith. We walked through the doors of a private Christian school 35 minutes away for a tour of the school with the headmaster. Nine months before, I knew God was leading us in a different direction where our son’s education was concerned.
For nine months I prayed God would give us clear direction and open our son’s heart to making the change. He has never liked change and at twelve and a half years old change is a big deal. I knew that it would be God changing his heart and giving him courage if this was to happen.
As we walked out that day after our tour, I knew with a peace I can’t explain that God was working it all out. Three months later this amazing gift I call my son found 20 seconds of insane courage and said “I just can’t let them see me sweat,” as he walked into his new school. I still can’t help but smile when I remember him saying those words that August morning.
Decisions about your child’s education are hard to make. It was for us. Maybe a better title for this post would be why we didn’t move our child out of public school.
There are many reasons why we decided private school was the better choice for our son, but sharing those in such a public way is not helpful. I don’t have a solution to those reasons either, and I don’t want to add noise to the already complicated issue of education.
But here is what I want people to know about our choice of private school over public:
We didn’t move our child out of the public school because of the teachers. If anything this was the reason we hated to leave. It was a difficult choice knowing our son would not experience the classes of teachers I know personally and who give 150% to their profession. The majority of teachers in our public system give more than they can humanly be expected to give. But somehow they do, and they have my utmost respect and gratitude.
We didn’t choose private school because we think we are better than others. If anything, I know that it is all because of God’s grace, and I am still in constant amazement that God opened the doors in order for this move to happen. There are too many details to list here, but I look back and can see God’s hand in each step. I have no doubt He was working it all out even years before we realized that public school was no longer working for our son.
We didn’t choose private school because we think others should leave the public schools also. Each child has different needs and each family has different circumstances. What is right for one child can be completely wrong for another. What works for one family will not work for another.
The decision to enroll our son in private school was a decision we felt was in the best interest of our child. A decision made with God’s leading. It was not a decision made to offend others.
We never thought we would leave our public schools, but after months of prayer we knew God had a different plan and there has been such peace in following that plan. His plan looks different for every family.
The transition from public school to private was difficult in many ways. Socially the transition went very well, but we are still adjusting in other aspects.
Choosing private school over public school has meant sacrifices, but each and every one have been worth it. God has provided in every way. The hours spent driving to and from school and the hours spent away from home can be exhausting. The hours I spend helping him study can drain me.
But please hear me when I say I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The sacrifices, the time I spend driving, the time I spend helping him study, are worth every moment. When I hear about his day and see what a different child he is now and how much happier he is, I have such peace.
I knew there would come a day when God would prompt me to share part of our education story, and there are still many parts yet to be shared. I’ve tilted my head perplexed when others chose differently than I did on matters of parenting and education. God has a way of showing me a different perspective when I become too opinionated, though. Too often I’ve had to eat my words as the old saying goes.
I don’t share any of this with you to defend our choice. When it comes to the decisions we make regarding our son we do not owe anyone an explanation. I wanted to share part of our story in hopes that God would use these words to help others understand and respect the tough decisions families make in regards to the education of their children.
Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. – James 4:11
Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. – Ephesians 5:20-21
Have you had to make difficult decisions about your child’s education that perhaps others didn’t understand?
I peeked into your room last night after you fell asleep. I could always see the face of my little boy while you slept, but this time I saw the face of a teenager. A foreshadowing I suppose.
I hear the leader in you surfacing as you play the game with your friend. The leader I worry is lost at school as you come home and talk of those who insult you. Of the friends who do not understand your sense of humor. Yes my sarcastic streak has come back to haunt me.
Your artistic ability amazes me. Yes many can learn to draw, but from an early age you’ve had the ability to see an object and sketch it. I believe it’s a God given gift. You’ve learned the skill of stepping back from your art, looking at it from a distance seeing what to change. Still you often doubt your ability.
Can I be honest and tell you I have no idea how to parent you through these years? You ask so many questions and I have no idea how to answer them. Today you asked if car markers put “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” just so no one will get too close. When I replied the warning is there most likely because the mirror might cause some distortion you didn’t like that answer. Telling me you thought there would be a smarter answer than that.
When your brain cannot wrap itself around an answer you automatically argue that it must not be the right answer. As intelligent as you are there is still much you can only learn with growth and maturity.
This scenario plays itself out multiple times a day. When I don’t know an answer and say we can look it up you become very agitated saying I shouldn’t have to look it up.
You ask why the number exactly in between rounds up when it isn’t really closer to the higher number than it is the lower number. And then you ask who decided this.
So is it any wonder I have no idea how to parent you? Yet this is one of the traits I love so much about you. Your curious nature will be an amazing asset one day.
You’ve recently changed your mind about becoming an architect. You’ve now decided to become a lawyer. You do like to argue and you would be able to go to the University of Alabama instead of choosing between Auburn and Georgia Tech for architecture school. Being a part of a huge Alabama family the thought you might have to go to Auburn was very disturbing to you.
It worries me though that you dwell on such grown up aspects. You are not even twelve yet. Perhaps being an only child you’ve spent so much time around adults you consider yourself one.
I struggle daily with this parenting thing. Your personality traits that drive me insane are also the ones I love most about you. And one day those traits will be your best assets.
I keep reminding myself that children who question why are the ones who change the world.
I rarely share much about our son here on the blog anymore. Part of the reason I first started blogging was to share photos of him growing with out of town family. Now that he is older he hates to have his photo taken as you can see in one of the photos from our trip to Asheville. My blog has been an evolution to where I find it now. Now that our son is growing older it becomes more of his story to share instead of mine. So today’s post is a rare one and I will probably never blog about it again. I don’t feel it is my purpose to blog about this topic.
This is part of our story I have never shared about here. I have never felt like I needed to. We do share it from time to time in real life, but after a twitter conversation last night I decided I should. To at least educate some on the outside of this topic although I realize most who read this know these things already.
Almost twelve years ago we brought home an amazing, precious gift. Our son. There was an incredible young woman who chose to do the hardest thing a mother can do and place her child for adoption. And she chose us to be his parents. Most days I forget I did not physically give birth to my Squirt. If you see him with my parents or my sister or my husband’s father you would never think he was adopted. He favors each of them in ways. If you knew me and my personality you wouldn’t think of adoption because he is so like me. He also has personality traits that are like my husband. Only if you knew him extremely well would you realize there are a few ways in which he is nothing at all like us.
Why am I sharing this now? Because there are things you just don’t say to the friends or acquaintances you know who are trying to adopt.
There are many families adopting now days. God calls many to adopt internationally and others domestically. Many adopt after having children biologically. And of course many are not able to conceive and choose adoption to start and grow their families. It is a beautiful thing no matter how or why adoption is chosen.
Why am I sharing this now? Last night a twitter friend who is going through the adoption process tweeted this. “Please don’t ever ask adoptive parents why we aren’t ‘birthing one of our own’ – please. There’s so many things wrong with this question.”
I do not know the person who said this so I am not going to assume their motives. But as an adoptive parent my heart hurt for my friend who heard these words. There are just things you do NOT say to an adoptive parent.
If they are adopting to start a family please do not ask them why they can’t have children. For the love of all that is good please do not ask. Some will be open about sharing the reasons, but others may not be. After what is most likely many months of trying and testing they really do not want to discuss yet again the medical reasons that stare them in the face daily. Unless you have been through it personally you have no idea the emotional aspects that go along with infertility. They have those close to them they will talk to when they need to and want to. If you are a close friend of someone adopting you will know if they are comfortable with you asking.
Do not voice your concerns or share horror stories about the type of adoption they choose. Whether they choose a closed, semi-open, open, international, domestic through the state or private or private agency I assure you they have anxieities. They know the pros and cons of each if the professionals they are working with are legitimate.
Please do not debate how much better breast feeding is than formula. An adoptive mother is just as sensitive emotionally as a mother who has just given birth. Arguing about nursing versus bottle fed doesn’t help the insecurities that are inherent to being a new adoptive mom.
If you know they adopted their only child do not ask them when they are going to adopt another child.
And lastly never, ever, ever refer to the birth parents as the “real parents.” Just as with the nursing aspect we do not need to be made to feel as if we’re not enough. If you say this to me I can assure you profanity will escape my mouth. And yes I have had people refer to my son’s birth mother as his real mother. While I thank God every day for her and the gift she gave us I am a real mother. I changed the diapers, gave the bottle and fed him. I wake in the middle of the night when he is sick, chauffeur back and forth to activities, hug on, love on, read to. All of the things mothers do.
This is just what I have experienced personally. I am sure there are many others.
I also realize that most people are sensitive to the adoption process and most things are said unintentionally and for some adoptive parents these things may not bother them.
Really just think before you speak and be sensitive to the words you use and how they will be received. If you are in doubt it’s probably best to remain silent. If an adoptive parent is open to sharing they will soon enough.
What are some other things you would add to this list?