Category Archives: Parenting

So About Parenting…Life Unmasked

Parenting. Let’s face it. Did any of us really fully understand what we were getting into when we became parents?

Joy is beginning a new blog meme today. Life Unmasked. Often we come away from the virtual world of social media with the image that life is all roses for most people even though we all know that no one has it altogether.

So my Life Unmasked for today? Parenting.

Some days I just don’t like being a parent.

Like on the days I lose it with my child. On those days that I become that screaming mother I pass judgement on in Walmart yelling at her child. Except I did it in private without the audience of a superstore. Still. It’s no different.

I don’t lose it very often with him. But then there are times when the planets align and not in a good way.

No I didn’t spank or beat my child, but the verbal barrage wasn’t good either. And sometimes that is even worse.

No one tells  you that this little person you love more than life itself can make you so frustrated and angry. How their immaturity can cause so much distress.

How is that possible? How can you love someone so much and at the same time become so utterly frustrated with them?

No one warned me about this part of parenting. There is no manual giving specific instructions on how to parent your child and their personality and how it might clash with your own personality. What works for one child may have no effect on another.

So he cried and I cried. I asked for his forgiveness and then I asked for His forgiveness.

We talked about how he needs to make better choices and think through his actions and reminded him how much I love him no matter what choices he makes.

I listened to Him as He healed my heart with grace.

And in the meantime I pray He will stand in the gap where I fail and continue giving me grace for the parenting of this amazing gift He has given us.

Life: Unmasked

Innocence

I walk into a classroom. A different school than where I normally substitute. Hesitant. Unsure of this new age range. This age my son seems barreling toward all too quickly.

I never worried about him growing up in this relatively small population of our city. Nor have I ever questioned his place in our schools until recently. Yet for months now I am unsure of what he will face, if he is in the best place for these later years of his education.  For this child of mine who seems to break every mold anyone tries to fit him in.

I never wanted him to grow up innocent. At least not in a naive way as I did. Don’t misunderstand. I had a good childhood, but there are aspects I look back on and wonder if it was too sheltered.

But I also never expected for childhood innocence to be so quickly pushed aside for my own child.

When he spills stories of classmates speaking of gang association at only eleven. When bullies threaten him for any number of reasons. When he refuses to wear glasses because they call him a nerd.

He calls himself an artist and they laugh. His natural defense to argue and boast. Learning to walk away a hard lesson.

It is easy for me to tell him of how they are jealous of his abilities. Easy for me having experienced it and now with twenty years of perspective. That they are afraid to be unique.

So much harder for him to know that. To feel that in his spirit. In his soul.

He is a creative. Such artistic ability from an early age. And just like many creatives he feels things deeply. Knowing doesn’t necessarily become real until he feels it. And feeling it does not always appear until we wear the lenses of age and distance.

Oh how much like me he is in this way.

So I’ve found many deep breaths are needed. Groping our way along this liminal age. No longer a child. Not quite a teen. The time where pressure builds to fit in with the crowd. To be thought of as cool.

Yet I see underneath his wanting to remain true to who he is and his abilities. So we reach to learn how to find this balance and inspire the confidence. Confidence he needs to fight the fear of being different. To stand up to those who use hurtful words to compensate for their own pain. Entreating God to give him the gift of sight to see through his own hurt to theirs. To understand them.

Yes we will survive. At times I do pray God would write instructions on the wall. Preferably in a language I understand. How to inspire him and teach him. How to educate him best.

And I pray for just a bit more time. A bit more innocence. Trying to push away this inevitable just a mite longer.

What challenges are you facing as a parent right now?

Linking up with Peter Pollock for the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Innocence.

The Place Between

It's 11:00 p.m. as I type. I'm tired but today is one of those days I want to hold on to. Nothing extraordinary. No fireworks or excitement. Just an ordinary June day. God filled today with joy and hope and ordinary time. I haven't felt much joy lately. Even as I force myself to count the gifts, the graces, joy has been hard to find. God has used this season though. To teach me to be more dependent on Him. To go through the motions even when I'd rather not.
I have also found myself in a transition in motherhood. While I'm still needed in ways. A clock keeper, a chauffeur, a cook. In other ways I am no longer needed. Games with mom just aren't as fun when you're eleven. Making brownies with mom doesn't have the same appeal as it once did.
We're in this place between. Between childhood and teenager. Between wanting to be a kid and play with legos to being more grown up and building with computer games.
He laid down in his bed tonight right after dinner. I almost worry he's getting sick. He inherited his night owl attributes from both his daddy and me. So 6:45 bed time is unusual.
As I've peeked in to check on him over the past five hours I've realized we're in that between place. We teach our children to become independent. At the same time, though, we must learn the art of letting them go.

Finding My Focus

Summer is always fun and slightly unfocused for us. We're not extremely structured during summer break. We eat dinner late. Go to bed late. Squirt sleeps late. The only thing we set our alarm for is golf clinic. We don't make plans too far in advance likely waiting until the morning of to make plans for the day.

And it's wonderful. Until about the first week in August. It's too hot to be outside even to swim so boredom tends to set in. So I am always ready for the first week of school to begin even though it means giving up my laid back structure.

For some reason though a bit of melancholy sets in once I've dropped Squirt off for the first day of school. It tends to linger most of the week. A couple of friends and I were discussing this and I'm not alone in this. Perhaps it's just the unusual quiet we now have at home or maybe the realization that our babies are all too quickly growing up on us.

Squirt started 5th grade this week. I'm not quite sure when this happened. When I pulled into school to walk him in with all his supplies he panicked asking "What are you doing?!!!!" I told him I had to walk him in. There's no way he could have carried all those supplies. To his embarassment I insisted. Then when I started to leave telling him good-bye he refused to give me a hug.

I didn't embarass him by insisting. I left the school calling my best friend asking her if she wanted a biscuit for breakfast. I needed a little comfort food by that point. I haven't cried on his first day of school since Kindergarten, but I was definitely on the verge that morning.

Thankfully I have a dear teacher friend who called later that morning saying she really needed some help. I spent the rest of Monday and Tuesday helping her. It was the perfect way to keep my mind focused for those first two days of school.

Here's Squirt on his first day of Kindergarten five years ago. I miss that little haircut and those cheeks.

And here he is on the first day of 5th grade.

So here we are. He's had a great first week so far and I'm wandering around aimlessly a bit less than I was the first day of school. I'm finding my focus once again in a house full of quiet.

The Moments You Know You Are Doing Something Right as a Parent

Let's face it. Parenting is a roller coaster.  And there are moments where you are just tired of the up and down motion of it all. Come on. Admit it. Parenting is exhausting. But then that feeling, that affirmation that it is all worth it, hits you.

Children don't come with a handbook. That first year is amazing. The sweet baby smell, precious coos and smiles and laughs and snuggles. The chubby cheeks and giggles. Precious.

Then something happens and you wonder what happened to your sweet precious baby whose only issue was not sleeping through the night. They start walking and  talking and not just talking, but asserting their will and independence.

As a parent you have to find that balance of enjoying their amazing personalities and discoveries while disciplining them and training them. It's not always an easy balance.

And let's face it. It's the disciplining that takes all the fun out of it. Now if you are a parent who has an easy going, always follows the rules child then my hat's off to you. I myself do not have this child.

My son is amazing, talented, intelligent, talkative and a lot of times the most downright stubborn thing on the planet. Can anyone identify? He's either going to become a talented architect or one of the best lawyers you'll ever meet. The kid can argue for hours on end.

And guiding all that is a challenge. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but there are times when the shear mental game of it all is about more than I can handle. I know some of you can relate.

But then there are days when something happens and you realize that all your effort, all your mental exhaustion, is paying off. 

Yesterday was one of those days.

As I walked out of school after substituting all day with Squirt by my side I asked how his day was. "Fine" he tells me. "But something happened that I'm really upset about."

"What happened?" I asked.

"Joe (name has been changed) had told us he would be checking out. When the office called for him to check out most of the class yelled 'Yay!' "  My Squirt was so upset that most of his classmates had cheered when this child was being checked out.

Sad, right? It certainly doesn't surprise me that children can treat each other that way. We've all done something like that at one time or another. But it is disheartening for the child who gets hurt.

At the beginning of the school year Squirt had a hard time adjusting to Joe. He calls him a friend, but will admit that there are times when he finds it difficult to deal with Joe's behavior. Joe is a unique child. He's smart and sometimes funny, but he has some special needs and sometimes the other children have a difficult time dealing with his behavior.

As he relaying the story a few tears fell from Squirt's eyes.

"Squirt I know you feel bad for Joe."

"Mama I don't just feel bad for him. I can't describe how I feel for him," he told me trying to hold back the tears.

"And you know Mama, tomorrow Joe will probably come back in with a big smile on his face."

I asked Squirt what that said about Joe's character? That if he could come back in smiling what did that say about his personality; did he think that being able to come back in not worrying what someone did to him was a good characteristic to have? Would that be something to admire in Joe?

He said it was, but he also voiced his worry that Joe might just stuff it back down inside him. Sometimes his insight astounds me. Remember this post?  I told him I prayed that Joe didn't "stuff it back down inside."

I HATE, HATE, HATE that Joe was treated this way. I wish the incident had never occured.  My heart hurt for Joe too.

But it was one of those conversations that made me think, "Okay. We must be doing something right."  I'm a proud mama for how his heart hurt for his friend.  I hope he carries that on into his teenage years. That ability to hurt for those who aren't always the easiest to love.

I don't want this post to come across in a prideful way. I am certainly no where near the perfect parent, but there are days when you struggle and struggle with this whole thing called parenting and you wonder if anything is getting through to their little minds and souls.

It was definitely an affirmation I needed. I just wish it hadn't come in the circumstances it did.

Have you had any of those affirming parent moments lately? Do you sometimes wonder if anything you are doing is getting through? If you do don't give up. When you least expect it you'll get a glimpse into their little soul and realize that everything you do is getting through after all.