Category Archives: Parenting

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The Sound of Sweet Music

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I retreated upstairs after dinner to do some reading.  It was so nice to have time to just relax.  The sound of beautiful music drifted from the living room as Kaylee played her instrument.  Not the violin that she has been practicing for a few years and not even the piano which she also takes lessons for.  Today I am listening to the sweet sound of the first day with her new clarinet.

Yes, today we rented a clarinet for her to learn to play.  She brought it home, assembled it and began to play.  She was immediately able to make music with it. (Sing a long with me to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb.)  “E, D, C, D, Squeak, squeak, squeak, D, D, Screech, E, Squawk, Squeal,” you get the idea. After that imagine Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Hot Cross Buns and some other early band favorites in a similar fashion.

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Though the technique is a bit lacking, I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said that I was relaxing listening to the sound of beautiful music.  What is beautiful about this music?  It is made by her.  What is also beautiful about this music? It is original.  It is not recorded and it is not being played on an electronic device.  This sound is music to my ears because it is not the sound of silence I hear when she is plugged into her iPod.  Her face is buried in a music book and not glued to a screen.  There is no music sweeter than that and I am grateful.

You may remember, though, that I did say that I retreated upstairs, the door is shut and maybe tomorrow I’ll even recommend she practice outside….just to get some fresh air, of course.

 

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Dear Friend,

IMG_0585I’ve been writing and re-writing this Thank You note in my mind for days and the truth is, I can’t quite figure out how to write it yet. You see, there is no way I can explain what your kind deeds have meant to me without first telling you all the negative things that have been going on in my life and I think you know me well enough to know that I’m not a negative person. So, in the interest of trying to explain and in the hopes of being vague enough to not cause more grief, I thought I’d let you know how important your kind acts have been!
This spring there has been a war raging in our home. Nothing big enough to make the papers, but it has been a constant deluge of bad situations. Every day, I was confronted with something, figured out a way to handle it, and the next day it was a new surprising event. God is good and continued to show me grace and favor in the midst of the chaos. (Note: I said “in the midst” He did not shield me from the chaos but was beside me!) My son had some major trauma that was not in his control. No one should have to deal with what that boy had to deal with and all of it during his senior year. You know, that year that is supposed to be full of rainbows and dreams? His was full of doubt, trauma and an ugliness that I can’t even begin to imagine. Not knowing how to cope, he acted out with bad behaviors of his own which caused him even more pain. And, as his pain increased, his parents’ pain increased. And though his trauma took center stage there was a lot of other things going on in our lives too that we had to contend with.
That’s where you come in. You will never know what your kind words meant to me. The note, the card, the meal, the call, the hug, the plant, the text, the shoulder to cry on, the idea,  and the desire to lessen our pain in any way did not go unnoticed. Now, if you friend, were unaware of the struggles we were facing, you helped simply by being you. You made me smile, you encouraged me by assuming that everything was “normal.” You went for a walk with me, sewed a costume, mentioned mimosas, rolled your eyes, gave me a pedicure, shared an empathetic nod, and changed back into clothes to go out with me after you had already put on your PJ’s. You showed up for no reason and just were there for me. You asked me to do something and thought I was capable when I didn’t feel like I was capable of anything. If I eluded to some struggles you lifted me up in prayer. (I know you did, because I could feel it!)
I desperately want to share more with you. I want you to know how bad the details are so that I can then tell you how good my God is, but I don’t think that would serve Him well. I want to tell my side of the story to counter what may be being shared around town, but I won’t. I’ll simply thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my lifeline and helping me celebrate spring and all of it’s successes. I refer to this time as the season of Blessings and Burdens and I’ve had my share of both! You have been a blessing.  Thanks again!

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Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.      

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.                                                                         –1 Kings 19:3-7

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My Big Claim to Fame

weight-on-the-scale-at-the-pediatrician-s-office-when-they-weigh-8PIrpa-clipartI never really considered myself special. I mean, I never had one specific great claim to fame…until I became a parent.

The first six months of my first pregnancy, I gained six pounds. The doctor informed me that she would like to see a little more weight gain for the next visit and that I really should be following the nutritional guide she had provided. My husband and I attended the childbirth education classes the next week, and he scolded me that perhaps I wasn’t eating enough cheese. I felt fine but decided that I better check the scales to see how things were progressing. I stepped on, I stepped off, on again, off again, one more time…yep, there is a weight gain. Eighteen pounds in 3 weeks! What in the world is going on?

I called the doctor, and she felt there had to be an error. I went into the office for an official weighing the next morning and when I tipped the scales, I burst into tears. The nurse, in a comforting way, suggested we try another scale. We did, and sure enough there was an errror…it wasn’t eighteen pounds; it was twenty-one. She took my blood pressure, tried to calm me down, and told me to go home and rest while she consulted the doctor. The nurse called later that afternoon and said that the doctor had scheduled a sonogram for Monday and that I should rest over the weekend. I asked hesitantly, “Does she think it could be twins?” The nurse kept her answer brief and replied, “At least.”

I had the sonogram, and it looked like I was going to have one big baby. I kept gaining weight at a normal rate and approached my due date. No baby. Every night I went to bed and woke up disappointed that I was still there.  Finally, with tears in my eyes, I asked the doctor to help me out. The baby was getting bigger and bigger and didn’t show any interest in coming into the world. She agreed to break my water the following morning.

Always feeling that attitude was the biggest help in labor, I tried to keep a positive outlook the whole time. I think I can, I think I can, became my motto. Finally, after pushing for two-and-a-half hours, I quietly said to my doctor, “I don’t think I can do this.” She said, “I don’t think you can either,” and the baby was born by Cesarean Section. I was awake for the procedure and heard the cries from the operating room. “Oh, my gosh, his head is so big…He’s huge…Have you ever seen such a big baby?” I was getting nervous, not to mention somewhat insulted, and I asked my doctor how much he weighed. She chuckled and said, “I don’t know. I can’t lift him.” As soon as the delivery was complete, they shouted for the scales to be brought in. My bouncing baby boy weighed eleven pounds, three ounces! I was shocked and said, “No one has eleven-pound babies.” and the doctor said, “You just did.”

The rest of my hospital stay, from my room across from the nursery, I could hear people ooh and aah over the babies. “Look how sweet, look at the hair, OH MY! Look at this big bruiser!” Even the nurse giving expectant parents a tour of the facility stopped at my doorway and said, “There’s the woman who had the eleven-pound baby!” Comfort and acceptance came for me when my minister visited. In his prayer, he asked that my son be not only big in body, but big in mind and spirit as well.

I still, on occasion, will meet someone, and they will ask if I am the one with the big babies. (I delivered my daughter two years later who weighed ten pounds, 5 ounces and my youngest was three weeks early and weighed eight pounds, nine ounces.) I have come a long way in my confidence since those “new parent days” and I am proud of my big babies. I am sure they will be big in mind and spirit as well.

 

Originally published in The Doula Magazine Fall 1996

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Joy = Strength

unnamedAre you having a bad day?  Today, I am not so it’s a good time for me to consider what I should do when I do have a bad day which will certainly come. What do I do when I am having a bad day? Do I wallow in it and continue the bad day until I fall asleep or do I try to change it?  And, if I try to change it, what works?  I immediately realized what has often changed my bad day.  A fun conversation with a good friend! A conversation laced with humor and potentially some sarcasm as I relay what is happening in my life.

Have you shared your bad day with anyone?  Have you called that friend that always makes you laugh and said, “You will never believe what happened this morning!”  There is a good chance that simply by relaying your situation to the recipient, you will begin to see some humor in it OR just by sharing it, you will try to put some sort of humorous positive spin on it.  I recommend you give it a try!  Call a witty friend and relay to her what your home looked like as you tried to shuffle kids out the door while the cat escaped and someone spilled cereal and then you had to race back inside to get the forgotten library book and the cat escaped again and then you shut the door on your child’s finger while trying to save the cat and then you dropped the library book in the puddle.  None of that happened to me….today….but it has and it will again, I’m sure.  Maybe not the same situations but equally challenging ones are pretty routine around here. After sharing the story of your tense moments with a friend you may start to see how funny that would be in a 30-minute TV sitcom and you will see that you may as well enjoy it too.  As you start to laugh you will find your strength and hope returning and you will see that you can make it through another day.  You will make it through this day, too, even if it is only to get funnier material to share with your friend tomorrow.  And remember, if your friend calls you, it’s your job to point out the humor in her story also.

… Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  –Nehemiah 8:10

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I Think the Emotion is: Hurt

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Confusion. Frustration. Pain. Anger. All emotions I feel way too often regarding my RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) kid. Today I feel hurt…utter hurt.

Last evening, he rushed into the room and asked if he could go for ice cream with a friend of his.  He seemed surprised when my answer was “yes” and he rushed out the door full of excitement.  We had just spent a couple of hours having dinner and meeting with someone from his Independent Living group discussing how he could earn the right to move from his upstairs bedroom to our basement apartment. All natural steps for this season of transition.

He returned from his trip to the ice cream shop, tossed his empty milkshake cup into the garbage can and gave me a good night hug. He said, “Can you feel me shaking?” and I answered, “Probably too much ice cream.” As he left the room he quoted what he quotes every night as he heads up the stairs:

“Good Night. Sleep Tight. Wake up bright in the morning light to do what’s right with all your might. Good Night. Don’t let the Bedbugs bite.”

I stopped him and told him that he had to mean what he says more often.  “Make good choices; do what’s right.” He went up the stairs and got a bath.  An hour passed and I realized his phone wasn’t in the charging station like it should be.  He is not permitted to have his phone in the bathroom as he has had more than one  phone “fall” in the tub(maybe 8?). (Only RAD parents/therapists would understand this phenomenon of intentionally ruining possessions because you feel you are unworthy of actually owning them.)  Anyhow, his phone was missing.  When I asked him about it, he assured me it was in his pants pocket. It wasn’t.  Must be on the dresser. No. Maybe downstairs? No. Lies, lies, lies.  I calmly suggested that he had it in the tub with him and he said, “I had to call a couple of people because I was in a car accident.”

Yep. He was in a car accident and he returned home and didn’t mention it. Why? Only God knows for sure, but we can speculate.  His mental illness makes him want to handle things all by himself.  His neglect until the age of 22 months makes him think that his parents won’t respond appropriately to his needs. His needs weren’t met when he was a baby, so they probably won’t be met at the age of 18. He doesn’t want parents and he will spend a lifetime proving that to himself and others.

That hurts! Soon we will be attending his graduation ceremony and baccalaureate and we will be sitting next to parents who have tears in their eyes as they think about separating from their children in this phase of life. We, too, will have tears in our eyes as we doubt that there ever was any connection to separate from. We have spent 16 years trying to create a bond and though we’ve had glimpses of hope that it could happen, we’ve seen evidence of the fact that it hasn’t.  We’ve certainly tried.  And, we need to accept that the separation we will be mourning at graduation will be the separation of our dreams from our reality. Even with our best efforts, we have been unable to get our son to trust us. We have been unable to repair the damage created by his first set of parents. We have never been the one he’s called out to in a time of need….and we probably never will.

It hurts. It hurts to realize that I am not alone. There are many hurting parents raising hurting children. Children who may never accept a parent’s love. It hurts. Yet, to those of you who my son has called instead of me when he needed a parent, I thank you. I pray you haven’t judged me or thought that I didn’t want to be the recipient of the call and I continue to pray that you will give him good advice. Thank you for being someone he can trust.disegno-floreale-con-bordi-arricciati_318-45888“Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”                                                                        —     2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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The Good Friday Story

aa0e1ad2d67bf1ce0bd254d3a3601881_is-clipart-sore-feet_301-279Maybe not THE Good Friday story, but definitely in our family, the following story is referred to often.  Paul will say, “Does she know the Good Friday story?” or “You should tell him the Good Friday story.”  It is definitely a story that has survived the years and the telling.

It was a good Friday, the Friday before Easter and my kids had the day off of school. They were 13,11, 9 and Paul was 4.  We didn’t have plans for the day except for my nephew coming to install a new kitchen floor for us so the kids were all in their separate rooms, probably playing a video game of their choosing.  My friend who is a pastor’s wife called and said that our family should join her church family for their cross walk.  Annually this group of worshipers carry a wooden cross through the streets of town to represent Jesus carrying the cross to His crucifixion. Of course, I thought it was a good idea, but my older kids were reluctant to be drug away from their activities.  I nagged at them to remind them of the true reason for the season and that they should thank Jesus that they were out of school for the day.  They were donning their hats, gloves, and coats as I nagged and preached.  It’s what moms do to instill righteous guilt during the Easter season. We arrived at the church complete with somber scowls and bad attitudes. Between taking their turn carrying the cross, they would come to me and whine, “I have snow in my hood.” “My socks are wet.” “My glove has a hole in it and my fingers are cold.”  Each complaint was met with my canned answer. “Jesus suffered a lot more than this, so keep going.” Each time, they came to me with their complaint and I responded with the same answer.  Last but not least, Paul came up to me and quietly said, “Before I say anything, I want you to know something…Jesus was NOT wearing these shoes!!!”  I gasped!  You see, Paul had a physical disability and had received new orthotics the day before. He received these braces that fit inside his shoes with the instructions that he was to wear them for an hour, then take them off for two hours, then try to wear them for another hour and then take a break for two hours until his feet adjusted to wearing them.  I had totally forgotten that he had them on as I whisked him out the door.  The poor kid’s feet were swollen on the bottom and I didn’t carry the cross to the church, but I carried him to the church.  I’m not sure if scripture says what kind of shoes Jesus was wearing that day, I don’t believe any and at that moment, Paul wishes he would’ve been the same.

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I Am An Adult!

unnamedPosted on the door of my studio was a sign that I scrawled out on a piece of paper.  It says, “Screaming, “I am an adult” means that you are NOT!!”

I took it down because I felt it contained a negative message and the fact that I saw it every time I entered the room did not put me in the positive mood I try to maintain.  SO, the note came down, but the message still rings true in our house.

Our son turned 18 in October.  It has been a journey since then.  He has battled with us and probably with himself over if he truly is an adult or not. We should’ve expected this process to involve more than the date on the calendar. Though we celebrated his birthday with family and friends the Sunday prior, he celebrated his actual birthday while my husband and I attended a church meeting.  A typical Thursday night, we return home from the meeting and our house smells like cigar smoke.  WHAT?!  We don’t allow cigar smoking in our house.  But, his reply was, “I’m allowed.  I’m 18!” We’ve been trying to teach him the difference between being legal and being allowed ever since.  He’s taken up smoking, enjoys R-rated movies even more and buys an occasional lottery ticket. He does all of these things for the thrill of showing off his state ID (He doesn’t have a drivers’ license.) He loves to show others that he truly is an adult.  That’s what the laminated card proves!

I wish it were that easy.  I wish we knew what stage in life we were in simply based on our chronological age.  It would sure take the guess work out of things.  We would enter school at age 6, no wondering if we should send kids on the younger side of the cut-off date.  School would be entered at 6. Three would be the age that kids were allowed to view television, potty training would be successful at 2, iPods could be gifted at 12, iPhones at 14, ears pierced at 10, learners’ permit at 15.5, license at 16.5, dating at 16, etc.  I think it would be wonderful if maturity simply matched actual age.  It would save me from quoting things like, “You are acting like a two-year-old,” and “That looks like it was done by a toddler.” Not to mention, “I don’t care if she has a cell phone or not, you aren’t old enough to have one.” There is definitely a lot of gray area in all of this.

So, my son is an adult.  The government says he is.  (He is, however, an adult who is still not able to consume alcohol.) I think instead of a State ID to deem this, though, we should have a Maturity ID.  I read a great definition of maturity.  Maturity is: The ability to stick with a job until it’s finished; The ability to do a job without being supervised; The ability to carry money without spending it; and The ability to bear an injustice without wanting to get even. When he can achieve that I’ll get him the laminated statement of his adulthood.  Heck, I’ll even engrave it on a medal for him to wear around town.  I am so looking forward to him becoming an adult and a mature adult at that!

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.  –Hebrews 5:14

 

 

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