My son is a bundle of energy and always has been. It’s hard for him to sit and watch a full length movie, because he’d rather be up playing and doing something. So last weekend when he decided to get out of the pool and go inside to watch TV I knew he was not feeling well. I scheduled an appointment to see the doctor first thing Monday morning. We walked into the doctor’s office and he sat down, too big to play with the toys that used to occupy him when he was a toddler. He sat beside me quietly while I filled out the paper work. When I was done, I reached over and combed my fingers through his hair. In that moment I realized that even though he was feeling terrible, he was too big to sit on my lap. I flashed back to all the times we had sat in this exact waiting room with him cuddled close to me, feeling terrible but finding comfort on my lap. Now, he’s not only physically too big, but he’s too independent.
It’s one of the great ironies of being a parent – we strive for our child to grow up and then when they do, we wistfully look back on the days they were younger. It’s ok to look back and be a little sad, like I did this week, but it’s important that we don’t allow ourselves to get stuck there. It’s easy to let the memories of the past influence your mood and perspective. If you find yourself wrapped up in a spiral of memories, find an outlet. It could be looking at pictures and sharing stories with the family or calling a friend to reminisce about “that time when….”. Or it could be writing it all down, getting all those unfiltered thoughts out of your head. The important thing is to allow yourself to have the moments of remembering, appreciate it and then come back to the way things are today.
One of my favorite authors, Gabrielle Bernstein says “Choose to see things a different way.” Instead of being sad that he is too big, I can be happy he has the words to describe exactly what hurts and where. I can appreciate that he is aware enough to make decisions that will help his body to heal. I can feel the growing strength behind his hugs. I can also find comfort knowing that he will never be too big to say “I love you Mom”.
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During a recent team building exercise for work, a friend of mine and her co-workers had to go around the room and introduce themselves. They also had to include a description about themselves. After the introductions were over the moderator asked each one of them to reflect on their description – why had they chosen to list things in that order? The moderator pointed out that the men in the room were more likely to describe themselves in relation to their title, work, schooling and accomplishments, while the women were more likely to incorporate details from outside their work life, like being a wife and mother. The moderator also went on to explain that the order in which they described their characteristics was also very telling. Prior to having this conversation with my friend, I don’t think I’ve ever given this idea much thought. I’ve sat through hundreds of meetings, team building events and ice breakers answering these and similar questions. My answers are always thoughtful to the present situation but I don’t think I’ve ever given much thought to the order in which I was saying them. Interesting.
A couple weeks ago I was listening to an interview with Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of the funny and brutally honest blog Momastery. In this interview she said “Women put all of their identity in these roles we play…..just ask a woman who she is and she’ll tell you who she loves.” That comment made me stop in my tracks. I rewound it and listened to it a couple more times. Echoing in my head was the descriptions I’ve used in the past - mom, wife, full-time employee/manager, blogger, life-coach, daughter, sister, friend, cousin, aunt and neighbor. Is this the list of who/what I love? Is this the order in which I love them? When people hear me say this, what assumptions to they make about me? Is my identity tied to these roles? Glennon went on to say “We live in fear because these things can be taken from us. I came to realize that I am a child of God, no one can take that from me.”
I had never really thought about these things to this degree before. I don’t think I’ve been afraid of these things being taken from me, but when a new role is added, there is always stress and anxiety of how that role fits in with all the others. As life changes, the roles we play change. Transitioning through these roles can be difficult. Do we allow these roles to define our entire identity? What if we described ourselves without using the roles we play? It’s an interesting exercise to see how ingrained these roles are to our identity and how difficult it is to think beyond them. What if instead of introducing ourselves with our roles, we began introducing ourselves with our traits? What if I said I’m compassionate, kind, active, thankful, loving, optimistic, wholehearted and curious? Chances are I would get a couple of odd looks and some people might not even know what to say. But beyond the reaction you would get, how would things change (or not) for you if you led with your traits instead of your roles?
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Why is it that some days homework is easy and other days it’s such a struggle? Of course some days the material is more difficult and some days the kids are more tired and some days they just don’t want to do it. Fortunately, in our house the days where homework time is a struggle are only some days and not every day. Unfortunately, when your child is completely resistant to getting homework done, it doesn’t make it any easier in the moment. Earlier this week we had one of those days. I handled it patiently and gave my third grader a five-minute window to finish up what he was doing and get ready for homework. A couple minutes later, my seventh grader came into my room. She explained to me that she created a game for my son to finish his homework. She already explained the “rules” to him, it was all set up and ready for us to start. To be honest I was a little stunned, I had no idea she had even been paying attention to our homework conversation. Her initiative to step in and try to help me solve the problem in a fun way was a welcome surprise. But it was also more than that. It showed me she is paying attention to how I am handling situations. She has seen that connecting with something the other person likes (playing games) can make a big difference in a situation. We know that our children are watching us, but it’s easy to forget what a big impact that has on them. As parents we think we have to teach them, to have a conversation and lay it all out for them in order for them to “learn” it. We forget the truth in the saying “actions speak louder than words”.
This week marks my 3-year blog-o-versary. When I first started, I thought that I could share short stories of what was (and was not) working for me as a parent that you could read while you drank your coffee on Saturday morning. The blog was about things I was doing with my kids. My goal at the start was to give parents ideas on ways to teach their child. Some of the ways worked (The Drama Scale), while others didn’t work at all. Writing the blog made me look at things differently and over time I started to realize the things I was doing was only a part of it. Parenting was also a lot about me – how I was taking care of myself, how and why I was reacting and what my expectations were – were also key pieces to this parenting puzzle. In order to be the best parent I could be, I had to also work at being the best me I could be.
They say that you teach the things you most need to learn. Over three years and 151 blog posts, there certainly has been a lot for me to learn. Parenting is definitely not easy, especially on those days when you feel like no one is listening and you’re repeating yourself a million times an hour. But then there are the days when your kids surprise you and show you they’ve been paying attention all along.
Little did I know that writing this blog would also lead me to becoming a certified Life Coach. If you need help or encouragement or both to becoming the best parent you can be, send me an email email@example.com and we'll set up a time to talk!
The summer I was ten years old was the summer the XXIII Olympic Games were hosted in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a big city where it seems like there are big events happening all the time, but the Olympics were different. No matter where you went, there was an excitement throughout the city. Posters hung in store windows and the streets were lined with pastel banners hanging from the light poles.
One afternoon we drove a short distance and found a place to stand along the street with hundreds of others. With my flag by my side, we cheered as the torch ran by. My parents were lucky enough to have tickets to the opening ceremonies. We watched from home with my aunt, uncle and cousin. The pastel colors throughout the stadium expressed the early 80’s in a way that words could not. The “theme music” was composed by John Williams and added a bit of Hollywood to the ceremony. Throughout the two weeks we watched on TV and experienced the buzz throughout the city. We learned about countries we had never heard of (and had to look them up in an atlas to find out where they were). We were lucky enough to have tickets a new sport debuting in the games, synchronized swimming. It was the summer of Flo Jo, Carl Lewis and of course, Mary Lou Retton. After that summer, I wanted to work for the Olympic Committee. I didn’t know what kind of job I would have or what I needed to do to make it happen, but I thought that working on a sporting event that brought people together from across the globe sounded like a pretty cool job to have.
My parents never discouraged me from dreaming this big dream, even though deep down they probably knew it was a long shot. I studied languages and learned about other countries and cultures. Along the way, I was exposed to so many new ideas and opportunities. I had to make choices because it just wasn’t possible to follow them all. Though I never worked for the Olympic Committee, it did spark in me an interest that led me to a degree in International Business, a job where I travelled throughout Europe and an appreciation for cultures throughout the world.
Thinking about it now, that’s really what the Olympics is about isn’t it? You have a dream and then do whatever you can to work towards that dream. Some people set their sights on one thing and drive towards that from start to finish. While others start with one dream and then adjust their course along the way. Each path will have their choices that need to be made, their challenges, their setbacks, their accomplishments and their perceived failures. No one way is right or wrong. What’s your dream? Who inspires you? How can you inspire someone else?
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.