Tough Parenting Moments

Monday, after school, in a fit of frustration, my son declared, “I am sick of Fremont and Clarmar.  Why can’t I be anyone’s best friend?”

I paused, knowing he can be sensitive, knowing that he had a bad day/week/month, knowing that maybe it will be better tomorrow.  “What happened?”

“Well, sometimes it feels like the kids are mean.  They don’t really want to play with me.  They don’t want me on their team.”

“Why don’t they want you on your team?  Do you think you can relax about rules on the playground?  Can’t you let some rules slide, and it be OK?”  I asked him.  I know he can be hard to get along with.  I understand that playground rules are different from real life rules.  I know the kids have forgotten that he struggles with this, and it makes sense since they are 7.

“I try.  I try to be nice.  I try to change and act like them.  I try to treat them the way they want to be treated, but no one really likes me.”

In that moment, I pause, I want to cry.  I am sad and I am feeling like a terrible mom.  We are constantly helping our son change.  We are teaching him social skills and trying to help him understand how others think.  He works on it daily.  He tries.  Even when he doesn’t ‘get it’ he still tries.  I know kids get frustrated with him at times, and he knows it too.  He is trying and trying.

The thing I feel bad about: When do others have to change?  Why should he go through life wanting and trying to be different to act like someone else?  If we want him to feel good about being a person with Asperger’s, then we have to accept him, quirks and all.  Kids have to accept him, and others do too.  It shouldn’t be a one way road for this 7-year-old.

After my flood of thoughts and pause, I said, “Well if you are treating others the way you want to be treated, then that is all you can do.  You can’t control others and how they treat you, but you can control yourself and how you treat others.  If kids at your school can’t see that, and accept you for WHO YOU ARE, then they are not worth it.  You are a nice boy, who is trying very hard.”

“I wish that was easy,” he sighed.

“Me too, I wish it would get easier, but that is life, Buddy.  It’s just a stinky part of life.”

Upon hearing the word stinky, he smiled and laughed.  Toilet humor took over and our conversation was paused.  However, I can’t stop thinking about it.

I pray that I can successfully guide these two kids through life.  I pray they know they are loved and accepted just the way God made them, without letting their little quirks be excuses.  No one ever said that raising kids was easy, and unfortunately, I don’t think the lessons will get any easier.

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Be Gone, Double Chin!

Yesterday, Ana hijacked Scott’s iPad and took countless photos of herself in Photobooth.  Upon discovering this, I did what any good mom would do, I jumped in and played around with her.  It was so fun and silly!  We laughed, and I think Ana’s side almost split open a few times.  I almost wet my pants. 🙂  It felt amazing to laugh and laugh with my little girl.

However, that amazing moment isn’t what this blog is about.  As we were fooling around, I noticed something, my double chin is gone.  I mean, that I had to drop my chin way to my neck to even get a semblance of one.  Even in college, when I was at my lightest (which is 20 pounds less than I am now), I had a double chin.  It has been around since I hit puberty, and I completely thought no matter what I looked like, I would always have one.

“You have a round face.  Some of us just have that full look.” Are phrases that I heard years ago when I complained about my double chin.  I stopped whining about it, well because, what’s the point.  My double chin was on my “When I win the lottery I am getting plastic surgery” list.  Well, I am not saying I will never get plastic surgery, but it definitely won’t be to remove my double chin.

I hope you don’t think that I am bragging or anything, well I guess I am kind of bragging….  It’s just that for years and years I gained weight steadily, despite hours and hours of efforts.  I have shed countless tears and hated my reflection period.  I felt like the real me, was lost.  A few short months ago, I feared that I would be overweight, or possibly obese for the rest of my life.  At 33 that is a terrible feeling.  I desperately wanted to be found; to look like the face I wanted to see in the mirror.  I have worked hard for this weight loss. And lately have been taking insane measures to get to my goal size and I can’t wait to get my free t-shirt!  I have given up my vices, and my favorite foods forever.  (Now, I might even have to give up cheese and dairy because my body is not responding well to cow’s milk products any more.) I don’t care, well I do care, but I accept it.

I have given up so much, including my double chin.  Everything is, and continues to be worth it.

(No need to comment, this post is written 100% for me.)

Failure is Underrated

When I grow up and am in charge of the world, or at least when I can get others to listen to my strange ideas,  I want to teach people, especially my kids, how to fail. I think failing is underrated in this day and age, especially from those of us with big dreams, high goals, and almost unrealistic expectations for life.

“What do you mean? Don’t you want to succeed? Don’t you want your kids to be successful?” asked the skeptic.

My answer is simple, “Yes, I want to reach my dreams, I want success, and I want the ultimate happiness that Earth has to offer. I also want my kids to live a happy life, reaching for the sky. However, they will not get there if they don’t fail a few hundred times first. I firmly believe it, and little anyone can say will change my mind. The truly successful people in our world, learned how to make mistakes, and fail many times.

I don’t just want my kids to learn how to deal with failure, but I want them to know the heartbreak of it. I want them to feel those sad feelings of rejection, and cry the tears of disappointment. I will be there when they fall.  I will listen to their tears, anger and disappointment.  That is my job as their mom.  Then I want them to get over it, pick themselves up, and reassess what they could have done better. I want them to make a plan on how improve their past mistakes, and be even better than before.

It sounds cold, but when I look at how my life has improved because of my past failings, I can’t help but hope my kids know how to fail, just so they can succeed.

For years and years, I failed to lose weight no matter what I did. During my weight gaining/not losing process, I learned how to get up in the morning and work out. I learned how to get over the tired feeling, and which workouts I enjoy.  I learned the joy of completing a race, and that I can physically make my body do almost anything. I also learned the key for my body’s nutrition, and that is to get rid of gluten. I believe with my soul, that ten years of failing, is leading me to being healthy for the rest of my life, especially now that I am having weight loss success.  The mindset, “I can always lose this 5 pounds,” is dangerous, and I will never feel that way about weight loss.  I have failed too much, it’s time to succeed.

I failed to get a teaching job this spring/summer. This failure, opened me up to new opportunities. Because I wasn’t teaching, I able to have lunch with a friend. Over lunch, she told me about grad school. With a huge leap of faith, I enrolled in a wonderful program, that will lead me to the right job. Had I gotten a job, I would have ended up where I left off, which is not a good thing. Plus, I have wanted to get my masters for years, and now I am.  I love my schooling and the work that goes with it.  I finding this love of learning is feeding my soul and for the first time in years, I feel like I am moving forward to new and exciting territory.

I have failed at photography. I have always loved taking pictures since I got my first camera in first grade, but I never understood it. Once the digital age hit, I started taking even more pictures. I can’t even begin to count how many digital files I have wasted on a photography mistakes, nor do I can to even count the number of cameras I have gone through the past 7 years. However, now I know, what makes a good picture. I know how to capture the moment, and I know how to make it perfect, or at least represent the moment. Had photography been easy for me, I am sure I would not have learned the science of light. That has made all of the difference in my skills.

I have also made big mistakes out on photography jobs, those mistakes, which I have shed mountains of tears over, taught me how to fix my mistakes. Had I not messed up, my mind would not learn to check my settings, over and over again. I am confident in my skills, now that I have messed up, and learned how to fix it.  My lessons in photography have pushed me to learn more and more.  Now, I feel confident when schedule a photo session, and my heart sings even more when I process and can relive the love of a family again.  It is an amazing job, and I love it.

Yesterday morning, I awoke to an email explaining that I did not get a writing job. I had a moment of disappointment, but my second thought was, “How can I be better? How can I make my dreams come true, despite this unwanted feeling?” I know with my heart and soul that this rejection will lead me to something greater and bigger than I can imagine today. I just need to figure out how to learn, grow, and seek out the next opportunity.

I could go on and on about my failings. Few things in this world have felt easy for me, however, my struggles have led to lots of happiness. My life is better because I have failed time after time again.

So when my kids come home nd talking about how “easy” something was for them, I am slightly sad. I want them to work at a level that is hard, in a place where they might fail. I want them to learn rejection, so they can learn how to deal with it, instead of giving up. I want them to really understand that on the road to making their dreams come true, they might fail, but they will be better people for it.

Really successful people fail before they succeed. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can ask da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Dr. Seuss, Thomas Edison, Oprah…. The list goes on and on. Failure leads to learning, and life lessons lead to success.

Hurry, Hurry, Come on, Let’s Go

“Come on, let’s go, we’re in a hurry, we have [this, this, and this] to do before that [unimportant event that for some reason we can’t miss]!”  It seems like I am saying this to my family everyday.  I hate it, I hate it with a passion.  I hate that my alarm goes off around 5, I do a workout or two, rush the kids out the door, to drop everyone off at their places, and then barely make it to school on time.  Then, after school, I rush to pick up the kids so we can run home, have a snack, do some homework before we fly out the door again.  Sometimes we make it home before 6, and others we get home around 8.

I look at our schedule and lives and wonder, “How did this happen?”  I hate to be busy. I love leisure, I love moderation, I love a slow-paced life.  How did I let our family get so busy?  I can answer that, by saying, “Yes,” to one small commitment at a time.  Just like a bunch of small changes can add up to a big change, well a bunch of small commitments add up to too many.

I look at our commitments, and wonder, “What can we put on hold?”:

Sporting events – Nope, we have two left for each kid, we just have to hold on to that.

MOPS – Nope, I need my Mommy interaction, especially now that I am working and Scott’s schedule is crazy.

Boy Scouts – Nope, Scott went to one parent meeting and came home a den leader.  (Stay tuned for a photo of him in his scouting uniform.  I can’t wait!)

Grad School – Uh, no.  Can’t quit that!

Blogging or Photography – Only if i want to sink into a deep depression again.  Sorry, can’t do that.  I have cut down on both, and my soul is aching for it.  I can’t give up my art, it’s too hard and makes me sad.

Working out – Can I give up eating and breathing too?

Community Service – What would Jesus do?  What kind of message does that send?

Housework and laundry – Well, something has to go.  I guess I will try to do that… 😉

I guess I will continue to give up sleep, and hold on tight for the next couple of weeks, praying that no one gets sick.

Anyway, there is no point to this writing.  I am facing a writer’s block at the moment.  This terrible schedule is getting in the way of my family stories.  It’s time to find the inspiration again, but first, I think I need to breathe.

How do you supermoms do it all?  I seem to fail every single time…At the end of the day, I am not Superwoman, so I may as well stop trying and just breathe. Breathe.  Breathe.

 

Faith, Patience, and Determination

I held on tight, praying that disaster would not strike. “You might have this one chance to get it right,” I told myself. I said a prayer, and hoped he would not fall. One injury could end this now. Who knows when he would get enough courage to try again? It had been more than eighteen months since the last attempt. There was no choice but to succeed.

I held my breath, looked at my seven-year old’s expectant face, “Try not to think about it, feel it inside and trust that,” I said.

He hesitated, thought, and said, “Ok. I can do this.”

“You can do this.”

I held onto his seat, and one handlebar, he slowly started to peddle. He peddled faster and faster, I let go of the handlebar. Soon, I let go of his seat, and for 5 seconds he rode his bike on two wheels alone! My son, who had little confidence in his balance, fear of crashing, let go of his fears, and for an afternoon trusted God and trusted me. We rode up and down the street for another half an hour and then took a break.

Before the second lesson of the day, I remembered the day he begged Scott to take off his training wheels. Scott did and proceeded to give McCartney his first bike riding lesson. Less than ten minutes later, Scott stomped up the driveway, with a tearful 6-year-old trailing behind him. “He won’t go fast enough. He’s too scared,” Scott reported. McCartney put his bike in the garage where it sat for over a year.

My son grew, and the bike stayed the same. He is too old for Cars and the helmet, but we refused to buy another that would just sit in the garage. Another summer went by, and it stayed parked in the same spot, never to be moved. Scott and I were disappointed, but we let it be. Our kids are not ready, so we took the easy way out. We didn’t press it, we just let the time pass. His friends, younger cousins, and so many around him learned, but he had no interest.

“Maybe he won’t ever want to learn.”

“He has to learn to trust first. He can’t be afraid of pain.”

Yesterday, I looked out the window, and I saw my son, with his bike and a new look of determination. I went outside, “Tomorrow, I will work with you on riding your bike.”

“Ok. I really want to learn!”

Our second lesson of the day, began hours after the first. It was time to make dinner, dishes in the sink, laundry in the drier, but my son, said, “Will you please give me another lesson?”

“I need 5 minutes,” I said.

He sat on the couch and waited patiently. At the stroke of 5 minutes, he said, “It’s been 5 minutes, will you teach me now?”

“Sure, let’s go.” We headed outside. He quickly put on his helmet, and we coasted down the driveway. “Remember, try not to think, listen to your body. You can do this,” I coached.

Within a few short minutes, I was running along side of the bike, with one finger on the seat. “At some point, I will let go. I won’t tell you, you have to have faith, you can do this,” I told my son.

“Ok,” he said with a look of uncertainty.

We went a few more rounds, and I barely held on more and more. I had a moment of fear. “If I let go and he falls, then will be trust me again?” Earning my son’s trust for this event, was a big deal, I did not want to lose it. I quickly said a prayer, and as he gained speed, I let go and he went alone, the length of two yards.

“You did it! You rode alone!” I exclaimed.

“I rode my bike by myself? I did?” He yelled.

“Yes, you did! I am so proud of you and your hard work!”

We went a few more rounds, and before I knew it, he said, “You can stay here, Mom. I don’t need you.”

“Remember, you can do this. There isn’t anything you haven’t done alone. I know you can do it.”

The next thing I knew, he was riding up and down the block, alone. I watched and photographed, because that is what I do when my kids don’t need me any more. I document and revel at what amazing people they are.

We loaded up the bike, and drove to the lake. My son quickly hopped on his bike, that is too small and too young for him, and circled the lake, independent and alone. Three point two miles later, he said, “I am really good at riding my bike.” And he is. He can start, stop, coast, and use his break like an old pro. Scott and I are happy and proud.

Right before bed, he said, “I think God helped me learn how to ride my bike tonight.”

“Yes, Buddy, He did. We never do anything alone. God gave me patience, and you determination. Between the three of us, you learned how to ride your bike. I am so proud of your hard work.”

If only we could always let kids learn when they are ready. When it’s time for a child to take the risk to learn, it happens naturally. Grandma was right, “When a pumpkin is ripe it will fall from the vine.”

Mommy’s Make-Up

Yesterday morning, in the chaos of getting ready for school, Scott found Ana in the bathroom trying to put on my eye liner.

“No, no, Honey.  Don’t put that on,” Scott said in his gentle, yet firm voice.

Ana burst into tears. “I’m sorry!  I just wanted to be like Mommy!”

“You don’t need make-up, you are so beautiful just the way you are,” I heard Scott say.

I stepped in and quickly washed Ana up.  As a little girl, I remember wanting to play with my mom’s make-up and I know this is a natural stage. “It’s OK, Ana.  Sometime, this weekend, when we aren’t going anywhere.  I will put some make-up on you.  It is fun to play dress up.  Five year olds don’t leave the house with make up on, but it’s OK to play.”

While cleaning up her face, before school, I was transported back in time, to when I would stare at my mom’s tiara from her pageant days.  I remember looking at her in her wedding photos, and pageant folders, thinking that no woman on this Earth could be as beautiful as my mom.  I remember wondering if I would ever be as beautiful as her too.

Later that day, Scott told me that he is worried about her self-image, if she already wants to put on make-up.  “No,” I insisted, “this is a natural thing.  For Ana, make-up is an imitation of Mommy, not a wanting to change anything about her.  It’s ok.  I will play with her soon, so she won’t get into it again.  I did this too.”  While I comforted Scott about the situation, it was a wake up call for me.  More and more I am understanding my importance in her life.

As I watch my little girl, and I am in awe of everything she does.  I love her spirit, her life, her caring about others, and there is nothing about her I would change. I even love her spaciness, although it can be frustrating.  I also find her absolutely beautiful on the outside too.  I love her eyes, and smile, and the glow about her.  She is a person that many love, just for being her.

Of course, looking at how much she imitates me and tries to do the things I do, I know it’s time to keep my promise to God.  Six years ago, before I was pregnant, I watched an episode of Oprah.  The episode was about young girls and their self-esteem, or actually their lack of it.  Of course, the ones who had a terrible self-image, learned it from their moms.  I promised God, in that moment, that I would learn to love myself.  I promised Him that if he blessed me with the baby girl I always wanted, I teach her to love herself, and she would learn it from not just my words, but my actions.

Well, I don’t make promises that I don’t keep, and I admit, I have been working on it, but not really holding up my end of the bargain.

I also remember as a young girl hearing from so many people (and I still do), “You look just like your mom.”  Some people would also say something like, “You both are so beautiful.”  I also remember my mom telling me how special and beautiful I was and then looking at herself in the mirror and frowning, hating what she saw.  When I was a teenager, I remember saying, “Why do you tell me I am beautiful?  I look just like you, everyone says so, yet, you hate how you look. How can you say I am beautiful?”

“You do look like me, Honey, but I do look different than you too.  You are beautiful,” was her reply.  I can tell you now, that while I wanted to believe my mom, I didn’t.   I admit, my love of my body, face, and features has been nonexistent for years.  I don’t blame my mom for my self-esteem, I feel what I feel, and I take full responsibility for it.

However, I understand what the message a mom’s self-hatred can do for a young girl and I don’t want the cycle to continue.  I am really making a commitment to learn to love what I see in the mirror, although it is not perfect.  Most importantly, I am working really hard at accepting compliments, and being comfortable in my skin.  I love Ana so much, that I desperately want to give her the gift of self-love, even if it is hard for me.

I made a promise to God.  He gave me a daughter, and I intend to keep my part of the bargain.  Ana is worth it.

Thanks for reading,

Linking up today

Snippets and Highlights of Boston

We LOVE Boston!  We love everything we have seen there and once upon a time, we went almost every month.  Between the atmosphere, the history, the stories, and the MANY things to do, we can’t get enough.  Both kids were weeks old for their first trip to the city.  Needless to say, despite the numerous times we went there, last month, as we made our way back to Nebraska from Maine, our stop in Boston was like their first time.  (BOTH kids remember the HUGE children’s museum, but the rest of the city was new to them.)

The best lesson we learned about Boston is where to park our car (or where to pahk ah cah).  We always parked in a cheap parking garage near Malden and took the orange line into the city.  Although McCartney was nervous about whether or not we could get the Fenway tour, he had fun on the T too.  (We love that the kids ride free.  It is cheap family entertainment if your kids love trains.)

Riding the T

The BIG reason why we NEEDED to spend a few hours in Boston was to show our son Fenway.  He loves baseball, he LOVES the Red Sox.  He LOVES Boston.  He was so nervous the closer we got there.  I was expecting his first reaction, upon seeing Fenway, was his biggest smile.  I got my camera ready, and then pointed it out to him.  Instead, he surprised me with this face:

My kids never cease to surprise me!  What a moment to have captured forever!

We were hoping to take a Fenway tour, but we arrived too late and all of the tickets were sold out.  Poor, McCartney, he was devastated.  Scott and I felt so bad about his disappointment, we took him to the MAIN souvenir shop and bought him his first day of school T-shirt.  Now, if you know us, then you know HOW DISAPPOINTED our kid must have been in order for us to introduce him to retail therapy.  Of course, a month later, he still has the T-shirt, but I think he would rather have gone on the tour.

It was magical to walk around Fenway and see the sights around the park, although we didn’t get tickets for the tour or the game.  The energy was so fun, although the Red Sox are having a less than awesome year.

“Wouldn’t it be fun to go to the Red Sox game tonight?” our son innocently asked.

“Yes, but you can’t have every experience by 7.  Someday, we will go and you will LOVE it,” my husband replied.

While we love moments and believe in experiences, there is something about having something to look forward to.  Someday, McCartney will see a game there, and it will be magical!

My boys in front of Fenway.

I think Ana loved the nasty street hotdog we bought for the kids to share the best.  (The kids were so amazed at the idea of buying hotdogs from a vendor on the street, we finally gave in and let them share one. EW!)

Next, we went to Faneuil Hall so Scott could get his National Parks Passport stamped, and Ana found the perfect souvenir.  We also spent time walking around Quincy Market Place.  It was classic Boston, we enjoyed the history and people, as we drank Dunkin’ Donuts.

My favorite story from Boston happened as we made our way back to the T.  We passed an orange line and McCartney said, “We should take this train.  It will get us back to our car.”

Scott, not even thinking, replied, “No, we need to take a different train.”

Well, later on the T, Scott realized his mistake, and McCartney was right!  We still haven’t told him, but we need to learn to NEVER doubt McCartney’s human GPS.  He is ALWAYS right, even in a city he doesn’t know very well!  It still makes me smile.

As we walked to the T, Ana exclaimed, “Look, Mommy, we are crossing Congress Street!”  (Don’t forget that Ana is 5, a kindergartener, and the word Congress is not a part of her everyday vocabulary.)

“You are right! How did you know that word, Ana?”

“I read it!” Ana said in her proud, yet “Duh!” voice.

Once we made it back to the car, we took a final view of Boston, one of our favorite cities. I can’t wait to go back, and share even more history with the kids.  I LOVED teaching the American Revolution, and yes, I will be that lame mom who drags her kids around the city so they can enjoy the rich history the city has to offer.

Boston is a wonderful city and I highly recommend you spend time there if you ever get the chance.  It is one of the MANY New England experiences that I miss EVERY SINGLE DAY.