The Lesson My Son Taught Me

I wrote this a couple weeks back but didn’t have time to get back to it until now. Even though National Novel Writing Month is over, the lesson my son taught me applies to more than writing. It’s a life lesson.

Today the 5:30 am wake-up call got old. Correction; it got old a few days back but this morning the temptation to stay under the warm covers got real. The battle waged within me, until I dragged my weary body out into the cold dark morning. 

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Today I wanted to quit. My body and brain are tired. Doubts plague my mind. I know I can write fifty-thousand words but will it be any good? Why bother trying?

We all get to the point where we feel like stopping, don’t we? Whether it’s our job, a relationship, parenting, or some physical activity, we get to the point where we think we can’t do it one more minute. One more day. One more year. We’re scared we haven’t got what it takes to finish well or at all. We’re sure we aren’t good enough. The ending is unknown. Will the good guys win or the bad? Why continue? 

Precisely because we don’t know how it ends, we need to carry on. We need to push through to the other side. My son reminded me of this last week. He’s trying out for the basketball team and the coach had them running for the entire two hours. My son has learned over the years that you have to keep running, if you want to make the team. So he said to me, “I wanted to stop but I just pushed through it.”  

My kids are my best teachers. I wanted to stop but I just pushed through it. How different would our situations be if we just implemented that philosophy? 

If we beat back the pain, the doubts, the questions and just kept moving forward. On those days when the bed is warm and 5:30 am seems like the middle of the night. When our kid is hitting our buttons and we want to quit on them. When we have to pay rent but the job is boring. When marriage doesn’t live up to our expectations. When a relationship veers off course. I wanted to stop but I just pushed through it.

We all experience the desire to quit and it’s not weak to admit it. The key is distinguishing between the times we need to stop because we need help, and the times we think it would be easier to quit. I’m writing about the latter today. It would have been easier to stay in bed this morning and forget my word count. But the momentary pleasure of a sleep-in would have faded quickly, replaced with disappointment in myself. The less challenging path may provide temporary relief but it doesn’t last. There’s always fallout that results in regret, disappointment and sadness. 

Calling it a day has a ripple effect and those around us feel it too.  Often times when I’m upset with myself, I take it out on those closest to me. I’m not a happy camper so the rest of the house suffers. So when we consider quitting, we need to keep in mind those around us. Our decision affects them too.

I’m glad I got up today and spent those couple of hours in solitude, writing. I got my word count but more than that, I proved something to myself. I’m not a quitter. I wasn’t raised that way. I have what it takes to stay the course. 

The ending may remain unknown but the journey to its discovery, is worth it. So those dark, cold, winter mornings when the bed is warm and you want to stay put, push through it and get up. You’ll thank yourself in the end.

PS. He made the team and I made the 50K word count. And if you feel like quitting and it’s more than a passing bad day, then I would encourage you to speak out and seek help from a counsellor, a pastor, or friend. It’s not weak to admit you’re at the end of your rope and you need someone to come alongside you. You are not alone.

When The World Changes

Do you remember a time when you entered a new phase in life?  Suddenly you felt like you were living on another planet?  I remember bringing my second son home from the hospital on New Year’s Eve Day, happy to be home but as my twenty-two month buzzed around me, oblivious to the new baby, I wondered where I’d left my sanity and what planet was I on? 

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I love my boys but the reality was that my world had changed drastically since I’d left my house two days earlier.  The old one had been busy but this one felt chaotic and I could feel resistance rising up in me. Adapting to change wasn’t, and still isn’t, my specialty.   

Have you ever had a similar experience?

It happens over and over in life, doesn’t it? Seasons change. Kids grow up.  We have losses and gains.  Our family is in the midst of big changes in almost everyone’s lives.  What planet did I just land on?  It’s no longer familiar and I feel resistance rising.  Fear grips my heart.  The unknown taunts me.  Excitement fills me as the promise of new things take hold.  It’s confusing, isn’t it?

How do we find our legs in this gravity-less new world?  

An anchor.  We need an anchor to hold us true and steady.  Honestly, I don’t think I need one.  I can stay on course, I tell myself, only to discover I’ve drifted.  The longer we let ourselves wander, the harder it is to get back.  

An anchor will hold us.  We don’t have to work to stay in place.  We are tethered.    If we spin off into space, that cord will draw us back. 

That’s who Jesus is.  He’s our anchor.  If we let him anchor us, the world doesn’t stop spinning by but we do.  We are held fast in the chaos.

He also gives us room to roam but if we get too far he gives us a tug, reminding us he is there.  

It’s our choice whether we decide to hold to him, our anchor, or cut him loose. I’m finding for myself, that as the world gets crazier, an anchor is a necessity.  I am not reliable or consistent enough to keep myself firm but God is.  

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.           Heb 11:1

Things We’ve Done Well As Moms

Once again it’s that awful Sunday in May knocking on our doors.  The knocking, at first, is soft but as the week goes on, it progressively gets louder, more insistent.  I don’t want to answer because when I do, the lies, the disappointment with myself, and the feelings of failure come pouring in.  Every single thing I regret as a mom, becomes starkly etched in my mind.  A highlight reel I don’t want to remember.

I look around and see the moms out there today and they seem so laid back, carefree.  As are their kids. Or so it seems.

I am not laid back and neither are my kids.  It’s one of those questions like the chicken before the egg.  Was it me or them?  And why do I feel like this is a bad thing?  It will drive me crazy before I will ever figure it out.  So let it go already, right?  But it’s these thoughts and doubts that drive us, as moms, to the edge isn’t it?   

I’m not sure if I’m the only one this happens to around this time of year, but I think I’m done with it.  I was reminded of something I read once by a woman who wrote some life-saving words about motherhood.  Julie Barnhill, in her book, Motherhood: The Guilt that Keeps On Giving, suggests remembering what we’ve done right as moms rather than focusing on the things we regret. She lists them.  

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I thought we could do the same.  Maybe for the next six days we can focus on what we’ve done well in the past and what we enjoy and are doing well today.  Replace the replays of mistakes with memories of good mom moments. Think of one for each day of the week, leading up to Sunday.

What did you do well as a mom?

Here’s a list of some things that maybe will help get you going:

One thing I did was I sat down on the floor and taught my kids to play.  I played with them even though I was dead tired and didn’t really feel like it.

Maybe for you it was baking and cooking with your kids…

Perhaps it was reading to them every night…

Maybe you let them play in the mud because why not?

Maybe you stayed when you wanted to leave…

Or you put down your phone and listened to them talk…

Maybe you braided their hair every day…

Or maybe you showed up, which at the time, was a herculean effort for you…

Maybe you worked so you could feed and clothe them…

Maybe you took care of yourself first so you could take better care of them later…

Perhaps you said “No” because that was in their best interest…

Maybe you put in boundaries and routines so you all could survive…

Maybe you hugged them when you really wanted to tell them off…

Perhaps you believed in them when they didn’t believe in themselves…

Mom, there are so many things you’ve done right along with the things you didn’t. We’ve all messed up, even those seemingly perfect moms.  And that’s the lie.  None of us are perfect and we never will be.  And you know what, that’s okay because our Heavenly Father has got this.  He’s got your kiddos and He’s got you.  And some day His perfect plan will all come together.  Hang in there and tell the lies to get lost.  You’ve done some good work and will do some more because it’s never too late.  

It’s never too late to change, to grow, to love.  One of our pastor’s at a former church used to always quote this verse from 1 Peter 4:8:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

That verse has given me such comfort over the years.  I’ve tried to correct where I’ve erred but that doesn’t always feel like enough, does it?  But we love our kids, don’t we?  Knowing that’s what counts the most gives me hope in my unperfected mess.  So go on and think of the things you’ve done well as a mom!  Then go love on them today and every day.  You got this.

 

Non-Mother’s Day

Can I tell you a secret?

Most years I hate Mother’s Day.  There, I said it. And I’m a Mom.

I understand what it’s like to want a child and not have one. I’ve hated those Mother”s Days too.  So I feel a little guilty because now that I am a mom I still don’t really like this day.

Most Mother’s Day, it’s just a reminder of what I’ve done wrong, what I’d like to do over and that I’m too tired to try much harder. Honestly I don’t want to be recognized one Sunday in May. What I really want is for my children to be healthy, loving individuals who follow hard after Jesus. I want them to listen to me, respect me and love me all year long. Without fanfare.

I struggle with this Sunday in May because it’s so hard for so many people. People who have lost their moms to a myriad of reasons. People who have no children. People who are made to feel guilty because they don’t want children. People who have had abusive mothers. It’s just difficult. So really I don’t give much credence to this day. It matters more to me what my behaviour is all year long. Do I honour my mother every day of the year? Am I caring, kind and considerate? Is this what I’m teaching my kids? That’s what counts in my books.

This is probably not a popular opinion.

I am not denying that mothering is one of the most difficult jobs we will ever do. It is.
Being in charge of a child or two or three…is extremely hard. Whether you are the mother, grandmother, foster parent, aunt, guardian. It doesn’t matter either if the child is a baby, a toddler, middle schooler, teen or young adult. It doesn’t get any easier, it just gets different.

It’s not a glamorous job even though tv, movies, church and a whole host of other things, try to make it out to be. It’s not a big game of playing house, no matter how hard you try to make it. The lives we are responsible for, matter. The decisions we make, matter. And half the time I don’t have the emotional or physical energy to make good decisions. A lot of days I feel like I am doomed and so are my kids. Am I the only one?

So how do we raise our kids so that they are loving healthy individuals? How do we take the doom out of the equation?

This is what has worked for me. The key word being work.

Take care of yourself. Rest. Nap when your kids nap. Eat well. Do something you love that will breathe life back into your soul. Deal with your issues whatever they are (and you know what they are!) I know a good program!  This probably goes against every fibre of your mother being. But you cannot give when you are empty. All that does is rub you raw inside and out. Taking care of yourself and doing for yourself, fills you up so you have something to give.

Stop worshipping the children. We are the adults, act like one. Stop being a slave to your child. Children need to know they are loved but they also need boundaries. They do not need to be entertained all day long. No, mixed with some yeses, is good. We do not need to give up our own lives to breathe life into our child’s. Our children need to see that it’s okay to take care of ourselves and our own desires as well as take care of them.

Let it go. Unfortunately we can’t have a Do Over when it comes to parenting. But we have the present. So fix what you can and then move forward. Ruminating about past mistakes helps no one. Show them love, show them good health, show them kindness, TODAY. It’s not too late. Kids never stop learning or watching.

Our Heavenly Father loves our kids more than we do. He is in control and He knows the bigger picture. Let Him lead. Never stop praying. Or maybe we need to start praying. This is where I am right now.  Realizing that I need to pray! There is a higher, mightier power I need to tap into!  He’s waiting for me to do it.  It’s not too late for that either.

Finally it’s okay to admit we need help. We need someone to listen. Go find someone that can do this for you, either professionally or a good trusted friend or pastor. Even if they can’t help, they can listen and maybe point you in the direction you need to go.  That’s what someone did for me. I finally told my pastor my issue with anger and he got me into see a professional that could help me. I will be forever grateful to him for that. He got me started on the road to healing.  Later on a friend told me about a program that led to further healing.  It’s never too late to get help.

These things have made my whole family much healthier and happier.

So even though I’m not a big fan of Mother’s Day, I do honour and thank my Mom who raised seven kids and sacrificially gives of herself. She is still mothering in her senior years to her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. She is still a Mom.

I also honour and thank the many women out there who mother in their own ways whether it’s to biological kids or to kids who touch their lives. Many women have touched my life in so many ways who were not related to me. They made my life richer. May we do the same to those around us.

 

 

Why Good Manners Matter

This morning as I went to enter a coffee establishment, a young teen was just a couple of steps ahead of me. He surprised me by holding the door open for me and letting me pass through first. He wasn’t much more than fifteen. I thanked him and walked in. He left a positive impression on me. He had good manners. Some may not agree but in my books, he did. That simple act of kindness made me feel seen and that I mattered. It made me want to pass it on, that kindness, to someone else.

Good manners aren’t in vogue these days but they really never go out of style. Most people don’t complain about someone being polite or grateful. Why? Because good manners speak to so much more than being polite. Good manners generally signify that the person using them, respects others, thinks about someone other than themselves and has some character. “Please” and “thank you” show respect and acknowledges that the other person has value.

We are teaching our boys to have good manners. We aren’t perfect in this. It’s easy to let it slide because it’s such a forgotten art these days. However we keep trying and hopefully we will eventually have to remind less and enjoy the fruits of our labour more.

The other day, Mark reminded one of the boy to let me enter the house first rather than rush in ahead of me. And while some people will scream this is wrong, it’s interesting to me that when girls become of marrying age, these are the men who are considered the “good ones.” The ones who have been taught to respect a woman instead of looking at her like a piece of meat or a possession. The ones who have been taught to think of others first, who will put their wives and their kids ahead of themselves. Good family men. The ones who will care for people in their spheres of influence and take responsibility for their actions. The men, who have good manners and character, are the ones sought after. Isn’t it ironic?

As a mother of boys, I realize that teaching good manners is the first step in teaching them how to lead effectively, both in their families and in their lives. A true leader exhibits care, respect, and kindness to others. The first basic lessons in good manners. A leader who is all “Me, Me and Mine” isn’t a good leader.

A true leader is a servant to others. We don’t like to hear that. But it’s true. Take a look into history and have a good long look at those who were excellent, effective leaders. Take a look into your own lives, who do you respect the most? The ones who have your best interests at heart. Your children’s. The people who put a lot of thought into a decision that may or may not be one we want to follow, but is made with care, consideration and input from you and other parties involved. When one of our kids complain, “It’s not fair!” we tell them that fairness is not about equality. It’s about what’s best for them and what they need. It might not be the same for your brother. Leadership is a lot like that.

A strong leader will make the hard decisions and then help you through them. A strong leader empowers others to discover their strengths and skills instead of being threatened by another’s abilities.

A strong leader will not always agree with you but they will give you their respect and kindness.

Strong leadership is built on character, integrity and love. I want my boys to grow up to be that kind of person. That kind of leader.

Friends, I believe that one of the first steps to moulding them into that kind of man (or woman, if you have daughters) starts with teaching them good manners.

The Beauty of Unique

Some people think I’m crazy because I like winter. There’s something magical about snow, especially the first snowfall. It falls like a blanket over the city, muting the noise and casting an ethereal beauty. If it’s nighttime it’s even better because the silence is deafening and the black night and white snow contrast each other perfectly….

I’m sharing over at Raising Generations Today.  Please come on over and read the whole article here: http://www.raisinggenerationstoday.com/the-beauty-of-unique/