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Archive for the ‘The Kids’ Category

Being a pregnant or mom hoping to adopt is hard.

Being a mom of a newborn is hard.

Being a mom of a toddle or preschooler is hard.

So is being a mum of a child in elementary school, an adolescent, a teen …

Hey, being a mum is hard.

My three are all now wandering through their twenties. Post secondary schooling, careers, new relationships, travel, pets, moving out from under the family home … they are flying solo, mostly out of our nest, more often soaring on winds from other places … from other people.

I have to admit, this has been the hardest mom-stage for me. To go from the equivalent of a cruise ship director to a sideline spectator is a big role adjustment.

The other day I read a post called, 15 Things I want my Teenagers to Know, by Jess at Wonderoak. Though my kids are no longer teens there is much similarity in her list and what mine would be at this, next, stage.

It got me to thinking … what would my list be?

So, here is my list of 10 things I want my 20-something ‘kids’ to know :

  1. Even though I sometimes struggle with your independence, I also admire and am thankful that you are living life with little need of your dad and I.
  2. Though your need of us is significantly less, I still yearn to brought into your life … to hear your tales of life and living, to share the joys, laughter and sorrows of life.
  3. You are not how you feel. Your emotions are real and valid, but they do not define you, nor are they your identity.
  4. In the words of another mother, I know things. Oh, how we parents of adults love to impart our knowledge (insert rolling eyes … yours and mine). Feel free to ask … how to clean that spot on your favorite shirt, how to keep plants flowering, the meaning of life …
  5. Ask me about your childhood. You are in the stage of life that is sifting through your life so far. Let me share my experience of the events of your early years. Let me express the big picture, imperfect, first years of your life … maybe even surrounded by photos.
  6. I love when you send that picture of the yellow tree (Forsythia), that clip from a movie we loved, that meme of a joke we shared, the lyrics of a song we sang driving to school, to swim meets, to play practises.
  7. I still want to know about your friends. I want to know who you love and who loves you … it reminds me that you are okay, that you will be loved beyond me.
  8. There are three of you who shared similar (but not exactly the same) histories … I hope you hold those relationships in high regard, with mutual love and respect. They may, or may not, be relationships that are easy, but you each share with the others what you will not share with any others in this life.
  9. I love you, I love you, I love you. I am hearing Sharon, Lois and Bram singing, I love you in the morning, in the afternoon. I love you in the evening, underneath the moon … my hope is that you will feel it, that you will know it.
  10. I don’t love you most … I never will, nor will another other mere human. Your very breath was given to you by the Creator of the world, you were bought with a price … because you were, you are worth the cost.

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To my grade one doppelganger (except, you’re not, because we are biologically related).

From day one of your life, I felt as though I was simply your carrier, the one who bore and delivered you into this life. For, from my first glance of your squirmy body, you looked like your daddy. Your copper-colored hair, your squinty bright blue eyes, your face shape, your skin tone … all of it. And I loved every bit, for a mother does not love a child for what she knows, but simply because the child is hers.

Then, when you were not ever two, we moved and the receptionist and nurse and our new doctor’s office were in awe at how much we looked alike. Though I doubted what they said, it did warm my momma heart that we might share something more than just DNA.

A few years later, I picked up photos from the drug store (because that was the way it was done back in the stone ages). As I flipped through the images of our growing kids I was immediately halted when I came to the photo of you at a birthday (above). The same squinty eyes, the same smile, and face shape, and eyebrows, and even the hint of similar freckles was looking back at me … not at the 30-something momma of three, but the grade one me. Heck, you even tilted your head like me … just in the opposite direction.

I don’t know why exactly seeing that we were similar was so comforting to me. Maybe there is something primal about it …

maybe I simply longed to see,
not me in you,
but you in me?

The perfect unity of I am in you and you are in me. Oneness, perhaps, was my heart’s desire.

Today is your birthday. A quarter century of the gift of life. A gift that comes with little foretaste of what will come your way … the tough decisions to be made, the struggles (with relationships, with health, etc.). Sometimes it can feel that it is too hard … but, hard is accompanied by other things … the better things (relationships, art, beauty in nature, successes at work, good food … cats) and these things are the things that bring a twinkle to our eyes … our squinty eyes.

I wish you a new year of things that make you smile, sunshine that brings out your freckles, squinty-eyed smiles and oneness.

I love you, my baby girl. I am so glad that you are mine … and I am yours.

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In 1969 the term Helicopter Parent (HP) was first coined in a book called “Between Parent & Teenager.” But it was in the 1990s when the phrase became part of our conversations.

This generation planned play dates, scheduled extracurricular sports, lessons and tutoring, pushed towards a failure-resistant future. HPs are known for being over-involved in their children’s friendships, schooling (even university), housing (of adults) and future plans.

Since I entered the realm of parenting in the early 90s, I am part of the generation of parents who were considered ones who hovered over our children (though I am from Generation X, not the typical Boomers, who represent the copter parents). We are the first generation who notoriously feared for our children’s every move. Our elementary-aged children were not typically ones who left the house after breakfast and not return until lunchtime.

The thing is, helicopters eventually need to land.

The same could be said for parenting.

Chuck Yeager (a pilot who broke the sound barrier) said,

“If you want to grow old as a pilot,
you’ve got to know when to push it,
and when to back off.”

He could have been speaking, equally, about parenting. For, even those of us who have spent our parenting years hovering over our kids, eventually need to land … backing away from the controls, allowing them to take total control of their own flights.

And, you know what, there will be dangers, and uncertainties, and failures, and life-altering decisions … this is part of life and living … and it is the only way for one to learn their own way.

As I was reading interesting facts about aviation, something stood out to me.

Periodically, pilots on a plane place the controls in the hands of George, saying, “George is flying the plane now.” George is simply reference to the autopilot system of preprogrammed direction, speed, etc. This gives the pilot opportunity to address other issues related to flying.

When I read about this I found myself snickering, thinking that perhaps we helicopter parents need to rely on George, the autopilot … or, by another name, on God, the co-pilot of all of our lives. This is the only way to back off wisely.

What our adult children need most is not security from harm, heartbreak and failures, but opportunity to learn from their mistakes, build resilience in relationships that don’t always go as hoped and develop an understanding that failure is ways we learn. All of that leads each of us to look for someone to be our co-pilot … God.

Helicopter parents, it’s time to let George fly.

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Happy birthday to my firstborn.

There will be no birthday number talk, since … well, to rewrite Shakespeare,

“what’s in a number? One Mrs. Dunster’s donut would taste as sweet as two.”

I am writing this days before the day that marks your birthday. Writing just hours after being in my chlldhood home, sitting with my mum, your grandmother.

I heard your name quite a few times as I was with her. I heard stories about the months that you spent on the East Coast (the ‘other’ coast) as you did a semester at a university there a number of years ago. I heard about drives to look at the foliage, meals around your grandparent’s table, an early Christmas meal at your other grandparent’s home, your fashion advice for Grammie, the pet names you had for them. 

Mostly, maybe with the most excitement, I heard about how, since that short semester you have continued to keep in touch, with calls, texts and emails.

On this day of celebration of the gift of your very breath, this day I especially offer thanks for your very life, this day of gifts for you to unwrap … I just want to tell you how you have taught me about your great gift …

the present of intentional presence. 

If you have a gift that is wrapped especially glittery it is that of your intentional presence. When you are with someone, you are completely there, completely invested in the people, in that very moment. Not only that but you also make choices as to who you want to invest in and you apply your all to making the deposits necessary in their lives so that one day there will be dividends.

You invest in those you’ve chosen, even when there is little payback, even when the recipient has been unappreciative of your efforts. I believe you do this, because you are committed to doing that which is right, that which leaves few regrets, that which, one day, you believe in your heart will grow.

When you make those regular contacts with your ‘G-units’ (grandparents) you are ensuring that you have given them your sparkly best. Not only that, but you have also reminded them that they are a gift to you and your life. That they are still worthy of your time and effort. That they are still needed and wanted and thought of … even when they are out of sight and so far away. 

Keep doing what you’re doing girl. 

You were a gift, you are a gift, you will always be a gift as you give your intentional presence.

This you have taught me.

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An oldie but a goodie image 😉

Here in Canada, turkeys are a-roasting this weekend as we pause to give thanks for all that makes up life and living.

For me, Thanksgiving is always connected to our youngest, our son.

At 10:10am, on Thanksgiving Sunday, October 10, he breathed in the air of life and I inhaled gratitude … for life is tender, fragile, not guaranteed.

Our very own Ben 10 is one I have immense thanks for, so today, gratitude is great, celebration is due.

As I feel and know gratitude for him, I pray that he always live a life of gratitude.

For gratitude is our exhale, and it is in the breathing out of thanks that gratitude is inhaled.

When we sit around a table, as we bow our heads in thanks for our food, his grace is always one of thanks.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when he offered thanks for the food, for his sisters, for his parents. This is not odd for him to do, for he knows where who is the Giver. Yet, on this particular day, I was not feeling particularly worthy of such appreciation.

Since that day I have thought numerous times about his offering of thanks … for one who had not been graceful to him just hours earlier. His gratitude, despite imperfection from the one he expressed thankfulness for, has been a new lesson for me.

It is easy to be thankful

for food … when it tastes appealing
for work … when we are enjoying it
for education … when we are succeeding
for people … when we are in good relationship with them
for the new day … when it is sunny

Yet, gratitude is not simply for the things that feel good at the time, for our thanks does not come after, but before the blessing. Thanks is the attitude of faith in the One who gives, not an acceptance for what has already been received.

Gratitude is the attitude that preexists the reality of what we are given … whatever it may be.

In being PRE-thankful … in ALL things, we are preparing for the good, bad and ugly that comes to us in life. We are being cognizant that gratitude is due, even though our mortal self may suffer. This is a great mystery, yet, for those who practise gratitude in all things … a peace that passes human understanding is the gifted result.

Ben knows this. He lives this life of gratitude in all things. He is not perfect, for his closest teachers (that would be his parents) have not modelled this consistently, his humanness fights against such illogical practise. Yet, as I hear him give thanks, for those who have let him down, I am encouraged that his life is heading in the right direction.

Happy birthday Ben. My encouragement to you today, are from the words of Paul,

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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It’s a thing … a rather big thing,

if you look at social media posts on the first week of school.

Kids, all clean and smiling (real of forced), often standing in front of the door to their house, sometimes holding a sign recording the grade they are about to begin. Sometimes even parents … if they work in schools, because, let’s face it, if we work in schools there is a part of us that hasn’t moved beyond the glory days of school.

I have those pics, in photo albums and on memory sticks. I remember trying to acquire them … often with much insistence, schedule-juggling, bribery and the potential that we would be late for the first day of school (horror of horrors). As the years meandered on, the first day of school picture morphed into the first week(s) of school picture, for that one shot is a difficult one to remember, to organize.

I love those images and the memories they hold … not the memories of the battle to get them taken, but the memories of each child at the age represented. Heck, let’s get real here, they could have been taken in February of that school year and the cockles of my heart would still be warmed by the flashbacks my momma’s heart would experience glancing at the faces from past years staring back at me.

These pics are reminders of an entrance to a new phase of schooling, of life. They are markers along the schooling journey … they represent growth, change, development. They are also images that represent hard work, accomplishment and, for those of us who follow Christ, they are images that remind we parents that what is done is done in His strength, His faithfulness.

Like the Israelites.

They too had 12 markers, but not photos. These markers with twelve stones, representing the 12 tribes of Joshua. God himself told Joshua to create a memorial with a stone from each tribe. These stones were to be a reminder for all time of the miracle of their crossing the Jordan River.

Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, … and they are there to this day.

Joshua 4: 4-7, 9

As a parent of now adult children, I look back on those first day of school pictures differently than at the time. At the time they were hurried images of my littles. Now I look at them and think of the faithfulness of God, who walked through each year with them, protecting them, loving them, challenging them, teaching them.

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This is the time in the year, in this annual season,

when you are tired, my child.

I see it on your face, hear it in your voice …

you carry it on your shoulders.

Your shoulders …

they were what I noticed first when you were born.

They were unlike those of your sisters.

I remember marvelling at how straight and strong they appeared.

You were a long anticipated gift from God.

Each day of your pre-birth life prayed over … for the next day was not guaranteed.

Each movement was cherished.

Your birth, peaceful and unhurried.

unhurried … you have, from your beginnings, had your own timeline.

Then you burst into this life with robust cries, fists clenched and man shoulders to boot.

You were embraced, kissed, held (and had your eyes poked by your adoring sisters).

A boy born to three motherers and a father … who were so thankful to have you with us.

Your heart is soft. Your shoulders are strong.

As a child you played with little figures of super heros, watched their movies and shows, dressed as them at Halloween. You have grown into one who is bothered, grieved by injustice.

You want to make right the wrongs. You desire to fix broken pieces. You yearn to be personally involved in seeking justice. Your eye is ever on the ideal, what is best.

This is who you are, in the most natural way.

May you use these gifts of strength and gentleness in your whole life. May you seek to find where God can best use this combination of strengths in our world.

Know that you have been loved since your very beginnings.

Don’t ever forget the gift that you already are to so many.

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

It occurred to me recently that we tell our children their stories when they are littles, curled up in the safety of our laps, but maybe … just maybe, they need to hear their stories even more when they are grown, but still in need of the security and encouragement of their own coming into existence. Maybe a glimpse of their past will give strength for their future. Or, as fellow blogger, Carolyn Collar, says, maybe “God can help us find new meanings to old stories.

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Once upon a time …

that is how fairy tales begin …

and they end with a perfectly tied up bow, with the assurance that they all lived happily ever after.

Leaving the reader with a contented sigh.

My dear, your story very much started with a once upon a time beginning … kind of.

As our second, first pregnancy, your beginnings were shrouded in fear … but they were also blanketed in anticipation, hope and desire for your life to be part of ours.

From the first moment we were aware of your presence, we prayed for you (realistically, that began well before any knitting needles were picked up (Psalm 139:13)).

Though there were warning signs that elevated our fears and brought us to our knees, as I look back now, I see you were quite comfortable in your own little womb. Perhaps it was the aquatic environment, the warmth, the ability to set your own schedule.

When you emerged you did so with a loud battle cry, alerting us to your presence, which filled us with such relief and thankfulness that overflowed from our hearts down our cheeks.

You are a life striver, a life saver … I think this is why your life has been one of helping others.

From teaching swimming to littles who were fearful of getting their toes wet, to helping those whose life is in danger because of substance addictions, you have spurred others to strive.

You have literally helped the same ones who have spat in your face, called you horrible names and threatened your life.

Life saving has become part of you, whether in the swimming pool, having to call social services when parent’s drug abuses are endangering their children, or while administering Narcan in the McDonald’s drive thru.

The thing is … the life saver often gives their all to helping others … leaving little resources for themselves.

And … maybe it is time to direct your life saving skills and strengths back toward yourself.

After years of health struggles, that continue still today, you are rather beat up and bruised. Rather worn and wounded.

You’ve heard that often used metaphor “put on your own mask first before assisting others.”

Girl, it is the time to catch your breath, to inhale the life-preserving oxygen that is central to our human creation.

Breathe deeply.

For you have been so loved, so wanted … you were our own once upon a time,

since before your first breath.

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

It occurred to me recently that we tell our children their stories when they are littles, curled up in the safety of our laps, but maybe … just maybe, they need to hear their stories even more when they are grown, but still in need of the security and encouragement of their own coming into existence. Maybe a glimpse of their past will give strength for their future. Or, as fellow blogger, Carolyn Collar, says, maybe “God can help us find new meanings to old stories.

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Hey you, who I love, let me tell you a story …

a love story,

your story.

The thing is, I have held on to it, as though it is my story, and mine alone.

Then, in the middle of the night, like a whisper that screams loudly into one’s heart,

I knew that I had to give it back to you.

That you needed to hear it, with your heart.

That you needed to own it, possess it,

as your own.

It is the story of you.

The dream you were, the battles fought for your presence in our life, this life, your life.

The sadness, the sorrow, the struggles that came before you …

those heartaches that led us to you.

I recalled our first awareness of your presence, our excitement, hope and fears.

I shared that almost right after that, shadows fell,

the fight was on!

We fought, I fought,

YOU fought.

From the moment you had a physical presence your determination and perseverance were already obvious.

Then, on your very first birthday, you were born, silent and still. No rosy cheeks, no loud warrior cries.

We thought this was the end of your beginning.

But, you are a fierce force and your cries rose to fill the room, our hearts.

Your pre-birth struggle to live, your first year of adjusting to life on the outside …

those were the building blocks of your greatest strengths.

You have, from a young age, had an uncanny ability to feel the sadness in others, to see people only through the lens of human, to comfort and fight for those who cannot do so themselves.

You offer gentleness to others.

Now I ask you to apply that gentleness to yourself. That you fight for you. That you see yourself only through the lens of being human.

Remember that you were and are, a highly anticipated gift, that you have so much to offer this world, that today is just one day, but “tomorrow is always fresh” (LMM).

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

It occurred to me recently that we tell our children their stories when they are littles, curled up in the safety of our laps, but maybe … just maybe, they need to hear their stories even more when they are grown, but still in need of the security and encouragement of their own coming into existence. Maybe a glimpse of their past will give strength for their future. Or, as fellow blogger, Carolyn Collar, says, maybe “God can help us find new meanings to old stories.

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Seven days.

Seven mornings.

One week.

I lift the top of the jar, filled with paper.

Some lined.

Some floral.

Some shiny.

Some colored.

All of them with words.

That was their happy Mother’s Day gift to me last week, my three.

(because I had said, quite firmly, NO SPENDING MONEY ON ME!)

A glass jar filled with little pieces of paper … enough for one a day, for eight weeks.

Each piece of paper inked with quotes, memories, little tidbits of joy.

It is the BEST GIFT EVER!

I head to the jar early each morning, while my coffee drips. Eagerly I lift the lid, reach inside (not looking, of course), pinch a paper between my thumb and index finger, lift the paper out of the jar. Then, not too fast, as I don’t want to rush the moment, I enfold the paper, til the words face me. It is then that I begin to read the words, hearing the voice of the writer. I smile, laugh, sigh … a few times tears form in the corners of my eyes.

This is the BEST GIFT EVER!

words speak … to the heart

The Bible reminds us of the value of our words, in many places:

“Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.”
Proverbs 20:15

“Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
Proverbs 18:20

“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
Proverbs 18:4

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 16:24

In this past week I have been so reminded of the encouragement in words, through this simply, inexpensive gift. The written word, especially, holds great weight, for it can be read again, and again, and again … replenishing the soul each time afresh.

Speak your words to those you love. Write your words of encouragement to one who holds a special place in your heart. Leave your words for others to read, to know of their value in your eyes … to know their value.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”
William Wordworth

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