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Posts Tagged ‘Growing Up’

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Ten minutes after ten in the morning,

On the tenth day of the tenth month of 1999,

… into this world I pushed, with great excitement and hesitancy, our final child, a son.

I couldn’t wait to hold him in my arms, smother him in kisses, and drink in his baby scent.

But, I dreaded his leaving my body, along with his kicks, his heartbeat …

I dreaded … the loss of his constant presence within me.

Fourteen years ago … and I still feel I am giving birth … with excitement and hesitancy.

The other night, my son came home with his new football pictures, and so I rushed to put it in ‘the frame’ holding the one from last year. I studied the two visions of the same son …

– his teeth have grown into his mouth, providing a grown-up smile

– his face is not so round, more angular, more grown-up

– his shoulders more broad, more like those of a man

Sigh …

The pains of giving birth, of laboring, tore at my momma heart, once again. The visual reminders that my boy is becoming man, that the end of his time in the safety of the womb that is our home is just a handful of football pictures away.

Giving birth really is a tearing, a separating. Without it, there is not life. But, it is not an easy, or pain-free process … it is labor.

As we celebrate our son’s fourteenth birthday today, we celebrate his life, the fruit of our laboring.

He is now in the final trimester of his school years, having been birthed from elementary and middle school years, to this new phase called high school.

He is now a Bantam in football. His five foot nine, 180lb body often facing peers of six feet tall and 250lbs. … a reality that gives me labor pains for a solid two hours every Sunday.

Each and every stage of the life, of this son of mine, is a birthing, complete with labor pains … conceived within my dread of the loss of his constant presence with me. But, it is this giving birth, this giving of life, that allows him to take that first breath of each new day, and live his life.

“We’ve been waiting for you
We’re so glad you came
We’ve been looking forward
To showing you the place
There’s so much in store and
We’ve been waiting for you”
Carolyn Arends
We’ve Been Waiting for You Lyrics/MetroLyrics

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Parenting teens is not easy … duh!

There are so many freaking emotions contained in those hairy, hormonal, human bodies. Add to that the ebb and flow of my own hormones and you have what is known as a disaster waiting to happen.

There are those days when they are not talking to you, or they are disrespecting you, or they are simply too busy with their friends to make time to fill your own cup.

Some days I just want a pause button. No, what I really want is a rewind button!

I want to rewind to the days that I tucked them in each night … rather than them tucking me in. The days that when I’ve wigged out at them (for no good reason), and apologized, and they wrapped their arms around me and said, “it’s okay mommy, I forgive you,” and it really was all over. The days they were eager to go to a Disney movie … okay, at least one of mine will still drop everything for that!

I am not forgetting just how difficult it is for them to be walking the tightrope of the teen years, I am simply looking for an oasis in this hot, dry desert.

And I found it!

Hannah pic

The other night I received a FaceTime request on my phone … by the daughter of my friend. Her daughter is eight, and has recently learned how to connect with me in this way.

What delight!

My friend is so good to share her little ones with me! They come to swim in our pool, or make muffins, or play video games. Or we go to a play, or for ice cream. They draw me pictures (see above), and read me original stories, and show me their Lego creations. We take pictures, and go for walks and watch movies.

On my phone, the other night, were giggles of excitement, from both she and her much younger (six year old) brother, ‘I love you’ and ‘good night’, along with the thrill of simply making the connection just made my day! Their giggles, innocence, and simplicity fed a part of my soul that was parched from the ‘mature, adult’ life of parenting teens.

Our FaceTime ended

I walked around the rest of the evening with a big smile plastered on my face

and I thought to myself,

every parent of a teen needs a younger child in their life!

Now don’t think that I do not love and adore my teenage children … they are the apples of my eyes! Even through the body odor, the sullen attitudes, the corpse-like bodies that need to be awakened each morning, the relationship issues, the tears, the refusal to clean up Mr. Shitake (aka the dog poo), I love them and would die for them.

A younger child in your life while raising a teen, though, gives us the reminder of a slower, less complex, more controlled phase of life … not easier, just simpler. It reminded me of simpler days with my now taller than me teens. It reminded me of sharing similar experiences with them, as I did my little friends.

Sweet days do not end when our teens grow up, but it is nice to recreate those sweet memories of simpler days.

Thanks my little friends.

 

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Being a mom is not easy.

Neither is growing up!

There are so many roadblocks to growing up to be healthy, well-adjusted, successful, peaceful, contented adults.

Today I am including a piece from Tina Fey’s book, “Bossypants”. I am not saying I agree with all that Tina Fey says in this quote from her book but, I have to say that there is a significant amount of what she is communicating that I do hope for my girls (and son as well), and her mother-heart is clear to see through her printed words.

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Today marks the end of an era in our home, as our youngest turns thirteen, and we now have four teenagers in the house (plus one on the East Coast). I am now a mother who looks up to everyone under my roof! I am no longer Mummy or Momma, but Mom or hey you! Or, I am the nameless one, only addressed by request, “I need …” “can you …” “I’m hungry …” etc.

Gone are the days of Thomas the train, picture books and after school snuggles. The era of ‘childhood’ is gone from our abode and has been replaced by zits, excessive sleep, numerous showers, unpredictable vocal octaves, searches for facial hair and empty milk jugs. It might be time to re-enter the world of stock trading … I see a rise coming in dairy, deodorant and Dove body wash!

Thirteen years! How time flies. No longer do his older sisters fight over him, or dress him like a doll, now they give him hair and fashion advise.

I now get a daily glimpse of what his dad might have been like at this age, as they look and act so very much alike. They share a love of football, that provides father-son bonding on the field four times a week (and numerous more in front of the tube). They watch sporting events, share a love of history, politics and SUBWAY.

When I found out we were expecting this (now) teenager, I said it HAD to be a boy, because with two daughters I would need a son who would still talk to me when the teens and excessive estrogen hit our girls, and the mother-daughter relationships were strained. What I didn’t realize was that he would need me too, as the added testosterone coursing through him can make for predictable head-butting with the other man (men) in the house.

Years ago, when Ben (the birthday boy) would come home from school, beaten by the day, I would hold him, and repeat, over and over;

I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you …

Sometimes now, he will wrap his arms (that are too long for his body) around my shoulders, pat my head (I think it is just so as to give him the satisfaction of being that tall) and repeat it back to me.

Ben, you are the gift from God, that I prayed for. I love our conversations about Minecraft, dubstep music, science fiction and fantasy movies, and theology. I love that you have a desire to understand how and why things are as they are, and how they work. I love that you understand that the past plays a role in the future (in your own life, and in history). I love that you care about the souls of those around you. I love that you are unashamed of the God who designed, created and forgives you.

I love too that you are human. Like us all, you fail, you mess up, you blow it … and you feel remorse after the fact. Do not forget that the remorse you feel can lead you back to the place of mercy, grace and forgiveness … every time, no matter how far you fall.

Remember too, the best theme of any story is redemption 😉 .

Love you ‘Yamin.’

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A few years back singer, songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman invited us into his heart with his song Cinderella, inspired by his daughters. The song wooed all of us with daughters, into thoughts of our own little girls growing up so quickly, stepping from one stage of life to the next so very quickly, and reminding us all to take the time and opportunities when they are young to dance with our little girls.

But what about our boys, our sons? I know of one, almost thirteen year old son who would NOT have any interest in dancing around the room with his mother, to a song about Cinderella!

So, as I drove down the road, listening to the Cinderella song, I wondered what is the male equivalent of dancing with Cinderella, for my son? So, I looked at the lyrics to the song, and did some personalized editing 😉 …

He spins and he sways
To each play his coach says
Giving all to the football world
And I’m sitting here fretting
With the fear of him being hurt, on my shoulders

It’s been a long day
And there’s still laundry to do
He’s pulling at me
Saying “Mom, I need you

There’s a game at the field
And I’ve been practicing
And I need to know that you’re in the stands
Oh, please, Mom, please?”

So I will watch every minor football game
While he is still on the field
‘Cause I know something the coach doesn’t know
Oh, I will watch every football game
I don’t want to miss even one play
‘Cause all too soon the whistle will be blown
And he’ll be gone…

He says they’re all nice guys they just fake the frowns
He tells me his improved tackles mean more touchdowns
He says, “Mom, the game is just one week away
And I need you to make more pasta
Oh, please, Mom, please?”

So I will watch every minor football game
While he is still on the field
‘Cause I know something the coach doesn’t know
Oh, I will watch every football game
I don’t want to miss even one play
‘Cause all too soon the whistle will be blown
And he’ll be gone…

He will be gone

Well, he came home today with a dream in his head
Just glowing and telling us the CFL is where he will head
He says, “Mom, the league is still years away
But I need to practice my hitting
Oh, please, Mom, please?”

So I will watch every minor football game
While he is still on the field
‘Cause I know something the coach doesn’t know
Oh, I will watch every football game
I don’t want to miss even one play
‘Cause all too soon the whistle will be blown
And he’ll be gone…

So, that is my ode to Cinderella, for my son, because soon he’ll be gone …

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It is end of the year at school, with exams, report cards, prom and graduation the main talks around the water fountain.

The students who are graduating out of the school system are a totally different group than when they entered.

In the beginning they were possibly still struggling with toileting, could barely print their names, might have been dealing with separation anxiety, and possibly still even needed a car seat .

Now, thirteen years later, they can fix an engine, write a manuscript, run for miles and recite Shakespeare. They can drive a car, survive alone at home, and are just months away from being able to elect our politicians.

Truly, if anyone has, they have experienced the reality of metamorphosis. Who they were in the beginning of their schooling is barely a shadow of who they are today.

Those who are graduating this year are fully immersed into all of the farewells, from all that they have known for the past thirteen years. They are having celebrations, receiving gifts and making plans for the rest of their lives. They may not know what their immediate or long term future will look like, but they all share one common bond … they are leaving home.

Now they might not be leaving their parent’s home, but they are leaving their school, and whether they spent just a year or all thirteen years there, they are leaving home.

School is not just a place of education, it is also a microcosm, or small picture, of society and more specifically, of family. Within the walls of every school are:

* the ‘perfect’ cousins, who do it all the right way … always!
* the uncle or aunt who is always carrying mints.
* the grandfather with a flatulence problem.
* the grandmother who cannot match her clothing colors.
* the weird uncle.

The list goes on and on.

The school family, like the ones we share Christmas with, is not perfect. It is often unpredictable, nosy, odd and embarrassing. It can make you feel as though it is ruling and ruining your life. It can seem like the only chance at freedom and a good and healthy future is to leave.

And then the day comes, and you hold that diploma, and it is time to leave … forever.

And whether you loved your school home, or were convinced that you never should have been there, all that you knew is done, over and gone … and it is never, ever going to be the same again.

The school family was not just the negative, the strange, the obscure. It was also the place where you had, not just moments of failure, but also moments of success. It was where that one teacher would say, “how are you?” and you knew that he or she really wanted to know. It was where you got your first taste of a gift or ability that you could be passionate about … in the lab, the computer room, the drama class, the gym, the English class, or in chatting it up with the custodian. It was where you first dealt with your fear of public speaking, test taking, sports, an engine, or computers (okay, that is just the staff).

When a graduate leaves their school home, there is adjustment coming. The expected is no more, the unexpected is all that is before you. The safe places to hide, and the spotlight to shine on you are changed. A temporary homelessness descends, and adjustment is necessary.

It was the school home. It is the place where students have gone from child to adult.

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To my Copper Knob,

I remember a dear old Scottish lady (who made the BEST shortbread, in the world, hands down … but I digress) looking at you, the first Sunday after your birth, and saying in her strong Scottish brogue, “oh, look at that beautiful copper knob.” From that moment on, there is rarely a time when I look at your bright copper hair, and do not hear the echo of her voice.

As you awaken today to a new day, to your fifteenth birthday, I will flashback, while you will flash forward.

You, as a brand new fifteen year old, will be thinking of your future. You will be hoping that your parents will fulfill their promise of a cell phone when you are in grade nine, TODAY (no comment on that one). You will be thinking about how it is only one more year until you are old enough for your driving ‘learners’. You will be thinking about three more years until high school graduation (and that means, your own car, IF you have decided not to date in high school … so you will probably also be looking forward to the freedom of having your own car AND the freedom to date … but, I digress). You will be looking forward to the future you desire most (and I will not share here, because that is YOUR hearts desire).

For myself, as the mother of a brand new fifteen year old, I will be thinking of your past. I will be thinking of how I was not with you, last year, for your fourteenth birthday. I will be thinking your thirteenth birthday party, when you CONVINCED me to allow you to invite EVERY GIRL IN YOUR CLASS to your sleepover party (really, you should consider a future as a lawyer). I will remember your emotional struggles through adolescents, relationships, and math (and how I paid you, YES I PAID MY CHILD to have her ‘let’ me help her with her math homework … again, a career in law might be worth considering). I will remember your first day of school, your first steps, your first words. I will remember how you never saw differences in people, and that some of your best friends were fifty years or more older than you (especially that next door neighbor who you loved so much that, if you saw he was outside, you were out of your car seat before our vehicle came to a stop in the driveway). I will remember the day you were born, and what seemed like forever before you took your first breath.

You look ahead.

I look back.

Each day of your life, my influence on you decreases. Each day of your life, you grow up, and apart from me (and your father). Each day of your life, you become more independent in your thoughts, your actions and your choices and plans for the future. That is how it is supposed to be. And, it IS good … even if sometimes it feels as though a limb is being torn from MY being.

There is a portion of a wedding ceremony, that your dad reads when he is performing a marriage that states, “you are giving your children to life’s adventure, and not merely away from yourselves. This is what you raise your children for, to let them go their way. And in their going they come back again to share their discoveries.” It is this that gives me joy in anticipating the future with you, that you come back to us, to share your discoveries and joys, with us.

I am proud of who you are choosing to become. Do not forget that who you become is YOUR choosing. The most important choices in your life are ones that your father and I cannot make for you. There are many that I wish for you, but they, and how you choose to life your life, are in your hands.

I love you, my Copper Knob, my favorite red-haired daughter. Continue to put your life in the hand of your Creator, and you will never walk this life alone.

Your favorite mom.

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