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Posts Tagged ‘#growingup’

He walked through my bedroom door,
my once little boy.
But as I watched him just brush his hair,
in my bathroom mirror,
it hit me,
my youngest child
is no longer a baby.
And my heart sunk,
As I realized, that part of my life, so far, is past.

There is a sense of longing that comes as I realize that I am no longer a mom to ‘babies’ or even ‘children’. Oh, I am still a mom to minors, but my minors have all reached the edge of the abyss known as adolescence. And this edge is where I say farewell to a part of my life, that has been all-consumingly present for over eighteen years. My adolescent kids have all reached the stage of not needing me.

There are times (many) over the past eighteen years, when I would have given anything for them to need me less. I can so easily remember those ‘touched out’ days, those sleepless nights (they do still happen, but just when they get ready for bed, and they slam the bathroom door), those stomach virus weeks, when ‘the bucket’ would be transported from one sick kid to the next, and then around again, and again, and again.

I do love the parent-pre-teen/teen relationships. Truly that is what I was looking for when hubby and I decided that we wanted to have children. I feel so bad for our kids … as neither hubby or I are ‘baby people’. One would think that our kids would have had one baby-addict-parent. Honestly, when I see someone holding a newborn I just feel sorry for them (did I just say that out loud?), I mean, I am happy for them, but I know they are in the midst of a stressful time of life … and man, I’m glad it’s not me! To me, going through all of the stresses of babies and toddlers is worth it, if I get to, finally, live in a house with pre-teens and teens (and really, they are just like toddlers … they are just too heavy to pick up, place in their bed, and shut the door … same ‘hissy fits’, same growth spurts, same level of curiosity, and a beautiful sense of wonder … you just need to look harder for it). But, I digress …

Our youngest is almost twelve, and, although in private he will still hug me, and give and receive ‘I love you’s’, he is ‘moving on’ through the doorway to his teens, to be followed by adulthood. And, I have to say, it makes me feel a little sad, a little lonely, a lot … unneeded (and I need to feel needed).

For in this regard, his moving through that doorway signals the end of that, very defining, very demanding, very all-consuming part of MY life (and really, it is all about me). And I think I am needing to get my head wrapped around it!

The process of this ‘end’, of course began when mothering began … but it seemed so very  f a r  away. Then last summer, about half of our dinners together consisted of only hubby, the boy and me (as our daughters both have ‘gotten a life’). This was shocking to me! And, much of the time, one or two, or three of the kids were gone away overnight! My goodness … my nest is beginning to empty!

But, there is a flip side to all of this. This past year our family ‘adopted’ a local university student, who we fed, watched hockey games with and fed again (it is so gratifying to feed a ‘starving’ university student … they eat anything! And talk like you can cook like Jamie Oliver). And then we rented our suite to a delightful young lady, who we encouraged to join us for many mealtimes, for rides to church, for laughter and chats. And, last summer, our pool was frequently filled with the laughter of not just our kids, but many of our neighbors and friends. And dinners, well … truly it is feast or famine for numbers sitting at the table. Sometimes three, sometimes thirteen.

So, the dynamics of our life are changing. And, so I too need to learn to change … my expectations (and, frequently, my meal plans … at the last minute). I now have the privilege of ‘mothering’ others … who need a hug, a home-cooked meal … a house with a pool, on a hot day. It’s a new kind of being needed.

And, one day, that too will cause change, and adjustment, and introspection. And, if I am ever going to be wise, I will lean to accept the change, and seek within it a new kind of being needed … a new kind of wonder.

“Cause babies don’t keep, we’ve learned to our sorrow.”

*I wrote this seven and a half years ago. Now my babies are 19, 21 and 26 … no longer babies, children, adolescents … barely a teen in the house! I think there will always be that momma longing to be sought out, to be needed … that said, they do still need me, it’s just different. They need me to help them move, sew their leggings, find a good used shelf, to see if there is parking out front … and no one else can give them a momma hug.

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Happy Birthday tomorrow …

To my Jane Austen loving, swim coaching, stationary-loving, legging-wearing, justice-seeking, change-resisting, verbal-processing, feminism-spouting, recovery house working, Naloxone-carrying, self-advocating, gluten and dairy and soy avoiding, blog writing, sibling nurturing, “dark and twistie” tackling, ever-evolving oldest daughter …

There is so much I could say to you, but I am choosing to speak to you through the lips of some of the women who speak to you.

Change; we don’t like it, we fear it, but we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind. It hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn’t is lying. But here’s the truth: Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. And sometimes, oh, sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is… everything.

Meredith Grey
You and your addiction to Grey’s Anatomy (sorry, but without Derek …). You and your struggle with change. But you are not alone, for we all struggle with the realities of the shifting sands in our life. And change can be difficult, but change is not always a bad thing, and often it is the catalyst to the greatest growth.
brene
Giving you quotes just wouldn’t be complete without Ms. Brown! It is hard to be one who struggles to be perfect and vulnerable at the same time. You have a light within that begs to be released … be vulnerable and turn those lights on full!
quote
As if on cue … (you’d think I had planned to insert Emily Ley now). It’s all grace!
Peace-begins-with-a-smile-Mother-Teresa-vinyl-wall-design
Sometimes it’s the simplest actions that can make the biggest difference to others … and you. Sometimes the authenticity of a smile comes after, not before it appears on ones face.
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Hey, it’s true! And it makes you smile!
cslewis1
Believe in the miraculous … life itself is miraculous! Seek the wonderful, the wonder-filled. Believe in the unbelievable. 
e
The moments of your life are for which you have been created … good and bad, simple and struggle, blessing and curse. The example of Esther is the wisdom of knowing when to speak, when to be silent, the wisdom of being brave, the wisdom of knowing you have nothing of value that you can truly lose when you trust in the God of your people.
 dedesmith_bebrave
Ok, so maybe Ann Voskamp speaks more to me than to you … If I can use her words to share a truth that life has taught me, then the words above speak truth. Life is hard … and then it gets harder. We humans are not guaranteed anything different (“in this world you will have troubles, struggles, difficulties, heartbreaks …” John 16:33). But we are guaranteed that we will never be left alone in it …
“Be strong and courageous (aka brave). Do not be afraid or terrified … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

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As my son and I were going through his photos from childhood, this week, I became keenly aware that those pictures illicit different responses from each of us.

With each picture viewed, I smiled, or laughed or sighed.

With each picture that my son viewed, he asked questions, to fill in the void of memory of the people, the place or the situation depicted in the image.

It surprised me when he didn’t recognize the house we lived in up until he was four … until I realized he was only four when we moved.

Or the dear friends who threw a baby shower when he was born … until I remembered that he was not even one when his dad started working at another church, and the regular connection to those friends slowly diminished.

Or photo after photo with his sister, just two year his senior, and he commented that he didn’t remember that they had been such good friends.

Or the comment, “mom, you looked (past tense) so young” 😳

As we flipped through picture after picture, he asked questions, and I shared story after story. These were shared stories, yet he held only a snapshot, I held the mental recollections of of the past times and places and people.

In essence, though we shared the same history of his lifetime, I had a view of a bigger picture than what he could see. I could see the whole, whereas he could only recall the most recent parts.

Psalm 139:13-16 is probably one of the most known Psalms:

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

I looked up this scripture in various translations, and love how The Message words verse 16 (underlined, above):

“Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you”

It is a reminder of who our Creator is, how very intimately he knows us and that he has always known us.

God holds the photo album of our life. He can see all that is past, and all that is to come.

We only hold a snapshot of our life. Maybe we need to get out the album of our lives, and ask God to remind us of the past, so that we can walk into the future on the foundation of his faithfulness to us in the past.

 

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I recently read a line that said,

“Congratulations, high school graduate … on completing the easiest phase of life.”

I laughed heartily in agreement.

Sometimes, as full fledged adults we forget that the level of ‘difficult’ in life has little to do with what we are going through, and more to do with how we feel, how we cope, whether we succeed or fail.

High school graduation is something worth celebrating.

And it is the season for celebrating just that.

I’ve been thinking about some of those who are graduating this season, and thinking about what I want to share with each of them … but, there are so many of them! So, I have decided to narrow my thoughts to what I would would want to wish for all of them.

Last year, while working in a grade 12 Bible class, the teacher shared something that I believe to be both simple and profound.

“I am saved

I am being saved

I will be saved”

To the high school graduate, moving from the more dependent phase of life, into the more independent phase, I believe you need to have the haunting knowledge that you are loved by the creator of your DNA … (the basis of life). I believe you need to know that that creator has not only created you, not only loves you, but that same creator was, and is, and will never stop redeeming you from all that would keep you from your creator.

Romans 8:38-39 gives us assurance of the power of our creator, God:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

It is that assurance that allows parents the ability (albeit not always eagerly) to let you go off into your life’s adventures (but don’t forget to come back and share your experiences with ol’ mom and dad). It is that assurance that allows new graduates to know that they do not go off into their futures alone.

So, congratulations, high school graduate!

Know that I will be praying for your future to be haunted … by the knowledge of the pursuit of your creator.

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One of our kids desires to spend Christmas with extended family … on the opposite coast of the country. Although my momma heart wants all of my kids with me for Christmas, I also desire greatly for our kids to not miss out on opportunities to spend time living their own lives. I felt I had easily made peace with this desire, until the other day …

“I just don’t want to be here at Christmas”

Wanting to be away is one thing, but to not want to be here … ouch!

That very same day, another child returned from a weekend retreat with our church youth group. I was so excited to hear about his time away, until I heard his reply to my question about his time away …

“It was great! I just love being at camp so much better than being here

I felt the knuckle punch, hard, to my abs, my throat.

Ah, but it didn’t end there!

My daughter’s and I had a plan to go to the church that my eldest attends, but then she had to work later than planned. I suggested that, rather than leave her out, we could go to another church together, later in the day. Together was, in my mind, the joy. Well, child number three, when we got back home from church, was out of the vehicle and into her room, with her door shut, faster than I could lower my feet from the vehicle.

Apparently, it was not her church of choice, and not joy-filled.

I went to bed that night feeling rather low, unappreciated, unloved.

It was not that they were desiring bad things, but that they were desiring them … more.

more than me.

As I worked through the scar tissue, I realized what my problem was how I heard their words … I heard them through momma ears, where there are momma-sized regrets.

I heard their words of preference of another place, through my memories of saying no to things that they have wanted me to do with them, over the years. The times they wanted just one more story, the times they wanted to go to the park, or play a board or video game, or make cookies, or have a tea party, or go for coffee.

What I heard was my own condemnation, my own guilt, my own regrets.

Moms, we need to stop living the guilt-laden life. We need to stop looking back, with regret and sadness over our choices, mistakes and weaknesses. We need to live

today.

We need to look forward, not back.

Our children are moving forward, grabbing for life’s new adventures, and we need to cheer them on, and be thankful that they want to share the stories of their life with us.

In the days since my momma version of the horrible, terrible, no good, really bad day, I have been embraced by arms and words of love from my three. With each embrace I was reminded that their desire for other is not their method of punishing me. As a matter of fact, they have far more memories of things we did together than of times I said not today, just wait, or no.

They are not living their increasingly independent-of-me lives, as a punishment for my frailties. As a matter of fact, they are growing increasingly independent because they have had space to grow, to make their own mistakes, to experience their own successes, and then to share their stories with me … even if my ears are not always ready to hear them.

Moms, lets:

look forward

hear words as they are spoken (not as we imagine them)

receive their stories as a loving, healing balm to heal our momma guilt

love them,

imperfectly, but sincerely, love them.

 

 

 

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When I was first pregnant, over two decades ago, I read every book I could find on pregnancy and parenting. I was certain that I could read how to do it, and that if I followed whatever these books prescribed, my child bearing and rearing would be perfectly flawless.

Though there are many great books at the local bookstores and online, it didn’t take too long to realize that raising a child is not something that you can learn from a book, nor is there a prescribed parenting style that can properly raise every child, by every parent.

It seems thatcwe simply need to acknowledge that we will do much of our ‘how to parent’ education on our feet.

As I look back over the parenting years, I am also forced to look forward.

In one year, our eldest daughter will complete her undergrad program in university.

In one year, our youngest daughter will complete high school.

In three years, our son and youngest child, will also graduate high school.

The ‘active’ parenting season is coming to a close.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish them babies again as I love the novelties and adventures that the teen and young adult stages of life bring to them, and then to us.

It’s just that …

as I look back three years …

  • our faux son (and his sister) from China, came to live with us as an International Student, and he will graduate, and move on to university in the months to come.
  • I made the change from part time work to full time.
  • my youngest daughter was entering high school.
  • only one child in the house was taller than me, and now I am the shortest.

Three years goes fast!

And the living and life of today, with our kids, will not return again.

And so, as I look back, and look ahead, I am learning a new lesson (one the parenting books failed to mention).

My choices and decisions for the next three years will be considered through a new lens …

one that reminds me of the time I have left with my kids under my roof.

Each question, each opportunity to do something with them (even when I am so very busy with my ‘important’ life), each invitation from them to join them in their desired activities, will be first viewed through the question of :

there are only about ___ days, months, weeks with this child …

will I regret having said “no” when they are gone?

“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

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20140403-200052.jpgNo, she is NOT getting married! But, it is her birthday, this weekend.

Seventeen years ago I could not wait to be freed from the weight I carried. It slowed me down, interrupted my sleep, and sometimes made me nauseous.

Now, as she is about to turn seventeen, scheduled to do her road test in order to drive independently, I am looking ahead again …

with not a bit of eagerness for the time to fly.

As our second child gets giddy thinking about her birthday, I think of the fact that just over a year from now she will be completing high school.

I was ‘cleaning’ my phone recently and found the photo on the left. I had been sorting through clothes, and she decided to do a fashion show … starting with my wedding dress. My first thoughts, as she ‘bride walked’ down the halls, and into the rooms of the house, was …

man, I can’t believe I thought I needed to lose weight when I got married

this fits too well.

I remembered her trying my wedding dress on when she was six or seven, and absolutely every part of it was excessively too big. She had to hoist more in her arms to walk, than what was covering her body. Now, this dress fit her height as though it were cut for her. The sleeves touched her hand where they had touched mine. Sure there was still excessive fabric here and there, but, overall, her size is no longer premature for such attire.

Now, don’t think I am rushing her youth away! As one who married at twenty, I know the struggles that accompany marrying young. I am simply seeing her now,

as she is.

She is as much a young woman as a teenage girl.

She is able to have control of a motor vehicle (with mom in the passenger seat).

She has the weekly responsibility of a job.

She is able to (gulp) date.

She is contemplating post secondary education, and a career.

She is no longer my baby girl …

Ya right!

SHE will ALWAYS be MY baby girl!

No matter how well adult life fits her!

Happy Birthday Red! Enjoy your childhood song (though I know you soooo prefer it when I sing it to you 😉

 

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