I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Particularly when it comes to parenting, my hubby tends to be a little more adult. Yesterday I gave the kids Captain America ring pops as a pre-dinner snack, because, well, CAPTAIN AMERICA RING POPS! He reveled in the coolness with them, then presented a beautiful, fresh fruit salad. He is just good like that.
Later, at dinner he had a great, ‘novel’ idea. I felt like Homer Simpson letting out a loud “DOH!!!!!!”. Somewhere in the process of gestating, birthing, and raising little people, the concept of teaching them table manners escaped me. This is a pretty sad fact given the effort our parents put into the deal a few decades earlier. My hubby and I both grew up in households where sitting down at the table each night as a family was priority. You gratefully ate what you were given, you were polite, and you didn’t get up until excused. Napkins resided in your lap, elbows off the table, and “OH MY GOD! DO NOT STAB WITH YOUR FORK – LIFT!” echoed throughout our home’s halls.
I’m not sure how old I was when it started, but I know by the 5th grade, I knew the different place settings and what fork to use. I was likely closer to a little adult then a wild banshee at the table.
So, back to giving my hubby props, who, in the middle of tacos last night declared it table manners training session number one. It’s like every other parenting decision. You just have to decide to start. And do it.
Which got me thinking: I don’t see training in table manners come up to often in my flashy family oriented magazines or hear about it on the radio. I don’t think I have ever walked up to another friend and heard them gush “We had the best family devotional on table manners last night, let me tell you about it!” Sadly, table manners is a dying training category falling prey to busy schedules and its art is compromised and simplified to simply feeding everybody something (other than Captain America ring pops :)). Ask any 30 something with young kids the priorities each night and it is likely food, bath, bed. We are in survival mode (of the rich, first world kind).
So, this weekend, I am on a mission. I’m scouring the internet and going to the library to see what resources are out there for teaching children table manners. It’s time this act got cool again. Everybody should be doing it.
I know, you didn’t thank me yet.
But someday I would like to think it’s coming.
The deeply reflective wave of gratitude that will come over you as you remember your childhood.
That annoying little brother? You are welcome! He helped you –
Personalize forgiveness – THIS is what Jesus meant by 70 times 7. Or more.
Build up resilience. I didn’t have time to read all of the trendy articles on building up resilience in you. So sometimes I just put you in the same room as your brother, walked away, and told you to figure it out. (Side note: problem solving will take you far in life, but different rules apply in the workforce, no wrestling!)
Get over it and Go again. I know, he totally jacked up your beautiful creations. That was wrong. There were consequences. And other beautiful results: you saw early on that there will be people who tear down. People who act without consideration, rashly, and with no intent to see things from your perspective. And you go back at it, regardless, and create the beauty you see again. And again.
See Value in the Different: I remember when you were in Kindergarten and you wrote in your journal that it would be nice for your brother to go back to wherever he came from so we didn’t have him. Your teachers laughed. I was almost speechless. But we talked about that even though he is very different from you, he is still family, and family are keepers. Each keeper has value – even if their value is different: boogies, destruction, and crazy boy-ness and all. Plus, sometimes when we persevere to appreciate the value in the different, we become better people for it, and learn to like new things (like when Spiderman became your new favorite show!)
Create a unique -ness of you. Your role as Big Sister is one of the biggest influences on your personality. You are you because you grew up with him.
You’re welcome that I did not read your Kindergarten journal literally and take him back. (Besides the small detail that I would have a lot of explaining to do!) 🙂
Are Genocide and Feminism appropriate concepts for a 6 year old?
This post poses more questions than answers. And if nothing else tonight, I hope I fostered a safe place for our almost 6 year old to have questions, because I am positively sure I don’t have all the answers.
We are on Spring Break. I can say “we” because I’ve taken a couple of days off work to join in on the hiatus of usually hectic days. Our daughter and I settled in to a little cuddle time a la Disney Movie. It turned out to be more of a philosophy lesson. I felt stretched, convicted, slightly nauseous truth be told.
I think the nauseous stems more from a gnawing fear of what if I can’t adequately equip her for the world we are raising her in? (Insert deep breath here as it is not I that am to equip her, but God’s Word that has made that promise).
And how do we help make God’s Word digestible? For simple starters, we must return to it consistently. Chew on it. Ask questions, Seek. God loves questions, He is not threatened by them. And how our sweet daughter’s keen mind made questions tonight. We watched the first part of the Prince of Egypt.
Ordinarily, if asked for my opinion, I would likely not advocate a conversation on genocide and feminism with a near 6 year old. And then I had one tonight.
As we started the movie, I was on the receiving end of rich, deep, thought provoking questions that showed me how faith and reason are busy at work, even when we may not know it – like, “Mommy –
- Isn’t it inappropriate to float a baby down a river?
- Would a bad guy really take all the babies and kill them?
- Why did the bad guy only take the boy babies? Were the boy babies more important than the girl babies?
- Why didn’t Moses’ mommy have faith that God would help her take care of Moses and keep him?
- How come this movie has differences than the story I’ve heard?
Friends, I am on unfamiliar territory here. I already joke that my kids are smarter than I. Tonight confirms it. Yet how exciting, how intellectually fantastic that we have a little girl who is interested in asking. I said a little prayer and was given an immediate answer. We turned off the movie, opened her kid version Bible and read the story together. We answered a couple of her questions, but not all. And somewhere in my type A personality brain, I will find peace with that, that there will be nights that we will not answer every question.
She is learning about non-fiction and fiction in her kindergarten class right now. She likes organization and categorizing and for stuff to make sense. In her mind, if it makes sense, if it could really happen, it is non-fiction, if it couldn’t really happen, it is fiction. “Mommy, I don’t understand how that could happen, is the Bible fiction?”
Our beautiful Daughter, we will share our convictions with you, and be with you each step, on your faith journey. Your question is one for us to discover, explore, discuss, read about, and pray over, because the answer is too rich for us to simply tell you and you take it at face value. We won’t simply tell you stuff, in hopes that our words will lay out your path, because that is between you and Him. He will and His Words can. This is your journey, and what an awesome opportunity and responsibility to see faith, along with reason and logic develop in your growing mind.
I was convicted tonight of a couple different things – to not shy away from the awkward and the yuck. A King a long time ago taking all the baby boys and throwing them into the river is not actually the stuff of warm and fluffy bedtime stories. The world has awkward and yuck, more and more each day. We can talk about it, you can ask about it, and we will ask about it, and we will read about it and pray about it. Also, I was convicted tonight that if I start something, be prepared for the questions, and honor the questions. I don’t need to feel a degree of worldly pressure to always have the answers, God has shown me great truths lay at the end of seasons of seeking.
Certainly, we will pray for wisdom and discernment for good timing. Certainly, we will take heart and find peace in the seeking, each little or big question along the way.
And so it is when ordinary moments turn into deep thoughts.
I grew up a feisty tomboy. I viewed dresses as an insult to my character. Baby dolls? Total waste of time. There was a big wide, world out there and the quality of my day was determined by how much of that world’s dirt I got under my finger nails.
Now I have a daughter and it’s fun. She is a little more frilly and fru-fru than I, but I caught a glimpse of myself in her today that made me laugh.
It was field day. Oh, we attended, we cheered. I was like every other slightly off her rocker mother who felt it necessary to video-tape the dizzy bat spin. What caught me off guard and made me smile, made me see that even though I’ve grown up, I’m still the little me I was over 30 years ago?
Messy hair. Wispy bangs, the wayward single braid that has no interest in laying straight down the back.
I’m just not the “bow” mom. I love bow moms, don’t get me wrong. I sincerely think they are cool. And, I’m not just saying that in a polite condescending way that Southerners say “bless their heart!” while disdainfully rolling their eyes. The Bow Moms have the strategic placement of a 5 inch bow in every possible matching color down to a science. The other day, I tried. I offered a bow in a matching hue, and our angel said “Great!” and very proudly and independently shoved it onto her head in a most unnatural position. I just went with it.
So, Field. Day. I’m pretty sure we had an encounter with a Bow Mom. There was no explicit evidence of bow, and I truly believe she acted in love. She was a volunteer on the line, on hand to help ensure the littles stood still in a mannerly fashion. I looked over on a few occasions to see her intently trying to fix our daughter’s hair. The wispy bangs, that wayward braid, somewhere in there was a barrette that was holding on for dear life. On instinct, my husband and I found that whole “touching other children that aren’t your own” concept pretty weird. I nor my daughter had ever met her. I think our daughter’s hair situation was like, really bugging her. I contemplated casually walking up and saying something, but held back, I was at a safe proximity and could tell in her face that she was acting in tenderness, and truly wanting to help.
It was just so funny to me that in the several hundred thoughts that crossed my mind during field day today, not once did I think that I needed to fix a little girl’s hair. I don’t consider myself a Feminist, but I am just a little more than okay with thinking outside the lines on how girls and boys are “supposed” to be. I’m okay with a little girl who couldn’t care less on the status of her up do.
And I have my incredibly cool parents to thank. Right around when I turned 5, my mom, late 40s, (aka, I’m a OOPS BABY) started graduate school and launched her career, reinventing herself from mom to 5 to career woman. My Dad, a veteran real estate guy, ran the day to day household routines around meeting with clients, including braiding my hair everyday into two symmetrical pig tails (Lord knows, I wasn’t going to do anything with it, and THE MAN CAN BRAID!), packing my lunch, and getting me to school. As far as I know, I’m thinking he is the one that primarily grocery shopped, cooked dinner, and made sure there was a clean towel for when you got out of the shower. I got to see how my parent’s support for each other remained consistent while their own career paths ebbed and flowed. What a beautiful gift. Looking back, my mom’s salary kept the bills paid when the closings were few and far between, and my Dad’s nurturing touch made me feel so loved that it didn’t occur to me to think about money, whether we had a lot of it or not.
Sometimes my hubby and I like to relax and dream crazy dreams. Sometimes those dreams include him being a stay at home, homeschooling Dad that takes our two to space camp for a week. (of course, in those scenarios, he would still coach, because he is a coach and will always be a coach. :))
I was reminded today that it is so important to be comfortable in your own skin. Even if your own skin includes slightly jacked up hair. Even if your own skin goes against the grain, if it makes some people wonder, if your just not exactly what they expected you to be, or even their “cup of tea.” That’s okay. And, when we are comfortable in our own skin, we can see the true beauty in others. I will not feel threatened or oddly challenged by the Bow Mom. I can love her as she embraces comfort in her skin, 5 inch bows, perfectly placed hair and all.
I’m in a season of investing and I’m exhausted. A brief stint solo to a Caribbean Island sounds really good right now.
I’m not dabbling in stocks and bonds and watching with bated breath as my 401k grows. With all due respect to the stock market types who get it, I still don’t get it. Someday I will, maybe.
I’m engaged in a type of investing where sometimes the return is REALLY hard to see. My investing runs off different ratios of coffee, Bible, prayer, cries of desperation and girlfriends and a husband that graciously remind it will be okay when I do downright lose it. My investing involves deep discernment and contentment and gratitude to understand what this season means for me right now:
This is not my season to have sparkling clean baseboards. I do fantasize about that. That’s not weird at all, is it? I also fantasize about coming home to NOT A MOUNTAIN OF LAUNDRY, and someone has magically redone all the flooring in our house.
This is not my season to say yes to every opportunity. I wish you could witness the patient and kind manner in which my hubby gently assured me that I am NOT called to be our almost 6 year old’s Soccer Team Mom this season. Could I do it? Probably. Could I do it well? Doubtful. Would I end up as a demon possessed poltergeist flinging Capri Sun and orange slices while our almost 3 year old takes off running to the parking lot? Probable. Not my season…(My first hint should have been that when I prayed about it, the number one item on my agenda of being the Soccer Team Mom, was to go on a mission and find another woman to delegate it to. LOL!)
This is not my season to stress every aspect of life. Being a working mom means I pray to discern the priorities and aim for the priorities. Loving my hubby and kids are a priority, spending time with God is a priority, good stewardship is a priority. Everything else either happens or not, not a life deal breaker. That means we may eat left overs or carry out and my kids may not get a bath per the proposed schedule. This means our carpets are well, we won’t even go there.
Love means we discipline when it would so much easier to hail a cab to somewhere else. For the past 6 months, we’ve had a 5th member of the family – the spanking spoon. Whether you are pro-spanking or not, a deeper resolve to discipline more consistently is paying off for our wild stallion little boy. This is my hardest area of investing, the daily decision to put one foot forward every minute with a combined focus of grace, discipline, love. It seems so much easier at times to just give full vent to my frustration and claim temporary insanity. Just sayin’.
I’m investing with a hopeful forecast that it will pay off with children that are wildly in love with God, responsible, hard working, and overflowing with love. They won’t be perfect which is actually just fine because I’m not either. Perfection is a foolhardy pursuit. Instead, I pray to weigh my words and heart’s motives with wisdom as my scale, and then leave LOTS OF ROOM FOR GRACE.
This type of investing takes a commitment to persevere. Just keep going. We don’t often get monthly or quarterly statements for our parenting like we do financial stuff. But don’t be afraid to ask for input from people you admire and respect. When we are in the trenches of investing, sometimes we need the reassurance of people of just how fantastically wonderful and a gift from God our kids are. Sometimes we need that little extra boost that this investing is absolutely, undeniably, unequivocally worth it.
Traditionally, not knowing the answer to something bugs the crap out of me. I love to learn and work and if I’m working on something I am learning, bring it on. I like reason, order, and logic. Things happen a certain way because that’s how things work.
This, as you imagine, makes parenting fun. Sweet little beings blow my affection for logic and order all to you know where.
Today, I made an interesting decision.
I’m going to be okay with not knowing. Even if I have to practice saying, “I don’t know,” while smiling, – all at the same time.
I got to this earth shattering revelation through prayer.
God told me, “Didn’t it occur to you, that I designed parenting this way? I could readily give you all the answers. I choose not to.”
If God chooses to parent us on a trajectory at our own pace, in our own time, on our own journey, without all the answers at once, then, we can imitate Him and parent likewise. Even if I have to parent without knowing. And smile and be okay with it, in fact, be more than okay, joyful.
I am going to stop feeling like I SHOULD have all the answers to my kids quirks, because I don’t.
It’s Monday. We emerge from our cocoon of sleeping in and playing with friends and eating treats and straight up PLAY to early morning routine and WORK.
We made it to our respective places this morning, but both our kids were out of sorts. Both teachers, who I love and appreciate and adore to the ends of the earth kind of looked at me like, “what’s up with that?”
I like to know these things. I like to have appropriate and pretty answers tied up with a bow to explain my children and their moods, good and bad. But I don’t. So, instead, I claim them, and I love them wildly, and I say, “I don’t know, but have a great day!”
It could be because our two year old’s favorite Superman underwear wasn’t available, or that his Spiderman action figure looked at him wrong. It could be because Little Einsteins didn’t end the way he wanted it to.
And our 5 year old? I don’t know. It could be because her brother took “her spot on the couch” this morning and messing with her routine really just ticks her off (where does she get that from? ) or that she doesn’t want a barrette in her hair, or to start the day with reading. I don’t know. And really, that’s okay.
No more pressure, Mom, to completely understand every facet of every second of your child’s life. You are still a great mom, even if your usually joyful and accomplished kindergartner stomps her feet in the school entryway and declares “I hate school and I can’t believe you make me go!” And you have no idea why. Sometimes you just put your arm around your little people and think “I totally don’t get you, but your mine, and I love you.” (This may have happened.)
Sometimes you make a conscious effort to choose joy in the moment, even if that means, you also have a quiet confidence in not knowing.
This concept is contrary to what the world says. The working world, in particular, thrives on you having the answer, having your stuff together, and showing up ready and able to explain. I love competence as much as the next person, however this is one parallel from the working world to motherhood that doesn’t equate. When you parent, you don’t have to show up with the answer, just show up.
I’m so thankful we come to the feet of a God who already knows. We are invited to drink abundantly of a love that assures us in the unknowns. We are invited to come alongside a mysterious adventure: one where we advance, not because we always know the right answer, but simply because we are traveling with the One that does. And it is in this quiet assurance, even with chaos from toddler and kindergarten, tween, or teen angst swirling around, that we want our kids to see a life truth: they won’t always have the answer, either, but they have One that loves them faithfully by their side.
From Isaiah 41:10, God reminds us:
“I am with you.”
“I am your God.”
“I will strengthen you.”
“I will help you.”
“I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Each day begins and ends with God, and we walk through each moment because of His goodness.