Category Archives: Parenting

Stop the cycle

A friend and I were chatting (and by chatting, I mean texting) about life and I mentioned I felt guilty about Liam not being on a sports team, despite the fact that he hasn’t expressed interest in joining a team and it’s not something I want to add to our calendar of life at this point in time. She said that she had admired how I just let my kids be and don’t go chasing after other family’s activities. She (wisely) told me to shoo away that mommy guilt and “realize that while you’re beating yourself up over something, someone else is watching your family and doing the same thing.” That’s “mommy” guilt for you – we all have it – we all fall victim to it and really it’s just a vicious, ugly circle. It’s just another form of comparison that we put on ourselves; feeling bad because we do things in a different way from another family.

And didn’t I already post something about comparison on not letting it steal our joy? Why yes, I did. And yet again, I needed a reminder to be happy with myself, who we are as a family and trust that we are making the right decisions for US, for where we are in life, despite what others do.

Life is just a constant stream of lessons to be learned… thank goodness for friends who speak (or type) truth to us when we need to hear it. May we always hear the voices telling us not to be stupid.


The phantom pee-er

Why yes, that is a sink full of Legos, bleach and soap. Possible reasons for this scene to be taking place in my kitchen last night:

  • George peed on the Legos, ignoring his aversion for jumping on things that are not the floor or furniture
  • Jack peed into a bin of Legos a day or two ago without our knowledge
  • I’m OCD and clean the Legos like this every week

Anyone who knows us, knows that the second choice is sadly the correct answer. Bringing the tally of inappropriate places Jack has sneakily peed on in the last week to three (see also: on Liam’s bike in our garage and on the floor of our basement between two plastic bins). He also peed on a tree next to the track at Calvin, but that was with my permission.

I’m not sure who to blame this new misbehavior on or what to do about it but I do feel like he is acting out for some reason. These are not accidents, this are clear decisions to pee in the wrong place – he drops his pants and just goes. Why? Maybe related to selling our house and he’s marking his territory. Or maybe because grandpa taught him to stand up to pee and that opened a whole new world of possibilities up for him. I just don’t know.

I’m open to your thoughts on this because I am at a loss for where to go from here. Help.

I get it…

So I’ve been going to this parenting class, I’ve mentioned it a couple times here so it should come as no surprise. It should also come as no surprise that I don’t have it all together when it comes to parenting, or life in general, I think as a general rule bloggers are the people who readily admit that we don’t have it all together because what else would we blog about (aside from those “perfect” life bloggers who appear to do no wrong, have fabulously decorated houses and never, ever complain; see also: lying liars)? I blog, therefore I have faults – that’s my motto.

But back to the parenting class. I signed up on a whim because with our being gone to Texas and then volunteering the two Sundays on either side of the trip I had missed announcements for quite a while at church but then I got an email and saw the class was starting that evening AND there was childcare. I told myself, if I email and there is space for me, then I am meant to go. I emailed and didn’t hear anything back right away and in the back of my mind, I thought, okay, no need to go to the class then. But I ignored that voice, the one telling me to not take the first step and instead I called the person in charge of the class and she had been having email issues that day but she was glad to hear from me and said that me and my little boys were welcome that evening – the voice of reason and good decisions won out with this one (I will gladly tell you that it was that pesky devil telling me not to go to the class and I’m glad I ignored him).

So why did I think I needed the class? There are many reasons, the two biggest being Liam and Jack. I owe it to them to be the best parent I can be and to arm myself with the best resources and tools to be that best parent. Am I a bad parent? No – not by any stretch of the imagination. But could I be a better parent? Could I be more loving? Talk kinder? Give them more of what they need from me and less of what they don’t? For sure.

I recently said to Simon, “Whatever we’re doing isn’t working so we need to figure out something else.” Another mom in my class repeated that very same thing when we were talking about why we were there and I knew I was in the right spot. Further cemented when someone mentioned the book “1-2-3 Magic” and I happened to have a copy with me in my purse. And not too long ago I was watching a video of the boys from when back was around 1, shortly after Simon started working second shift and they were making each other laugh and Liam poked Jack in the face and I nicely said to him (in the video), “Hey Liam, don’t poke your brother in the face” and in that moment, hearing my calm self from three years ago, I knew there was no way I would have the same reaction today, with the same amount of calmness. I have lost my patience one too many times and at this stage, I need a little help to find it again.

I said in my anniversary post to Simon that marriage is hard work – and it totally is – but so is parenting. Harder yet than marriage because once you have a child, no matter what happens to them for the rest of your life, you are a parent. It’s rewarding, it’s wonderful and it’s so worth it but it is hard. It’s also relentless, serious and life-changing business, both for you and for your kids. As a parent you are raising future adults – it’s your job to prepare them for the world, to make sure they can function and be their own separate selves, apart from you.

There is no formula for being the perfect parent, or for even being a good parent. All children are different and need different things at different stages in their lives. Some seasons of life are more challenging than others and some peoples’ lives seem easier than others (rest assured, they are not – at least not always). Aside from the element of prayer (for me), everything else is wide open, up for discussion and subject to change.

And here are some other close to certainties: Wanting to be better doesn’t mean you are bad. Wanting a break, doesn’t mean you want to quit. Looking forward to alone time doesn’t mean you love your kids any less. Yelling at your kids doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong – just that you are human. I get why they have signs in the hospital warning you not to shake your baby because even the most levelheaded, well-adjusted person will briefly consider any option to get a newborn to stop crying in the middle of the night (for the 20th time).

Despite all the difficulty, it is so worth it and that is why people forget to tell you that it is also HARD. It is the hardest thing you will do because there is no map to show you how to best get from point A to point B, how to best raise another human; GPS does not work here, signal lost. You course-correct as you go and sometimes you get to coast down a gorgeous, rolling hill and other times you have to shift down to the lower gears to get yourself and everything you’re towing along over what seems to be an impassable mountain. And all the while you grip the wheel and pray.

So I’m taking a class because I’m not too proud to ask for help and not too proud to admit I mostly don’t know what I’m doing. But I am proud to tell you that I’m a good mom and I’m going to be better.

Parenting Lessons

Way back in the early days of this blog (we just passed my 2-year blog-versary [not a word] last month) I wrote a post about things they never tell you about parenting – specific to my wonderful children – in case you missed it (which, let’s be honest, I had like 5 readers back at the beginning, so chances are, you did because I highly doubt anyone is going back and reading my archives of their own accord) here’s a link, it’s amusing, especially if you know my kids.

I’ve learned more things since then and gained more insight with the marching on of time and I was just thinking this morning about the ridiculous things I’ve done for my kids thanks to a text exchange with my friend, Amy, who is getting her midway ultrasound today for her second child. She was noting the fact that she would have to consume copious amounts of water prior to said ultrasound and hold it uncomfortably in her bladder for the duration and I thought, “This is where it begins…” all those little details about parenting that you are completely unaware of unless you have close friends (or sisters) with kids who share all those details with you. But if you were like me, most of that stuff was tuned out because I wasn’t yet at that stage in my life. I didn’t start paying attention until I was married and thinking of kids myself. And really, but the time that big, gender-revealing ultrasound comes along, you’ve already done plenty of things you never would have done prior to kids. You’ve scaled back or given up caffeine, you’ve altered your eating habits, you’ve craved random food combinations, you’ve cried because you had to cook chicken, you’ve maybe given yourself shots for infertility treatments, you’ve attending classes on car seat installation/infant CPR/breastfeeding, you’ve toured birthing centers and interviewed doctors/midwives, you’ve considered whether or not you’d like to have a magical needle full of body-numbing medicine poked into your spine during childbirth (my two cents – do it – there are no medals or cash prizes for those who go without), you’ve purchased impossibly tiny clothing in gender neutral colors and stressed over which stroller/pack and play/diaper bag to register for… and that’s all before you even have a bundle of joy in your arms. It is comical and eye-opening when you consider how much having a child alters your life… but how could it not? You have made a new life (with a little help from your partner and whole lot of help from God) and that life will forever impact who you are and what you do… FOREVER.

Before I get too sappy, which was not at all my intention, here are some other things I have done/experienced that I never thought would happen prior to becoming a parent. I mean, if I had sat down and thought seriously about it, maybe I would have come up with a list something close to this, but really… who does that? Not me. I’m a take-it-as-it-happens sort of person.

  • You will more thank likely catch vomit that is not your own (if you are catching your own, you might be doing something wrong because I sort of think adults should be forewarned about their own puke and be able to at least find another suitable receptacle to take care of the job).
  • You will get poop on your hands/clothing/hair – sh!t happens.
  • You will have to live up to the standards you’ve set for previous holidays/birthdays/life events because your kids will remember what you did in the past… which means you will send your husband to the store at 11 at night to buy gold coins for the tooth fairy to gift to your kids and you will troll the aisles at the grocery store for appropriate valentine’s gifts the day before Valentine’s Day.
  • Your choices for dinners out with your family will be dictated by their ultra-specific eating habits; if a restaurant doesn’t serve chicken nuggets or fries, you will likely not choose it unless you were dying to hear your youngest child bemoan his existence and insist in a woeful voice that he is starving.
  • You will display disproportionate excitement over scribbles on paper (“It’s me riding a cloud, mommy.” “Okay…”), achievements on video games and your child’s ability to count to ten in French. It’s not that you aren’t proud…
  • Your weekend trips to Chicago will shift away from staying downtown and checking out great restaurants, to staying in the suburbs at a hotel with a pool and visiting Legoland.
  • You won’t enjoy a brief, 3-hour flight to Houston for vacation, but instead endure a 20-hour, 2-day road trip down south highlighted with many stops at McDonald’s because it is the only food option with a play land and your kids have the ENERGY.
  • You will spend hours a week in your car, transporting kids to/from daycare/school/activities and waiting in the godawful super efficient school pickup line (and you will contemplate how you would physically hurt the person who disregards the line and pulls in front of those waiting into an empty space just vacated by someone else who already picked up their kid).
  • You will gladly watch other people’s children because it makes the evening go so much faster and you will learn you can easily whip up a meal for four kids without even needing an extra trip to the grocery store (which insanely makes you ponder having more kids).
  • You will delight in the fact that other people’s kids like coming to your house because you have different snacks than they have at home, congratulating yourself on your grocery-shopping skills.
  • You will feel guilty when you can’t make the school holiday parties.
  • You will feel equal parts happy and jealous when you see how your child adoringly looks at his teacher.
  • You will feel like you are doing it all wrong, despite how many times you are told by others (and yourself) that you are not. And when you see someone else who is losing it with their kids, you will feel bad for them but also better about yourself – because at that moment, you can tell yourself that maybe you are doing it a little bit more “right” (until you get in the car and lose your patience when they won’t just sit down in their seats).
  • Before adding another child to your family (which we are not at all in the process of doing, it should be noted), you will very seriously consider whether or not it is the right thing to do and if/when you are pregnant with that additional child, you will have a moment or two where you are gripped with the reality that you are actually doing this and the outcome of this is indeed ANOTHER child and you will ask yourself what in the world you were thinking.
  • You will long for a night out with friends and during that evening, you will mostly talk about your kids because they are your life.
  • If you work outside the home, you will look forward to going to work.
  • You will get to a business meeting and find a toy car and a pair of kid’s socks in your purse while you are searching for a pen.
  • You will argue with your kids over the dumbest things – who sings a song, why they can’t take a shower on a particular morning, how much longer they can watch TV, what their actual age is, why they cannot vote in a national election when they are six – the list is endless. You will forget that arguing with someone who is unreasonable is ill-advised and you will have to remind yourself to let it go, that even if you are actually right, you don’t have to “win” the argument with that the other person (who is 4 or perhaps 6).
  • You will wake your children up before you go to bed to make them go to the bathroom in the hopes that they will not wet the bed… they will wake you up in the middle of the night for no good reason and insist that they cannot go back to sleep.
  • You will childproof your house with bungee cords, fridge locks (that your 2-year-old can easily open), gates around your entertainment center (for nearly 6 years) and door knob covers that your father will teach them how to get around.
  • You will dutifully set your DVR to record new episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • You will threaten bodily harm to anyone who corrects your child when they say something incorrectly because those imperfections are so darn cute and you will regularly say those incorrect phrases yourself so when you work out, you are “extra-sizing” and if something isn’t your favorite, “You don’t ‘yike’ it.”
  • You will share little rituals with your kids like blowing up fist bumps and bedtime thumb-kisses and they will warm your heart each and every time you do them.
  • You will have to resist the urge to get mad at your kid when they are rude during bedtime prayers because you’re pretty sure that yelling at them while you are trying to talk to God probably defeats the whole purpose.

Source: via Michelle on Pinterest

Dear Boy Who Turns Four

Though you’ve rather loved being “free and free-quarters” I’m going to guess you’ll love being four even more – despite the fact that we’ve told you that four is the age when you will have to start taking “no thank you” bites of foods you don’t like (trust me, I don’t look forward to the gagging and dry heaving that will follow those bites any more than you do but you cannot should not survive life on a diet of Vegamite sandwiches, all manner of processed chicken in nugget and pattie form, applesauce, crust-less waffles, candy and yogurt). Three has been a *ahem* challenge… but that is because God made you strong-willed (which is good) and made your parents just as stubborn (which is probably good, too, since I don’t see you giving us any breaks as you get older).

For some reason, this year more than others, I’m amazed that this little alien baby: Alien_baby

Turned into this amazing kid:

And this cherub child:

B100ebwHas grown into this fun-loving boy:
IMG_8608-2And also equal parts this one:
You love picking Liam up from school…
and donuts (especially from Sandy’s Donuts)
and being a boy
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This year, you have kept us entertained…
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wpid-IMG_20120726_184201.jpg wpid-IMG_20120514_093550.jpg
You lost your first tooth
You met Jim Abbott who I hope will someday be one of your heroes.
You were much loved by your family (even Liam who often pretends that you aren’t his best friend).
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Simon_Jack IMAG0320

I love your sweet face.
And your silly one.IMG_6171
And your up to no good one, as well.
You are one of my most favorite things and one of the two best things I ever made.
Happy Birthday, Jackers… Love Mom (and Dad – who agrees with everything I wrote, though he would have preferred you not take all the stuffing out of the couch cushion)