Archive for April, 2012

Success Breeds Success

// April 25th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

As some of you already know, I’m not much of a housekeeper. There are usually dirty dishes waiting in my sink {or on the counter, ugh} and a host of other chores in line behind them. Because of that, I didn’t teach my kids much about keeping up with the constant demands of a home. In that light, this post might not make much sense. But on occasion, the advice herein was relevant even to me.

Laundry Day + Toddlers = Lots of Fun!
Each week, my family of seven generated a mountain of laundry that might have taken me two days to fold, if I could get around to it all. Why else did I have laundry baskets? Chest of drawers? Fahggitabut em. I digress…
I did try to get some folding done, with the help of my little ones. Towels were a good place to start. My toddler searched the basket for washcloths as we chatted about, well…whatever we chat about with a person so new to the world. I especially remember teaching Jae how to fold them. Slowly, I demonstrated folding the square washcloth into neat quarters. With much smoothing of wrinkles [and creation of new wrinkles] Jae carefully spread a cloth on the coffee table {or in my case, tea table…I detest the smell of coffee}, grabbed a corner, pulled it aside, and then bunched it into a ball of constantly changing dimensions. Each cloth, she carefully placed onto a growing—lo­osely configured—pile.
Mission accomplished. Next, we put the towels away {unless something else caught my attention, which happened more often than not—did I mention I’m a bit distractible?}. The under-counter bathroom cabinet was perfectly within my toddler’s reach. After I put the big towels into their space, Jae placed the washcloths next to them. Well, she grabbed a few at a time from the stack (remember, it’s a loosely configured stack) and shoved them in next to the bath towels.
Although I liked the washcloths folded into quarters and placed in two neat stacks alongside the towels, I left the gobs just as Jae put them there. Here’s why…
Bath time.
Jae wanted to do as much by herself as her little two-year-old body would allow. But, I think she didn’t have a two-year-old brain. Being so much younger than her siblings (14, 10, and 8 years), she thought she was much older, and that she should be able to do more than her limited muscle memory allowed. But, back to bath time…warm water covering the bottom quarter of the tub, toys floating, nekked kid antsy to get in….but wait! She needs one more thing, and she can get it by herself. She opens the cabinet and grabs a cloth. From the loosely configured stack.
If I had straightened out the cloths, folded them neatly the way I like them, her job would have been meaningless. I’d have told her by my actions that her job wasn’t good enough.
As we teach our kids the importance of participating in family life and helping to keep hearth and home in order, I think it’s equally important to accept their work at their ability level. Bedspread askew, washcloths in gobs—t­hese things are nothing compared to the sense of accomplishment kids feel when they’ve done a job and the warm glow they feel from your praise of their efforts. {Fear not. Success breeds success. Each time a child­­—or­ grown up, for that matter—wo­rks at a task, they become more proficient at it. The bedspread won’t always be askew.}
There’s plenty of time to correct and perfect. It’s a long job, this parenting business.

Still looking forward…….

Success Breeds Success

// April 25th, 2012 // 2 Comments » // Uncategorized

As some of you already know, I’m not much of a housekeeper. There are usually dirty dishes waiting in my sink {or on the counter, ugh} and a host of other chores in line behind them. Because of that, I didn’t teach my kids much about keeping up with the constant demands of a home. In that light, this post might not make much sense. But on occasion, the advice herein was relevant even to me.

Laundry Day + Toddlers = Lots of Fun!

Each week, my family of seven generated a mountain of laundry that might have taken me two days to fold, if I could get around to it all. Why else did I have laundry baskets? Chest of drawers? Fahggitabut em. I digress…

I did try to get some folding done, with the help of my little ones. Towels were a good place to start. My toddler searched the basket for washcloths as we chatted about, well…whatever we chat about with a person so new to the world. I especially remember teaching Jae how to fold them. Slowly, I demonstrated folding the square washcloth into neat quarters. With much smoothing of wrinkles [and creation of new wrinkles] Jae carefully spread a cloth on the coffee table {or in my case, tea table…I detest the smell of coffee}, grabbed a corner, pulled it aside, and then bunched it into a ball of constantly changing dimensions. Each cloth, she carefully placed onto a growing—lo­osely configured—pile.

Mission accomplished. Next, we put the towels away {unless something else caught my attention, which happened more often than not—did I mention I’m a bit distractible?}. The under-counter bathroom cabinet was perfectly within my toddler’s reach. After I put the big towels into their space, Jae placed the washcloths next to them. Well, she grabbed a few at a time from the stack (remember, it’s a loosely configured stack) and shoved them in next to the bath towels.

Although I liked the washcloths folded into quarters and placed in two neat stacks alongside the towels, I left the gobs just as Jae put them there. Here’s why…

Bath time.

Jae wanted to do as much by herself as her little two-year-old body would allow. But, I think she didn’t have a two-year-old brain. Being so much younger than her siblings (14, 10, and 8 years), she thought she was much older, and that she should be able to do more than her limited muscle memory allowed. But, back to bath time…warm water covering the bottom quarter of the tub, toys floating, nekked kid antsy to get in….but wait! She needs one more thing, and she can get it by herself. She opens the cabinet and grabs a cloth. From the loosely configured stack.

If I had straightened out the cloths, folded them neatly the way I like them, her job would have been meaningless. I’d have told her by my actions that her job wasn’t good enough.

As we teach our kids the importance of participating in family life and helping to keep hearth and home in order, I think it’s equally important to accept their work at their ability level. Bedspread askew, washcloths in gobs—t­hese things are nothing compared to the sense of accomplishment kids feel when they’ve done a job and the warm glow they feel from your praise of their efforts.
Fear not. Success breeds success. Each time a child­­—or­ grown up, for that matter—wo­rks at a task, they become more proficient at it. The bedspread won’t always be askew.

There’s plenty of time to correct and perfect. It’s a long job, this parenting business.

Still looking forward…….

May 23, 2006

// April 24th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

    
     For the last five months, our Sunday Family Dinner has been a joke. Of the five kids that could be here, there are usually only three or four. Only every six weeks or so do all five make it, and then I wonder if it was such a good idea after all. We don’t fight—i­t h­­asn’t­ come to that…yet. But we also don’t enjoy each other, either.

     Last year Nett and Jeremy each told me (independently) that they noticed a growing distance between us and that we needed to start getting together for weekly dinners the way we did before Steve died. I had all but forgotten our tradition. After talking it over with Dave, we decided to set aside every Sunday for “Family Dinner”. Jeremy wanted Friday, but Dave’s usually too blown out from the workweek by the time he gets home on Friday that all he wants to do is rest. Sunday works better for most us.

     Amy and Jeremy usually go out with church friends on Sundays, or are too tired from their responsibilities at church to go anywhere, leaving us with the resentful feeling that we’ve been replaced by their “new family”. Instead of drawing us closer, this renewed tradition is expanding the rift, turning family dinner into an evening of bitter speculation about what could be keeping them away.

     I asked my kids to leave it alone, hoping if we just ignore it, this will soon pass. Instead, what Nick ignored was my request. He took this grievance to Jeremy. The shit hit the fan. Now the proverbial family walls are a distinctive shade of brown.

     It stinks and it hurts, but now that we can all see the mess maybe we can all start working together to clean it up.

{P.S. I just have to say here, from 2012, that I am so happy these days are far behind us and we are a real family again. We still have our problems, few families don’t. But all in all, we do enjoy each others’ company now. Maybe this is why it took me six months to get back to blogging. Somehow I feel disloyal to my family bringing these things up again. And the pain becomes fresh again. But this is where we were at that time. Where we are now been built on these tough times. And I believe we are stronger because of it. Like the old saying goes…What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And since we’re still breathing, I guess that means we are, indeed, stronger.}

June 3, 2006

// April 23rd, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

.

June 3, 2006
There is still so much animosity between Amy and me. Since our family problems came to a head , Amy and I, once close friends, can’t even look at each other let alone speak to one another. Amy’s been so angry with me and I didn’t know what I had done. Marisa invited us to her house, a more or less neutral environment, this afternoon to try to find a solution to our cold war. Amy glared at me from across the room.
Marisa opened the conversation. “You two need to talk. I know how much you love each other. You can count on that to get you through this.”
“Aim, I don’t know what I did to deserve this. Right now, it feels like you hate me.”
“Mom….I can’t hate you. I don’t hate you. I was just so frustrated. It seemed like every time we got together all you could talk about was Steve and all your mistakes as a mom. How much you miss him. I had to get away for awhile.”
I sat in stunned silence, deeply offended by what I was hearing.
“And on top of all that I got no support from you, no shared happiness from you for our growth in our church, for my activities as Children’s Ministry leader.”
“How could I! I felt like that was what was tearing you guys away from us!”
“I admit we overcompensated. But it was mainly because we felt you were all still stuck in your grief and trying to keep us stuck with you. Mom! I was ready to move on and you weren’t. I had to follow my heart.”
A light began to dawn in my own heart. I did talk a lot about Steve when Amy and I were together. Amy was my friend. I thought it was safe.  But she showed me that my overflowing grief was crushing her. She tried to tell me, but I couldn’t hear her over my overwhelming need to unload some of the great mass that smothered me.
This was not Amy’s burden.
From 2011
With our hurts and offenses in the open our family began to heal. Family Dinner was more often the whole family. Today we are friends again.
Hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps I should have availed myself of one of the many resources for grieving parents. Maybe we could have prevented this melt down in our family. But, I believe that we are even stronger now. By God’s grace, we are where we need to be and I look forward to the road ahead.

Stop Growing!

// April 21st, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

When I was a girl, my aunts and uncles used to tell me, “You’re growing like a weed!” Annoyed by the comparison to a garden menace, I’d shrug and run outside to play with my cousins. As the next generation of kids were racing through those formative years {as a Wonder Bread commercial called them}, I used that oldie a few times, myself.

But these days I’m hearing something from parents that I find a bit disconcerting.“Will you please stop growing!?”, usually said with a laugh. I’m sure what they really mean is the same thing all of us who have looked on with amazement at the rapidity with which children grow”Oh my! You’re getting so big so fast, I can’t keep up!” {So, why don’t we just say that?}

In a literal sense, the consequence of compliance with this innocent demand would be dire, indeed. The opposite of growth is stagnation at best, let’s not think about the worst.

I wonder….If a child could obey this command, where would that leave us? A perpetual three year old­­­—­or twelve, pick an age­­­­—­never knowing the wonders of the next phase in life? And think of all the joy we would miss out on—­bec­ause ­each stage of development brings its own joys as we help them navigate waters we have already sailed: the sweet toddler, learning about the larger world outside her core family; the preschooler’s emerging sense of humor; in early elementary school, learning to be a partner in the family as he participates in the care and upkeep of the home (okay, okay….. that’s just how I spin chores); junior high brings growing independence and new

responsibilities. And high school­­—w­here they can polish their understanding of the world, helping them to form the society we’ll grow old in? We want them to get there, right? They can’t if they “stop growing!” at one of their cutesy stages.

As a parent, when we’ve been blessed to shepherd our sons and daughters into the adult world, we realize new joys, as this person becomes much more than our child. The amalgamated relationship of son/friend or daughter/friend is like entering the “Bonus Round”. They see us from a unique perspective. [Sometimes they remember things we’d rather forget, like how we yelled at them for staying out after the street lights came on, or became frustrated while teaching them how to vacuum.] This is someone who has run the full range of relationship with us. From utter dependence, to student, to antagonistic, to accepting, and finally the greatest blessing that comes from that simple statement,“We’re going to have a baby!”, the child becomes an equal {though never a usurper}, worthy to be called “friend”.

I was blessed with five kids. Each grew up. Each became my friend. Thank God, they didn’t stop growing!

Still looking forward…

Deb

PS…now I teach to vacuum using the analogy of “painting” the floor…..live and {continue to} learn.J

STOP GROWING!

// April 21st, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

When I was a girl, my aunts and uncles used to tell me, “You’re growing like a weed!” Annoyed by the comparison to a garden menace, I’d shrug and run outside to play with my cousins. As the next generation of kids were racing through those formative years {as a Wonder Bread commercial called them}, I used that oldie a few times, myself.

 But these days I’m hearing something from parents that I find disconcerting, just a bit. “Will you please stop growing!?”, usually said with a laugh. I’m sure what they really mean is the same thing all of us who have looked on with amazement at the rapidity with which children grow”Oh my! You’re getting so big so fast, I can’t keep up!” {So, why don’t we just say that?}

 In a literal sense, the consequence of compliance with this innocent demand would be dire, indeed. The opposite of growth is stagnation at best, let’s not think about the worst.

I wonder….If a child could obey this command, where would that leave us? A perpetual three year old­­­—­or twelve, pick an age­­­­—­never knowing the wonders of the next phase in life? And think of all the joy wewould miss out on—­bec­ause ­each stage of development brings its own joys as we help them navigate waters we have already sailed: the sweet toddler, learning about the larger world outside her core family; the preschooler’s emerging sense of humor; in early elementary school, learning to be a partner in the family as he participates in the care and upkeep of the home (okay, okay….. that’s just how I spin chores); junior high brings growing independence and new responsibilities. And high school­­—w­here they can polish their understanding of the world, helping them to form the society we’ll grow old in? We want them to get there, right? They can’t if they “stop growing!” at one of their cutesy stages.

As a parent, when we’ve been blessed to shepherd our sons and daughters into the adult world, we realize new joys, as this person becomes much more than our child. The amalgamated relationship of son/friend or daughter/friend is like entering the “Bonus Round”. They see us from a unique perspective. [Sometimes they remember things we’d rather forget, like how we yelled at them for staying out after the street lights came on, or became frustrated while teaching them how to vacuum.]  This is someone who has run the full range of relationship with us. From utter dependence, to student, to antagonistic, to accepting, and finally the greatest blessing that comes from that simple statement, “We’re going to have a baby!”, the child becomes an equal {though never a usurper}, worthy to be called “friend”.

I was blessed with five kids. Each grew up. Each became my friend. Thank God, they didn’t stop growing!

Still looking forward…

Deb

PS…now I teach to vacuum using the analogy of “painting” the floor…..live and {continue to} learn.J

Finding My Way Back

// April 20th, 2012 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

After losing my way in the blogosphere for a while, I’ve been encouraged by my daughters to get back to it. I’m sorry this has taken so long. I do miss the process and the people I’ve met through blogging. Next time I feel lost—because I know I will, with all of the changes taking place and the new ways of connecting—I’ll reach out and ask questions! Thanks for your patience.

Still looking forward…

Deb