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A blog to support, encourage, and mentor at home moms in all aspects of home making and family life.

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Friday
Feb272015

How To Teach Your Children Character By Simply Shutting Up

Shut up, butt out and mind your own business.  Seriously.

Your kids don't need you defending them at every turn.

You know what that teaches them?  To be self absorbed, demanding, little Mumma's boys (or girls).  Throwing hissy fits whenever they don't get their way.  Brats.  Yup, that's right, brats.  A term that needs to be reinstated as far as I'm concerned.

You know what being left out, picked last, short changed or getting less than they were expecting teaches your kids?  Patience.  Grace.  How to handle frustration.  That life isn't fair.  How to speak up for themselves.  How to handle conflict.  How to handle disappointment.  In short.  It teaches them character.

In a time where children (and dogs for some odd reason - but that's another topic completely), are dotted on to a point verging on worship, we're seeing less and less character in our children.  And we, as parents, don't fail to recognize it.  Many are the conversations I've had with parents frustrated with adult children who fail to "launch".  Suddenly these little idols they once paid homage to so willingly, feel burdensome.  Which only makes sense.  Standing up for a 27 year old who lives in your basement somehow isn't so fun or cute or primal anymore.  There's a point at which the parenting instinct switches off.  A point at which children have overstayed their welcome.  A point at which we're simply - tired.  When we've put in our years and we're ready for quite evenings and control over the remote.  When we'd prefer to use our disposable income on, well…  ourselves.

But why would they leave?  And more importantly, when did we teach them how to?  (I know I finished a sentence with a preposition.  Get over it!  See!  There!  I did it again!  Wait, is "it" a preposition?)

When they were developing, learning from all we said, did, demonstrated, allowed them to try or not to try, were we teaching them independence?  Were we teaching them character, work ethic?  Were we teaching them how to interact with the world at large?  Or were we coddling them?  Protecting them at every turn?  At every injustice?  Creating a utopia in which the sun rose and set around them.  Sounds great to me!  I'd never leave that place either!

If you want your kids to grow up, actually "grow up."  To become adults that are capable of creating lives for themselves, where they can navigate the ins and outs of the world.  The trials and disappointments of adult life.  Where they can fall down and yet pick themselves up and try again.  Then you'd better let them start practicing that now.  We don't leave the training wheels on until the day a cyclist participates in the Tour de France and expect them to aptly compete.  Let your kids experience disappoint for pete's sake!  It won't kill them!  I promise you! 

I totally get the relief and pleasure there is in seeing the joy on our children's faces when disappointment turns to satisfaction.  The peace that is brokered when the melodramatic fussing stops and they settle down quietly, having been given the object of their desire.   Utopia.  A world in which all their wants are appeased.  Never shall they suffer not being given as many turns as the next kid.  Never shall they be given a failing mark on a test they couldn't be bothered to study for.  Never shall they miss out on a sports camp so they can work a Summer job.

Instead of meeting your child's frustrations with appeasement, how about meeting it with solemn understanding, an explanation of the realities of the situation and an expectation that they figure out how to process the idea that they won't be getting what they want.  If that fails, there's always discipline.  A quaint old custom where children were reigned in and told to  - "Smarten up!"  "Stop it!"  To "Stop crying or you'll be given something to cry about."  

Your children are darling.  Seriously.  I'm not being sarcastic.  Children are adorable.  With their wispy hair, big sparkly eyes and funny little voices.  They're absolutely adorable!  I can easily melt into a puddle around babies and children.  They are also however, capable of being told no and proceeding on without having a complete melt down.  Of being disappointed and yet still going ahead to lead a full and productive life.  They will not die if they get the green lollipop and their sister gets the pink one.  Trust me!  I'm a doctor!  (I'm actually not.  It just sounded really good at the end of that sentence!)  

Stop worshiping your children.  Stop defusing or negotiating every disappointment or frustration that comes their way.  Let them take a few knocks.  They'll survive.  They'll grow up.  And then they'll leave home.  The end.

Friday
Jun062014

Your Husband Is Not The Man You Married

Gone are the days when we were misguided enough to use the fool's arsenal of, "You did this."  "You said that."  A typical newlywed, rookie mistake.  

Most couples learn, or at least are told, by friends, family and any advice column worth its salt not to do that.  The wise ones listen.

We learn to have selective memories and deal in the present.

But what about forgetting who your spouse was as a person.  What they wanted, how they acted, how they responded to situations, when you first fell in love, were first married. 

You'll often hear people who have divorced siting the reason as, "He just wasn't the person I married anymore."  "She isn't the girl she used to be."

Of course not.

First of all in her case, she's no longer a girl.   And in his case, he was wooing you.  Now he's got you.  At some point he's going need to relax and watch a game.  For those who marry young, and even for those who don't, I've got news for you.    

Your spouse is not going to remain exactly the same person he was when you were married.

I know!  Your mind is blown!

But seriously.  Think of the age you were when you were married.  Okay.  Now.  How long have you been married?  Let's, for argument sake say, 10 years.  So if you married when you were 25 and you're now 35 why on earth would you be the same person?  If you reversed those 10 years would you expect to be the same as when you were 15?  I sure hope not.

So why on earth would we expect our spouses to remain the same?

When we married I was 20, my husband was 22.  We are now 45 and 47.  We've had two children together, raised them, build a business, (him, not me), logged countless miles away from home traveling for that business, (again him not me).  Lived in 6 houses, 4 of which we owned, one of which we built.  (One of which we fled like refugees because of all the drug dealing going on next door - yes, it was our first.  What it was cheap!!!?)  We've gone to Europe twice, Arizona a kagillion times, and various other places around North America.  Buried both our mothers, seen all four parents through various cancers.  Married off two daughters, gone through empty nest (me not him - well him too, but more so me), and become grandparents.  And…. earlier this week, celebrated our 25th anniversary.Then - 1989. Don't you just love my dress, hair and eyebrows!!??Now. 2014. With our very precious grandbabies.

So what about this list of life events would cause you to expect someone to remain the same?  Could you imagine if all of this left someone unchanged?!  You'd have to be Rain Man or something!

But here's the trick.  Getting to know your spouse over and over again.  And I'm going to let you in on a secret.  You won't necessarily like each new incarnation of your betrothed.  Yup.  That's right.  Sometimes the stage of life your spouse is experiencing will not cause him to be the glorious, joyful, life loving person you married.  Some stages of life bore us, some beat us up.  And who do we beat up when we're feeling beat up?  Yup!  The ones we love!

But!  

This too shall pass.  

That's it.  

I'm not going to tell you that you're going to grow from having gone through these stages together - but you will.  I'm not going to tell you that seeing these other sides of your spouse will cause you to see their weaknesses and vulnerabilities and allow you to know how to better care for him more deeply - which they will.  Or that these changes are simply part of growing into a wiser person, who, when the current situation is gone, will leave your spouse a deeper, kinder, person to go through life with - but they will.

Because really, that's what you're doing.  Going through life with someone.  Each version of them.  And the longer your time together the more versions there will be.  Some you're going to love.  Some not so much.  Such is life.  Such is marriage.  Such is the nature of our natures.

Stick around though.  First of all because that's what you pledged to do.  But also because growing up, growing old together.  Experiencing life together, is a wonderful thing.  Because really it's not about the happily ever after that we're all sold as little girls.  When it all comes down to it, it's about simply having someone there, beside you, experiencing what you experience, caring about what you care about, building a life that's yours.  Together.  All of it.  Including the occasional bumps and bruises.

You're not the same person you were last year.  You're going to be even less the same 10 years from now.  So will he.

Let your spouse grow and change, just as you do.  Just as everyone does.  Yes we love and adore who we marry.  The first edition, but there are many sequels to come.  Some better than the original, some not so much.  But be there, listen, seek to understand.  Be patient and kind, just as you'd want him to be when you're going through something, because believe me, you will - that empty nest stage is a doozy!  Value what you have.  Because it's yours and yours alone.  Your story, together.  Let it be written.  Page after page.  Let it evolve.  Don't fight the changes, grow through them.  It's lovely to see the years and experiences accumulate on each other, the lessons and the memories.  It's life, it's fluid.  Embrace it.

Friday
May092014

You're No Longer Mothering, You're Mentoring

So this Sunday is Mother's Day.

This is a very weird day for me.

It's only been 3 weeks since my Mom died.  So standing, choosing cards for my daughters' first Mother's Days, was a gut twisting experience this week.  I was so excited to choose a "First Mother's Day" card for them - which by the way is almost impossible to find.  But kept getting choked up by all the "Love You Mom" cards bursting from the racks.

It's strange.  Years ago I "claimed" Mother's Day.  

After years of hosting every occasion for both of our families, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter - you name it, I hosted it.  And suffering through many crowded Mother's Day brunches out - so I "wouldn't have to cook," I'd had it.  I declared that from then on Mother's Day was mine.  That my husband would take his Mom out for lunch on the Friday before and I would take out my Mom.  Which left Mother's Day free for a relaxing picnic just him, the girls and me.  In fact last year my youngest, bless her heart, insisted we all drive out to the lake and go for a picnic, because that's what we'd always done.  I loved it.  The girls packed up the food, and we all piled into our SUV, lawn chairs, blankets, bocci balls, you name it, we brought it.  And spent an hour and a half driving out through beautiful farm land to a local lake.   It was dreamy.  You know the kind of dreamy where everything is just wrong enough to be amusing.  The lake shore was full of somewhat sketchy characters, there was geese poop all over the grass, I had to pee and my husband kept blowing past gas stations.  The kind of family antics that make these kind of outings so funny, and even funnier when the "kids" are two pregnant, morning sick girls, two full grown sons-in-law, a somewhat reluctant husband, who couldn't understand why we couldn't just lay around the pool in our own backyard.  We spent the day enjoying one of the first warm Sundays of the season, I was in heaven.

What a difference a year makes.  As I write this, I'm realizing that today, Friday, should be my lunch date with my Mom, and I'm sad to realize that I can't remember our lunch from last year.  I'm guessing it was at Milestones Restaurant, but I'm not sure.  

This year I've told the girls that the day now belongs to them, now both mothers themselves.  They're free to spend it how they like.  They're mothering.  I'm not.  And then it struck me.  I'm also not being mothered.  I'm in limbo.  But really I'm not.  I'm "grandmothering", I'm "grown up mothering".  What I'm doing isn't mothering.  It's mentoring.

Gone are the days when I'm up in the night with babies as my girls are now.  Gone are the days when I'm caring for curious, talkative preschoolers all day, or running kids to sports, volunteering to lead their clubs or sports teams.  I no longer have teenagers petitioning to stay out late or wear make up.  I've mothered.  I'm done.  But I'm not done mentoring.

I firmly believe, and my belief was proven right this past month when I lost my Mom, that we look to our mothers through out our lives.  Regardless of our age.  Whether we realize it or not.

By relegating my Mom's Mother's Day to Friday, I had told her, that I was the one mothering now, it was my season, hers was past, just as I've now passed the day on to my girls.  But what I failed to realize, was her season hadn't past.  That a mother's season is never past.  

This past week, as I've begun to plan how I would honour my own girls' first Mother's Day I realized how much I'll miss having my Mom here.  As an adult, as a 45 year old grandmother, who is long past needing to be mothered, I miss having my Mom here.  But not for her sake, for mine.  I'll miss her hand writing in my Mother's Day card.  I'll miss how lovely she'd have looked for our Friday date, always so well put together, with a pretty outfit and matching accessories.  I'll miss her interest in my kids and their babies.  I'll miss knowing that even though I no longer live with them, that just across town my parents were there, in their little town house, still together after 51 years.

What I realized, is that no, my mother was no longer mothering me, but she was still mentoring me.  Through her actions, her choices, the silent examples, that I'd overlooked until now, that they're gone.

I thought I had outgrown my mother's influence, I was wrong.  Yes, I know how to run a home, plan a party, raise a family, but her influence far out reached these things.  I think what I'm missing most is knowing that I'm loved by my mother.  Which is a very unique kind of love.  The kind I see in my girls' eyes when they hold their babes.  Sheer and utter delight and devotion.  Regardless of how old I became, I was still my Mom's baby.  This is what we don't out grow.  This is what, regardless of what we've already learned from our mothers, regardless of what skills of theirs we perfect or even surpass, we never stop needing.  

So this Mother's Day I'll delight in the joy of my daughters' first year as mothers, in the joy of being a grandmother and in having had a Mom who loved and delighted in me until her dying day when, in her last lucid moment we spent together, she told me how very proud she was of me and of the family I'd raised.  And I can live off that until I see her again one day.

Friday
Feb212014

Organization Extraodinaire!

Okay, so I have a blog written for today.  Honestly I do!  But then this week a friend told me about this organizational website and I am in love!  And in awe!  There is not a single space she does not show you how to organize!  She also lists all the products she uses.  I luff her!!!!

So here is the link to the video portion of her blog.  On the right sidebar area all the various areas she shows how to organize.  You'll die!!  Or like me, spend the next 2 hours watching organizational videos!  Enjoy!

Click HERE for the link. 

Thursday
Jan302014

I Am My Mother's Daughter

All through our daughters' engagements.  Wedding plans.  Marriages and babies.  It was there.  Quietly and politely kept at a distance, so it wouldn't interfere with our joy.  Borne bravely.  Privately.  But it was there.  Wigs and chemo.  Surgery and extended hospital stays.  Doctor's visits and very short lived moments in the clear.  But it came back.  Like it always does.  And then again.  And now once again.  Like a freight train gaining power and strength.  As you loose yours. 

I never met your mother, my grandmother.  She died of breast cancer at 36 years of age.  Leaving your father with four children to raise.  You and your two sisters, all teenaged girls, and your brother, only eight years old.  Your Dad remarried within the year and moved your family to California.  To a new town and a new school, with a new mother.  Who wasn't yours. 

You fought for your father's attention.  Keeping him out late on private joy rides in his truck.  Knowing your step-mother was expecting you both for dinner, but for a moment he had forgotten, and for that brief second, he was yours again.

But it didn't last.  You left this new home, made up of the father you loved and a mother you didn't know, and returned to BC.  To the home of your aunt, your father's sister.  Where you finished grade 12 with your cousins for syblings and your aunt and uncle for parents.  They were kind to you.  You were happy in their house.  

But graduation came and with it expectations.  So you moved out with your best friend.  To a basement suite where you would make a pot of stew on Monday and eat it all week long so you could spent your office salaries on clothes and shoes.

Lots of boys tried to win you.  But you chose the blue eyed son of a preacher.  Slim from youth and muscular from hours at his Summer job, jackhammering.  He's the one who's been beside you for the past 53 years.  He's the one running out now, to buy you Boost, because once again, you're in too much pain to eat.

Your ovaries are gone, along with the rest of your reproductive system.  But that doesn't keep it from coming back.  It finds other organs to feed on.  While you starve.  

But here there are babies.  With bright blue eyes, and furrowed, confused little brows.  Their heads bobble as they try to look around.  They're growing.  Getting chubby.  Rolling over.  They coo and have begun to laugh.  There are swings and play mats.  Diapers and soothers.  There's joy.  And life is beginning again.  As yours winds down.  As you suffer and shrink, they thrive and grow.

Their mothers are delighted.  Overjoyed to be mothers themselves.  To have little babes to love.  Just as you did.  And I did.  Each new generation rejoicing in their own children.   We learned this from you.  The joy of motherhood, homemaking.  The pride in one's home and family.  In homemade birthday cakes and lovingly decorated rooms.  Things your mother taught you.  I never knew her.  But I know I fold my towels the same way she did.  The way you taught me.  The "proper" way.

And while these new little girls will long out live us both, you're there, in them.  Just as your mother resides me in.  Even now, you reside in them.  In their nurseries so thoughtfully prepared in excited anticipation of their births.  In the faith they'll be taught.  In the committed marriages that will envelop them as they grow.  You'll be there.

Four generations.  What a lovely thing.  How rare.  And echoes from those who came even earlier.

And here I am, in the middle, bridging the gap.  Loving you both.  Living through each of you.  As one I love suffers and the others I love rejoice.

Holding within me the exquisite tension of knowing that for this brief shining moment I have it all.  I have all of you.  That for this glimmering second, we can pretend, it's perfect.