hiddenblessing

Finding one small blessing each day.

My top five September 11, 2012

Filed under: Family,Kindness,Parenting,Teenager,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 10:32 pm
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I came across an article today that was titled Ten Things I Hate About Being A Dad. Ouch. I’m not sure I would ever want my children to have a list in hand of all the things I supposedly “hated” about being a parent. Talk about a guilt trip.

Now obviously, being a parent is not easy, by any means. It’s not even fun all the time. That includes me… there are nights, tonight happening to be one of them, that I am tired and grumpy and less than the mama I’d like to imagine myself. At one point, B and I were arguing like mad and at another, a saleslady in a store we were at was trying to bribe my children with candy because quite frankly, it was total mayhem and the line was ridiculous. But even so, I still love it. Even when it’s ugly and hard and infuriating and I’d really just like to hide away with a glass of wine and earplugs.

Now that my kids are in bed and my blood pressure has returned to a relatively normal level, I want to add my two cents about that Top Ten. Here are the top five things that I LOVE MOST about being a mom.

1. Walking through grocery stores with Baby L. I’m not talking about Walmart, mind you. We already know how that goes. But I’m talking the better moments… the ones where he insists on wearing his cowboy boots and Superman cape. The ones where he says “hi” to every man and woman over the age of sixty, and he wants to talk to every “friend” who is under three feet tall. Where the grandmas smile at me, and him, and I pray that I remember these moments and are not TOO jealous when I don’t have a small, fuzzy-headed baby whose legs pull up and his bottom sticks out when I pick him up. He doesn’t actually do that anymore, and I already miss it a little bit. Thank God he’s still tiny enough to let me kiss his squishy cheeks whenever I want to. But that pride I feel, that love that swallows me up, when I am out and about with a happy baby.

2. Holidays. There is so much magic in celebrating holidays with children. Now make no mistake, grown-up holidays are fun, too. I absolutely love long, leisurely dinners filled with wine and celebration with friends and family. But I love the magic that reflects in my children’s eyes even more. I love everything about it… the dyeing of Easter eggs, the messy carving of pumpkins. Mailing off lists to Santa and grinning at the explosion of wrapping paper that has engulfed my living room after presents have been opened. Making cookies that I know will be eaten almost as quickly as I can get them out of the oven. The shock and awe at the possible sighting of the sleigh in the sky and the way they squish their eyes closed to wish for sleep to come THAT VERY SECOND BECAUSE WHAT IF SANTA IS REALLY, REALLY CLOSE??? Reading “The Night Before Christmas.” I love the holidays.

3. Getting woken up in the night. Now bear with me here… I’m not saying that I love it for the sake of being woken up. But I love that my sleepy B still comes crawling into my bed and snuggles right up to me when he can’t sleep or has had a bad dream. I love the way his eyes are puffy and they roll back in happiness when I run my fingers through his hair. I love that he tells me more about his life in the middle of the night than any other time, and I love the way he yells random things in his sleep. I love that Baby L still sleeps with his butt in the air and cries out for me in the middle of the night because he wants his sippy cup refilled with water. I look at E and I already miss this. Every once in a great, great while he will watch a scary movie and come wake me up to talk to me about it. And I am absolutely ok with that…. it’s so rare now. I have to cherish the few times it does happen.

4. Activities. I think about all of the things that I can do without any concern for what anyone else thinks, purely because I have children with me. Disney movies? Absolutely. If I didn’t have the boys, I’m pretty sure I’d be a little self-conscious renting The Lorax. For that matter, I probably wouldn’t even know what The Lorax was. Think of all the movies I would have missed if I didn’t have them… Up. Shrek. Tangled. Rio. We go to the pool all the time, and even if I would rather NOT be wearing a swimsuit in public, when your boy begs you to go down the “toilet bowl” water slide with him… YOU DO IT. I can say with almost 100% certainty that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have kids. Going to carnivals. Pumpkin patches. Kite flying. Cheering like a crazy girl at the parade because it’s my children’s buddies out there marching and doing cartwheels in the street. Watching baseball and soccer games, sitting for hours at swim meets. Yes, we are busy. Too busy. But if I had a choice between being a mama and camping in 100 degree heat with a group of Boy Scouts, or being at home, alone, with an armful of books and a cup of tea, I would still choose to be a mama. I’ve got years to read and drink tea. I’ve got only a few to camp with Boy Scouts.

But number 5 has to take the cake. The number one thing I love most about being a mama is nearly impossible to put into words. It’s the way it makes me FEEL to know that these beautiful children are mine. That it is my responsibility, and duty, and the biggest blessing imaginable, to have been given these children to nurture. I love the sheer joy that caring for these sweet boys has brought me. I love the pride that fills up within me, and sometimes spills over and down my cheeks, and the gut-wrenching devotion they inspire in me. The raw, pure, fierce desire to protect and cherish and honor and love these human beings.

Goodnight, my friends. Sweet dreams.

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This Way to ADHD August 30, 2012

Filed under: Parenting — hiddenblessing @ 12:47 pm
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Child Putting on Shoes“>

Photo credit to Poppy Thomas-Hill, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkpoppyimages/

I was at a party the other night, with a roomful of people I didn’t know. I was listening to a woman talk about her new husband’s children and somehow the topic of ADHD came up.  She immediately began to very loudly express her views on ADHD, which were something like this:

“There is no such thing as ADHD or ADD. There’s not! It’s totally made up. It’s a concept made up by teachers who just don’t want to deal with kids. It’s just an easy way out for parents and teachers who just don’t want to deal! What they really need to do is just DO THEIR JOB and parent their kids and DEAL with these kids’ behaviors.”

I nearly choked on my drink as I turned to her, just waiting to hear what more insight this woman had to share.  My best friend and I made eye contact over the people in our small circle, and I just sadly shook my head.

One of my children has ADHD.  It is not, and I repeat this in the biggest possible letters ever, NOT from a lack of parenting, discipline or teaching.  My husband and I have “parented” him relentlessly.  My boy has been in time-out so many times in his short life that I’m surprised the carpet isn’t worn out on the stairs where we send him to sit.  We have tried charts and redirection and rewards and, yes, turning the other cheek.  We’ve counseled, talked, taken things away, grounded him… you name it, we’ve tried it.

ADHD is an ugly, snarling beast.  I wish it was something made up, because if it were, I promise you I would have found a way around it.  What nerve this woman had, to tell a roomful of people she didn’t know (or not very well, obviously) about how it was due to a lack of parenting.  She has no idea.

I promise you, she has never wiped tears away from her child’s face as he cries to her that he “just must be bad.”  She has never sat in a roomful of people  and watched as a teacher shook her child’s homework at her and spat his name out with frustration and intolerance.  She has never tried to explain to her child why it is that he has to take pills every morning, when no one else has to. She has never sat up late at night, worried about how to help her child be successful when he struggles to get through five minutes of homework, let alone eight hours at school.  Or interrupted a birthday party sleepover to bring meds, because she is afraid he will never get invited back again if he wakes up and doesn’t have his pills right away.

Or the worst – which is, totally lost her cool and yelled at her child for his inability to brush his teeth, put on his shoes and get his backpack on in the last fifteen minutes before they walk out the door for the day.  This is the one that happens the most frequently… and the one we struggle the very most with.

Just put your shoes on. Please!  No – don’t look at the TV.  Why is the TV even on?  I turned it off twice already!  I don’t care if the Annoying Orange is almost over.  It’s time to go.  Shoes. SHOES! … What are you doing NOW?  Put down the cat.  SHOES.  Just shoes!

This is the one that haunts me through my whole day.  Because he’s at school and I can’t pull him into my arms and apologize for yelling at him.  I can’t try to explain how mama just needs him to please remember to get his shoes on and his teeth brushed because it would make our mornings so much easier.  I can’t be sure that he’s not hurting and sad, because the last thing he remembers of his mom that morning was how angry she was. Again.

But here is what I know to be true. This beautiful child, this marvelous boy… this is my son.  He was given to ME for a reason.  There is a life lesson, something he and I are supposed to learn together, and this is why he is mine.  ADHD is a monster, for sure.  I hate the fears, tears and pain it has brought into my sweet child’s life.  But it’s a monster that for whatever reason, God chose to place in our path.  And slay it, we will.  One way or another.

For his sake, if I could choose to make it go away, I would.  Of course.  What mother wouldn’t?  I want what all mothers want for their children – for them to be happy, to love and be loved, to choose paths that honor the bright light that is them, and nothing else.  ADHD doesn’t change any of that, it just makes the road a bit more thorny than others.  There are a few more dips in the road.  But dips in the road only make your legs stronger, in the end.

But for me – for me alone, I wouldn’t choose any differently. I have learned so much on this journey.  For starters, it put me in my place.  It slapped me across the face and showed me that I’m not half the mom I thought I was.  And then it yanked me back onto my feet and told me to get working.  In the end, who knows?  Perhaps I will actually be a better mom for having trudged through this particular forest.  It taught me patience, and how to pick my battles.  It brought me friends – other moms who have the same fears and frustrations and breaking points.

It also is my real-life story of not judging until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes.  Miss Lady At The Party, I really do wish that what you said was true.  I wish it were true for every child who truly struggles with ADHD and other learning disabilities, because it would make it so much easier to fix.  And you know what?  I don’t know what your story is, and maybe you have a personal experience with a teacher that led you to form the belief you did.  But for me, and the other mamas out there who fight this with their sons and daughters, please don’t tell us it’s because of a lack of parenting or a lack of discipline.

My sweet child and I are walking through this snarly, bramble-filled path together.  And it is exactly because of parenting, that we will be just fine in the end.

 

A letter to my middle schooler August 21, 2012

Filed under: Parenting,Teenager — hiddenblessing @ 9:53 pm
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My sweet boy,

This letter has been keeping me up at night, begging me to write to you.  I wake up in the dark of the night, and all I can think about are all of the things I want to say to you as I watch you grow into the wonderful, strong young man that you are.  I am so proud of you.  I have always been insanely proud of you – you are so good inside.  You are filled with so many wonderful traits that sometimes all I can do is fall to my knees and thank God for giving me such an exquisite gift as he did, the day he gave me you.

Middle school is a weird time for kids.  You want so much to be cool and accepted, and fit in with the right kids.  To look right, act right, and not do anything embarrassing.  But inside, all of these things are coming up; exciting, nerve-wracking, drama-filled things.  Stressful things.  It’s exciting and fun and scary and depressing and quite honestly, a giant muddle of mixed-up craziness.  You are half child and half adult, and sometimes that makes you feel one way and sometimes it makes you feel another.  Sometimes, it’s both.  That’s ok.  Pick what feels right for that situation.  Soon enough, it will become easier and you will leave the little stuff behind.  But don’t let worrying about it weigh you down.  Sometimes you won’t know what to do.  Sometimes, you’ll just feel silly.  Other times, sad.  Sometimes you will feel giddy and emotional and sometimes, you will just feel stressed.

I want you to know, that 100%, forever and ever and ever, my darling boy, your stress is my stress.  I have your back.  Always.  I might freak out and lecture you (I’m working on getting better at this) but at the end of the day, no matter what, I am on your team.  The things that hurt you, hurt me.  The things that worry you, worry me.  You can come to me, day or night, and know that I am always willing to listen.  Tell me that it’s important, and I will put down the computer, or send home my friends, or cancel my date night with dad, or whatever I need to do  and we will sort through it.  Your problems are my problems, and together, sweetheart, we will work out anything.

As a little boy, my darling, you were always the sweetest child.  I have never met a child who had so much compassion and understanding of other human beings as you did.  You were polite, you were kind, you were loving, you were gentle, and you always, always, put other people ahead of yourself.

That is a beautiful trait.  One you should be proud of.  But don’t let it allow people to walk all over you either.  Save the people that you choose to give that kindness to, to be ones who are worth it.  You are going to meet a lot of people on your journeys to manhood.  A lot of them will not be worth your energy.  So if someone hurts you or belittles you, or doesn’t want to hang out with you, that’s ok.  They aren’t for you. You will find friends and people that are worth your love and your energy.  Go ahead and enjoy those that are fun to be around, when you are around them, and let them go when they go.

There is a poem out there about friends being there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  I don’t think there is necessarily a way to know exactly which way they are there for you, except to say that when you look back, it will be obvious.  I’ve had four friends, so far, that are there for a lifetime: your dad, Aunt W, Super Nikki, and my friend, L, who you haven’t met.  I have had a lot that were there for a season… I had a best friend in grades 4 and 5, another for grades 6-10 and one in between, in grades 7 and 8.  Those short friendships were my “seasons”.  My “lifetimes” are easy: L was there my whole life, Aunt W from senior year on, and Darling Nikki since we moved here.  I am blessed, sweet boy.  But think of the hundreds of people I have known, who have come and gone, in all of those years.  I’ve had a LOT of friends who just happened to be exactly what I needed at that time in my life, but when that situation was done, we all moved on.  These are the “reasons” friendships. You are going to find this to be true as well.  So if you find someone that you feel deep inside is worthy of your friendship, offer it to them wholeheartedly.  But if, for whatever reason, they don’t return that friendship in kind, don’t worry… just move on.  Remember, a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

Girls.  Oh, how I love and hate this topic.  As your mama, here’s what I want for you.  I want you to find a girl that thinks you are the handsomest, funniest, strongest, best guy that there ever was.  You will find her, someday.  But not in middle school.  And likely, not in high school.  Your dad and I were an extreme exception to the rule, believe me.  But until that day comes along, you are going to meet a ton of girls that you will fall for, and no matter how sweet, beautiful, kind, funny or loyal they are, will someday break your heart.  I am dreading that day, but it will happen.  You will break a few hearts, too.  You will leave some poor, sweet girl sobbing because she felt that she loved you, and knowing you like I do, sweetheart, this will be very hard on you.  But it’s just part of growing up.

Know this; these relationships are real.  That pounding in your heart, those sweaty hands and nervousness when you talk to her, that is all real.  And that crushing, blinding, heartbreak you will feel when those relationships end is real.  But as painful as it is, it will be over just as quickly and you will meet someone new.  You won’t believe me when you’re going through it, but it is true.  That will be true for the girls whose hearts you break too.  And even more importantly, all of those feelings you had for that girl who broke your heart will be nothing compared to when you grow up and find the one you are really meant to be with.  But… that is a topic for another letter when you are older.

My last topic that I really want to talk with you about… you are going to find yourself in situations where there are drugs and beer.  I am not even going to try to pretend that this isn’t true.  Please, please, please believe me when I say that you should not ever use drugs.  I can’t tell you how many people I have known – wonderful, kind, handsome, funny people who came from good families – who used drugs and completely destroyed their lives.  Drugs mess people up.  What starts as a fun party thing quickly turns into something that is out of their hands… the risks are just enormous, baby doll.  Young bodies, for starters, are not equipped to handle the poison that is going into their bodies.  I knew a kid who was huffing paint fumes, and died.  He was a nice kid.  His name was Adam.  I’ve known kids who smoked pot and drove, and killed a friend.  I’ve known countless kids who wound up in hospitals and I’ve known kids who’ve killed themselves because they got so depressed following drug use.  But mostly what I’ve seen, is people who just plain ruined their lives.  They never ended up going to college, they didn’t get good jobs, they had babies way too young that they couldn’t parent or afford, their skin and their teeth are ruined, and they feel hopeless… because they can’t get away from the drugs.  Think really, really hard about the choice you make if someone ever offers you drugs.  Even the “light” ones.  At the end of the day, you know what’s right and what’s wrong.

Alcohol… I know that there will be parties.  They had better be a damn long time from now!  But let’s get this out in the open now.  If you ever have a situation where you or a friend needs a ride because someone did have a beer, please call me.  We will come up with some sort of agreement, you and I, where if you trust me enough to call me and let me pick you guys up, you won’t be in trouble.  I would so much rather have you safe and have had a beer and me be a little disappointed in your choice to drink, than have you hurt or dead because you didn’t trust me.  But that’s all it would be – a little disappointed, because I was a teenager once, too, sweetheart.    

And here’s the biggest thing, my sweet baby boy, I trust you.  I trust that you have a good head on your shoulders, and at the end of the day that you will make the right decisions.  And if you don’t, if you mess up, that’s ok, too.  That’s how you learn.  And it’s my job to help you pick up those pieces that are the fallout of the wrong choice and maybe turn them another way to help you see how to fix it.  Mistakes are a part of life.  I still make mistakes, and I’m still trying to learn how to do it all right, the first time.

These years are going to be so much fun for you.  Live and love every single second of them.  Laugh when you want to, cry when things hurt but above all, enjoy RIGHT NOW.  Don’t worry about next year, or five years from now, or when you are an adult.  (Well, except for good grades.  Do that.  Swim hard.  Get a scholarship. 🙂 ) You will be grown up before you know it.  Before I know it!  And I want you to remember every single second of these years.  They are so much fun.

I love you, my boy.  There is nothing that you could ever, ever, ever do that would ever change that.  My love for you isn’t something that you will ever have to work for, earn, or deserve.   It just is.  Always has been.  And always, always will be.

 

Out of the mouths of babes August 1, 2012

Filed under: Family,Parenting,Teenager,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 2:13 pm
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Last night, B slept with me.  I love that little boy something fierce, and it’s especially fun to cuddle and chat before he goes to sleep.  He likes to talk about all sorts of deep things when it’s bedtime.  Like bullies, or angels, or arguing with friends.  Last night, though, he was super tired and he fell asleep almost immediately.  But true to form, he kicked and tossed and TALKED, loudly, all night long.  He was clearly playing Minecraft, one of the boys’ current Xbox favorites.  At one point, he shouts “HEY!  Who’s THAT?!”  To which, I of course sit up immediately to figure out what he’s yelling about.

“In the watchtower!”  Oh, the watchtower.  I guess since there are no watchtowers in my home, it’s safe to assume he’s dreaming.

He continues on.

“Oh….  Ok….  Did you get them?”  If I didn’t know better, I would have thought he had his headset on and was actually playing online with someone.  But no, he was just dreaming.  He “talked” to his friend Tyler, he mumbled incoherently, he played a little more Xbox… it woke me up continuously, but it was still cute to hear him.

When I woke him up this morning, he said “Mom, I had the best dream!”

Me:  “Did you? Tell me all about it.”

B:  “Well, first I was playing Xbox with Hannah.  And then I got to have a sleepover with Adam.  And then we went to the store and got to buy a (insert something here).”

Me:  “That’s awesome!  I love when I have great dreams like that.  I knew you were playing Xbox, because you talked all night long in your sleep.”

B:  “I did?!”

Me:  “Yes!  You were talking about Tyler, and Minecraft and all kinds of other stuff I couldn’t understand.”

B:  “Did it make you mad?”

Me:  “No, not at all!  I love hearing you talk.”

B:  “Well, that will sure be embarrassing when I’m a teenager.”

Me:  “Talking in your sleep?  Why?”

B:  “You know, like when I have a girlfriend, and I am sleeping with her.”

Um… say what?!