family · life

The child not the path

I find it interesting when I read about parenting and changes in parenting. I’ve always thought of myself as an old school parent. I try very hard not to shelter my boys. We have conversations about topics the bring up. We have talked about everything from sports, politics, education, conservation and so much more. Richard and I believe that we need to provide them the tools for adulthood.

As the boys get older, we are trusting them more and more to do things on their own. We are allowing them to make their own mistakes and not fixing them for them. We guide, we may even direct, but we can’t do for them. Our job as parents is to help them become adults.

No automatic alt text available.I recently read an article talking about the difference between parenting when I was a child, and before that compared to parenting these days. (Sorry I can’t provide a link because I’m not sure where I read the article, it has just been bouncing around in my brain) It asked the question of why did those parents feel comfortable providing the freedom that many parents today do not. The freedom to go as well as the freedom to fail. The articles answer struck me… it is not the faith or trust in the children that has changed as much as the parents feelings about parenting. Too often today parents blame themselves for the shortcoming and failures of the child. This probably contributes to the fact that many parents do not want to see fault in their child, because then they are in essence admitting failure in themselves.

In many ways this hit me and hit me hard. I often blame myself for the shortcoming of my sons. Just the other day we were yet again supervising cleaning of the basement. Richard was getting frustrated because he felt the boys needed to show more respect for the items they have, which I totally understand. But, my gut reaction was that I didn’t doImage may contain: text my job as a stay-at-home mom when they were younger. I didn’t instill this respect for property, I didn’t foster the desire for a clean living space, I wasn’t able to provide them with the routine of cleaning up that stuck through this phase of life. It is easy to slip into this I failed mode. I was the one who was home with them. If I only did x, y, z better then, my kids would do what they were supposed to do. But, wait they are. Kids are perfect. They will makes mistakes. Tweens and teens are notorious for being messy and not taking care of their space. Is it that I didn’t do my job as a parent, or it is that my kids are… kids?

My sons are good kids, far from perfect, but good kids. Do I think Richard and I are bad parents… HELL NO! Do I think we are/were perfect parents… NOPE! But, do the shortcoming of our sons need to reflect on us as humans, never mind as parents? No. One can not raise perfect beings… it isn’t possible. We model the behaviors expected. We helped them see the errors of their ways and fix their mistakes. We foster an understanding of differences and an acceptance of others choices and opinions. We can guild our children, we can foster their interests and gently guide. We can show them the safe way to proceed with caution when needed, as well as allowing them to throw caution the wind when life allows. We will be there when they fall, but we can not fix the path for them. I do not know what lies ahead in the road for my sons, I can only hope that we have given them the tools to deal with each choice they make. When they succeed and excel we will be there cheering them on. Just as when the stumble and fall we will be there to help them dust themselves off and try again.

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family · life · through my camera lens

Snow brings out smiles

So as I mentioned on Wednesday, we got a snow storm to start off the season of spring. Yesterday, Richard decided to work from home. After the boys finished their homework, and Richard finished up his last work meeting they all decided to go outside while I was making dinner.

 

It was in the high 30s, but there was little to no wind. This means that the snow is starting to melt. This didn’t stop the boys from going out on their sleds and snow scooters. Richard went out with Dixie and was tossing snowballs with her. It is too funny to watch this as she doesn’t understand why the ball disappears when she catches it.

 

Richard and Colby decided to make a snowman, but it turned into more of a snow mound. I said it looked like a stalagmite instead of a snowman. They got the shovels out and where shoveling all the snow around the back door and using it to make it huge. This mound was almost as tall as Richard.

There were snowballs, laughter and smiles for everyone. It may have been cold and snowy the last few days. Too many of us may have head colds and be blowing our nose more than we’d want. But, the moments when we can do things together. To have fun and smile… that is what makes family moments worth it all.

 

family · life

Blog post based on a blog post

I was just reading the blog post To Pick Me Up, Or Put Me Down on Dolly Mamma. This blog is written by Ester, she has recently become a grandmother and is the mom to 4 grown children. I enjoy reading Ester’s blog knowing that she has traveled the path so many of us are on now, but also reading the adventures she has that I will never have. That’s life

Her post today, discussed how no matter what stage of parenting you are in you are always going back to the same dilemma you had when your child was an infant… do I pick him up and soothe him or put him down (not pick him up) and let him self soothe/ fix it on his own.  She asked what our thoughts are on this subject. I started writing this as a reply and it got long and wordy… so instead my reply is a post.

Please go to Dolly Mamma’s site and read her post. It really is written well and will help you see where my thoughts and reflections are bouncing off from…

There are so many situations in parenting that need to be dealt with as a situation and not necessarily as a pattern. Just because I pick up the baby and soothe him once doesn’t mean I need to do it every time and vice versa. I think you need to assess both the needs of the child at that moment with your own emotional needs and then figure it out. Ok… you have 0.002 seconds to make that determination of what is right and what is wrong… go! That’s what it feels like, but often times that isn’t really what it is. I learned early on that I needed to that whole 2-5 seconds or even minutes to really assess the situation. Am I doing this because I feel it is right for my child or because I feel it is right for me. It’s hard to see your child scream, fall, fail, or figuratively crash and burn, but are we helping them if they NEVER do any of these things?

I also think a lot depends on the child. I have parented my two sons totally differently since they were born. We have the same rules and expectations, but how we deal with them is different…. because they are different. their needs are different. I think this in itself has helped me see so clearly that we can’t judge other parents.We can’t judge others choices. Just looking at them as tiny babies. Blake needed more of the cry it out time. If you coddled him he was calm, but that didn’t help him settle for sleep. Unless you let him fall asleep in your arms he would just cry again. When I started letting him “cry it out” it took almost no time for this process to work. He learned to settle himself and within a few days the time it took decreased quickly. I learned that with him I could go in and just rub his back or talk calmly to him and it was enough, he quieted down. I provided him a sleeping routine early on and he still uses it to this day. Then Colby came along and we tried what worked for Blake and this crashed and burned. It took Colby longer to settle. He needed to physical contact to calm himself. You could hold him and then put him down and he would settle, but you couldn’t just put him down. It took longer for this process to work for him. I can remember many nights laying on the floor next to his crib with just my hand inside trying to ween him off my presence in his room. It worked. To this day Colby struggles to settle down to sleep and needs a bit of extra one-on-one time before bed.

Was I better parent for Blake because he can now just lay down and go to sleep? Or was I a mean parent because I made him cry at night? Was I a better parent for Colby because I didn’t let him cry as much? Or was I a worse parent because he still struggles to fall asleep now? Or were my parenting choices both correct because my sons aren’t the same? Who has the right to judge??

I tell my sons I won’t rescue you… if they forget their lunch, their homework, don’t get onto the team, fail a test…. I won’t rescue you, but I will support you. I will guide you. I will help you. But I won’t make life easy for you… life isn’t easy. it just isn’t. my job isn’t to make sure you are happy. My job is to help you become the best adult version of yourself you can be. My job is to guide you in learning to make choices that are best for not just you, but also those around you, in your life and the world we live in. If children do not learn to deal with failure (of any kind), diversity, conflict, animosity, and so many other factions of life as children when are they going to learn? No one is going to be there for you in a boardroom when someone says they don’t like your presentation. When they question the decisions you made for the product you are working on. No one is going to rescue you when you get pulled over by the police. You won’t get a participation trophy for showing up to work and doing what you are expected to do. You won’t keep your job if you do the bare minimum or if you do you won’t advance.

What are we teaching our children when we blame the school for grades? When we blame other children when I own child is the one who did something stupid? What are we teaching our children when we cover up their choices? When we do their homework? When we hand pick their classes and friends? When we complain because they didn’t make the team or get enough playing time?

Who are we trying to soothe… our child or ourselves? Who are we trying to “make look good”?

We need to look and see is this choice of my child’s worth me stepping in or not? And remember that just because I do this time doesn’t mean I have to every time. Am I setting my child up for success or failure as an adult? Lets look at the big picture. Stop judging each other as parents. Stop making life so competitive that we feel that if we don’t fix these things then our child is behind or not as good as the others. Stop making competition where there doesn’t need to be one.

 

— side note, Richard and I made/make/will continue to make all of our parenting decisions together. I wrote this post from my point of view, but one thing you need to know is he is right there in all the decisions. Richard is now and always will be my sounding board. We work together to help our sons grow into men. I often feel like the parenting choices seem to be one sided, but in this family they are not. Together we made the decisions on how to deal with the boys sleeping habits when they were young. Together we decided when to stop stepping in as much with friendships and school problems. Together we talk to the boys about behavioral issues and overall life changes. While I wrote this post in my voice looking at these choices as how people will judge me, I know that the decisions made were best for our family as a whole at the time because of the conversations had with Richard.

family · life

Some days you just have to slow down

Colby woke up and wasn’t feeling 100%. In getting ready for school he ended up getting sick, this is an automatic ticket to stay home for the day. I sent him back to bed. Colby then slept until about 10:45am. I guess he was tired. He woke up and was hungry. I told him to have something light and he started with dry oat squares. We almost always have dried cereal when we are over coming an upset stomach. He then went on and had a larabar and then a bowl of oatmeal. I think he was tired! He also has been slacking on taking his allergy medicine, this resulted in a stomach full of snot!

I was originally going to a meeting for the boys’ school district dealing with math and computer science curriculum. I wanted to attend this because I feel strongly that math should get just the same attention as reading when thinking about district curriculum. I know for certain that neither of my sons’ teachers use the text book to teach their math curriculum. If they are going to revamp the curriculum and/or consider new text books, they need to take into consideration the needs of the teachers and students. The books need to match the standards set by the state and be worth the money.

Oh well, so instead of going to this meeting I spent the morning cleaning. I swept and steam cleaned the floors, vacuumed the rugs and cleaned the bathrooms. I turned Food Network on and worked around the house. I took this time to get the jobs done that need to get done. I slowed down and am enjoying the day. Colby seems to be feeling well enough to go to Blake’s open house tonight and back to school tomorrow.  He will camp out of the couch for a while and slow down too.

Speaking of Colby, when we were at his open house last night there was a wall with writing from the students. The topic was the person I admire most. I asked Colby who he picked. I was curious. He has a few scientist that he admires such as Einstein and Edison. He has many adults in his life that he looks up to as roll models. But, he did not pick any of these people. Colby chose Blake. I can only hope that Blake appreciates this for what it is, an honor. Colby and Blake love each other. Colby and Blake annoy each other to no end. But in the end, they know they are there for each other. They know that when push comes to shove… they are brothers.

 

Education · family

Trips to school and car ride conversations

Today found me at the boys’ school twice. I headed in this morning to help out at the book fair. They are collecting coins for “All for books”. The school is using this money to donate books Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. I spent a good chunk of time today rolling dimes (each day they are collecting a different type of coin).

My own sons have brought in their own money each day. I asked them Sunday night  if they were going to donate quarters. I expected them to bring in $1 or $2… nope both brought in over $5 in quarters and then more money today. They said it was a good cause and that all kids deserve books. This makes my heart sing. I love that they are willing to donate their own money to children who have less. Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh is the hospital that we had to bring Colby to when he crashed his bike.

Then tonight we headed back to the school for Colby’s open house. This open house different from what we called open house in Florida. When we had open house it was the time for the teacher to talk about how we teach and what the children will learn. This was an opportunity for the children to come show off their classrooms and learning spaces. There was an art show where they displayed a piece of art from each child in the school. The hallways were covered in work from the different classes. In Colby’s math/science room they had all kinds of experiments set up. In his reading/social studies room they had their reading journals and samples of their writing on display. He was so proud to show off his work. We visited his art room, world language room and the media center as well. Tomorrow we head back to the school to go to Blake’s open house.

I love when I get to drive in the car with the boys. It gives us a chance to have some unique conversations. Tonight we started talking about small pox and other diseases that are eradicated or at least slowed down due to vaccines. We talked about the fact that many parents have been choosing to opt out of vaccines and even that there was concern that they vaccines caused autism. We talked about what autism is and the varying levels of autism. Sometimes I never know where a conversation will go and in what direction things will travel. Richard and I believe that honesty is best, within the reason of developmental understanding. We talk to our sons the same way you would talk to an adult, and have since they were young. I truly believe this has helped then in school. They have highly developed vocabularies and can hold a conversation with adults with little issue. I believe that these car ride conversations are part of this development.

I hope you had a great Tuesday and the weather in your area is cooperating. We are watching the weather as rain and possible snow is coming again. Where is the warm weather we had in February??

 

life · through my camera lens

Daily Prompt: Present– Take time to live in the Present

So much of life is spent looking forward or backwards. We look at where we have come and where we are going. We like to remember our kids when they were little and wonder about what the future holds for them.

But, life isn’t lived in the past or the future… it is lived in the present. We need to look at each moment as if it is a gift… a present.

Yesterday we spent the day running errands. We needed to go to Costco while we were there we ordered Colby a new pair of glasses. The pair he had we hard already replaced and it broke again in the same place. We decided that this was an issue of the glasses being too small for his head. My 9 year old needs adult sized glasses (he already has been wearing an adult bike helmet and baseball hats for the last few years). We also went to Famous Footwear to get the boys new sneakers.

When we got home from our chores it has started to snow. Last week we had a few days in the 60s and yesterday it snowed! They had predicted 1-3″ of snow. We decided after dinner since it had already snowed 1.5″ to go out and shovel the driveway. At least the driveway didn’t have as much snow since it wasn’t accumulating there as long.

While we were out shoveling the boys were riding their snow scooters, making snowmen and having fun. I decided to throw a snowball at both the boys and that was how it all started. The four of us had a snowball fight. We all made snowmen. Richard was making them on the tonneau cover of his truck. We tossed snowballs to Dixie. We didn’t think… we just lived.

We all laughed. We had a few tears. We lived. We were present in the present. There was no planning. There was no thinking about what was or what could be, there was just who am I going to throw this snowball at? Who can make a snowman that looks like a snowman? Who can make the most? Who can make the tallest?

We ended up having to run the shovels over the driveway one more time more to get rid of all the snow we threw at each other, but we didn’t care.

We had fun as a family. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t expected. It just happened. And that is living in the present.

via Daily Prompt: Present

family · life

Who I am as a mom

There have been so many things going through my mind the last few days. Mostly mom things. I try to post about the positive things with my sons since this is such a public viewing of our lives. I know that this blog only gives people a quick snap shot of our lives. I realize that that it may seem like I try to sugar coat how things are going in our lives, but that is not my intention.

My sons are 9 and 11 years old. They are far from perfect. They are tweens and being tweens means there is a lot of drama in their lives. I don’t post about the drama because I don’t think it is my drama to share. I love to share quirky stories and funny moments in our lives.

As a mom, you want the best for your kids, but I also know it is not my job to make their lives perfect. When things go wrong we talk. We want the boys to feel comfortable to come to us with the good, the bad and the ugly. We want them to talk to us about what they are thinking.

Over the years we have dealt with many different issues with the boys dealing with everything from grades, to peer issues, to stress and anxiety. I don’t share these here. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think about it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect the way I blog. It just means I won’t blog about it for the protection of my boys.

But, what I will tell you is that having an open and honest relationship with your family is so important. My sons see that Richard and I talk through our problems. We don’t always agree, but we discuss instead of argue. We listen instead of yell. We stop and remember that we aren’t perfect and that we can’t expect the others in our house to be perfect either.

We choose to parent our sons in a way that allows each of them to have a voice. They know that they can voice their opinions, but we do not have a democratic house. We are the parents and have the final say, but they have a voice. We will not rescue the boys, but will help when they need it. We will guide them, we will listen to their concerns, we will give suggestions, but they need to make the final decision on how they choose to deal with the situations at hand. They deal with the choices and consequences of these choices.

I love my family. I love the relationships I have with each of the guys in my life. I interact with each one different. They know that I love them each for who they are and only wish for them to become the best version of himself. I can’t wait to continue on this journey and hope that the direction we are traveling is the best path for our whole family.

family · life

“That phone call”

I’m so glad that today is finally Friday. This week has felt like a week and a half at least. I know we had a busy weekend, and then Monday was very busy too. With me not feeling well at the beginning of the week that played a big roll in the week feeling long.

Yesterday, … ugh yesterday was one of those days you just want to forget. The ugh feeling of the day started with getting a phone call from the school. Yes, you know that dreaded moment when you look at the phone and see it is your child’s school calling. You go through the gamete of what could it be. Did someone get sick? Did someone get hurt? Please don’t let it be that someone got in trouble.  But, that is what the call was! And, it was a call from the assistant principal. Yep that makes it worse, but hey lets see what they have to say.

So after getting the story from the assistant principal as to why my son was in trouble, now my day is filled with… time to let Richard know, formulate in my head what I’m going to say when he gets home from school, what will my reaction be?, what is the proper punishment? do I deal with it as soon as he gets home or wait and deal with it when Richard and I are together? So many whats and hows going in my brain.

I did decide to go downstairs and work on the puzzle we have going in the basement in hopes of shutting down for a bit.

I will say that I do know that the school is good with dealing with tween kids. The school only has 4th-6th grade students. They know that this age student is a testing age. They aren’t little kids anymore, but they aren’t teens either. They are trying to figure out how they fit in the world. They are testing all the adults around them. They are testing their peers. They are testing themselves. But, at the same time they still want the approval of the adults around them. They still want the approval of ALL their peers. They want to figure themselves out… and testing is how they do it.

The challenge for me, as for so many parents, is to not look at this time and start questioning my choices. Richard and I talk about this all the time. We are not our sons friends. We are not raising boys. We are not here to make their lives simple. We are here to guide, listen, suggest. We will praise and/or punish as needed. We do a lot of talking about choices and consequences because that is what life is about.

 

We decided on the course of action and went forward. We sat down and talked. We talk to our sons the same way we would talk to an adult. This is what you did, this is why it’s wrong, this is what you need to do next time and this is the consequence to your choice.

We talk about trust, respect, honesty and choices. We give examples from our own lives. We talk, we listen, and we move on.

As a parent we can only hope that we are doing what is necessary to help our children grow into honest, respectful, caring, truthful and hardworking adults. We hope that they grow up to see that their choices have consequences be it good or bad. We hope that they see that they are no better than any other person walking down the street. That they need to learn to listen more than talk, give more than receive and that respect and trust is earned.

So today I take the time to relax and know that I’m doing the best I can to be the best mother I can. To step back and remember that I lead by example. I have the same choices that my sons do in life. And I choose to move forward.

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Parenting is tough enough without your opinion!

I always find it interesting when people think it is ok to tell people how to or not to parent.

Over the years I have had my share of people telling me that what I’m doing with my boys is right, or more annoying… wrong.

Well, yesterday a person I’m friends with on Facebook said that she was tired of people telling her she was in essence a mean mother. I shot her a message right away. While I don’t know her in person I know that no one has a right to tell another mother that they are doing it wrong. She is a mother of little boys and wants them to learn to take responsibility for their actions and understand that actions have consequences.

As we got chatting I realized that she is dealing with many of the same issues I have dealt with over the years. We are living in a time where so many people think that being a parent means making life easy for their children. That a parent should be friends with their child and protect their child from upset and/or disappointment. Well let me tell you that is not the world I want to live in.

I do not smooth the road for my sons. I force them to figure out life. I am here if they want to talk, need suggestions or if things get beyond their ability/developmental level, but I will not make life easy for them. I am raising men not boys. I want my sons to make mistakes now so that they learn that when you mess up, you fess up.. then you fix it! Life isn’t fair, life isn’t perfect, why should childhood?

What are we saying to our children if we fight all their battles? What are we saying to our children if we don’t force them to stand up for themselves? What are we saying to our children if they don’t learn to take care of day to day life?

I was glad to be able to chat back and forth with this mom. To let her know that just as the kids need to learn, life isn’t fair. That you have to learn to ignore the ignorant and that when people try putting you down, they are probably questioning their own choices.

In my chat with her I shared some of the things I have said to my own sons over the years:

  • It is because I love you that I’m upset with this choice, if I didn’t love you I wouldn’t care
  • I will always love you, but I won’t always like your choices.
  • All actions have consequences, you choose if they are positive or negative.
  • I’m here to help you, but I won’t fix it for you.

If you parent the same way as me, or think I’m totally crazy… I don’t care. As long as a parent isn’t hurting their child; as long as a parent isn’t doing lasting damage; as long as the things a parent does is out of love… .then who are you to say it is right or wrong?

I know how about we worry about being the best parent we can be, and stop worrying about others parenting the same way. Each child is different, each parent is different, each family is different, each situation is different….. lets embrace these differences instead of putting them down!

 

 

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Daily Prompt: Confess… I’m not perfect

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I have to confess. Life is hard. And, I’m not perfect.

Some of you are probably thinking … well duh! But so often when we look at other people through the lens of social media is hard not to think that everyone else has all their shit together and I’m the only one falling apart at the seams.

I mean how often do you see people posting about the moments in life where you think your child is possessed or you wish Calgon could really take you away from reality? How often do you see people talking about when the dinner doesn’t quite taste good enough, but not bad enough to toss it out? How often do you see people post about getting annoyed that you had to tell you child to turn off the technology and do something, when you really just wanted to toss the whole thing out the window?

Well let me tell you I have many of these moments in life. When I don’t want to tell my sons one more time to put down the technology/book/whatever and do something. I have many of those moments where I wish that I could just crawl into a corner and say I quit.

I confess… I’m not perfect. I too fall prey to the allure of the perfect world of social media. Seeing other peoples posts and thinking: I need to work out more like so and so. I wish my kids behaved like so and sos. I wish I could keep my house as clean as _____.

I confess… I’m not perfect, but I try to portray my life that way on social media sometimes.  Who doesn’t?

So… let’s all agree to stop comparing ourselves to the images we see on social media. Them maybe, just maybe we will see more of the realty of life and not the life seen through the rose color lens of social media.

Confessions are good for the soul. Now I’m off to argue with my sons over the fact that I am not the keeper of their shoes.

via Daily Prompt: Confess