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An Outside Glimpse

Little Boy in a BoxOften, without even realizing it, we put our children in a box, labeled neatly with our perceptions of them and our assumptions as well.

My four-year-old son had been going through a whiny phase. It was difficult to even know what he was saying and I would frequently let him know (less-than-patiently) that I could not understand a word he was saying unless he spoke more clearly without the high-pitch, sing-song accompaniment of whines. After my strong reactions, he rarely improved and things would just go downhill.

My mom and I were in the car, and the kids were in the back seat. My son was talking to himself, which he rarely does. He was going on and on in a very impassioned manner so I tuned in to hear what he might be saying.

“No one understands me!” He was exclaiming to himself, building up a whole case in his little sing-song voice. I tried to reassure him that as long as he spoke clearly, he would be understood. I left it at that, although his talking continued.

That weekend, my sister came for a visit with her teenage son. I entered the living room that evening and heard my son telling a story to his aunt and cousin. They were sitting captivated as he narrated the entire tale of how we traveled from India, including information on the airplane ride, the things he saw, ate, experienced.

After he completed his tale, I told him it was time to get ready for bed. He turned to go, but then added, “I need to go now and that’s about all the information I have.”

My sister was laughing so hard she could barely breathe. My nephew commented, “He knows words I didn’t learn until sixth grade!”

The next day, my four-year-old told his plane traveling story to someone else, who was extremely impressed. He added a few details, cut out some other parts and had to double back when he forgot something, beginning the story once more from that point on. He breathlessly reached the end of the story and said, “And that’s the end of my story of how we came from Bangalore to America.”

Another successful tale. Another impressed listener. My son was happy once more.

He still has whiny moments and at times, I still have difficulty understanding what he’s trying to say. But he also has an amazing vocabulary and a gift of storytelling. Sometimes we need an outside glimpse from someone else to help us see just how special and unique each child really is.

[Repost from September, 2011]

Why God Made Children

Great quotes by kids

Happy Mother’s Day!

My Mom at 16

My Mom at 16

Compared to some mothers (my mom, for starters), I’m fairly new to the motherhood game. This is my tenth Mother’s Day as a mom.

It seems the first where recent months have been filled with never-before-faced issues with my children. If you are a parent, the fact that I’ve been at it for roughly ten years has probably clued you in on an important factor: my oldest is a “tween.”

Up until now, I looked back on my teen years and comforted myself with the thought that, “By the time I was 12, I knew what I wanted to do in life. By the time I was 15, I was doing it.” (Never mind the fact that it was over ten years later that I discovered what I REALLY loved doing: writing. The experiences leading to that discovery served and helped me in a thousand great ways … but I’m rabbit trailing.)

In any case, I never went through a horrendous, wrenching “teen stage” and simply assumed the whole teenhood-filled-with-angst was overrated. Something modern culture welcomed with open arms to the detriment of expecting a progressive development of maturity.

But up there on my soapbox, I neglected to clearly glance back at my own tweenhood. It started when I was about nine. I dealt with self-doubt, anxiety, comparing, and questioning. A lot of it went on in my head because I rarely felt comfortable venting negativity about myself, my siblings, and my sorry lot in life. After all, someone might have actually talked some sense into me, and who wants to see clearly when they’re taking a mental mud bath?

So I’m remembering those tween days and looking with increasing trepidation upon my children entering that very stage. (My oldest is now nine.) Considering the moodiness, sullenness, and downright contrariness I have been facing regularly, I’m wondering if it’s too late to have second thoughts about this stage of parenting. (Are other options available?)

As my mom drove me to a book sale last week, I talked to her about some of my parenting concerns. She listened, gave me a bit of advice and insight on what my kids might be thinking. She brought up considerations I hadn’t thought of. And she listened some more. Because that’s just what moms do.

I looked over at her. She survived those years. Looking at some of the things she faced with the six of us, she passed with flying colors! Then, after acing her motherhood career, she began a new career that is remarkable in every way.

My Mom, at a birthMy mother is now a home-birth midwife. I don’t know how many babies she has “caught” over the past fifteen years, but I know that her love, concern, and prayers have blessed scores of mommies, babies, and dads  in countless ways.

I’ve got the world’s best mom. I know that for a fact. I also know that with her faith and prayers, this parenting thing will turn out okay. Yes, even parenting tweens. And beyond that, teens. And beyond that …

Okay, I’ll try not to get ahead of myself.

Today is today … and it’s Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day! To my terrific mom, and to all you awesome mothers, of babies, kids, tweens, teens, or adults. They’ll always be your children. And your love for them is unconditional.

Because that’s just what moms do.

Thought it would be Me

 

 

Michelle Story PinRead the rest of the story here

Moment in the Mundane

Lindsay Story Pin

Read the rest of the story here

If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

Every Special Moment

Jessica, Allen, and Aiden

The three siblings, when Aiden was a baby.

My son’s birthday was last week. The youngest in our little five-member family, Aiden, is now five. The past week has flown by so fast. The five years have flown by so fast.

Sometimes I wish that I had made note of every special moment. Somehow recorded it or remembered it. They go by so fast and too often pass into that place that seems almost oblivion (but perhaps is kept somewhere … somehow … by Someone).

But I remember a few, and they bring a smile to my face when I think of them.

My son running up to me as I got out of the car last Tuesday – his birthday. “Mom, mom!” His excited shout, his joyful face.

“What?” Waiting to hear what interesting thing he’d been doing with daddy while I was at college.

“I’m five years old now!” he exclaims wrapping his little arms around my waist and squeezing tight. I know he’s five. I’ve been helping him count down the days for the past month or so every time he’s asked, “How many days is it until my birthday?”

Kind of like I did five years ago waiting for him to arrive on the scene, which he did after only five hours of labor. As with everything else in my little boy’s life and schedule, I guess he didn’t want it to last too long because he gets bored quickly. I can picture him in my tummy. Okay, enough of those squeezy contraction things. Let’s get this show on the road. I definitely didn’t mind him hurrying things along that time.

Another snapshot highlight of the past week occurred a couple nights ago. It was past “lights out” time. And the boys still had the lights on. I peeked into the room, ready to help them turn off the light and get into bed (little boys seem to forget sometimes). And Aiden was sitting next to his big brother, Allen, my seven year old who would opt for drawing over reading any day. But he sat next to Aiden and read him every page of a storybook. I kept the light on for a few more minutes.

Then there was Saturday, when we celebrated Aiden’s birthday. I’m always nervous about parties, especially hosting them. As simple as I usually keep them, there is always the unknowable factor of children; who knows when and how hurt feelings or frustration will develop, and why it seems to increase exponentially with each kid added to the mix? Although there were a couple huffy moments and a squabble or two on the side, for the most part the kids got along great and had a blast. I think the big kids (aka adults) had fun too.

And the next evening, Aiden handing his new Hot Wheels hovercraft and tow truck to his little cousin, telling her, “You can keep this with you for the night.” I had to do a double take. Did my son just share his new birthday toy with someone else? Maybe those repeated pep talks about the joy of sharing (that I and my husband have been giving him half of his life) are finally getting through!

Every smile is a highlight. Every hug. Every question that exposes a mind thinking and feeling and growing. Yes, the challenging moments definitely exist and at times can seem like all there is. But I guess it depends on what we, as parents, focus on. Perhaps seeing my son turning five and growing up so fast has caused me to try to focus more on the good, the brighter points, during the past week.

But if so, I hope to make it somewhat of a habit.

What methods work for you in recording the high points of parenting? (One friend of mine posts all her fun parenting highlights on Facebook and that’s her way of keeping a record.) Do you have any tips on focusing on “the brighter points” of parenting and keeping a positive perspective in spite of the tougher moments of being a mother or father? Would love to hear from you in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Jess, Allen, Aiden 2013

The siblings today. A day at the lake, Autumn 2013.

The Sibling Effect

Girl Holding Little SisterI’d seen the “sibling effect” clearly—and regularly—when it comes to rivalry, but this was something entirely new.

I had been looking after a toddler a few times a week while her mother worked. She was close in age to my son, so it wasn’t a big deal. I would read to them together, take them to the library, put them down for naps, and they got along pretty well.

One week, this little girl’s older sister stayed with us as well while her mom worked. Suddenly, I noticed the toddler’s behavior change drastically.

I would announce, “Time for a diaper change,” or “Time for a nap,” and she would literally run for cover, hiding behind her sister. If I insisted, she would begin to cry her sister’s name, so she would come and “rescue” her. Needless to say, I took a back seat during that week.

I was worried about the following week, when her sister would no longer be around and it would be “just the three of us” again.

I needn’t have worries.

Once again, she was her independent and playful self, chasing my son around the room, playing puzzles with him and eagerly running to the table when I called, “Snack time!”

I don’t think she consciously altered her behavior when her sister was around. It was just what I have started to label “the sibling effect.”

When her older sibling was around, it was her hero, her champion, someone with whom she felt the safest and the most comfortable.

When we become God’s children, Jesus becomes our “big brother.” The effect should be somewhat the same as the sibling effect I noticed with that little girl.

We run to Him when things go wrong.

We look to Him for comfort and assistance.

We turn to Him when we’re in tears.

We let Him hold us and reassure us that everything is going to be okay.

After all, isn’t that what siblings are for?