Friday, April 29, 2016

Show Me

"I think I am stuck in a negative place about Luke," I shared with my husband.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I am working really hard to say the right things but I'm thinking all these really critical thoughts. I don't want to feel that way about him."
"So don't. He's a great kid."

Once again, Mr. Cut-to-the-Chase makes it clear. I let that percolate in the back of my brain for the rest of the day then prayed about it in the morning. I prayed that God show me all of my son's goodness. I prayed that I would see my son's light and sweetness shining brighter than all the things that frustrated me. "I know you made him perfect, Lord. You designed him for a purpose. Help me to guide him toward that. Help me to see all the incredible beauty in him."

I got ready then we all headed outside to do some science experiments about wind. "I'll be right back!" My son yelled as he ran inside. Frustrated that he was leaving at the beginning of a lesson, I sighed. But then I was reminded of my prayer and waited to react. 

"Here you go guys!" He said with a broad smile. "It's so hot that I thought everybody could use a popscicle!" 

Time and time again throughout the day, I saw his kind and generous spirit. He got a snack and a glass of milk for me while I went through my email. He offered to read books to his sister when I was busy teaching Drew. And at the end of the day, he helped his brother when I couldn't.

"Drew, I know you're sad about going to bed, love. But it's time," I said gently.
"But why does Lukey get to stay up?!" He wailed from the bottom bunk.
"Because he took a nap this afternoon and he isn't tired just yet." Even as I gave the reason, I knew it would just lead to more arguing, more crying. "Bud, I love you. Get some rest." I started to walk away, hoping that would take the wind out of his sails.
I felt a small tap on my leg. "Mommy, is it okay if I go talk to him for a minute?" Luke asked.
"Sure, bud." I watched as he climbed into bed next to his brother.
"Drew, I love you," he said quietly. "I promise you won't be alone long. See this clock? When it says 8:00, I will be here with you. It's okay. Everything is okay."
"Okay, Lukey. G'night."
"Night Drew!"

I have realized that my husband is right. How we see the people we love is a choice. We can see them through eyes of love or we can focus on their faults. I am not saying that we can let bad behavior or rudeness or hurtful things slide; I am simply saying that when they do happen, we can give that person the benefit of the doubt. We can reach across the aisle and try to understand from their perspective. We can look for their goodness and all the joy they bring to our lives. I am so thankful for the reminder.

Is there someone in your life that is bugging you? Ask God to help you see the light they bring to their lives. Look for it. Embrace it and be thankful for it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Coming Home

We listed our house roughly five months ago with dreams of a big yard and a neighborhood overflowing with young families. We spent those five months in my parent's home and they spent those five months in ours. It was a crazy arrangement and yet, it taught us so much about ourselves and what really matters to us.

We left with fifteen or twenty boxes and a pile of clothes, put the rest in storage and figured we would be out of my parent's house within a month or two. But the weeks piled up, one right after another, as we waited for the perfect buyer. My parents advertised, had open houses, brought other agents and brokers and cleaned our house before each and every showing. They worked harder than I've ever seen them work to get us to our goal of a sold house. Each person that looked at our home would say, "It is so beautiful but..." The "buts" varied, however they were enough to deter a buyer.

We began to feel discouraged but tried to look for the silver lining. There must be something God is trying to teach us, we would say to each other. And so, every once in awhile, we would bring up something that might be the reason for this experience. "I think it's happening so that we can learn true patience for God's timing," one of us would say. Or, "I'm sure it's happening so that we can build relationships with all these great neighborhood kids." Later, my husband brought this small thing to my attention.

"Do you even remember what we have in storage?"
I giggled a little. "Not really. I just know my winter coats are in there. And my sewing machine. Those are the only two things I miss."
"Me either," he said, clearly deep in thought. "I can't say I miss a single thing. I can't believe we are paying $150 a month to store stuff we don't even need or want."

This conversation continued in various forms throughout our time at my parent's home and when it came time to move back home, we decided on a strategy. "Let's just move the stuff from mom and dad's and we'll see what we really need. We'll try it out," my husband suggested.

We have been home a month now and the only thing I have wanted out of storage is my sewing machine. My house is a thousand times easier to clean, my home feels calm and ordered and I don't miss having a houseful of stuff to take care of. We have realized that we can focus more time on each other and we're less apt to spend money on all the little things that grab our attention at Target or in our email inboxes. (Unless I find some amazing deal that is irresistible on shoes or something else I can't live without. Nobody's perfect, right?) What's more, we're at peace with what we have. We are learning to resist the temptation of buying "the next best thing". We're content. And to me, there is no better gift.

Are you struggling with wanting things you don't have? Do you feel that your life will be better if you just get that next best thing? Take stock of what you have. How can you foster a feeling of contentment?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Power Struggle

As I mentioned in a previous post, my oldest and I have been in the midst of a power struggle. I have tried all kinds of things to smooth things out. I have tried more one on one time, more affirmations, harsher consequences and looser consequences. Nothing was really changing.

"I can't do this, babe. Why does he have to control everything? Why does he care what color Rosie colors with or the fact that I said '7:30' instead of '7:29'?" I fell back into the couch, exhausted from a day of arguing.
"Because he's a pain right now," my husband said as he scrolled through his phone.
"I know but why?"
He put his phone down, ready to tackle the problem with me. "Well, he's the oldest. He wants to be in charge. He's a leader with some rough edges."
"No kidding."
"Check online - See if you find anything about strong willed kids. He can't be the only one."
I grabbed my iPad and googled "controlling and bossy children," feeling just a little bit like I was calling my kid a name. Immediately I was flooded with words like, "Your child is a born leader but it's up to you to show him how." No help there. But then I found a website about bossiness in gifted children that completely changed by perspective. 

It said, "When most people think of bossiness, they probably think first of control. It is certainly possible that a gifted child may just want to be in control of a situation much like anyone else. However, this is not the typical cause of bossiness in gifted children." I had always thought that the problem was a need for control. I read on and learned that he is actually seeing interactions play out and developing complex rules for games we play or things we cook or pictures we color. He's simply trying to execute his plan. They recommended giving the child some leeway to make rules but also sharing some information about what makes a really great leader. Guide them so that they know that other people might have great ideas as well even if they seem simpler at first glance.

The next day, I tried it. "Hey bud, we still have some toys to organize in your closet. Here are the bins. Could you come up with a plan and get it cleaned up sometime today? I just need it done before bedtime." Without the restrictions of timing or method, his eyes brightened. 
"Can I start right now?" 
"If you want to. Sure. Let me know if you need any help."
The closet was completely organized within an hour. He proudly gave his brother and me a tour and showed us where to find things when we needed him.
"Wow. Wonderful job! Drew wanted to play street hockey so let's give him a chance to make up the rules of this game."
"Okay! Drew - How should we play?!"

My son felt respected and challenged when I gave him real responsibility without micromanaging him. Because of that, he was more open to listening to his brother about the hockey game rules. I have realized that it's one more step of letting him grow into the person I know he's meant to be. He won't grow if I hold him back. I have to give him a little bit more respect and become a little bit more open to his ideas on how to do things. It won't be easy - I have a bossy streak in me too - but I am going to try. I know he will do amazing things if I just get out of the way.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sense of Adventure

"Mommy, you make everything seem like an adventure. Even if we're just going outside or taking a walk you make it really fun," my oldest shared during dinner. I was taken aback by this pronouncement. This was coming from the child that wants everything exactly the same every single day. The one who fights me on every new meal, new experience or even a new type of art project appreciates new adventures?

"Wow, love. That makes me feel really wonderful. I feel that way - Like everything has the potential to be a new adventure. I just didn't realize that you appreciated that about me. Thank you for telling me!" I reached over to hug him and he fell into the embrace.
"You just always know how to make things more cool," he said as I held him close. I kissed the top of his head, grateful for this moment.

I worry, like we all do, that I don't do enough. I worry that we don't spend enough time on academics or enough time playing. I worry about what they eat and how much they sleep. I worry that my discipline is too harsh or too lax. But time and time again, a small voice reminds me that it is much more powerful to be than to do. 

I am myself with my children. I am imperfect. I cry when things get overwhelming. I say the right thing sometimes and the wrong thing sometimes. I need time alone and I need time with my family and I need time with my friends. I have really bad days and really good days. Just like you. 

My son reminded me that our children somehow are able to see the big picture. They don't focus on all the times we don't do it right. They focus on the averages and appreciate it when we're real. They learn that it's okay to be human when we let down our guard and tell them that we're having a rough day. They see our hearts more clearly than we do and appreciate all the little things that make us unique. They love unconditionally.

If you are feeling especially hard on yourself today, try to zoom out and look at the big picture. Are you a great parent most of the time? What do you do really well? If you're children are old enough, ask them what they appreciate most about you. You might be surprised how much they can see.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Nice to Meet You

My parents invited us to a chili cook off at the Board of Realtors. They have recently started a career in real estate (Need a realtor? They are the best) and they wanted us to meet all the people they work with at their agency. We piled in and the introductions began.
"Luke, this is Linda. Linda, this is my fabulous grandson Luke."
"Very nice to meet you, Linda. Are you having a good time?"
"Yes! Thank you, Luke! Are you going to eat some chili?"
"Maybe, if it's not spicy. Well, it was nice to meet you!" He said as he trailed off toward a table of cornbread. I was proud of his polite manners but I didn't realize my 2 year old daughter had been paying attention. 

She and I were taking a look at the Michael Kors bags in the silent auction and another lady was browsing next to us. 
"Hi!" My daughter said, leaning over to get the woman's attention.
"Oh, hi little lady!"
"You want to know my name? It's Diane."
"Me Ro Ro" she said, pointing at herself.
"Her name is Rosie," I clarified.
"Yeah, Rosie," my daughter said carefully, trying to get the word exactly right.
"What a pretty name!"
"Thank you! Meet you!"
"Nice to meet you too, Rosie!"

I couldn't believe that she had duplicated the interaction that she had watched twenty minutes prior. She hadn't missed a step in the process. "Such wonderful manners, Ro! I'm proud of you!"
"Thank you, Mama! Thank you!" She said as she hugged me.

I set her down to run around and thought about what a gift it has been for me to have older children set an example. She watches her brothers to learn what to do and how to act. She watches me, too, but they have more influence somehow. When I see them doing all the things I have worked so hard to teach them, I am not only proud but relieved. My daughter will not only have her parents to teach her but two loving brothers as well.

Today, take some time to thank God for the village that is helping to raise your children. Whether it be adults or children, be grateful for the teaching they are getting from the wonderful people that you surround them with each day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Love Your Job

My middle child can be...well...lazy. There, I said it. He's a million wonderful things but he is most certainly lazy. Every job that I ask him to do throws him into a deep depression. He falls on the floor like a limp noodle and whines into the carpet. "But I was just going to play cars!!" Or "Why do I have to do" I answer him with great compassion. "Get up. Do it. No more whining." I had accepted this as our fate until recently.

I went on a trip to Denver to visit my sister and her family all by myself. (Heaven, right?) When I got back, I realized that a few things had been changed. "Drew, go switch the load of clothes to the dryer," my husband yelled out absentmindedly. I looked at our middle child, waiting for the melt down. "Okay, Daddy!" He said as he bounced up off the floor where he was playing. I watched him run to the laundry room in disbelief. 
"He does the laundry?"  
"Oh yeah. He loves it. When you were gone, he cried about setting the table so I just asked him what he liked to do. He said he loves the laundry so I just switched his job."
"And he does it without crying? Without asking you for help the whole time?"
"Yeah. He even does the soap and he cleans the lint trap. I'm telling you, he loves it."
I heard the dryer begin spinning and saw the proud face of my four year old peaking around the corner. "Nice job, bud! I didn't know you could do laundry!"
His little smile broadened. "Yep, I can!" He shouted as he ran back to his room to play.
"Dane, you are amazing. Seriously. Amazing."
"It's all about finding a job you love, baby," he said, turning back to his iPad.

Isn't it unbelievable how dads can make things so clear? He wasn't mired in the emotion of it. He simply figured that if the kid didn't like doing it, maybe he would like doing something else. So simple. So easy. I am reminded about what God promises us about our spouses - He tells us that they will be a perfect complement to us. We will be good at the things they struggle with doing. They will be able to do the things that just don't come easily to us. While this can be frustrating (How hard is it to just take off your shoes at the door?! or Does she really have to go shopping every week?!) it is also a huge blessing. Our differences make us stronger. We were designed this way for a purpose. I am forever thankful to my husband for all of the gifts that he shares with me (especially those that erase tantrums from my day!)

Take a look at your husband or wife today and think about the things that make you different. How do you complement each other's differences? How can you help be your spouse's strength instead of their biggest critic?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

You Fix Things

We have continued to "fill each other's buckets" each night during dinner by telling one person each night what they love or admire about them. At first, we got answers like, "I love you because you eat tacos" but as we practice this ritual, my children are beginning to understand.

"I love how you always play with me," my four year old said to my husband. This is his standard answer every night, no matter the person. "That's very nice buddy. So you like that he is playful and fun?" I asked, trying to pluck out something original for my husband to hear. "Uh huh," he said as he shoved a forkful of pasta in his mouth.

"Rosie, what do you love about Daddy?" I asked her.
"You love noodles?"
"Me too! Ro Ro...Noodles...Good!" She replied passionately.

Clearly, we were getting nowhere. I sighed with resignation and turned to my oldest son. "What about you buddy? What do you love about Daddy?"

He looked at my husband shyly then looked away, thinking. "Well, I love how Daddy always fixes everything that is broken. No matter what, he stops and fixes my stuff. Even when my heart is broken, he does his best to fix it."

I stopped mid bite and locked eyes with my husband. We were both misty eyed and moved by our son's beautiful words. "Buddy," he began. "That was the best yet. That made me cry." Our son jumped up to hug him then just as quickly ran back to his seat. It was clear that he was proud and my husband and I were overcome with the gift of our little boy's perspective.

I know that sometimes we institute rituals in our families and they seem to be a lot of work without much return. We think our kids don't even notice or that it isn't really making as much of an impact as we hoped. This dinner reminded me that our efforts are never wasted. Each conversation shapes their character whether we know it or not. The parenting game is not one for quick rewards but it certainly pays big in the long run. 

Do you have any family rituals to share? Which ones mean the most to your family?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...