Saturday, August 2, 2014

Some Things About My Child

I have learned some things about my child.  Some necessary and sanity saving things.  Some things that from the outside looking in, might seem like I have no control over my child and there was a time when I would have agreed completely.  Thankfully for myself and for Ben, my understanding has changed.

Take today for example.  Today we were at Charlie's Ice Cream with friends.  It was a large group and there were only a few others who came in after we had settled down with our ice cream so we pretty much had the joint to ourselves.  There was music on the jukebox and the children were playing.  Ben was dancing to the tunes and running around playfully.  (Now I say playfully because I understand that to him, that's what it is.)  He was laughing and occasionally squealing with delight as other children played with him.  He squeals with delight if anyone, adult or child, plays with him.

After several rounds and the recapturing of shoes, David and I tried to contain the bundle of energy that is our son and head home.  He went down for a nap almost immediately.  There was one more round of chasing to be done before the diaper could be changed and he was ready for a nap.

As I sat in Charlies wondering at the energy of my son, I also marveled at how much I have come to accept him.  Not to be confused with "giving up" on him.  But really accepting who he is.  Before he was part of our lives I would never have even imagined myself letting a child run around a restaurant.  That's just not what you let your kids do.  They need to sit quietly and respectfully, not interrupting anyone else.  In fact I would have passed judgement on those who did.

But now?  Now I have Ben.  He is not anything special, he just has more energy in his little toe than I have in my whole body some times.  So here are the things that I have learned and come to love about my child.

1.  He needs to be social. He thrives off of it.  He is friendly and open and makes friends easily wherever he goes, no matter the age.  1-100 he's there to say hello and make a friend. When I keep him in the house too long (not in hours but in days) he starts to wither.  If we go more than 2 days without contact with other people, he starts to get ornery and whiny.  I've even thought he must be sick or something physical was bothering him, but the second he is in contact with someone else he's a changed person, especially if there is someone new to play with.  And I really mean the second.  He will practically drag friends away from their parents to go play with him.

2.  He needs to keep things light and playful.  He picks up quickly on whether I'm upset or even just too serious.  He tries to do things to put a smile on my face and lighten the mood around him.  This is especially apparent when he is in trouble for doing something wrong.  He quickly tries to divert attention to something that usually makes me laugh or smile. I used to think that he was trying to get out of being disciplined but have since learned that it's not the discipline but the "heaviness" of it all.  He wants me to be happy.  If I come down too harsh on him during these times I will not be able to reach him to help him understand what he has done wrong because he will be too busy trying to get me to smile again.  When I back off a little and take him to task gently, he's more likely to listen and make changes to his behavior.

3.  He needs to move.  Not likes or prefers, but actually needs to move.  It is who he is.  I simply cannot expect him to sit completely still during church.  I can expect him to be quiet during church. He can do reverent activities, but to just sit still?  Impossible.  It's like he has a quota of energy that needs to be expended every day.  He needs to take so many running steps, jump so many times, bounce and cavort around the room and crash into things with great vocal gusto.  He needs to move and shake and play and be happy and creative.

All of these things that I love about my child have been a challenge for me.  I do not need to move as much as he does.  Not even 10th of what he does.  I do not like to be out of my house all that much and I like to think about things seriously.  I'm not always happy, not that I'm necessarily sad but I'm just more serious than he is.  I'm not always up to being social and oftentimes would prefer to sit down and watch a movie or read a book.  Which means that sometimes Ben exhausts me.

What are my choices though?  Do I squash Ben's energy, his happy personality, the excitement and joy that he gets out of life?  Some of the very things that are essentially him?  I could have forced Ben to sit still at Charlie's.  He would have cried.  He would have fought me.  He wouldn't have been able to play with the other kids.  We as parents wouldn't have been able to talk to anyone about anything because we would have had to hold him in the vice-grip of death in order for him to sit still.  We would have ended up leaving almost immediately upon arrival and we would have all had a miserable time.

I didn't want that.  I wanted to enjoy my time.  So instead I let him run.  I let him brings a smile to people's face even as they thought perhaps someone should "sit that kid down".  But I honestly don't think anyone was thinking that.  I watched as he greeted people and most everyone answered with a genuine smile and even laughter.  I kept one eye on the people I was with and one eye on him.  When he sat down at someone else's table and started making the little girls laugh, I went and got him so they could enjoy their ice cream together.  When he started for the door to go outside and visit with another family, I wouldn't let him.  He needed to stay safe where I could see him.  He didn't like it, but he did obey.  He could play with the kids that were a part of our group.  When he starting playing in the drinking fountain I stopped him.  He has boundaries, they just don't look like what even I thought they would.

More important than me enjoying my time though, is the responsibility that I have as a parent to my child.  I do not want him growing up thinking that the very things that make him who he is, are wrong or bad or unacceptable.  I want him to always be that happy, social, fun-loving child.  The one who brightens a room.  There will be plenty of people and opportunities as he grows older that will make him question his worth.  He will second guess the things that are so natural to him.  I do not want that questioning to start with me.  I want to be his biggest cheerleader, honoring his unique perspective and abilities and who he really is.  I want him to be able to learn to work with his energy and meet his potential.  No reservations.

Wish us both luck!





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Inner Child

Yesterday was awful. I mean awful.  I felt overwhelmed in every aspect of my life.  I had several irons in the fire and not enough time to attend to all of them.  I hadn't been sleeping all that well and neither had Ben.  In fact he was up several times during the night and then decided to take a 45 minute nap rather than the hour and a half we're used to.

Ben was ornery and clingy.  I was ornery and distant.  We both had to be around each other longer and the to do list had thing that just needed to be done.  The setting was just right for the perfect storm.

It hit at about 7 that evening.  The kitchen was a mess, there was flour on the floor that needed to be vacuumed up, and every room in the house was in a state of disarray.  Every.  Room.  Laundry, cushions, toys, papers, crayons... everything everywhere.  There was no sanctuary.  No place of order to hide and calm down.  Just chaos and a child whining and clinging to my leg constantly.  Constantly.  I had to pry him off to use the bathroom.  Noise noise noise noise noise!

My patience had been used to the very last drop. There was no reserve, no bottom of the barrel to scrape.  It was just gone.

I handed Ben off to David who was equally tired and spent and began trying to find some order in the chaos.  2.5 seconds later Ben was at my skirt whining to be carried and I just could. not. do it.  I exploded.  I let out a primal yell all my own, stomped on the floor, and had the grown up equivalent of a two year old fit.  The reaction it caused would have made James P Sullivan of Monsters Inc. fame proud.

Ben ran scared to David for comfort and I felt like a monster.  A monster of a mother who lost her cool in a big way.  A monster who scared her child rather than comforted.  A monster who stomped and yelled and caused disarray.

David quickly took Ben out for a walk and I rampaged around the house throwing things to get them in order, cleaning like a mad woman and working very hard to calm down.  Bewildered by my own reaction and scared of myself. By the time they got back I was able to hold it together and apologize for my behavior.  I felt ashamed and a little lost.

Now for today.

Today was better.  Today I decided that the to do list could go and to do itself.  The important things got done and the never ending list of other things did not even get thought of.  I went for a walk with my son this morning and let him take the lead.  We ended up at a nearby park and he decided when to go home.  We had lunch on the deck with David and we all laughed with each other.  Ben went down for a nap and I went to the temple.

At the temple I regained some perspective and asked for my burden to be lightened.  There was nothing to take away, but God could bless me not to feel it so heavily upon my back.  I listened.  I asked questions in my heart and received direction and answers.  I came to understand more about the blessings and the power of God in my life.  About the Priesthood.  About men and women and why we work well together and why we have to work together.  I asked to be a better mother to my son.  I left with peace in my heart.

It was hot when I got home.  Hot enough to put Ben in his swimsuit and put a pair of shorts on myself.  I threw propriety, caution, and my own inhibitions to the wind and Ben and I got soaked in the sprinklers together.  We played outside all the rest of the afternoon and walked around the neighborhood in wet clothes, sunscreen, and the best big floppy hat in the entire world.  I felt like a kid again.  My body remembered the feel of the never-ending Summer days spent outside, playing in the water, listening to the wind in the trees, and feeling the sun warm my wet skin.  Ben's belly laughs as he took control of the water and sprayed me down made it even more magical.  I showed Ben how to leave wet swimsuit marks on the porch which was amazing to him.

I do have an inner child and for the first time in a long time it has been let out to see the sun.  It was free.  I was my child's best friend today and we both enjoyed our extended time together immensely.  There was no whining, no patience drained.  In fact it was hardly even tapped into.  Ben chatted away happily at dinner time and the whining of yesterday was replaced by laughter today.

Today was a gift.  I hope tomorrow will be one too.





Saturday, May 31, 2014

Etching Deeper into my Heart

I woke up this morning with words running through my head.  Tumbling over themselves in an effort to be spoken or written or just noticed.  I started thinking about why I want to write and what I want to say with my words.  Tawnya wrote a post on some of her writing inspiration as she was walking around campus for her exercise and I've been thinking about them all day and apparently into the night.  

I remember the times I would sit at the top of Old Main hill just by the amphitheater so as to be out of the way, hidden almost, and feel alone with my thoughts.  It was what I wanted.  To get away from work and school for what felt like stolen moments, which made it all the more tantalizing, and think my thoughts and write what came to me.

I had visions of writing a book about my experiences.  A means to inspire those who came after me.  I could picture my future daughter reading my words and finding her own self-worth in the pages.  The right words at the right time giving her permission to let her heart be free and to follow it.

At the time I was struggling with my single status as I did often those days.  It wasn’t an everyday thing, but I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with me.  Why couldn’t I find a husband?  What was I doing wrong?  What did I need to change? What was it about me that the boys I liked just didn’t like me enough to ask me out?  Stuck in a perpetual hang out cycle while roommates had more dates than they knew what to do with. 

Every six months I had a breakdown.  I ended up sobbing on the phone to my mother asking the “what is wrong with me” question out loud, it having caught up with me once again.  My mother listened, she cried with me in her heart, and told me that nothing was wrong with me.  I was strong and beautiful and someday someone, the right one, will see that.  My tears would dry up.  I would remember what I had been taught so many times, what God had taught me so many times, that I had value and I was loved and that he had a plan for me and it was a good one.  A lesson that I would continue to need reminders about and sometimes still do.

I wrote down the pain in my heart and hoped that I could share those lessons and spare someone else the wondering.  I wanted to inspire worth.  To create a place of words that could comfort and reassure in times of doubt.  Words that could give permission to free the soul and let it soar above the mundane and the hurt and pain.  A soul that knew its origins and where it was headed.

Words that would help me remember my own lessons learned.  Words to spare me the pain surrounding heartache and heartbreak.  A means to etch self-worth ever deeper into my heart so I wouldn’t have to question anymore.

I’ve learned a few things since then.  Heartache and heartbreak make us more compassionate people.  We are more likely to help those around us and our experiences give credibility to our words. 

I’ve learned that it isn’t the words that etch those lessons deeper into our hearts, but the re-learning of the lessons.   Each time we find ourselves asking the “what’s wrong with me” question, whatever that may be for you, the lessons we’ve already learned are revisited and more depth is added.  We gain a greater understanding of ourselves as just us and ourselves in the eyes of God. 


The lessons become precious to us.  The lessons help us become free.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wishful Thinking or Actual Hope

I've been thinking about hope lately.

Hope for the future.
Hope that things will get better.
Hope that our plans will actually work better in real life than they do on paper.
Hope that I'm not residing in the world of wishful thinking rather than actual hope.

Hope has a foundation, a form, a steadying influence.  It is based on Faith.  Faith in a higher power.  Faith that we are here on this earth doing more than passing time.  More than just letting the days go by until they don't anymore.

We have purpose and meaning.  We have worth.  We have something to offer this world that no one else does.  We are not "stamped out" by a machine, meant to look and act and think and be the same.  Our lives are different.

We are individuals even if we share facial features.  Even if we share views and religion and opinions, we still have our own unique perspective.  Our own convictions that can only be taken from us as we give them up.  Willingly.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Our paths are our own.  By choice or by circumstance, they are still our own.  Not meant to be compared to other's.  Unique.  Designed for us.

I have hope for many things.
I have hope for another child to join our family.
I have hope that we can someday live at least a little more comfortably from paycheck to paycheck.
I have hope for happiness not based on circumstances.
I have hope for greater faith.

I have Hope.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

EEEEEEE!!!

So I'm kind of a real writer!  Like for reals.  Not on my own site here for myself.  But somewhere else that's all professional and stuff.

I didn't want to say anything to anyone earlier because I thought I would either jinx it or really just make myself more nervous about it than I already was... which was a lot.  I gave myself anxiety.

But...

BUT!  It was published!

You can find it here.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I Said "Hold Please"

Remember when I said I was putting life on hold for awhile so that I could sort out the better from the good and the best from the better?  Maybe not so much in those words, but that was the intent.  Take time to breathe.  Take time to make the choices to have those things in my life again.

Remember that?

Did you hear the universe laugh right after you read that?

I didn't myself, but clearly it was.  Last week was one of the busiest in a long time.  All good stuff. Several unanticipated events.  Play dates, planned and not planned.  The chance to help out a friend in need.  The opportunity to help a sister in need, the kind that just shouldn't be let go.  David and I actually had a date night, you know that time that gets set aside for you and the hubby to actually spend uninterrupted time together outside of your own living room?  That weekly event that happened before you had kids.  It's been so long since we've actually had a shot at one that there was no way either one of us was going to give it up.  All of these good opportunities that apparently waited until I decided to "take a break" to show themselves.  Needless to say, the breath was taken away and filled with some goods, betters, and even bests.

But...

I'm tired.  My house is just icky in places.  My son is missing his alone time with mama because he simple hasn't had the luxury of my breath either.  At least not without me trying to do two or three things at once.

So today has been his time.  I have done the bare minimum (feed the family and shower) and the rest of the time has been spent with Ben.  I have let him lead today.  So far we've played at the park, watched Finding Nemo, eaten goldfish till we could no more (I haven't decided if that's cool or disturbing that we eat goldfish while watching a cartoon fish go to great lengths to save his son), and finally gone down for a nap.  Which is why I am here.

When he wakes I'll see where the day will take us next.

The dishes can wait till this evening.  Responsibilities will still be here tomorrow.  But today is ours and it feels good to breathe.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Find the Love

Do you ever have those times where the love for something or someone just hits you over the head and leaves you trying to catch your breath?

The kind that causes something inside to ache with the love that his overflowing your entire body at that moment?

The kind that makes you want to snatch up whatever or whomever is the object of that love?

I had that today for my son.  My son who drives me absolutely insane sometimes but at others I just can't seem to get enough of him.  His giggles, his smiles, his plethora of facial expressions.

Today I read a book to him.  "You Are Special" by Max Lucado.  It's a story about wooden people who go around rating each other on their accomplishments and attributes with stickers.  Stars for those who did well, gray dots for those who did not.  Stars for those who looked good, dots for those who did not.  There is one little wooden man who always has gray dots no matter how hard he tries to get a star.  He feels bad and finds himself not even wanting to go outside for fear he will do something wrong and get more gray dots.

One day the little wooden man comes across a girl who has no stickers at all.  No stars, no dots.  They just don't stick to her.  People try to give her stars or dots and they just fall off.  He decides he wants to be like that as well so he is told to visit Eli, his maker.  In his visit he finds someone who knows his name.  Someone who loves him no matter what because he is special.  When he realizes that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, it only matters what Eli, his maker, thinks, then the dots stop sticking to him as well.

I couldn't help but think of this precious little boy that I have in my home.  This child who is learning and growing and wants so much to be able to do everything.  This child that is special because he is a child of God.  If we could all see ourselves through the eyes of our maker... wouldn't we be filled with love as well?

My challenge to you is to find the love today.  It's there, even in the crappiest of craptastic days, it's still there waiting to be noticed, seen, and felt.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hold Please

It's time for some changes in my life.  It's time to get back into this writing bit.  This writing bit that's just for me... and whoever is bored enough to read this.

Recently I have a felt the need to put everything on hold that can be put on hold.   Meetings, books, projects.  Do you ever get that way? Feel that need to just stop and set everything aside until you decide that you actually want to pick them up again instead of have to pick them up again?

My life is at that point that it is so full of good things, things that I willingly put into my life, that those good things have stopped being a choice and have instead turned into a chore.  Instead of a bright spot in my day they have turned into another thing on the list of everything else that needs to be done and I'm left wondering when it is that I have time to breathe.

So I'm taking a break for awhile.  A break from some of the good things so that I can remember what it is like to take a full breath.  I want to remember what it is like to want to do something instead of feel obligated.  I want to choose to put those good things back in my life again knowing that they really are good and I really do want them.

So this week I will do the necessary laundry and cooking.  I will take time to really honest and truly clean my kitchen.  I will take a look at all aspects of my life and put it into perspective.  I will stop being tossed about by everything that I could/want/should do and make real choices based on real abilities, real time, real results.

There. That felt good.  Now to conquer the world!