Themed Baths? No.

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Themed Baths ? No.

Giving your child a bath is right up there with reading them a story or fixing them a meal. It is wholesome and good and loving. You can talk or play. You can nurture and bond. You are not required in the least to give your child’s bath a theme! Get them clean without getting soap in their eyes and you are mom of the year. Bonus points for having a clean towel on hand. Did you know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one bath every four days for your child? Four days! Themes were not ever mentioned by the AAP. File this under No.

The Coalition of No

Saying-NoToday I’m restarting my blog with a new focus and a new mission. A coalition. This new site will be a place for parents who are ready to say, “enough is enough” to any number of pressures coming against their ability to parent their children. We are increasingly living in a Pinterest-project, Facebook-posting world with an audience of critics. I want to provide an on-line safe haven for those who want to opt out of all the madness and just raise their kids. I’m certainly not  anti-Facebook or anti- Pinterest ( I have over 3,000 pins) but too much of it is plain ridiculous.

The power of “Yes” is a big topic these days, saying Yes to life and being positive and all that. I am a positive,optimistic person and I will say Yes to opportunities and I will try new things on a whim, like this blog for instance. But, I believe strongly in the positive side of No. No is freedom. No is hope. No is the guardrail that keeps you from the ravine. No is the Old Testament that leads to the need for the New. No is life. To say Yes to something means you say No to something else.

I want to bring back the power and beauty of No to parenting. We don’t have to say Yes because the other parents do. Especially if we all start saying No. The kids are starting to rule because parents can’t or won’t say No. Let’s join together to turn the tide. We won’t dominate, hover or helicopter. We won’t break spirits or do any of the damage done to us that makes us so afraid of No.

We can bring an end to hearing that so-and-so’s mom lets them do this or that. We can stop giving elaborate, expensive birthday parties.We can stop giving out goody bags to children who are privileged enough to attend the parties we give.  We can resist the call to pack lunches in the shape of cartoon characters or arrange a snack plate to form a caterpillar.  There are so many things we can opt out of if we simply take the time to dial it all down a few notches. Let’s get to it. caterpillar

Missing You – Dinner for Six in the Emptying Nest

I only get out six plates for dinner now. I used to have to think through who was working or out with friends and then do a little math, ending up with six or seven or eight. Now I just get out six plates. This is not enough and it will always be a little bit sad. Another daughter has already moved out.  She didn’t plan to, but daughter #2 slowly weaned us off her presence by being gone more and more. Turns out to be a merciful way to adjust.

One month ahead of her wedding, she moved out to what will be their apartment together. My oldest moved out after her wedding, so this was new for me. Her apartment complex looks so nice from the road. Is this a good thing or does it make her a target for burglars? There are lots of people milling about around there. Is this a good thing or does it mean more possible criminals to keep an eye on? Everyone around her seems nice, but you know it’s always the nice quiet neighbors who end up on the news. These are the crazy thoughts that play tag in my head when I visit her.

As for the weddings that lead to all this moving out, I don’t think I can write on and on with wedding advice. Weddings are like babies; the first one makes you frightened and full of plans and advice,big on schedules and obsessive to details. The second one just makes you realize how much you don’t know, how much help you need, and how tired you are. Especially if you have two in one year. See? Just like babies. So fitting that it works this way with my first two babies. Their weddings will be a reflection of their very different personalities. Annie’s was bigger, including anyone and everyone. It was spring and pastel and in the big woods. Lydia’s will be smaller, intimate, with warm colors and inside a small chapel – downright cozy on a fall day. Like with children, one is not better than the other, just very different.

One very incorrect assumption I’ve run into is that I don’t miss one child because there are so many left. Of course this is not true. Each child leaves a void when they go. I will always miss them. I miss every stage of them. I miss little pudgy Lydia and grown woman Lydia. At least I can call and visit woman Lydia. Then there’s the bonus of her husband-to-be. He is the perfect fit for our crazy family. We could use another brother or two around here, so we are loving the addition of two big brothers in one year. Even if they are to blame for this emptying nest.

pudgy Lydia

When you are falling in love, you hear every song as a love song. When your kids are moving out, you start to hear things differently. I have always loved the song “Missing You” by Amy Grant. It always seemed like a melancholy song about lost love. Now I’m thinking Amy penned this one when her first child moved away. Listen to the lyrics and see if you agree. Yes, I know that is not Amy Grant, it is Alanis Morrissette, but it is the only link I could find. Looking at her face while listening to a very tame Amy Grant will just have to serve as comic relief for this sad song. Isn’t is ironic? 

I Think I Can Talk About It Now – Wedding Lessons

Aaand….they’re off!

Over three months have passed since my oldest daughter got married. It has taken that long for me to get clear on what happened and what I learned from all of it. There were so many intense lessons of a practical and emotional nature. Hindsight is not 20/20 in my case. So much of it is still a blur. I’m deeply indebted to the moms that were ahead of me on the wedding path that gave me all the advice I could take in.  Now it’s my turn to pass on some of what I learned. In this post, I will focus on the emotional lessons. These are the things I learned in conversations; things they don’t put on the timelines and the checklists even thought they should. These are just for the MOB’s out there, especially the DIY-ers, who need a heads-up like I did.

You may be sitting alone at your daughter’s wedding. Chances are, your family will all be in the wedding – everyone but you! You might want to arrange for your parents to be sitting with you rather than behind you. If you are married to your daughter’s father, he will eventually join you, but be prepared to be seated alone while you watch your family participate in the ceremony.

I was so worried about crying too much. I am an easy crier, at weddings especially. The best advice I received, hands down, was to cry myself out before the big day. A wise friend told me to give in to the crying whenever I felt it coming on. On the drive out to the venue the day before the wedding, I was alone and thinking of how it would all soon be over. These thoughts led to tears and I remembered my friend’s advice. I pulled over in the parking lot of a tiny church and cried and cried. It was probably the most I have ever cried because I was alone, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone being concerned over my distress. More than that, I think I gave in to it so completely because I had permission and a legitimate reason to let it flow and cleanse all the tension and sadness. Let me tell you, it worked wonders! On the day of the wedding I barely shed a tear. I was free to be joyful because I had mourned already. Trust me – give in to the big cry.

Be sure to take a moment with the bride’s father to marvel at the beauty and wonder that is your daughter. Everything changes after this day, but you two will always be her parents. Embrace the transformation and really watch it all change right before your eyes.

You and your daughter may have been working as a team toward a mutual goal for several months. As soon as the reception starts to wind down, that is all over and you two are at cross purposes. She wants to leave. You want her to stay a little longer. Worse yet, she has an accomplice that likely wanted to leave an hour ago. This stings more than a little, to see the people you went to all this trouble for making a dash for the door. Brace yourself and try to remember when it was you. That helped me a little.

too late to say goodbye

Plan your goodbye time. We failed to plan and it all ended awkwardly with talk of paying vendors and taking care of business. A meaningful goodbye takes a little planning. You want your own private goodbye before the happy couple does the photo-op goodbye.

It all goes by in a blur. One moment I was deliriously happy that the ceremony was perfect and everyone I loved was in the same room and my daughter was so happy. The next, everyone was leaving, all 200 plates are dirty, and I was more tired than I can ever remember being. Make sure you have not depleted all your help before the wedding. Reserve a couple of friends to stay with you until the work is all done. I let all my hard-working friends go home when they offered to help. That left me, my husband, and two sisters to undo what it took months to pull together. I put this under the emotional tips because it was very depressing to suddenly be alone with so much to do. I had imagined a big after-party with music playing, dish washing and laughing….nope. You have to plan that too if it’s going to happen.

Remains of the Day

Then you are home and your life can get back to normal. Whatever that was. Only, you may find you don’t like normal anymore. There’s something addictive about having a project and a deadline. It took the wind out of my sails to be left with nothing pressing to do. Have a plan for this too. Buy a book to read or plan a little get away for you and your husband. Have something to look forward to after the wedding is over.

A few days ago, my second oldest daughter got engaged and they are planning a November wedding! Two weddings in one year – no problem, right? Most likely, I will need a lot more advice. Hopefully, I will learn many more lessons. If I can retain any of it, I will pass it on. In the meantime. say a prayer for us. It’s not easy realizing I am nearly done with my part of raising His child.

WordPressing On

You may have noticed, I hope some readers have noticed, that I have not posted for a very long time. I wrote about taking a hiatus for my daughter’s wedding, but that wedding ended beautifully over two months ago. The truth is, I lost my motivation to write. I had the post-wedding blues and a few transitions to go through. All that felt too personal to write about in a public forum.

I had other issues with writing too. I really asked myself what right I have to voice my opinions and lessons so publicly. I never feel like I have it all together, but lately I have felt even less worthy of helping anyone do  any part of life.

I check my blog stats everyday. Even without new posts, at least one person reads something I wrote every day. That is pretty significant, if you think about it. But more inspiring than that thought is this, people search things on Google that lead to what I have said. Strangely enough, this blog is Google’s answer to some pretty interesting searches. I get to see what people type in the search bar and it is compelling stuff. It is the very stuff that has made me want to start blogging again. It’s  an insider view to anonymous people and what is on their minds. Wanna see?

The most popular search that leads to my blog is “texting while driving”. This alone is motivating. If my pleading rant about people who put us all in danger for texting can help stop one person, then I’m all for ranting publicly. Over 200 people have linked to this post. That is quite a reach for someone who only leaves the house to go church and Walmart most of the time.

The second most searched phrase is “bible verses about love”. It is heartwarming to think of being a link for such a search. Even if I was just a link to the writer of a blog on the subject.

Number three is “skinny vs. normal”. Interesting to speculate on what might drive a person to type that in a search bar. If I helped a teen girl feel comfortable being “normal” than I’m thrilled for the opportunity. I don’t know if people even read what I write after they link to the blog, but the possibility is inspiring.

The one search that catches my attention most often is “talk to santa in real life” or “how to get an elf on the shelf from santa. These searches presumably come from children. You might want to ask your children if they are trying to do searches like this.

You lied about Santa!

I hope searches like this don’t lead to scary “Santas” out in cyberspace, or result in children learning more than their parents are ready for. One related search said, “do shelf elf from santa talk”. Another said, “see santas elves and let them see me”. Scary to think of children searching the internet like this or living their lives wondering about this. Maybe I should write a post about this.

Sadly, several searches make me wonder if moms still talk to their daughters about puberty. These searches are worded like little girls desperate for answers to what is going on with their bodies. Glad I could help, but I’m sad that my one brief post was offered as an answer to these girls’ questions. Yikes, I hope it was girls!

On the disturbing side, I have seen searches for “tie up kids for punishment”. This is a phrase that does not occur in my posts, but it linked to me anyway. “Mom don’t know everything”…’nuff said. “Don’t wanna raise his kid”…sigh. “Does discipline help wife be sweet again?” Lord, I can only pray the searcher meant he would become more disciplined? Conversely, there is one that says, “how to punish my husband for his mistake”. Then there is just the puzzling ones like, “child washes face by soup” or “baby with street cred”. A startling amount of people look up ‘coolest people in the world”. It’s makes me smile to think this search leads to a post about my nieces and nephews.

Aside from all this, I love knowing I was able to let random searchers know they are not alone. This is something anyone can help with by just being honest. Like the person who honestly typed “jealous of ann voskamp.” or the one who confessed, “i cried at the hairdresser”. I commiserated with women who have a “child who coughs every night” and with the many who typed “bullied” or some form of the word. I was able to spread my obsession with protein to dozens of people who searched about protein amounts for children. I shared my encouragement to many people who were looking for answers about birth control and family size. It is validating for me to know these searchers think about what I write about.  I hope it was validating for them to find at least one person who had something to say about what was on their minds.

Then, there are the Unknown Search Terms. This is actually the biggest pool of searches. This is a group of 263 searches that led to my blog that were protected by privacy settings. I’m choosing to believe that these were not in the creepy category or even the puzzling one. I’m hoping these are 263 people who found a friend online, even for a minute, because of my compulsion to share my thoughts in a public forum. This idea has reawakened my desire to blah, blah, blog again. Not to tell others what to do, or what I know, but to make a connection with people.

Now that I have discovered what drives me, please follow along and contribute freely to the process. I would love to see lots and lots of comments to make even more connections with even more people.

I want to thank my oldest sister for her sweet text inspiring me to keep writing. Her opinion means so much to me and I was encouraged so much by her words. Thanks Karen!