Tag Archives: love

Honesty and forgiveness and childism

Standard

Today we took the kids to a local nature play area and hiking trail. They played in the play area for about an hour, building their house of sticks, and enjoying some fresh air. After we were all played out, we headed to the trail for an easy, kid friendly hike.

Hiking with kids is always an interesting adventure. Sometimes they are really into it. They immediately start noticing their surroundings, pointing out animals or unique plants, asking questions, or running ahead to play. Other times, they start complaining about the walk only a short while into it. Today, it was a mix of both. Elijah (4 years old) got his feelings hurt pretty early on, and he wasn’t easily cheering up. He asked me to hold him. Winter (17 months) was happily toddling along, so it was easy for me to pick up Elijah. When it was clear he needed some extra cuddles after a few minutes, I told him I needed to put him in the carrier on my back. He liked that and all was good.

We stopped for a short rest break. Elijah was still on my back while I sat down. Hailey (6.5) was sitting close to me, Winter was playing behind in the dirt, and my husband was checking something on my new boots. All of a sudden Hailey was screaming crying. It all happened very fast, but I heard a rock swish by and quickly realized that someone had thrown a rock and it had hit Hailey in the eye. She was almost inconsolably (understandably). All of attention was focused on her until she was calmer. Then I asked what happened. She didn’t know. I asked if Elijah threw the rock and he said no. I felt bad that the baby had grabbed the rock and tossed it without me noticing. He can be pretty rough in his curious toddler way. He is definitely in a throwing phase. I had been watching him, but my attention had turned to my then bare feet as hubby looked at my boot.

Winter was completely oblivious to all of it, as he sat digging up dirt. There was not much to do at that point. Prevention is really the key with that age, and the time for that had passed so I sat and comforted Hailey. All this happened in about 5 minutes. All of a sudden Elijah tapped me on the shoulder. He said “Mommy, actually I threw the rock.” I was surprised at his confession, seemingly out of nowhere. I asked him why he threw the rock. He tried to explain where he meant to throw it, and he didn’t mean to hit his sister. I don’t know if he really meant to throw it somewhere else, or if he didn’t think through how it would feel to be hit with a rock, or maybe he thought he couldn’t reach her and he wanted her attention. His face was full of worry for his sister. I pointed out her bruise beneath her eye, and explained that this is what happens when rocks hit people It is very dangerous and not a game. I said if he wanted to throw rocks, I could help him find a place to throw them away from people. He told Hailey how sorry he was (not coerced from me).

Hailey seemed to calm down more, knowing what had happened. We decided it would be best to head back. After a few thoughtful moments, Hailey stopped and said “Elijah, I am really proud of you for telling the truth about throwing the rock.” I was proud of that too, because admitting mistakes is not easy, even for adults.

On the way out of the trail, a woman passing by asked Hailey why she wasn’t walking and having me carry her (why is this her business?). Hailey said “My brother accidentally hit me with a rock so I was sad and Mommy is holding me.” The woman rolled her eyes and said “Oh yeah an accident, I’m sure”. That really rubbed me the wrong way. Here was this interaction that she had no idea about, but yet she was assuming such negative intent, even given the information that it was not intentional. I can’t imagine a stranger having the same reaction if I was limping and she had asked what happened and I said “My husband accidentally bumped into me on the trail and I fell”. I really do not understand why someones mind goes to the worst possible scenario with these little people. And really, even if it had been on purpose, she had no insight to what occurred. This was probably a situation that was best for others to stay out of.

Overall, I think some important things came out of a hurtful accident. I am really proud of how both my kids handled themselves. I am most proud of the empathy they are both learning.

 

The Day After Election Day

Standard

I will be honest and admit this day started off a bit rough for me, at least internally. It was the morning after a rough election night. I am a very sensitive person, I easily feel anxious or worry, and I react strongly to hate. I am not trying to get political, but I will say that I felt quite a shock that it seemed so many in our country are still choosing hate in their attitudes. I truly felt like I was grieving for my idea of what I want our world to be. I knew there were some people who had bigoted views, but I supposed I overestimated the progress that has been made.

Anyway, I was feeling emotional and posting on social media about it. Soaking up my like-minded friend’s feelings added to mine was too much. I felt overwhelmed and recognized that it was not a healthy though path for myself. I knew at that point, I could easily fall into a hole of complaining all day and commiserating with peers. Luckily, a few very loving posts helped me decided to put a stop to it right then. I wrote up a quick thought on my Facebook page and personal wall.

“I’m not going to allow the realization that our country is more racist and bigoted than I thought, to stop me from focusing on my children. I can’t let it distract me from showing them love, because that is how best to shape the next generation. I choose love.

And as my friend said, if you build a wall, I will teach my children how to tear it down.”

13116250_10209788928379597_1192133347842311362_o

I want to focus on these people

Then I shut it off. I stayed off social media for the rest of my day. I decided that today would be a good day and I would show my babies some extra love and attention. I told my husband my feelings and what I wanted to do and he agreed that would be good for me. I immediately started engaging the kids in a conversation and we laughed and chatted about one silly thing or another from there.

I cleaned up while the kids ate food in the kitchen, us chatting the whole time. Then I asked Hailey if she wanted us to show her how to play some card games. She was super excited to learn. First we showed the kids slapjack. Papa had to help Elijah play, because he couldn’t quite get flipping the cards down, so they became a team. After playing that we played war for a bit. Hailey won that.

I made some popcorn and the kids debated on which movie they should watch. I let them work it out, not by themselves, but I was more a facilitator and a guide. While they watched, I challenged Papa to a card game. We had no played cards just the two of us in a long while. We played a few games of Rummy and it was a lot of fun. I forgot how much I enjoyed playing cards with him.

The kids came in after the movie and asked to play some more. I needed to lay the baby down for a nap, so Papa took over playing Uno with them while I laid him down. I came out while he slept and started dinner. The kids were laughing and super into the game. Papa looked like he was having fun too.

We ate dinner together as a family at the table. We talked about our day, about a game Hailey and Elijah had made up, and about whatever else came up. I cleaned up a bit and the kids asked for ice cream. They are eating that now, loudly talking about something in their game. Soon we will cuddle and read books.

I think I needed this day. I needed to see that I can still chose to love and focus on my children despite my uncertainty of the future. I needed take back my control over my emotions. I know what I stand for and what I want to pass down to my children and I know that I must model it. I can’t promise that each day I will be as successful at pulling myself away from the worry, but I have to try. I must try to not let myself get sucked into the worry, the hateful posts, the arguing. Even when it is hard, I chose love.

 

If she were at school

Standard

14657445_10211317016180837_3009565514292234610_n

The other day we were playing at the park with friends. I had walked away from the playground with the baby for a few minutes, when Hailey came running to find me. She was feeling sad and wanted to tell me what had happened. I was expecting something along the lines of a disagreement with her brother, or a skinned knee. Instead, it ended up being a hurt that included a life lesson.

Before I walked to the other side of the lot with the baby, I had been watching Hailey go down a piece of playground equipment that worked like an elevator. Kids stepped on the platform and held onto the handles and it went down. It went up, only when they stepped off. Another girl and her Mother were watching. The girl expressed her desire to go down it, but stated that she was scared. Her mother tried it to show her how it worked. She was still afraid. Hailey started talking with the girl and found out that she was 9 years old. Hailey showed her how she could go down on it and explained how it worked and how it wasn’t so scary after all. When I walked away, the girl was still very interested, but adamant that this was too frightening to try.

Hailey explained to me “I said something trying to help that girl not feel scared so she could try it. She really wanted to try and was afraid. I was just trying to help but then her Mom told me I was being mean. I wasn’t. I just wanted to help.”

“You look sad. It seems like it really upset you when the Mom said you were mean. Do you want to tell me what you said to her to help her not feel so scared?” At first she didn’t want to tell me. I could tell that she was feeling quite anxious. I bent down and looked her in the eyes, “Hailey, you do not have to tell me what happened if you are not ready. But, I am not mad at you. I hear you say you were trying to do a nice thing and I believe you. I know you were not being mean and I am here to listen if you want to talk about it.”

After a few moments and a big sigh, “Okay, I went down the elevator thing, and then I said I did it and so can you. I am 6 and you are 9, so I know you can do it because you are bigger than me. It can be less scary for you because you are older. Then the Mom said that I was being mean.”

We talked all about it. We talked about how she was trying to encourage another kid and why it might be that what she said was taken the wrong way. We talked about how it feels to have someone misinterpret your words, we talked about good intentions. We talked about fears and how they do not necessarily change with age. She seemed to feel noticeably better after working through it all with me. She happily ran off to play some more.

I felt good about the exchange, but I kept mulling it over. After a few days, I was left with thoughts about how different that could have gone. What if she had been away at school when something similar could have happened? Who would she have talked to? How would she have handled the rest of the day with that weighing on her? Would she have remembered it well enough to bring it up with me when I picked her up? When would be the next opportunity to help her through that life lesson if we had missed that chance?

If she was at school she would not be able to come to me with these grievances throughout the day. They would build up, add up one on top of the other, until she exploded, likely seemingly out of nowhere about nothing in particular, and I would have no idea why. Teachers do not have the time or resources to listen to these issues for each student each time they come up. That is just not possible, even if it were in their job description.

1st-not-back-to-school-day

I wouldn’t be able to walk her through life’s little teachable moments while she was at school. I wouldn’t be able to offer empathy or comfort, validate her, or share my personal experiences. I wouldn’t be able to talk her through seeing other people’s perspectives or plan for what to do next time. I wouldn’t know that she had worked through it enough or watch her apply what she learned the next time.

I would miss very real opportunities to navigate through actual life problems. For what purpose? So, she can be in a classroom supposedly preparing for life? Real life is here, right now. We live in it every day, not some artificial version of it. Real life is not in a classroom, it is in our homes, the park, the store, the library, while visiting friends and relatives.

I don’t need to send her away for hours every day and cross my fingers that somehow we will have enough time after school, in between homework and structed activities, to practice life skills and talk through her emotions. Instead we are with each other all day, trying new experiences, living life, modeling communication skills, listening to frustrations as they come, and practicing problem solving. Life is our school, and she doesn’t have to do it without me.

14053652_10210670185010462_4205790216911429114_o

Working out their problems.

Standard
The older kids were playing a game. Suddenly, they were strongly disagreeing on how the came should be played. I almost handled it in a not so gentle way. I almost stepped in and told them to play different games. Instead I repeated what was going on.
 
“You both want to be a dragon in this game. Each of you says there can only be one dragon.”
 
At first they just agreed with my statement, aggravated about the whole situation. Each saying why they should be the dragon. This would have been my usual spot to try to get them to take turns, play a different game, or do it one or the other ways. I am working on not taking sides. I am working on them learning how to solve their problems with each other. I am not stepping out completely and letting them “work it out” as some would say. I am still apart of this. I am working on helping them problem solve with each other, with my guidance so that each person feels heard and safe. It is not easy for me. I have to take some big breaths. Fighting is a trigger for me.
 
“You really want the game to go this certain way, only one dragon, but both of you want to be the dragon so much.”
 
I doubt myself. Stepping in and “putting my foot down” would be faster. This is not who I want to be. This does not teach life skills, communication, compromise, negotiation.
 
“I know!”, Hailey exclaims. “We can be a two headed dragon. That way we both can be a dragon, but there is only one dragon all together.” Elijah agrees. He is happy with this situation. I am impressed by the creative idea. I would not have thought about that solution. I would not have seen the problem solving if I had stepped in and dished out a solution.

Allowing big feelings

Standard

lovecares

We had a fun day planned. Everyone was looking forward to getting out of the house as a family and enjoying our day. The plan was to head to our favorite farm in the morning for a kids program, then home for lunch, and round out the day at the park with our friends.

The night before had not gone as planned. Hailey had woken up an hour after falling asleep earlier than usual. She didn’t go back to sleep for a few hours, so I knew when I woke her up for the farm this morning, that she would be going on less sleep than she needed. Nonetheless, she woke up super happy and ready for our fun day. We ate homemade muffins, got ready and headed out the door. The kids had fun, Papa was happy to be able to watch them play, and I appreciated the sun.

Back at home, I warmed up some lunch. After about a two-hour respite, I told the kids it was about time to go. I noticed Hailey had not eaten her lunch. I encouraged her to eat something to give her energy to play at the park. She does not deal well when she is feeling hungry. She refused her lunch, so I suggested she grab something that was quick with protein. Papa offered his help in helping her to find something. She strongly resisted the idea of eating anything. I knew that she would be playing on less sleep, and not enough food. I knew it was the beginning of the recipe for a hard time. I shared my concerns. She told me she felt like she would be happily distracted with her friends, and I agreed we would try.

I pulled my husband, who would be staying home to catch up on some projects, aside and explained that she was very likely to have a meltdown, either at the park or when we got back. Just a heads up to be prepared for it and to love her through it. At this point, I thought we were going to make it to the park. I buckled the toddler up and Hailey was coming out right behind me when she shut the screen door on her finger. Now that would hurt anybody, and I would probably cry too. But that was the final straw. The tipping point for her to go over the edge. She screamed, she cried and cried. I knew when her tears had moved past the point of “ouch this hurts” into “I just can’t do this anymore”. I held her. I put some homeopathic cream on her thumb. Her Papa was trying to help her take some calm breaths, thinking if he could get her calm then maybe she could still go. She just couldn’t calm herself. I have seen her like this enough times to know, that if I tried to take her to the park, not only would she be miserable, but I would be stuck trying to help her through it, keep an eye on the toddler, and nurse the baby. It would be hard on everybody, and unfair to expect more of her than she could give and then set myself up for frustration with her when it went that way.

I kindly explained to my toddler that I had to unbuckle him because we weren’t going to make it to the park today. He was sad, but recovered quickly and played on the porch while I explained to Hailey. She cried harder, she yelled how sad she was, she promised that she would do better. I told her that I loved her, that she had done nothing wrong, and that it was okay for her to feel sad. I had to reassure her of these things multiple times. I did not want her to feel like she was in trouble for feeling sad or having a hard time. It took about 10 minutes before she agreed to come out of the van. She asked me to carry her in.

She has mostly played games on her computer since then. She came out to ask for a snack, and she was much more calm and relaxed. I know I made the right call for our day. I hate to see them sad and having a hard day, but I know that it is normal and okay. I know that it is so important to love them through those big feelings. To show them that you can stay calm in the midst of the storm. To be their anchor.

A child’s heart

Standard

One of my favorite things to witness as a parent is the natural generosity of my children’s hearts. So often, I see them being giving, kind, and loving on people. In these moments, I feel so happy about the way we have chosen to parent these little ones, because I certainly believe it matters. In those moments, I see it. I see that raising my children in a way in which I try to be generous with them results in children who feel happy to be generous with others.

10001027_10209250162350783_6395478651686688526_o

What do I mean by generous with my children? This can look like a lot of things. It looks like sometimes letting them pick out toys when we go out. If we have the money to spend, then we try to say yes to that. It means when my hubby and I treat ourselves to the occasional coffee shop coffee, we try to get the kids a drink too. It could mean saying yes to an activity that the kids want to do. It could mean being generous with my time and spending some much needed special time.

Sometimes, it means happily sharing some of our things with our children. Last night, I had a few pieces of candy that were given to me. I could have eaten them all to myself (and I have been known to hide a little treat just for myself here and there-nothing wrong with that), but instead I was openly happy to offer my daughter some. I think food is this this girls love language (like Mother like daughter 😉 ).

This weekend we attended an Easter egg hunt. There were a bunch of kids, and after it was all said and done, I noticed that a few kids got much less eggs than others. Hailey did not hesitate to start handing out some of her eggs to others. She went around actively looking for those who might have had less. She spent some of the time we had set aside to play to pass out candy to those who had little. She happily exclaimed “it feels really great to share with others!” I was proud of her giving heart. She gives with everything she has. She is generous with her things, her time, her love.

Some days this parenting thing is kinda tough. Then other days I get to see some of the reward of all this hard work and I remember how very worth it is. I am raising some pretty amazing human beings.

Why I don’t make decisions out of fear

Standard
lovecares

Love this graphic from Positive Parenting Connection

I am not a big believer in making decisions out of fear. I’ve noticed that people make many choices out of fear of the “what-ifs”.

I have heard comments like “I wouldn’t let our child sleep in our bed because, what if they never want to leave?” or “If I start letting them watch television, they will want to do nothing else”, and “If I let them get away with that this time, they might always try it.” I have even heard of parents deciding not to have any more children because “they have been so lucky thus far, what if this next one is not healthy?”

Unfortunately, in life there are no guarantees. There is no guarantee that your child will even make it to tomorrow. You only have right now. So I choose to my decisions out of love, and what feels right for my family today. I will not let fear of something that may or may not even happen dictate how I will live.

I choose to bedshare because I love it, my husband loves it (actually it was his idea), and my children love it. Nothing makes me feel more warm and fuzzy than cuddling with my family. I can never replace the memories of the funny things my girl has said in her sleep, or the look on my son’s face when he sees me first thing in the morning. Will they be in there forever? I doubt it. I don’t know how long they or any of our future children will need to be in our bed. But I won’t force them out because of fear of lack of independence or what not.

12238074_10208626858088566_8429261971632851773_o

We watch television sometimes, even my toddlers. I enjoy a good laugh, a little break, or some mindless entertainment sometimes, especially in the evening when I am tired from the day. I am not going to not watch because “they” say it could be bad. I do not prevent television for fear of a mindless zombie child who will lack creativity. That has not been my experience at all.

I try not to view allowing my child to do something that some do not, as “getting away with it”. I see myself as flexible. There is very little that is actually black and white. Every day, every situation can be different. Children’s needs change and so do mine. I make each decision based on what is needed now, keeping in mind my goals for the future and the desire to raise my children with love and respect.

I am blessed with a healthy family right now. I am not guaranteed health tomorrow and neither are my children. I am not guaranteed anything. So why would I make a decision based on a “what if” for a future I may never see.

I am not a big believer in making decisions out of fear. I am a believer in making decisions out of what works for us, not the subjects of some study I read on the internet. I am a believer in making decisions out of love.

Thoughts on the kids growing up

Standard

12471394_10208764873138856_1211230004004488350_oToday I woke up and instantly my heart was extra full with love for my children. Not that I do not love my children every day of course, but today I was just very aware of how quickly it all goes. One of those days that you look at your kids and it feels like they grew overnight. Reminiscing over their baby and toddlerhood that was, and realizing that every single moment counts.

I am not sure what brought it on. Maybe it was the fact that both of my older children did in fact grow quite a bit in the past month. Or maybe it was my 3 year old realizing the correct way to pronounce cover is no “fugga” and Grandma is no longer “Margo”. Maybe it is moving the baby up to a new size of clothes and then seeing that they are almost snug already. But my babies are not always going to be babies and today it was so bittersweet.

I was pondering this on the drive to our family outing, when I had the uncontrollable urge to look back and smile at my daughter. I had all my love in that smile hoping that she felt it. She tends to be the kid that really needs reassured the most, plus she was the only one who could see me because the other two are rear facing. She must have got the message because about 5 minutes later she got my attention to tell me how much she loved me in return.

Today had its challenges, but I remained calm in almost all of them, which doesn’t always happen. Today the positive parenting phrases about staying calm in the storm, or about them having a hard time, not giving you a hard time, remained in the front of my mind as I listened to tears or helped settle a sibling disagreement. Tomorrow might be different, as some days how fast this all goes seems like a lie because the day drags on and difficult behaviors really weigh on my spirit. But today, I smiled. Today I enjoyed my babies.