Archive for December, 2013

December 5, 2013

Another Year, Another Birthday – XP

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I turned 31 this week.  Or, as I joked to a coworker: the age at which I no longer have any birthdays to look forward to.  Ho Hum.

Now, I’m not one to fuss much about age or put a lot of stock in a number, but I think my ‘blah’ feelings this birthday stem from a wider picture of where I currently am in my life.  Let’s just say that when Kriste wrote about life feeling like Groundhog’s Day, Again, I could relate.

So much of my life to date has been about striving, achieving, and working my way towards that next goal.  For me, and perhaps many of you, early adulthood was all about the milestones, and birthdays symbolized the time to march my way towards the next one.

18: I’m an adult (ha.ha.ha.) – voting and independence, oh my! Off to college!

21: Now I’m really an adult, and I can drink (::ahem::legally). Finishing college, hello grad school!

25: I think I can finally call myself an adult, for real this time.  Newlywed, first time homebuyer, and a full-blown case of baby rabies.  Ready to start a family!

30:  Adopted 3 beautiful children. I’m going to run my first 5K!

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31: Now what??

I’ve got my education, home, marriage, family, career – all the biggies checked off the list.  With no big goals or milestones looming in the future, I’m finding myself a bit…stuck? aimless? lost? Now what, indeed.

So, I’m guessing at this point half of you are nodding your heads in agreement and the other half are cringing.  I get it. Which is why I’ve decided to respond to myself and these feelings of ‘blah’ as I would to a friend: relax. take a breath. look around for a moment and just enjoy. Hello, perspective.

There are hard days in my marriage, in my family, and in my work.  I wish I had a little more money in the bank and a little less laundry in my living room.  But when it comes down to it, the fact that there are no big goals or milestones in my future…the fact that “all the biggies are checked off the list”…is a blessing.

I’ve gotten all the things I’ve ever wanted (albeit in a package light years from what I was expecting), and at 31 I can simply be grateful and take the time to enjoy the fruits of all that striving.

Or, finally get the weight off and learn to sew 😉

 

December 4, 2013

Entering the Land of Unsupervised Playdates – XP

Alternate Title: How to ask if there is a gun in the house.

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We had a very exciting development in our world this week.  We discovered that my son’s best friend from his 2nd grade class lives 2 houses down from us!  Apparently their family moved in at some point this summer, but it wasn’t until the boys took the bus home together on Monday that our paths crossed.  We don’t live on a street with many kids so this news is huge – if you saw the look on my son’s face, you would have thought Christmas had come early.   Add to it that this boy is polite and well-behaved and the rest of the family seems just lovely and we’ve got ourselves a great addition to the neighborhood!  The other day, the friend came over and the two boys sat at the kitchen table eating snack and doing their homework together – I died of cute.  Today, homework will be done at the friend’s house and my son has been invited to stay for dinner.  Then he gets to walk the whole 100 ft home BY HIMSELF.  As you can imagine, it’s been all the talk.

Along with this wonderful development, comes some uncharted territory.  You see, up until this point, we’ve never had an unsupervised playdate.  If we have, it’s more akin to babysitting in which we’ve asked a close friend to have our kids over in a pinch – and these are people we’ve known for years and trust implicitly.  Now that my son is older and making friends independently of us, the circle expands…and to be honest? That makes me nervous.  Our new neighbors seem like good people and they are clearly doing a beautiful job raising their son, but we don’t really *know* them.  Is there any kind of due diligence we should be completing here? Questions to ask?

And that line of thinking is what brought me to the big question.  The question I know has been on many parents’ minds, especially in light of recent events.  Should I ask if they have a gun in the house?  This article suggests that as of 2007, 16.7% of CT residents are gun owners.  A relatively low number, one which doesn’t specify how those guns are secured (I would assume many, if not most, are well-secured and safely stored especially in homes with children)…but it only takes one, right?  Once we decided that, yes, we should ask, came the even harder question…how?? Asking such a personal, sensitive, often divisive, question left my wife and me with knots in our stomachs.

Thankfully, the question answered itself naturally through the course of conversation this time when the mother asked if it was okay that the boys play video games at her house.  My wife answered, “Yes, as long as they are non-violent” and got a response of, “No problem, we feel the same way and don’t do weapons – virtually or otherwise.” ::whew::*

Uncomfortable conversation thwarted this time, but it certainly left me thinking about how to handle this situation when it comes up in the future.  Of course, it’s a great reminder of the safety conversations I need to be having with my children to prepare them to face the many situations they may find themselves in as they gain more independence.  But, for me to feel comfortable sending my kids off at this point, I’m going to need to broach the subject with the other parents as well.  Trouble is, how do I do it without it being completely awkward and potentially offensive? Well, I’ve decided that perhaps the best way would be to tell, rather than ask.

Recognizing that the other parent might be wrestling with the same issue I am, the next time I’m setting up an unsupervised playdate, I think I’ll offer the information first.  A little, “Not sure if this is something you would be wondering, but since it seems like such a hot topic lately, I just wanted to let you know that we don’t have any guns or weapons in our home.  No guarantees about dirty dishes, though.”  [When in doubt, fall back on humor and self-deprecation.]  Then I’ll hope that offering the information about our home, and welcoming any other questions they may have, will open the line of communication and spur them to do the same.

Sound good? Toe the line between being that mom and that mom? Have you ever asked, or told?

Also, where is the freaking manual for this stuff??

 

*To be clear, we respect the right to gun ownership; our concern focuses on the safe storage of such.

December 3, 2013

Forgiveness – XP

There are a handful of defining moments (some good, some bad) that I can point to when thinking of what has shaped me to be the mother I am today.  One such moment came on a crisp Sunday morning in September, 2010.  I was sitting in church, attempting to steal a moment or two of peace before returning to the chaos that was my life, and my parenting, at the time.

There was a baptism that morning and the minister conducting the ceremony said something that has stuck with me ever since.  He charged the parents with the task of creating a family which speaks the language of forgiveness.  He asked them to forgive, and forgive, and forgive their children so they, too, would learn to forgive.

The simplicity of the message hit me like a ton of bricks.  Yes, that is the type of parent I want to be.  That is the type of parent I need to be.  It seems obvious, but I was so caught up in the world of discipline, behavior modification, correction and control, that forgiveness was not on the forefront of my mind.  “I forgive you,” rarely (ever?) spoken.

I set a goal for myself in that moment that the next time I was faced with misbehavior, I’d try to remember that it was an opportunity to teach how to forgive, not how to punish.  I knew even then that surely there would be a day when I would need to ask my children for forgiveness and if they had none to give, then I’d only have my lack of teaching to blame.

Well, I was right.  Not too long after that, I was the one needing to ask for forgiveness.  And then again, and again, and again.  In the 3 years that have passed since hearing that powerful message, I’ve screwed up a ton; and said “sorry” even more.  But I’ve kept my word and doled out the forgiveness as much as it was granted for me.

In preparation for the big move to Kindergarten, my son’s preschool teacher filled out a questionnaire on his strengths and weaknesses to be passed along to his new teacher.  There were plenty of compliments and plenty of areas to address, but one statement in particular stood out:

R forgives friends quickly following conflict.  He is our class role model on forgiving.

I couldn’t help but think back to that crisp Sunday morning.  I was so proud of him and thought: maybe, just maybe, we are doing this special soul justice.

This week was an especially tough one for me.  As children often do, my youngest used her spidey sense to detect that I was under a lot of stress, then decided to pile it on with the hitting/kicking/not sleeping torture trifecta.  Forgiveness was not so much on my mind as was selling her to the highest bidder.  I lost my cool.  I met her poor behavior with some of my own.  But one way or another, morning came and she woke me up as she often does with a kiss on my cheek and a cute toddler giggle.  I opened my eyes to her gently rubbing my arm and pulled her into bed for a nice long cuddle.  We basked in each other’s forgiveness.

I’m a hard-headed, take-no-shit, go-getter by nature and things like mercy, forgiveness, and humility – signs of true strength of character – don’t always come easily to me.  But my beautiful children are filled to the brim with these resilient, pure, qualities and I want to nurture that which I admire in them.  So I say a lot of “I’m sorry”‘s and “I forgive you”‘s and revel in the beauty of having a warm, safe, place to practice forgiveness – and to be forgiven – over and over again.

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