when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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Sour encounters

Okay, someone tell me – what is with people who are

a) miserable in public and

b) quick to assume you are sucking at being a mom and they could show you better?!

The last few days have set a record for sour encounters while out and about with my kids. Please read along.

Encounter in the parking lot 

It was the longest drive to the pharmacy that one sun shiny morning with my seriously watery, sticky, itchy allergy riddled eye and I pulled our truck into the only available spot in the tight parking lot. It was for a small car but I was in a desperate situation and there was still room behind me for cars to pass through.

Upon getting the relief promised by Benedryl, I got my kids buckled into their car seats and hopped behind the wheel when I remembered these pills may have a drowsy factor. And that other item I needed to pick-up finally presented itself to the forefront of my thoughts. Yep, I had to do it all over again.

I got Shae out of the car and went around the other side to unbuckle Oliver when I heard an annoyed voice.

“Excuse me, are you leaving?”

I glanced over the pick-up and saw an older woman standing there.

“I can’t get out,” she exacerbated.

Confused, stressed and searching for my other offspring to make sure he was still on the sidewalk, I responded in an equally annoyed manner.

“What do you need??”

“Are you leaving or going in because your truck is blocking my car!”

What the eff is this lady going on about?

“No, I am taking my kid out and going back in,” I said. If she thought I was going to pack my kids back into the truck [for a third time!]…

I walked around the back to see what her complaint was about. Because of the angle of our two spots and the extra foot hanging off my back end, I could see that her exasperation was caused by the fact that she couldn’t back straight up and would have to swing her wheels to the left a little bit as she exited. The inconvenience!

I informed her that she was completely able to get out and even offered to help guide her out. Standing behind her vehicle with Oliver on my hip and my 31 week belly sticking out, I waved her to come. No movement. “Come!”

“I don’t need your help!” She yelled out her window.

Classy…

The neighbourhood

Later that afternoon, I sat on my nieghbour’s lawn, watching our kids ride their bikes on the street. “Car coming” and the children scampered to the side of the road. The car continued slowly on, passing closely by Shae and his friend. I guess Shae was feeling antzy and moved a foot forward as the car rolled past him. I immediately yelled out for him to stop. Admittedly, I didn’t leap up. Washing the car earlier had taken a tole on my already stiff legs. The old man in the car stopped and then continued, turning at the dead end and coming back up the street. I was still talking to Shae about the importance of not moving at all when a car goes by when the car rolled up to where my friend and I sat.  His eyes were fixated on me with a withered, accusing expression.

“That was very inappropriate,” he said in a scolding tone through his open window.

My crazy head space was attracting misery that day.

“And I’m talking to him about it,” I responded looking back directly at him.

There was a brief pause as he continued to scrutinize me, “I should hope so.” His eyes locked on mine, he rolled his car forward slowly and didn’t break the eye lock until the strain of it demanded his eyes look forward again.

Yeah, he lives four doors down from me. Blessed to have such concerned neighbours.

The thrift store.

I live in a small town, small stores. I sent my boys to the back of the store where the toys were, keeping myself in view of them as I browsed the racks.

They played happily for a good 15 minutes or longer. Then I heard Shae let out a cry that signaled either a kid had taken a toy from him or some other non-threatening circumstance. As I struggled to get a shirt back onto a hanger, I called to him. One second, two second, three, oh there’s an employee walking over to the scene. I start to walk over and I hear the employee’s critical voice say,

“Where the hell is the mother??”

Because it had been three seconds too long and what kind of mother would be acquiring items to buy in nearby racks while her children play with cheap and used toys?

Clearly inappropriate and neglectful of that mother.

I can’t wait til I have three kids and I get the stares and questions like “are you Catholic?”

 

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Tossing the rule book for being the optimal parent

If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you know that I have two boys, ages three and two (16 months apart to get specific) and another one due in August.

Like any good mom out there, I’m giving this whole parenting my best. I’ve read the articles, I make the food, I listen to them and teach them about respect and manners, I put them in swim lessons even though Shae hasn’t actually even got into the pool the last couple sessions for which I signed him up…

My world is a steady stream of suggestions, insights, thoughts on how I can raise my little charges into the best human beings possible. It isn’t surprising that if I had to fill out a checklist, it might say that I am failing in my role.

So what are the top offenders in my household?

Strike 1: I let my three-year-old watch a show (up to an hour or possibly more *shock, horror* almost every day during the week while his brother naps. I’d say one or two of those five days on average, I don’t let Netflix be the replacement for an opportunity to take advantage of the one-on-one time with my son and do something to help develop his eager-to-learn brain. I gotta say, I give myself a pat on the back those days I do some baking with him, take him out in the yard and do some gardening or read stories to him. As for the other three or four days, I have lived in perpetual guilt and worry that I am dumbing down my child’s ability to create, imagine and play independently.

Strike 2: I yell at my kids sometimes, they see me get mad at them.

Strike 3 (and I’m out!): I actually can’t think of anything big enough to induce guilt or anxiety.

Yep, pretty incriminating.

On TV…

Theoretically, I agree that the less screen time, the better. You know what’s even better in my opinion? A less stressed/tired mom who is able to get down on her kid’s level when he is having a fit and have enough patience to not throw one herself. I don’t know about you but there’s nothing like some peace and quiet to refuel the engine and apparently, my engine runs out by noon a lot of days! Might have something to do with being consistently woken up multiple times per night for the past three and-a-half years or maybe it’s just my personality. It is what it is.

But my friend AmazingMom somehow manages to have very limited screen time for her kids, my inner voice says. What’s your deal? You’re really just selfish. You rather sacrifice your kid’s intellect so that you can enjoy an hour or so to yourself. It’s about doing what’s best for your kid, it’s not about your enjoyment!

I have decided to tell that accusing voice to get lost and thank the Lord that I have the resources to keep my child safe and entertained while I enjoy a much needed nap, internet time, blogging or devotional time. Why? Because I value the mother I am because of this controlled silence rather than the one I inevitably become because I exhausted my mental, emotional and physical faculties with doting on my child attention all day long AND tacked on some extra special nurturing time during nap. Because I know which route does my child the greater disservice.

And judging by the fact that my kids are not whining for shows at any point in the day and thoroughly enjoy creative play both inside and outside, I think they’re doing alright.

Again, if I could get around it and put a check mark on the list for no daily screen time, I would. Maybe if my older son was in preschool a couple times a week or I could even afford a weekly babysitter,I wouldn’t rely so much on the tele. Me going to bed earlier every night might help a bit too or maybe not. Despite the fact that I do some nights, sometimes I want to nurture that other important relationship in my life. Now that’s important.

It’s not ideal, but it’s really not the worst thing I could be doing (or you!).

On yelling…

Geez, I sure can’t blame anyone else but myself for them yelling at each other can I?

I am not saying yelling is okay. I feel bad when I get frustrated and annoyed enough to yell and express my displeasure. But you know something, my kids get it. When “mommy’s not happy” comes out, they know they’ve stepped over the line. They realize that sometimes their behaviour does have negative effect on those around them. Sometimes, I remember to take five but what do you know, kids aren’t fans of that and mine like to join me (outside the door if necessary) as I attempt to calm myself and remind myself that this too will pass.

And what’s with stigmatizing yelling? Yelling is a rather normal (could even argue healthy) form of expression. To me, it comes down to words. Are my choice of words hurtful and thoughtless? Am I instilling fear, guilt and self-depreciation? I would rather my kids witness mommy exploding a little bit and realize that they are not the center of the universe than grow up thinking that yelling is something only angry people do. People yell – if I can use my in-the-moment lack of patience and self-regulation to teach them that yelling doesn’t have use hurtful and damaging words, maybe they aren’t so bad off.

So again, it’s even better if I can demonstrate patience and self-regulation. But for the times I fail, I know that my kids aren’t being verbally deconstructed because I expressed that their behaviour is not acceptable and it makes mommy “not happy.”

Here’s the thing, I’m here to guide them. There are endless scenarios ahead in their young lives where circumstances will be less than ideal and he will have to navigate many of them by himself. If nothing else, my short comings with parenting coupled with boundaries and love might enable them to take on the responsibility of making good choices for themselves. Heck, my kid knows that Diego makes him grumpy and that’s why he’s not allowed to watch it.

 

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You think you got it figured out? Ha!

I’m just figuring things out.

I have times when I feel like I know pretty well how to be Mommy to my two boys.

But for the most part, I am walking through new territory that deceives me in its familiarity.

Let me elaborate on that one a bit. My two-year-old is in the business of challenging me. Seriously, it’s his job in Toddler Brain Development. While I have had this exact same argument before about why he cannot have anymore “jam-berries” (yesterday actually), I’m not actually sure that I know that I am responding the right or rather, most constructive way.

They say you should try to avoid using the word “no” and instead answer focusing on the positives.

Okay answer: “No, you cannot have more jam-berries. There might even be a scowl on my face.

Better answer: “You want more jam-berries, Shae can have more jam-berries tomorrow!” All bright and sunshiny of course.

And just when I think I am figuring it out, he figures me out.

The example that comes to mind is back when we first started “training” him to stay in his bed by wordlessly walking him back down the hallway, over and over and over… A few nights in, he realized all his requests were falling on deaf ears and he pulled out the Jesus card.

“Mama, say thank-you to Jesus?” You got me you little grub, I’m not going to cut off access to Jesus for you. Works every first time it happens and I get down on my knees and pray for that precious and “too smart for his own good” little boy.

You see, the territory keeps changing in the midst of looking familiar.

I think I have some aim to perfect motherhood. It’s the only thing that explains why I feel so dreadful when I don’t manage to make all the best decisions for my little ones. Seriously, who needs that stress???

These little grubby handed men, they got me wrapped around their little fingers.

at nana's house, pool time, mama with camera, fun in the sun, summer days, joy, splashing, frameable

 


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When Daddy is there

Fathers, I can’t help but feel you don’t get as much due praise and encouragement as you deserve. Mothers are celebrated in their roles every day of the year for sacrificing sleep and the struggles they endure with childbirth, breastfeeding, nourishing, teaching, loving and more for their children.

What about dads?

Maybe they don’t yearn for affirmation the same way we women do, but nonetheless, their role is every bit as important and crucial in the raising of future generations.

I think of the ways my husband has not only been an amazing father to our boys, but how he has helped me be a better mother. When fathers participate, children thrive.

  • When I need extra sleep because I was up half of the night with the boys, Jesse lets me sleep in ’til he leaves for work.
  • When our two-year old challenges me and I cave under his mind crushing powers of persuasion, Jesse stands firm and doesn’t allow the toddler to rule the roost.
  • When he shows our boys how to love and be patient in the way he cares for me – an invaluable quality that will be forever imprinted on their hearts and minds.
  • When he demonstrates stability and safety in our family – mommy and daddy will disagree quite loudly and scowl at each other for a while, but daddy will always stay and work things out until peace is restored.
  • When he makes time for them and gets down and plays farm, he’s telling them he cares about what they are interested in. I see a payoff with this hopefully about 11 or so years down the road.
  • When he reads to them, he stimulates their desire to learn.
  • When he prays for them, he shows them humility and reliance on the Creator who is the giver of all good things.
  • When he listens to them, they feel respected and will give respect in return (it’s a work in progress;-).

I am so thankful this Father’s Day for my children’s father and also for my own dad who took the time to listen to me and teach me what he understood of life many an evening sitting out on the porch after dinner. My dad displayed qualities I admire and that I see mirrored in my husband. My dad’s impact is far reaching because he showed me what a good father is. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I believe something inside me recognized those same qualities in Jesse.

My dad showed me integrity and putting forth my best effort. He kept things light-hearted because he knew too well how life could crush your spirit otherwise. He worked hard and rarely took sick days – a quality that I value and aspire to with every job I have had. He showed me appreciation and love for music and the arts. He inspired me to look further than my school textbooks and introduced me to genius of Nikola Tesla, long before Tesla Motors came out.

My boys and yours are the future fathers of our world – never underestimate your value and impact in their lives!

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