Parenting: Taking the Bad Along With the Good

The best part of being a parent is watching my kids fight … said no parent ever!

I grew up as an almost only child (my sister is a decade younger than me), so I was fortunately (or unfortunately?) never exposed to sibling rivalry. Now as a mama of two munchkins, I see, hear and breathe it every single day. Let me give you some examples:

Scenario 1: E grabs C’s favorite chicky toy and hugs it tightly to his chest while C pounds on his back and demands it back.

Scenario 2: C (with a sneaky smile on her face) purposely touches E’s shoes when he specifically told her not to.

And my favorite (sarcasm intended) Scenario 3 (in the car as they sit side by side):

C: E’s trying to lick me! He’s blowing air on my face!

E: C’s foot is in my spot! Tell her to move!

Me: That’s enough! Keep your tongues, breath, feet, everything to yourselves!!

Argh. I’m getting riled up just thinking about this. (Pausing to take a deep breath.) 😛

So, the kids’ daily fighting got me thinking some deep thoughts one day (thanks also in part to my recent mid-faith crisis). All  the anger and frustration and shock that I feel when E and C mistreat one another give me a tiny, ant-like glimpse into how God must feel when we (mankind) mistreat one another. I’m talking about the things we see on the news and the things that happen behind closed doors, the inconceivable acts people do to harm strangers and even worse, their own family members. 🙁

All the crazy stuff going on in the world makes me wonder, Why can’t we just get along?!

I wonder if this is something God asks, too. But of course He knows the answer to this question. He knows the reasons behind each of our dark thoughts, intentions and behaviors, yet He is still patient with us. How can this be? How can God see all the bad happening in the world and not want to pull His hair out or hide away in a closet somewhere as I often want to do when my kids get out of control?

Maybe it’s because even though He sees all the bad, He also sees all the good.

Now that I’ve been a parent for 8+ years, I’m starting to understand a few things about having kids.

1. They will misbehave, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they do.

2. They also have the capacity to be kind, helpful and compassionate.

3. I readily take the bad along with the good because I love them and they are mine.

I’m not God (thankfully!), but I’m guessing that He really enjoys it when His kids do get along. Sure, we don’t get along all the time, but there are plenty of moments when we’ve seen love at work among family, friends and even complete strangers. I have experienced it myself and I’m sure you have, too.

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I love it when my munchkins love each other! (Please disregard the mess – this picture is from a few years ago. LOL)

So we (or maybe more specifically I) shouldn’t lose heart over all the crazy stuff that goes on in the world (or the backseat of my car) because there’s still a lot of beautiful, amazing stuff happening, too.

I think this verse from Romans 12:21 about sums things up: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This post was inspired in part by Alicia Keys’ new song, “We Are Here”. The lyrics talk about the troubling things happening in the world, but also the love we can show each other.

How have you seen good overcome evil in your life?

The Sweetness of Old Love

Hubby and I are attending a wedding this weekend, and two thoughts come to mind – YAY for our friends, and awww, it’s going to be a big mush-fest.

Don’t you just enjoy seeing couples getting hitched? There’s something about weddings that is so refreshing and warm fuzzy, kind of like the feeling you get when you slip on a pair of toasty socks fresh out of the dryer. Perhaps it’s the ideality of the situation, the sweet hopes and dreams that a bride and groom share when they make their vows. Or the high level of happiness surrounding an event that brings family and friends from around the globe together. Or, maybe for some, it’s the free food and drinks. 😉

The reason I enjoy going to weddings is to see new love. New love is quite possibly one of the most beautiful sights to behold. It’s what causes couples to stare longingly and adoringly into each other’s eyes, to call each other cute nicknames, such as Pumpkin or Snookums (or if you’re Chinese – Lao Gong/Lao Po), and to want to spend every single second of the day together, just to be in each other’s presence.

Yes, new love is terribly, wonderfully sweet.

But did you know there’s something that tops even that? There’s something else that can pull at your heartstrings and make your teeth ache even more from sugar-overload.

Yup, the only thing sweeter than new love is old love. 🙂

Old love is like the couple who sometimes goes through an entire day without realizing they hadn’t shared a kiss, but they know how the other person is feeling just from hearing their voice on the phone. It’s having the assurance that your hubby knows you so well that when you ask him to bring home lunch (after having survived taking your kid to the dentist to get three teeth pulled), you open the to-go box to find exactly what you wanted. And it’s the ability to freak your hubby out by predicting exactly what he’s doing, when he’s doing it (see below for proof).

This was a real exchange between hubby and me. LOL

If you ask me, I think old love is pretty awesome. 🙂

This is my wish for our soon-to-be-married friends, that they will have a beautiful day celebrating their new love and look forward to a lifetime of happily developing their old love.

Take a listen to this perfect wedding song, “You and Me”, by Lifehouse.

What do you enjoy most about weddings? 

Apologies to My “Type Z” Child

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I love to eat pie. Hand me a slice of hot, baked-from-scratch, fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie (or peach pie or any kind of berry pie) with a scoop of ice cream next to it (not on top cause that would make it melt too quickly!), and I’m a happy camper.

But do you know what kind of pie I don’t like eating?

You guessed it – humble pie.

If you can imagine, humble pie is that barely recognizable “dessert” made up of a gooey crust and cold, moldy filling. It’s like a baker opened up a can of very expired fruit and dumped it into a raw pie crust and handed it to you in a floppy tin foil pan.

Not too appetizing, is it? That’s why I was less than thrilled to have been served a slice of it this week.

Let me start from the beginning.

I’m a pretty typical Type A kind of gal. I’m detail oriented, a little too serious, task-oriented … you get the picture. But somehow I gave birth to a Type Z daughter. (Yes, I know the opposite of the Type A personality is usually called Type B, but I think using the letter Z is more appropriate given how completely opposite these two personalities are.) So, me and C (aka. my alter ego) get along great much of the time. She injects joy and life into the most mundane moments, such as the time she decided to place a shredded carrot between her upper lip and nose to form a mustache. Or the times she squeezes me tight and tells me, “I love you more than you love me!” Those are the moments that make me stop whatever task I’m doing and just laugh. I call her my fun-loving, happy kid.

Then there are the times my Type Z daughter causes me to sigh and groan. It’s usually when she has misplaced an item and starts having a minor meltdown about losing it, only to have me point out that it was right in front of her face the entire time (just partially hidden under something else). Or when she leaves a trail of toys on the floor and neglects to clean them up, creating a dangerous obstacle course for me to go through. These are the moments I end up complaining to hubby about how forgetful, messy and undetailed (yes, I made that up) his mini-me is.

So here’s where things started going downhill for me as a parent this past week. I was packing the kids’ snacks/lunch one morning and asking C where she put her water bottle. My exact words were, “Go look for it! You probably left it upstairs.”

Upon hearing my nagging voice, she went up to her room to look, then came back down and searched some more. When she told me she couldn’t find it, I sighed (of course) and thought to myself, I’m not surprised. She always loses things. Then I grabbed another pink water bottle of hers, packed it in her bag and sent her out the door to school.

Soon after, I opened the refrigerator to get some breakfast for myself, and my eyes spotted something on the top shelf that immediately made me cringe. Lo and behold, there was C’s “missing” water bottle, which I had put there the day before.

When I told hubby about this later, he gave me a “That’s not nice” look and said I’d better apologize to C for accusing her of losing her water bottle.

“I know, I know. I will,” I replied through a mouthful of humble pie.

Sigh. I hate swallowing my pride and admitting I am wrong about something. But this time I had no qualms about doing just that because I felt so bad that I had mislabeled my sweet daughter. Sure, the labels I had been using were based off of her tendencies, but tendencies only reflect what someone does some of the time, not all of the time. And negative labels certainly don’t give people the benefit of the doubt that possibly, just possibly, someone else could be at fault.

So, I’m trying to focus on more positive labels for my kids and for people in general (myself included). No one is perfect. Everyone has their share of strengths, including my Type Z daughter. And everyone has their share of weaknesses, especially a certain Type A mama. 😉

This song by Corinne Bailey Rae, “Put Your Records On”, comes to mind when I think about C. The lyrics remind me of her free spirit.

What personality traits do you have a harder time getting along with?

Thoughts About the New Nicolas Cage Movie and Other Matters of Faith

A few days ago, I dragged hubby to watch the (new) Left Behind movie. Well, dragged might be too dramatic a word to use here; he more or less humored me by going. When we discovered that the next showing of Gone Girl would be too late for us to catch, I enticed him with the idea of seeing Nicolas Cage on the big screen, and he agreed. (To be truthful, a psychological thriller about a marriage gone wrong probably wouldn’t be the best choice for a date night anyway, haha.) Thankfully, Nicolas Cage came through and made the movie more than decent. Okay, he basically carried the whole film with his gut-wrenchingly believable acting. (For more proof of Mr. Cage’s acting chops, check out Face Off.) If there’s any reason you should watch Left Behind, it’s him.

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Other than that, if you really want the wonder and awe of an Oscar-worthy movie about eschatology (a fancy term for “end times”), you should just stick to the original script found in the book of Revelation. As a writer, I am more and more impressed by authors who write amazing stories, especially in the genres that I can’t, namely sci-fi and fantasy. Although the writer of Revelation is John, the creator of the events that unfold in those twenty-two chapters is God. And boy, is He an amazing author. As a kid in Sunday school and later on as a grad student in seminary, I used to think all the stuff described in the last book of the Bible was strange and out of this world. Now, as a writer, I am starting to see how amazingly creative the story really is. And how amazingly creative God really is.

Yes, it takes a lot of faith to believe in all the end time stuff that Revelation talks about, not to mention the rest of the Bible. Even for someone who began going to church at the age of seven, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the ideas that God exists, that mankind is sinful and that Jesus, God’s own son, came to earth to die for us.

If I can be honest, I’ve recently been going through a mid-faith crisis. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m reaching mid-life or I’ve just been allowing myself to ask some hard questions about what I believe in. I’m starting to see that the journey of faith that I am on, and I believe each person is on, goes through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

What does each stage look like? Maybe something like this:

Denial – Does God exist?

Anger – Why does a loving God allow (fill in the blank) to happen?

Bargaining – If I do (fill in the blank), can’t I make it to heaven?

Depression – Will God accept me even though I’ve (fill in the blank)?

Acceptance – I have answers for all those questions above and believe, without a doubt, in Jesus.

I’ve been a believer for almost thirty years, yet I think I’m just starting to go through some of these stages. I’m sure the process is different for every person; there is no one correct formula or method. I think the important thing is to go through the stages and to be honest about our questions and thoughts. It helps to do research, too, to find the answers to your questions. I’m thankful to be able to voice my wacky and cynical thoughts to hubby and have him listen without judgment as I process through them.

I’m still journeying through the stages, sometimes going from one to another and back again. But I am starting to get answers and clarity. Through all of my wavering though, I know God hasn’t been upset or surprised by my pondering. After all, He’s the one who gave me a brain to think with. And the bottom line is, I know He won’t leave me, or anyone else, hanging if we truly want answers.

Oh, if anyone is wondering, yes, the five stages of faith are the same as the five stages of grief. Funny how that works, huh? But it makes sense, too. To truly believe in God means letting go of your own ideals about who God is and knowing there is only one God – and you’re not Him.

Here’s a song from Left Behind, Jordin Sparks’ cover of DC Talk’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”. (If you don’t catch the movie in theaters, Redbox it!)

Where are you currently at in your journey of faith?