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?

An Unexpected Trip to the ER and a Confession

My family and I had the pleasure of taking a short weekend getaway to a nearby beach town last weekend. It was the four of us, plus my parents and sister and brother-in-law. One weekend together staying in a quaint house should have equaled semi-rest and relaxation (after all, we had babysitters on hand); what we didn’t expect however was that it would also include a visit to the ER.

Hubby, the kids and the grandparents had settled themselves comfortably on a stretch of sand while my sister and bro-in-law had gone boogie boarding. I had been given the task of buying some beach toys because we of course had forgotten to bring our whole stash of shovels, pails and molds from home. I had just made the purchase and was returning my wallet to my purse when I decided to check my phone.

Three missed calls and one voicemail?!?! I had not even been gone for ten minutes. What could be wrong?

As I walked out of the store, I listened to the message from my mom and heard the worry in her voice as she said, “T dislocated his shoulder again! He needs to go to the hospital!”

My thought process went something like this:

AIYA! But they barely got into the water! It was probably a foreshadowing of things to come when T joked, “It was nice knowing you” right before he headed off towards the ocean. Oh dear! Where, what, how …?!?!

After a series of calls and missed calls, I finally reached my mom who told me hubby and the kids had driven our bro-in-law and my sister to the ER. I met up with my parents, and we decided to walk the 1.3 miles back to our rental house, two boogie boards and an unopened bag of sand toys in tow.

The thirty minute stroll (which could have taken twenty minutes had we thought to take a shortcut via a bridge) gave us a good opportunity to enjoy the warm sunshine. It also provided a rare chance for my parents and I to chat, just the three of us. So there we were, looking very touristy with Google maps open on my phone, walking single file up and down the narrow streets when my dad called up to me, “I told Mommy when you got married that I was worried it wouldn’t work out.”

Later on when I shared my dad’s confession with hubby, he also said, without batting an eye, “I was worried, too.”

Hm … Was I the only person who had optimistically naively thought our dating relationship, and subsequent marriage, would have a happily ever after?

Apparently, yes. 😉

You may be wondering what all the fuss was about? Well, let’s just say that hubby and I are very different in a lot of areas, personality and dating histories being two of them. Throw in some concerned family and friends to the mix, and well, you’ve got some legitimately concerned family and friends.

Looking back, I can say I was 100% sure of my decision to marry hubby. But frankly speaking, my confidence came from a lot of unrealistic notions of love and marriage. Beliefs such as: troubles will never come our way; we will always feel loving towards each other; and we’ll always have a happy relationship (yes, I’ve needed to wean myself from an “all or nothing” mentality over the years). What I learned in the days following our wedding was the complete opposite: all couples will face troubles; there will be times when you dislike each other; and there will be plenty of moments when you drive each other bananas.

Isn't this a cute group of bananas?

Isn’t this a cute group of bananas?

The years leading up to today have included many such doses of reality. But as an older friend at church (with eleven years of marriage under his belt compared to our one at the time) once told us, “It gets better.”

It does?! If so, when? And how? His comment left me with some doubt, but also with some hope.

But he was right. Marriage does get better. With time, you really get to know your spouse, his way of thinking, doing and planning (or not planning). You grow to trust each other more. You learn to not take things so personally. You try to become a better lover and friend.

The key is that it takes time. Time to change and to see change happen. So it’s important that we be patient with our spouses and with ourselves. Our marriages are a work in progress because we are a work in progress.

On that note, my dad followed up on his confession during our walk with this: “I see how happy your (and your sister’s) marriages are and I’m not worried anymore.”

Whew. 🙂

Here’s Alicia Keys’ song, “If I Ain’t Got You“, a sappy, but powerful love song. 😉

In what ways have you seen a relationship or marriage improve over the years?

P.S. Our brother-in-law got his shoulder relocated at the hospital (his 7th time!) and has now learned how to do it himself should it ever happen again. 😛

Making 3rd World Problems 1st World Concerns

I was trying to enter my passcode into my iPhone yesterday when it froze up on me. I heard the usual click after I put in the numbers, but the screen didn’t respond. I let out a deep sigh of frustration and thought to myself, “Noooo!!”

Yes… 1st world problems, I know!

I almost wanted to laugh at myself for reacting so dramatically to such a minor, small, insignificant “problem”. In fact, I’m smiling right now as I type this. And I’m thankful I have the resources to own a cell phone, working or not.

This got me thinking about all the material things I have, which I totally take for granted on a daily basis.

~ clean water
~ electricity
~ more than enough food
~ more than enough clothes
~ feminine products

Yes, you read that right. I’m talking about those lovely products that we females get to use once a month. When I see a box of those items, all I get is a nagging reminder of “Aunt Flo’s” never-ending visits. But to girls in Uganda, having access to sanitary pads is like having a boat come to your rescue when you’re floating aimlessly in the ocean.

I came across this need recently (thanks to this amazing website) and was just shocked to learn that there are many young girls in Africa who are too embarrassed to attend school during their menstrual periods because they can’t afford pads! This means they fall behind on their schoolwork and eventually drop out and are then forced by their families into an early marriage. This then translates into teen pregnancies, possible exposure to HIV and broken dreams. Without an education, they cannot pursue a career and will have to be dependent on someone else for their survival.

I can’t imagine what these girls go through. I can’t even bear to imagine what it would mean for my daughter if she was in the same situation. No girl should have their lives thrown off track because of something that can be solved rather easily.

That’s why I was so excited to find out there is an organization that is providing these girls in Uganda with underwear, soap and sanitary pads (eco-friendly ones made from papyrus leaves) so they can stay in school! The girls also receive mentorship in life skills and character development. Support systems are put in place within the community to emphasize the importance of educating girls.

Image courtesy of africa/freedigitalphotos.net

Isn’t this cool?! 🙂 And to think that we, all the way around the world, can be a part of the solution to this PROBLEM (in caps because it is major, huge and significant).

There are so many 3rd world problems that can become our 1st world concerns. This is one of them for me. What are yours?

I thought Alicia Keys’ song, “Girl on Fire“, would be appropriate for this post. When girls are empowered through education, they are on fire!

What global problems are you passionate about fixing?