Not Giving Up

I used to think it was funny whenever people would compliment our kids and hubby would proudly say, “Thank you!”  That’s because I feel like complimenting someone’s child is indirectly giving the parent(s) a compliment as well.  That’s because kids are the “creation” of their parents; they did get all their genetic make up from them.  So, if someone wants to hear endless compliments about themselves, the best thing to do is to have a child.  (I’m so kidding.)

Sure, I enjoy hearing people say positive things about my kids.  But on the flip side, there are times when I cringe when my kids do/say things that are not so great and I have to pause and ask myself, where did they get that from?  Cause we as parents can’t just take credit for the good and not the bad.  For example, it’s a good reminder to myself to work on the tone of my voice when I hear C yelling at her big brother, “Say sorry NOW!”  Sigh…

But there are some things that kids don’t learn by observing their parents; you could say these are the traits that were inherited and are ingrained in their DNA.  When I see E being cautious and wary of speaking in public, I unfortunately know where he got that from….and it wasn’t from hubby (both he and C love attention, haha).

From www.freedigitalphotos.net

It broke my heart when I saw E on stage at his preschool graduation, turned halfway around in his seat so he wouldn’t have to face the audience.  He sat and stood like that for about 45 minutes even when the teacher asked him to turn around and face forward.  I knew exactly how he was feeling – overwhelmed and uncomfortable, like every single eye in the audience was fixed on him.  But he did make it through and even happily skipped off the stage when it was all over!

Just last week, we faced another hurdle with him about public speaking, but this time the public part only involved us.  He needed to practice a memory verse for school and he refused to say it out loud to us.  It was the day before this assignment was due and we were at our wits end trying to figure out how to get him to cooperate.  (Yes, I can be a perfectionist when it comes to homework.)  Finally, we decided to reward him with a $5 toy if he would say the verse out loud.  He eventually agreed and mumbled his way through it, but he did it!  We were thrilled!  And he told us the next day that he was the only kid in his class to get the verse right on the first try!  Cue the happy and proud parent dance!

I am so happy to say that this week he has been so much more cooperative about the memory verse and practiced it with me 3 days ahead of schedule.  And he even said he did it this time without having to get a prize.  LOL.  Good thing, cause I didn’t know if I wanted to fork over $5 every week to get him to do it.

Sigh… It’s a strange thing seeing yourself in your child.  It’s both a blessing and a curse in some ways because there’s no denying what you see in the “mirror” in front of you.  But it’s also a lesson for me that our kids are worth our patience and encouragement, especially when they face the same challenges that we find ourselves facing.  It’s a reminder that yes, I have plenty of weaknesses and struggles, but I can get through them, just like E gets through his.  And I should be patient with myself, just as we try to be patient with him.

I really like the message of this song, “I Won’t Give Up”, by Jason Mraz, especially the part that says, “We got a lot to learn and God knows we’re worth it.”  Cause we all are worth it.  So don’t give up whatever you’re going through!

In what area(s) are you trying not to give up in?

Hamster Wheels

Image courtesy of James Barker/freedigitalphotos.net

“I wish I was a hamster.”

We were at Petsmart getting some dog food and we had just walked past the aisle with the hamster cages. E saw the little wheels inside those cages and wished he could be a hamster so he could run on one of them.

While I’m sure there is some element of fun to running in place and not going anywhere, I can’t imagine that the fun would last for very long.

How do I know this?

Well, sometimes I feel like I’m running on a hamster wheel. I wake up, make breakfast, do the dishes, entertain C, prepare lunch, pick up E from school, eat lunch, entertain both kids, get them ready for a nap, prepare a snack for them, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up, get the kids ready for bed, go to bed … and start the whole process over again the next day. It’s kind of like being in the movie “Groundhog Day“, where the main character wakes up on the same day over and over again. Hmm, there seems to be a trend going on here with small rodents.

Thinking about rodents has made me a little philosophical. I was wondering today, What is the meaning of life? (I might be on the brink of a mid-life crisis, so bear with me!) Is the whole point of life to just run on this hamster wheel and keep it moving? Because sometimes I would like to get off and rest. But if I can’t get off, I would like to at least feel like I’m going somewhere.

The reality though is that the sun rises and sets each day and there isn’t a pause button to press to make it stop. And a lot of what makes up one’s life is the routine and seemingly mundane stuff that happens on a daily basis.

I realized that’s why I like distractions – whether it’s in the form of eating good food, shopping for new clothes, watching my favorite TV show or going on vacations – because they bring some excitement to the ordinary. Distractions make my time running on the hamster wheel more enjoyable. I considered for a brief moment how hedonism could be an attractive philosophy to live by.

But then my sense of reality (and frugality – cause pleasure usually equals big bucks!) woke me up from this daydream. Sure, God wants me to enjoy all the things He’s given me, but hopefully there’s more to life than making myself happy. I spent many years as an only child, so I know all about focusing on myself (there can be too much of a good thing)!

I started thinking that as a parent, I totally want my kids to be happy and to enjoy life. I want them to find pleasure in running on their hamster wheels. But I also want them to look outside themselves and spend their time and energy on what is meaningful and long lasting in life.

So, what is the meaning of life? I finally came to the conclusion that it is to love. To love God and to love our neighbor (other people). To value people over things. To make someone’s day with a smile or listening ear or helping hand. To know you had a positive impact on someone’s life. It doesn’t get better or more meaningful than this!

I may be like a hamster running on my little wheel, feeling stuck in my cage, but I can move my furry feet with purpose. And that purpose, for the time being, is to care for my family the best I can. So, here I go, taking it one day at a time, all with the hope that each step will bring me closer to what I was made for … to love.

Here’s a great song by Mat Kearney, “Closer To Love“.

What do you do to make your time running on the hamster wheel more meaningful?

Stronger

I ran into an old friend the other day who said in a “I can’t believe it” kind of tone, “You stay home with them (the kiddies) all day?” I took a deep breath and replied, “It’s training in progress!”

I’ve been thinking lately how much motherhood has changed me and how far I’ve come in the last 5+ years. I’m not tooting my own horn, believe me, cause I know of other moms who stay at home and don’t have any family nearby to help them and/or are  raising a special needs child, so I know I have it fairly easy in comparison! But I also realize how much I’ve been stretched, broken down and molded physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually – it’s like I’ve been training for a marathon and have finally started to gain some momentum in my stride.

I recently read the book, “The Hungry Little Caterpillar” to my kids and began to see myself as that caterpillar, especially the part where it eats and eats and becomes a big, fat caterpillar (yes, I considered pregnancy a time of indulgence!).  And after it is done eating, it makes a cocoon and holes up in it for about two weeks to do some changing.  I, on the other hand, kind of stayed in a “cocoon” for a good five years cause there was a LOT of changing I had to do in becoming a mom.

It would have been nice if I could have magically transformed into a “mom” as soon as I laid eyes on my baby, but I’ve discovered this title kind of needs to be earned (through lots of manual labor and shifts in perspective!).  I never realized how much sacrificing I would need to do as a mom and how everything becomes about the kids and you get placed on the back burner – waaay in the back!  I never knew how all consuming it would be to be a mom, how it zaps your energy, finances, memory, and surprisingly, your identity, too.

Before I had kids, I had once read on a friend’s (who is a mom) facebook profile that she was trying to salvage her identity.  I now understand what she meant.  Over these past few years it feels like I’ve morphed into someone else.  The upside to my metamorphosis is that this introverted, square, almost only child is now a little less shy, a bit more conscientious of other people’s needs and doesn’t need to have everything go my way every time (though that would be nice!).  I can do some things now that I couldn’t do before I had kids like cut hair, strike up conversations with strangers and take really fast showers (like under 4 minutes).  🙂  The downside to this transformation though is a lack of balance at times, meaning that there’s a tendency for my identity to be all “mom” and for the other parts of me to get pushed out of the equation.  For a while I lost sight of the things I used to enjoy, like listening to music that isn’t about buses or monkeys or spiders and reading books that don’t have pictures on every page.  It even got to the point where my mom could tell I hadn’t brushed my hair (I was happy enough to have just washed it, who cared about brushing it!).  🙂

Well, now that the kids are a little older and more independent, I am glad to say I have a little more time to brush my hair every day and even read a magazine sometimes.  I’m also trying to put some of my needs back on the front burner, like exercising regularly again so I can be healthier and set a good example for the kids.  And I’m starting to contemplate what I can do with my time next year when both kids will be in school!

Supposedly, they say that when a butterfly breaks itself out of the cocoon, it’s stronger for having done so.  So here I am finally emerging from my cocoon and hoping that the person I am now as a mom is an improved version of who I was before having kids.  Cause what doesn’t kill you, definitely makes you stronger!  😛

Image courtesy of wiangya/freedigitalphotos.net

Check out Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Stronger“.

In what ways have your life experiences made you stronger?

Gettin’ a Job In Tha Muthahood

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve been thinking lately that’s it’s way to easy to become a parent (assuming there are no conception difficulties). When I was in the hospital after having had E, I couldn’t believe that the doctors and nurses were just going to let us take him home! There were no diaper changing tests, no home inspections, not even a background check that we had to pass. Even when we had adopted our dog Sparkle, the cocker spaniel foster home made sure we had a yard for him to run around in and even had us sign a form stating so. No one at the hospital asked us any questions about our home or our experiences with raising a person. It kind of makes parenting seem like the easiest job to qualify for, right?

Wrong! If I could have, I would have given myself a parenting questionnaire to answer to see how prepared (or not!) I was to have kids.  I would have required myself to take that test early – not on the day I was to bring E home from the hospital, but much earlier than that – probably on the day I decided I wanted to have kids, way back in the last century.  😛

That questionnaire would have gone something like this:
1. Are you able to function on minimal amounts of sleep, morph into a cow (this is what a nursing mom feels like) and learn to do everything with one hand (because you’ll always be carrying a kid with the other)?
2. Can you remain calm, cool and collected under pressure (for example, when you have 2 screaming kids in line with you at Bed, Bath and Beyond and a grumpy old man keeps giving you the evil eye)?
3. Do you know how to handle unreasonable requests (such as cutting food up exactly the way someone wants it or else be faced with a major emotional meltdown)?
4. Can you show flexibility, patience and persistence in times of extreme frustration (ie. giving sponge baths for a whole month to a toddler who suddenly develops an aversion to water)?
5. Are you able to multi-task efficiently and effectively (for example, nurse a newborn baby while cutting your toddler’s hair as he naps)?

And these would only be the questions addressing the first few years of parenting! Unfortunately, or fortunately, I don’t have the experience yet to write about what it’s like to raise a teenager, though they say it’s similar to the terrible two’s. 😛

So if I had been given that questionnaire before having kids, I would have definitely scored a big, fat zero. And I may have been too scared to become a parent. I was, to put it plainly, very naive about what parenting entails. Hubby, on the other hand, was a lot more realistic and hesitant, which explains why it took us 5 years (and a lot of convincing from me!) to have kids. And now he’s the one who’s always saying we should have had kids earlier!

I may have headed into this parenting adventure blissfully ignorant, but I’ve learned so much along the way.   And thanks to my kids, I think I’ve been changing into someone who is a lot less dainty, a lot more decisive and overall, a whole lot tougher.  Tough enough to tackle the teenage years ahead?  We’ll see about that.

Now if I could only add all these new skills I’ve acquired as a parent in my resume for the next time I apply for a job… 🙂

Here’s a fun video about living “In Tha Muthahood” by Anita Renfroe.

What new skills have you acquired or want to acquire as a parent?

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