Tag Archives: home

The View From Over There

I shamelessly eavesdropped accidently overheard a conversation at the park this morning. It was between mother and daughter as they watched the kids play. The daughter (who was also the mother of the kids – clear?) was unloading about her son’s social problems, dealing with teachers at school and the struggle to incorporate speech therapy into his life. Grandma “hmmm-ed” and “uh-huh-ed” throughout. At the end she suggested that it would be a good idea to carve out just 15 minutes a day to play speech therapy games with the son. Nothing too strenuous, just a chance to spend some time together and improve his communication skills.

“What a difference that could make in the rest of his life!”

“It’s only 15 minutes.”

That one there. That’s what got my blood boiling. I mean, does she realize how HARD it is to carve out 15 minutes EVERY day. Does she have any idea how tired this poor woman is? Overwhelmed? Discouraged? It sure is easy for someone else to suggest adding this or that to an already over-packed schedule. Does this mom really need ONE more person adding to that burden of guilt and obligation? What she really needs is a hug. And a hi-five. And an assurance that she’s already doing everything exactly right and shouldn’t change a thing.

I could be projecting.

Because that woman said “Good idea Mom. I’ll give it some thought.”

Here I was ready to have her back (and who doesn’t need some creepy, eavesdropping stranger leap to their defense?). The truth is, Grandma is probably right. She wasn’t unsympathetic or demanding or guilt-trippy (cause then I WOULD have jumped into all that with a vengeance). She just saw something important that might make life easier in the long run. She’s on the other side, beyond late nights and concerned teachers and feeling like it’s all too much for one person to handle; where needs and problems loom large, because they are close up, all the time.

She sees what’s important. She sees what she regrets and what she doesn’t. She sees the big picture. She’s outside the eye of the storm.

Maybe the view from over there is worth considering.

viewpointSo here’s me, in the midst of it all, where it is so much easier to react and survive. We could use a little more strategic parenting up in our neck of the woods. Now to try and figure out what my new 15 minute habit should be…

5minutefridayFive Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

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We Never Leave Home

Another Friday. Another Five Minutes to write. Another topic.

HOME

We all need it. We all crave it. We all spend a lifetime looking for it.

Maybe it’s a house. Or an apartment. Or a webpage. Or a shopping cart. Or a fort cobbled together with plywood and packing tape. Or a fuzzy blanket, worn out in all the right spots.

We call it home, because it is ours. It feels safe and comfortable. It is relief when everything spins out of control. Whether it was a gift or a hard-fought victory, we have carved a place out of the world where we belong.

And somewhere along the way it becomes less about where we are, or who we’re with, or what we have. It becomes a part of us. One day when it is long gone and strangers have moved in and time has eaten away the threads of it, it remains as real to us as ever.

I am the big, blue house on the corner. I am bowls of ice cream with Dad. I am stirring the gravy while Mom zips around the kitchen. I am a red swing set and crabapple trees and little sisters tagging along after me.

I am the third unit in Student Family Housing. I am a fifth generation ratty old couch with a green sheet overtop. I am goofing around in the tiny kitchen, making orange sauce and noodles because we can’t afford meat.

I am ducking to get into the bathroom in a tiny basement suite in Guelph. I am the mural of a park in my daughter’s first room. I am picking blackberries over the fence. I am counting the 14 stairs up to the living room with my son.

I am so many places and people and things which make me feel safe and comfortable and loved.

Because we never really leave home. We carry it with us. Always.

STOP

So here’s me, craving ice cream with my Dad and orange sauce with noodles. I don’t think I appreciated them as much as I should, at the time.

Recipe for Orange Sauce:

2/3 Cup of Ketchup

2/3 Cup of Water

3 Tbsp of Brown Sugar

Dash of Lemon juice

Boil until sauce thickens and serve with noodles or rice

(and pork chops, if you can afford it).

~

Join Lisa-Jo for a 5 Minute Writing Challenge: set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..


Parents Need to Get a Life

I’m tired of it. The saintly, June Cleaver-ish, I-simply-exist-to-service-my-children-and-husband ideal that I keep running into. There’s a religious version. And an organic-hippie version. And a sleek, modern-day tiger-mom version. And yes, even a special needs, therapy-is-our-life version. Their parenting may look very different from each other, but they are all entirely consumed by it. And it’s not just the women. They’re martyr parents.

martyrmomIn this day and age, parenting is the last bastion of acceptable nobility. We no longer expect to lay down our freedom, our identity, our dreams… our lives on the altar of marriage, or country, or vocation. But when Jr. Me arrives on the scene, we’re prepared to gift wrap all of the above. And pat ourselves on the back for doing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of selflessness. It’s something our culture could use more of. It’s something I could use more of. But good parenting is about a lot more than sacrifice.

To clarify, I’m talking to good parents here. Not the pseudo-adolescents who barely show up, much less engage their offspring. Nor the workaholic yuppie with a trophy child they stash away until family photo day rolls around.

The rest of us. Most of us. Regular folks who desperately love our kids and feel desperately overwhelmed and underqualified a lot of the time.

To compensate, we read more. We do more. We sleep less. We are the hardest-trying generation of parents who have ever lived.

And sometimes we forget that good parenting isn’t about giving more, it’s about being wise.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long haul. And we need to conserve our energy and recharge our batteries from time to time. That’s not selfish; that’s smart.

The Center-of-the-Universe is subpar housing. No one should live there. Certainly not an impressionable child. The most miserable adults began as children who believed they deserved what THEY wanted, when THEY wanted it, no matter the cost to others. It is good for children to wait, to pitch in, and to sacrifice for others, especially their parents. It builds this old fashioned thing called respect.

Kids grow up. Ouch. I know. And it happens so fast. Which makes you want to soak it in as much as you can (unless they’re really whiney; then you send them to visit the Grandparents). But someday when they need you a little less, or when they are grown and gone, your life will go on. If you have no life anymore, you are in for a shock. You are more than just a parent.

Life is happening now. Life can’t be put “on hold” until your busy child-rearing years are over. Although we are technically “adults,” we are still growing and learning and becoming. If we neglect ourselves we will be stunted phsyically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. One of the worst mistakes a parent can make is to sacrifice the health of their marriage to the immediate needs of the shortest family members. In the end, everyone suffers for that.

Whatever stage in life you are at, whatever unique circumstances you find yourself in… find something that is your own. In those first few crazy weeks/months, that might be nothing more than a quick, hot shower. Take it. Own it. It’s good for you. And that’s good for them. A good parent has their own life.

The week our baby girl was diagnosed with Down syndrome, we met with the hospital social worker. She handed us stacks of brochures and articles and tax benefit forms. But the best thing she gave us (apart from heartfelt congratulations) was this advice:

“Don’t change your whole life for her; let her fit into yours.”

Down syndrome will always be a part of her life, but we don’t build her life around it. Down syndrome will always be a part of our lives, but we don’t build our family around it.

Nor do we build it around our son’s adoption or his special needs. Or our eldest daughter’s consuming passion for dance. Or our 10-year-old’s absolutely-essential, must-have-or-she’ll-never-be-happy-again, latest trend/toy/hobby/obsession. In our family, everyone gets to have a life.

A good parent gives selflessly and sacrifices and often puts their kids first, but NOT always. A good parent has hobbies and friendships and goals and needs. A good parent goes on dates and takes long hot baths and reads books and takes holidays. A good parent can say NO, and a good parent actually does.

So here’s me, and I’m my own person.

Along these same lines… I love this article: Stress Less Parenting: What Everyone Can Learn from Lazy French Mothers What do you think?


When Life Goes into Overload

They call me the “One Trip Wonder.” A shopping bag hanging off of each finger and one wedged beneath my chin. Wrangling uncooperative bags with my hands while body checking the trunk closed. Beckham’s got nothing on me, as I dribble the extra-large package of (extra-large) pull-ups up the driveway with my feet. I bellow through the front door from someone to open up and give me a hand. Not to brag, but opera singers wish they had my lung capacity.

An overflowing cart of groceries carried into the house in ONE LOAD. That’s a crucial 47 seconds in valuable time saved! The crowd goes wild with applause! They’re amazed. They’re impressed. They wish they could be like me.

groceriesThey’re the imaginary audience in my head.

The actual, real people in my life just shrug and ask if I remembered to get crunchy peanut butter this time. They sigh weary sighs when asked to carry the food into the kitchen. They gripe about the broken egg and the misshapen bread.

Nobody appreciates my genius.

I’m Queen of the Grocery Overload!

Unfortunately, I’m not quite as competent when it comes to handling an overloaded schedule. Every once in a while we find ourselves facing a week of extras. Extra challenges. Extra events. Extra work.

Common sense dictates that this is the time to buckle down and plow through.

Deer-in-the-headlights, Overwhelmed, Procastinating Perfectionist suggests curling up into a fetal ball and crying like a baby.

Guess which one I usually choose?

February has had a few days of overload (much like January, and December of course, oh and the whole year before that). We truck along quite happily until a few extras get thrown into the mix. And then it seems like too much. Of course, the worst part isn’t the actual workload. Or the unsettled children. Or the break in routine.

The worst part is the anticipation of busyness beforehand.

When push comes to shove, I take busy and make it my b…. aby. But the pre-show isn’t pretty. Instead of getting MORE done, because life is about to ramp up, I seem to accomplish less than ever. I moan and complain and sit around feeling overwhelmed.

But this year I have a secret weapon.

This year, I’m not responsible for tomorrow or all week long or the rest of the year or however many days I have left on God’s green earth. This year, I’m responsible for TODAY. And the rest I’m leaving in God’s hands.

The days I remember this, it makes all the difference.

So here’s me, and I’ve had a few Overwhelmed Fetal Ball episodes, but remembering my One Word has helped. And this week I am facing a midterm, a school project, a sick child, a visit from in-laws, a family outing, a trip to the States, several meetings, Glen working evenings, baking 6 dozen cupcakes and pulling off a large Gotcha party for our boy and 50+ of our closest friends… but I’m feeling pretty cool, because I can handle TODAY and TODAY alone.

MonthlyOneWord150


Today is The Day

So… today, this happened:

We added a new pair of shoes to the blog.

This sentence is meaningless to most people, but to us, it means that today is The Day We Have Been Waiting For, for three years. Today we became the proud parents of a bouncing baby boy!

Actually, a bouncing toddler boy, and I really must emphasize the bouncing… lots and lots of bouncing from our little live wire!

Today we brought the boy home. We filled drawers with tiny shirts and pants, unpacked baby snacks and plastic bottles, played a rousing family game of mini-hockey, and waited for it to finally sink in.

There is no one waiting for him to come back at the end of the day. No more schedules and no more handoffs and no more shared parenting. Only friendship and occasional visits with those who have carried him this far and are an important part of his story.

But this is his home now. The boy is ours. And we are his.

Because forever family goes both ways.

This January, I joined the One Word project, choosing one word to pursue for the year (a sort of abbreviated new years resolution). My word for 2012: DREAM.

I expected I would be finding a new dream for my life, since adoption was so clearly not working out. I expected soul-searching and Plan B’s and making the best of things. I expected less… less than I wanted and less than I hoped for.

Instead, I get everything I dreamt of and more. Instead, I get wrestling matches and grass stains and 2 am wake up calls and sticky hugs. Instead, I am overwhelmed with the depth and width of this dream come true – our very own boy.

So here’s me, tired and nervous… and so very grateful to God and foster family and everyone who gave us today!


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