The Kind of Mom I Want to Be

Here’s another author I love:

Neil-Gaiman

I’m not sure the kids are ready for his stories yet, but he wrote this for a “This American Life” on NPR:

Neil Gaiman

I told my wife that I was going to write about adventures, and she laughed without stopping for two minutes. I timed her. She laughed from 11:09 until 11:11. “Are you going to tell them,” she said when she pulled herself together and more or less stopped laughing, “about how you call every trip to the store an adventure?” I told her that I wasn’t, that I was going to write something rich, and true, and wonderful for the radio.

There would be aliens in it, and prehistoric monsters, Aztecs and vampires, crazed scientists and their beautiful daughters. It would contain, somewhere in its 700 words, spies and swordsmen, oracles and barbarians, ghosts, a dancing bear, wise women, werewolves, foot-long carnivorous centipedes, and quite possibly some illicit sex.

She still laughed. I don’t think she believed me. And she’s right. I get it from my parents, I’m afraid. In my family, adventure tended to be used to mean any minor mishap we survived, or even any break from routine, except by my mother, who still uses it to mean what she did that morning.

I suspect that my father, who loved G. K. Chesterton’s essays, had encountered Chesterton’s aphorism that an inconvenience is only an adventure looked at the wrong way, and an adventure only an inconvenience wrongly considered, and he took it to heart. So any inconvenience, any problem, any struggle of a personal nature, any of these things in my family would be described as an adventure.

Let’s admit it. Real adventures are the sorts of things most of us would just as soon avoid. I wouldn’t know what to do if I were on a plane that crashed into an Amazonian dinosaur valley, or a Fumanchu unleashed his centipedes of doom in my general direction. Probably I’d die, quickly and fairly horribly. A character in one of my novels, Tristan Thorn, put this better than I or any of my family members ever managed to. “Adventures were all very well in their place,” he thought, “but there’s a lot to be said for regular meals and freedom from pain.”

 

There is something inside us all that craves Adventure.  I want to be the kind of mom; the kind of person that finds adventure every day.  Parenthood certainly is an adventure in and of itself!

If you think about it, we’re all living a story.  We’ll all leave a legacy behind us when we move on.  Some of us are living a story that just isn’t very interesting.  Living a great story doesn’t mean I have to be famous or do something hugely impactful in this world.  But it does mean I have to move.  I have to change.  I have to experience new things and take risks.  I have to use the gifts God’s given me.  And do what I do with my whole heart.  I have to try hard.  I have to love hard.  I have to live with passion.  And in doing so, I will make an impact on MY world.

 

Let Go

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We bought the boys walkie talkies for Christmas because they’ve been wanting to branch out and leave their momma farther than she likes.

So now when our friends at the end of the street want Isaac and Asher to come play, Isaac takes the walkie and gives me one.  We check the battery, and practice our walkie lingo, and then send them on their way.

Here’s what happened last week:

Isaac was down at the court and I felt the need to come over the walkie to tell him I loved him.

“Isaac, Come in.”

“What”

“I love you.”

“… Me too.”

“Roger that, Over and out”

He said (in a way) that he loved me over the walkie talkie in front of his little punk friends!  Ha!  Still got him!

 

Here’s what happened this week:

I took Tabby (the dog) for a walk down to the court to check on the boys.  They were taking turns getting in a wagon with no sides and being pulled as fast as possible down a sloped driveway and into the street.  When I arrived, Asher and Isaac were getting in for the first time.  The look on Asher’s face was sheer horror as he realized what he was about to do.  His white knuckled hands tightly gripped the small lip on the wagon.  They raced down the driveway and into the street.  It was probably a 10 second ride. I wanted to laugh at Asher’s face, but I also wanted to tell the boys not to do that anymore. Or to wear helmets.  Or to tie pillows around their sides… and fronts and backs… plus the helmets and elbow and knee pads…

I just kept imagining the wagon tipping over and me having to take someone to the ER.

And then it occurred to me.  When I was a kid and I wanted to do fun things like slide down the stairs in a sleeping bag, or dance in the rain of a thunderstorm, or climb out a second story window using knotted sheets and some adult told me that I couldn’t do that.  It made me think that parents were lame.  In my head, they were lame, not just because they were telling me not to have fun, but because, they obviously had never experienced that kind of fun before themselves.  I always thought that if an adult was telling me not to do something, then that activity was scary to them.

It never occurred to me that of course they had done risky, possibly painful things like that in the past but they were telling me not to do it because they cared more about my safety than my need for adventure.

Then it occurred to me that both a child’s safety, and their need for adventure are important.  Kids need to do risky things every once in a while.  It helps them to grow!  As much as we want our kids to always stay little, our JOB is to help them grow.

I was talking to another parent this week who was raised in Egypt.  In third grade, she started taking the city bus to school.  Her dad walked her to the bus station where she would board one bus, catch a second one at the next stop and then arrive safely near her school.  She said there was an atmosphere of protectiveness from every adult she came in contact with.  The bus driver would often drop her off at the door to the school instead of the bus stop nearest school.  People would give up their seats on the bus for her.  Now that was a different culture and a different era than my boys are growing in now.  She reminded me that adults are cautious to help stranger kids for fear of a law suit these days.  She said she and her husband were at a park when a little girl near by was having a hard time getting on a swing.  Her husband asked if they should help her and she told him, men don’t get to help little girls anymore.

The idea that “it takes a village” to raise a child rarely applies anymore because parents are so fearful of their very own village!  Even if you feel you live in a safe area, parents are called neglectful if they let their children take risks… So they don’t.  The result is over protected, spoiled kids who don’t know how to survive in their own environment.  College kids have to call their parents to ask how to wash their clothes.  People are applying for jobs for the first time ever after they graduate.  Kids get their first taste of freedom when they get their drivers liscense and they get out of control because they don’t know how to handle the freedom they’re experiencing.

When my boys are out of my sight, 8 houses down the street, that is a very risky activity in my mind…  I can’t get anything done.  I pace around the house and make frequent trips to the window and mailbox to check on my boys. I love my boys with a fierce love.  I think they know that.  But I also know that my own comfort and ability to relax does not mean that I am being a great parent.  In fact, it may be the opposite.

I think it’s true of adults: if you never step out of your comfort zone, then you will never grow, change, or live a great story.  And that’s probably a widely accepted idea.  So the same is true with our kids: If we don’t let them take risks and scare the beejeezus out of us every once in a while, how will they grow?  Yes, they will get bigger.  Yes they will learn new things.  But will they be independent?  Will they be courageous?  Will they be adventurous, assets to society?

 

Here are my thoughts (and I think in Dr. Seuss and Uncle Shelby):

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Let them play,

Let them run,

Let them jump,

And have fun.

 

They are little

And they are ours,

But give them freedom

Give them power.

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They are children

And they will grow.

If they are loved

Then they will know.

 

Give them the chance

To try and fail

Or spread their wings

And learn to sail!

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Pick them up.

Always be there

And you will show

How much you care.

 

They will thank you.

I hope so.

When little by little

you learn to let go.

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Poetry 101 by Emily Littleton

 

 

 

This Guy

Shel-silverstein

 

I’ve always liked this guy.  When the boys were born, I bought a Shel Silverstein CD.  On it, Shel read and sang and shouted the childrens poems he has written.  I would turn it on during the day because I thought it was important for my babies to hear a man’s voice all day long.  I read it somewhere… But it’s been hidden in a cabinet for about 4 years now.

Isaac is doing a poetry unit at school, so I broke out There’s a Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends and read some poems from there for him one morning.  Then I remembered that I had this CD and the boys have been listening to it every day this week.

When I heard the phrase, “Sweaty toothed mad man” from the movie Dead Poet’s Society.  This was the image that I thought of.

I mean who would use this picture on the back of everyone’s favorite childrens book?

Someone I’d want to be friends with.