What I’m Learning

I had a really bad day yesterday.  The details aren’t even important.  It was just one blow after another, after another, ending with me crying to my husband, “I just need a win, Randall.”

(Robert Munsch’s kid was an early bloomer.)

We’re in a difficult season with our oldest kiddo.  I’ve been contemplating a blog all about it.  It was going to be a really good story starting like this:

I should have known that our relationship would be a struggle when the second they placed my firstborn on my chest he started peeing in my face.

 

True story… I would then go on to list all of the times I felt rejected by him.  They would be witty, but sad.  They would give you a picture of a running theme of hurt I’ve experienced in the past.  You would feel so sorry for me.

I just wallowed in self pity yesterday. I got so sad thinking about my situation that I couldn’t take it anymore.  My natural reaction in these times is to numb.  My go to is to eat something that “I deserve.” But as I’m on Day 23 of a Whole30 and a natural rule follower I could not do this.

My second choice of numbing is watching TV.  Unfortunately for me, I have made an unspoken rule that as a stay at home mom with kids in school, I just don’t turn on the TV during the day.  I don’t know why I’ve equated it to drinking in my head, but I don’t watch TV alone during the day.  I was out of defense mechanisms.

I had to go to God.  But to be honest, I didn’t want to deal with the situation still.  I wanted to numb, so I did my Bible study.  I’m in the middle of two different studies.  One about Exodus and one about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  I did a week’s worth of both.  In between, I wrote out a long prayer because don’t you know God speaks to you about where you are even when you’re trying to avoid it.

In my study on Exodus, the author wrote, “Just as God promised to go with Moses, He promises to go with you. Tell God your objections, fears, and concerns.  Then let Him help you.”  Here’s the deal: God has asked me to parent my kids, even when it’s hard.  That’s where I’m being called right now.

So I prayed. I told him how hard it was and how I don’t know how to parent most days. I’m concerned that the actions I’m seeing today will take this kid on a very dark path. I know as a Christian, I’m supposed to cling to God’s promises but there just aren’t any promises about how our kids will turn out.  That’s what I would wish for… to know that everything’s going to be okay. That whichever way the path takes us, it eventually will lead to a strong and kind man who follows hard after God.

As I was complaining to my husband last night about how hurt I am, how bullied I’ve felt, God was whispering in my ear the whole time.  Today I’ve got some clarity and a few things God wants me to remember in trying parenting times.

 

1.) I love this kid.  I don’t care what he does to me, that fact will never change.  I may not like what he says or does. He may break my heart, but he will never change my love for him. 

2.) Real love keeps no records of wrongs. There is no benefit in me holding on to hurts from the past.  I like to hoard them and stack them up in my mind.  But it just weighs me down. No good comes from it.  What happened on the day my baby was born and when he was two years old has nothing to do with what he did today. I have to forgive him for things he unknowingly did that hurt me. Forgiving means I don’t ever bring them back up or use them against him. That’s not fair and it’s not helpful.

3.)I need to address the source of the issue.  Disciplining the reaction does not solve the issue or prevent it from happening again.  If my baby is angry and does something vicious out of anger it doesn’t mean he’s a jerk, it means he doesn’t know how to handle his own anger.  Give him better tools.

4.) What he has done in the middle of a hormonal crash does not mean he will be a felon when he grows up. Things said and done in anger do not reflect his true thoughts. Dealing with the issues today often means that tomorrow is better. While we are in this parenting gig for the long haul, what’s happening right now will not happen forever.

That being said, do not name your kid by the wrong actions he’s committed. Stealing candy does not make him a Thief. Beating up his brother does not make him a Bully.  Lying about … everything… does not make him a Liar. He is not his sin.  He is my son and occasionally makes bad choices.  When you call your kid by his bad choices, he’ll think that’s all he’s worth.  He may think he’ll need to live up to what you’ve called out in him.  So call out his greatness.  Call out the strengths. I named my boys Laughter and Blessed.  May their lives always reflect those names.

5.) My whiny prayer yesterday has changed today.  Yesterday, I yelled at God because I want to know the future.  I want to know that everything is going to be okay.  He told me that I don’t need to worry about it.  That His promises do apply to our situation.  He promises to be with me and never leave me alone in parenting.  He promises that when my challenging boy told God on multiple occasions that he believes that Jesus is who He says He is and wants to follow Him, that He sent His Spirit to live inside of my boy.  God says in John 10:27-28 that He holds my boy in His hands and no one will ever snatch him from them. That tells me that in the end, I can be sure that everything will be okay wherever this bumpy road leads.

So today, I am praying that I see my boy through God’s eyes.  They span time and space.  He knows that yesterday’s actions do not define my kid.  He knows that whatever he has done, my baby is worthy of love, grace, and the ultimate sacrifice. They are not just God’s masterpiece but He has good planned for my boys. I know that too.  I just forget sometimes.

 

 

God, I’d much rather be called to pastor a church or free a nation of slaves, but you have called me to be a mother.  You have called me to train my boys in the way they should go: following the way of life that Jesus showed us.  Loving others well and serving them. It’s a hard job, God, and I feel the weight of its importance every day.  Give me the strength and patience, the peace, gentleness, and wisdom it takes to parent two beautiful boys. Help me to see my boys through Your eyes and love them as You love them. Thank you for being the best example in parenting.  May our lives honor You. 

Asher Jay

My baby.

With the cheeks.

Who is sweet to a fault. 

Is ten. 

Are you kidding me?  Ten years ago, this moment, I was holding my child-sized newborn in my arms.  I didn’t know he’d be the baby in the family.  I was pretty sure he’d be the middle child.  Randall and I wrestled over that decision and the conclusion was that we would always have room for more in our family.  So… you know… we’ll see.

This kid though… He loves hard. He loves dogs and wolves, Pepsi and tacos, and most of all his family.  When I say he is sweet to a fault, it isn’t that he’s sickly sweet.  He knows just the right time to give you a hug and tell you that he loves you. But you also can’t discipline his brother when he’s around.

Asher will almost always take the punishment for his brother if at all possible.  The boys often fight over the coveted bottom bunk in Isaac’s room.  We made a rule that if Isaac physically hurts his brother out of anger, Asher automatically gets the bottom bunk. It is a very effective form of discipline in our house.  Typically, Isaac will punch Asher or throw something at him out of anger, we say, “Asher get’s the bottom bunk” and then Isaac storms to his room.  Then Asher will closely follow and whisper to Isaac that he’ll give him the bottom bunk anyway. Sweet little punk.

I love this kid.  Everything about him.

 

God, 

When this baby grew in my womb, I named him Blessed.  I prayed that he would be blessed. You know all things and knew that in the future he would be the one to bless others around him. You are such a good God to give him to us. As the years have already passed by so quickly, may we not overlook the joy that this kid brings to our lives. May he continue to shine brightly your love to those around him. May he live a long and blessed life.

Amen.

Be Different!

My boys and I are working on their people skills.  I watched this video today and I loved it but it got me thinking about a few things I would say to my kids about this topic.

Two Boys:

Be different.  Be okay with not fitting in. I am an introvert in an extroverted world.  I hate pretending things are funny when they aren’t that funny to me.  I hate pretending things aren’t as funny as I think they really are, too.  Sometimes I just get the giggles.  I’m super interested in all sorts of things that other people easily lose interest in.  I hate small talk but “Hi, I’m Emily, tell me about your philosophy on life” is not a socially acceptable thing to say to someone you’re meeting for the first time. I often feel unique in this world.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.  Sometimes that’s a bad thing.

But let me give you a little tip I have learned through the years.  You don’t have to be like everyone else to fit in.  You can be the odd man out and think differently than anyone in the room, but you’ll fit right in if you love others well.

It’s okay to say, “You have an interesting point, but I disagree with you and here’s why…” But listen well and be okay if you are wrong or if they don’t change their opinion.

Think about others, not just yourself.  So you are creating an awesome parkour course in Minecraft with 17 varying levels of difficulty.  Not everyone is as interested in the amazing things that you are. Ask good questions and find out what they are interested in, too. Asking good questions is great way to show someone you care about them.

When I was growing up, the most popular kids in school weren’t the coolest kids on the block.  They were the nicest kids on the block.  They could fit in with the cool kids and the smart kids, the goth and the band geeks because they were just plain friendly people. They didn’t dress like the goth kids.  They didn’t play instruments or even necessarily care about music but they were kind.  They smiled at everyone in the hall and made a point to make others feel welcomed and important, sometimes just by saying “hello.”

I want you to be different from everyone you know!  I want you to stand against the crowd for what you believe in.  I want you to be proud of your God-given gifts and interests.  I love you just the way you are. You are special and unique and that’s the way it should be.  But you know what? So is everyone else.  Love them all well.

10,000 Hours

Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery in a field.

I have been a parent for almost 100,000 hours.  About 98,526 hours as of this moment.  Subtract an average of 8 hours a day for sleep (though new parents know you don’t ever get that much sleep!) and the time that I’ve had both kids in school and that’s still 51,062 hours I have been consciously and physically parenting. So, I guess I’m gonna call that mastered.  Bam. That’s Gold Medal level parenting right there.

 

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Just don’t google the “10,000 hour rule” and read the titles to all of the articles there discounting that it’s even a thing.  And don’t pay any attention to the fact that as your kid changes you have to change your parenting.  Or that the parenting that works for one kid doesn’t for the other.  Or that what used to be a good parenting practice, is now considered inappropriate according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And don’t even think about how I’ve had an amazing partner doing a good portion of the work, or that I’m not even very good at math, so I may be completely wrong about how long I’ve been parenting… You know what, never mind.

I’m Learning.

My boys just started school again, Isaac in 6th IMG_0439

and Asher in 4th grade.

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I can’t believe that Isaac is in middle school! I tried to imagine what he would be like when I used to look at his expressive, three-year-old, chubby face.

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I had no idea he would grow into the beautiful boy he is now. I had no idea that he’d love football so much that he genuinely enjoys wearing pads that weigh more than he does and practicing for hours in the summer heat. I had no idea that he would be so musically intuitive (though I should have guessed with so much of those Littleton genes). I had no idea that those blue eyes would so rarely look me in mine, but when they did, I would melt so completely.

 

I’ll be honest; my sweet Asher hasn’t changed too much in the seven years since I took this photo.

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He still is so full of energy, loves food and animals, and surprisingly at nine and a half years old, he still hides every time he knows I’m looking for him. But that big ball of energy that gave him the nickname of Bash as a baby is growing into a reserved and introspective boy. He has few close friends but will usually choose to stay home rather than go out. He learns from everyone around him and is paying attention when you think he’s just snuggling with the puppy.  And the freckles on his nose make my heart leap every time he is quiet long enough for me to catch a glimpse of them.

 

I’ve been learning a thing or two in the past few years, as well.

I’ve learned that I’m a perfectionist. A lazy perfectionist, but a perfectionist nonetheless.

 

I’ve learned that the world is not as I thought it was. My eyes have been opened to a lot of pain and disparity all around me, and that’s a good thing.

 

I’ve learned that as much as I pride myself in my introversion, I am in desperate need of people.

 

I’d like to use this blog to explore these topics in the days to come.

 

May the things I am learning, open your eyes as well and give you a small glimpse of who I am and who I am still becoming.

 

I used to.

I used to write.  I used to sit with the sun streaming through the trees casting dancing shadows on my legs as the wind rustled the leaves.

That tree is long gone.

I used to start typing and words would stream onto a page and I would learn things about myself, my children, and my God.

I haven’t had any words for far too long.

So much time has passed.  I quit writing regularly when Asher was in kindergarten.  Today he started fourth grade.

Has it really been that long?

I printed out the first 5 years of this blog for my boys 6 years ago.  The boys recently found the book and have been reading it and laughing at themselves quite often.  We’ve started collecting the words I have “Overheard” from them again.  That’s their favorite part.

I’ve been telling my boys how much I love to see them grow.  I’ve been praying for them daily, but I haven’t written it all down in quite some time.

But now I have the time.  As fast as the years go by, thank God, I still have plenty of time.

So these lessons I’m learning and the preserving of these memories in blog form are for them.

 

 

 

 

Two boys, I hope you know how proud I am of you and who you are becoming.  May the Lord bless and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face toward you, child, and give you peace.

 

One of those days.

I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I’m sorry about that.

I don’t know if anyone is sitting around waiting for my blogs, but there is a direct correlation between my writing and the condition of my heart.  If I can’t find the time to write for myself, then my heart is being preoccupied as well.

My boys will be home from school in two minutes.

I’ve just about had it up to “here” this week.

God, I’m at that point again where I don’t even have words to ask for your help.  Give me clarity of mind, peace of heart, and wisdom as I finish out this week.

And here’s the bus…

Santa Update

Here’s a quick update on how life has been since the Santa Reveal of 2012.

I’ve had some positive feedback from people saying that their kids found out early too.  I’ve had some other feedback where most people are confirming my fears that it’s just way too early for my boys not to believe in Santa anymore.

I’ve tried not to get depressed about it.

Today our neighbor boys walked in the house, saw our Christmas tree and blurted out, “There is no Santa, YOU put the gifts under the tree!”  To which Randall replied, “I don’t come in your house and put gifts under your tree.”

Turns out they don’t have a tree. Their religion doesn’t allow them to celebrate Christmas at all.  That makes sense that his parents would tell him young that there is no Santa.  But I made sure to let them know that SOME people still believe in Santa and they can’t go around telling people he’s not real.

I asked my boys how they were feeling after The Talk the other night.  I made sure that they knew that sometimes adults tell stories about Santa, and not all of them are true, but when we tell you anything about Jesus, it’s always true.  “There are some things in life that you have to just believe in, even if you can’t see it.  Santa’s not one of those things, but God is.  I promise you, I’ve never told you a lie about God.  Every thing I’ve ever said about Jesus is absolutely true. And you can trust that.”

Isaac said quietly, “I still believe in Santa.”  That’s my boy.  Asher said, “I don’t,” loud and clear.  I told them they could believe whatever they wanted about Santa, but I was a firm believer.

And for the record:

This boy is on Santa’s nice list.

This boy is still to be determined.

 

Perspective

Parenting is so hard.

I know I don’t have to tell you that. There are so many roles to play.  I can be a nurse to my kids.  I can be their cook, their chauffeur, their entertainer.  I really don’t mind being their housekeeper.  I love to be their teacher and friend.  It’s the parenting part of parenting that I just am not good at.

I feel like I’ve tried every theory possible to “train up a child in the way he should go.” But I feel totally helpless sometimes.  We have many good days, but I seem to constantly question my parenting strategies.

I read this a while back. And I’ve read it many times since.  It was eye opening for me. And I’m using it now as a point of reference.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

I can choose to think that I have a difficult child who is driving me crazy in constant battles of will, or I can choose to see him as a child of integrity who isn’t easily swayed from his own viewpoints.

I can take each situation as a lesson to show him how to respect his elders (i.e. fight with his elders), or I can give him opportunities to make wise decisions and be responsible on his own.

I can break his will and teach him to be obedient, or I can foster a relationship built on mutual love and respect.

This article was completely revolutionary for me.  I still have no idea how to put much of this into practice.  I say that my boy is completely opposite of me and I don’t understand him.  In truth, though our energy levels and social attitudes are very different, our interests and personalities (read: strong wills) are very similar.

I think what I’ve needed most is just a change of perspective.

 

God, help me to step back and look at the big picture of parenting.  I so often feel like I just need to make it through the day.  When maybe I should be focusing on a brighter side.  Establishing a relationship with my boys, not just disciplining or rewarding each behavior.  Push back my feelings of helplessness and give me hope for our future.  I need clarity and specific ideas how to set my boys up for success.  I need patience and peace to handle the crazy that is two energetic boys.  Thank you for the personality that you gave my boys.  May they grow and perfect their strengths; Isaac standing up for what he believes in, and Asher caring wholeheartedly for the people around him.  May they use their strengths to do good in this world and make it better than they found it.  Help me to be a good mother, a wise mother, and one that my boys want to stick with and run to in good times and bad.