These Boys

Isaac came home from school yesterday and for some reason, he looked like he had aged 6 years.

I am so in love with these boys.  We’re definitely in a new phase of life.  They are both in school and my time with them is so short.  I get these boys when they are tired, hungry, and needing to get rid of a whole lot of pent up energy, but time is passing too quickly for me to dwell on the negatives anymore.

These boys are sweet, smart, full of energy and they each hold my heart.

In a season of gratitude, I am so thankful for my two boys.

 

uh… I think I just picked a dried booger off of the key board…

 

sigh…

 

What was I saying?  Gratitude!  Yes, Thank you God for my sweet, rambunctious boys.  May my time with them be well spent before they’re old and gone.

 

 

 

But…

Yes, I’m still tired.  Asher came home from school yesterday shouting a new word he had learned from our neighbor boys.  Ugh.

Yes, my boys wear me out and drive me crazy.

But… Isaac and Asher,

I will never tire of hearing the sound of your laughter.

I will never tire of playing with you.

I will never tire of your honest questions.

I will never tire of your beautiful creations

Or your wonder at life and the world around you.

I will never tire of your voice

Or your smile.

I will never tire of the way your cheek feels in my hand.

I will never tire of your endless imaginations.

I will never tire of holding you close

Or tucking you in every single night.

I will never tire of looking into your bright blue eyes.

I will never tire of watching you succeed.

I love to see the pride it brings you.

I will never tire of seeing how you love each other

And your dog.

I will never tire of reading to you

Or hearing your stories.

I will never tire of holding your hand.

I will never tire of exploring with you.

I’ll love you forever, my two boys.

 

 

The Truth.

                                                          Ugh.  

I hate being imperfect.  I don’t think most people would think me a perfectionist.  I don’t really fit into that box.  But maybe I’m a lazy perfectionist, if that exists.  My imperfection drives me crazy… but I guess not crazy enough to improve too much upon. 

                                                       I repeat… Ugh.

Last night, I was tired and hot and just plain worn out.  It was past bedtime and Isaac was looking for any excuse not to get ready for bed, as usual.  I told the boys to get their jammies on and brush their teeth while I was finishing the dishes.  Isaac came into the kitchen sniffing and obviously wanting my attention.  I chose to ignore him because I don’t want to encourage that kind of behavior.  I’d rather, he verbally ask for help than wait for me to acknowledge his sadness. But as time ticked away and he still wasnt getting ready for bed, I decided to ask him what was wrong.

“My fingernail bent back,” he said.  I told him I’m sorry, I know that hurts, but to man up and get ready for bed and I went back to doing the dishes.

The truth is: I’m really a very heartless person.  I don’t know why people think mercy is one of my top spiritual gifts.

That’s when Isaac started crying.  Tears were falling down his face and it occurred to me that sometimes all a kid needs is a kiss from his momma.  So I stopped what I was doing and hugged him and told him again that I was sorry he hurt his finger.  I asked him how it happened and we came to the conclusion that it was really just a hangnail.  I told him that I know how much those hurt but there’s not a whole lot we can do about it.  I tried to cut it off, but it was too close to the skin so I found a General Grevious band aid, gently put it on and lovingly told him I was sorry but to get ready for bed.

I went down to finish the dishes and kept sending up reminders to “do a great job on your teeth.”  Asher replied that they were already finished so I told them to get in bed and I’d be up in a second.

I finished the dishes and put everything away and went upstairs about 15 minutes later.  When I came upstairs, Isaac was sitting on the floor playing with his legos and Asher had just made a mad dash for the nearest bed.

I was angry.  I completely lashed out at both boys, but Isaac got the brunt of it.  He immediately started blaming Asher and when we moved past that point, started complaining that his band aid was falling off and he wanted another one.

I told him again to man up and get in bed and if the first band aid didn’t last, a second one wouldn’t either.  I kissed them both and tucked them in and angrily prayed for the boys to go to sleep quickly and to learn to obey.  Do you think that kind of prayer works?

I went downstairs to watch my show, but the computer hadn’t recorded it.  So I’ll have to wait another 30 days before they post it online.  That was upsetting as well.  But then Isaac came down stairs again asking for another band aid.  I was so angry.  I grabbed another band aid and put it on and it immediately wouldn’t stick to his thumb and I told him to just go to bed.  “I LOVE YOU!” I yelled.  “BUT I’M ANGRY.  GO TO BED!  I LOVE YOU, BUT GO TO BED!” I yelled.

Isaac’s and my personalities completely clash.  I do not know how to parent him.  We’re still having the same old battles over who is stronger willed.  I still feel like I have to show him that he can’t out stubborn me.  Randall, lovingly reminds me to choose my battles and not to discipline his personality, but the behavior.  But I honestly don’t understand his personality.  He is weird and overly energetic and 7 and I don’t even remember being 7 and my mom tells me I was never as energetic as him.  And his behavior is blatantly defying his mother, the authority figure.  And you can’t succeed in life, without acknowledging and respecting other authority.  Right??

  No seriously, can someone please just tell me how to parent my children?

Anyway.  I eventually cooled down, and regretted every action that had taken place.  I wanted to make things right before I went to bed.  I went to his bed, and he was sleeping deeply.  I whispered, “I love you.  I’m sorry,” in his ear. He stirred, but was not conscious.  I repeated myself and hugged him and carressed his sweet face.  I didn’t feel forgiven and went to bed sad.

I woke up first thing in the morning and curled up next to him in bed.  I told him I was sorry I was so angry last night.  I asked for his forgiveness and in typical Isaac fashion, his energy got the best of him and he jerked his head back and conked me in the forehead.  I pushed his head out of the way and tried really hard to keep my same “begging for forgiveness” tone.  “Do you forgive me?” I asked.  “No,” he said.  I asked why not and he told me it was because I flicked his head.  I explained that he had just given me a bruise on my forehead and I was pushing (with a flat hand) his head away from my face so he wouldn’t do it again.  He said, “Ok.  I forgive you,” and we went on with our day.

 

Seven year old boys with too much energy that don’t seem to like you at all are hard to love sometimes.  And that’s the truth.

 

It is by God’s grace that I have this beautiful son.  It is by God’s grace for me, that I know how to love this boy.  He is very sweet and very smart and I love his creativity and when he allows me to touch him, I hold him tight and cherish those moments. And when he refuses to let me touch him, I don’t mind too terribly much, because I sneak into his room every night and squeeze him tight and whisper my love into his ear, praying, at least in his sleep, that he knows he is loved by me.


Here’s my conclusion on how to parent two boys: First and foremost, pray a lot.  Pray for patience, pray for forgiveness, pray for health, and pray that you all will make it through the day.  Pray for him, that he will grow and learn and understand your love for him.  Pray for you, that you will make wise decisions and teach him how to be a godly man, and my most common prayer: that I won’t screw them up.                    

              Though I’m sure it’s too late for that…

Secondly, be honest.  Tell him you screwed up and you’re sorry.  Ask for forgiveness as often as you need to.

Thirdly, tell him you love him.  You know it’s true, but sometimes you need to say it out loud to remind yourself.  And if you’re having a hard time remembering that you love him, he’ll definitely need to know that it’s still true. Say it often.  But mean it when you say it… or say it until you mean it.  Just make sure he hears it in all situations. 


The truth is, we are all imperfect.  There is no perfect parent.  And even one that knows exactly how to handle their kids, gets frustrated and screws up every once in a while.  And there is no such thing as “Perfectly Imperfect.”  What does that even mean?!  

 


Isaac I love you when you pummel me with darts.  I love you when we’re at each others throats.  I love you when you listen to the same annoying song over and over and over again.  I love you when you’re awake and when you’re asleep.  I love you because you are sweet and smart and so creative and fun, but you don’t have to be any of those things.  You don’t have to earn my love.  I love you because you are you and you are my son.  There is nothing you can do that will ever stop me from loving you.  And that’s the truth.

 

True Sacrifice

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Fact: Parenting is hard.

                                                And gross and fun and frustrating and wonderful.

Fact: I am imperfect.

                                                Oh, so flawed…

I am still learning how to parent.   I question if I’m screwing up my kids by not letting them do things.  I question if I’m screwing up my kids by letting them do other things.  Every day is a new experiment and quite honestly, I don’t know how I’m doing. 

Fact: My imperfection, as a parent and as a person, affects my boys.

                                                 Ugh.

 

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We learned this weekend at church that we should look to God as our example for how to parent.  We can take cues from how He loves us, and pass that love on to our kids.  God loves us unconditionally.  He loves us enough to give us rules and guidelines and we should do the same for our kids.  

But so much more than that, God loves us enough to sacrifice everything for us.  To give us grace and mercy and even to give up his own life for us.

When I think about that example and how I live up to it, I know I would give my life for my boys.  When they’re sick or hurt, it breaks my heart and I wish I could take that pain on myself to stop their suffering.  I would absolutely make the ultimate sacrifice for my boys.

But that’s not what is called of me on a daily basis.  My kids don’t need me to give up my life for them.  They need me to give up my selfishness for them.  They need my time.  They need my attention.  They need me to LIVE for them, not die for them.

Believe it or not, that’s a much harder sacrifice for me.

This blog was originally started as an online baby book for my boys, to record their milestones and remember them at each stage of growth.  It’s now a place where I am recording how much my boys have taught me and how I’ve grown.  But I pray that someday, Isaac and Asher will look back and read these words from their young mother.

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Isaac and Asher:  I hope you know how much I love you.  I hope you know I would do anything for you.  My goal as a parent is to love you well and teach you to be godly men who love others more than yourselves.  I hope that is apparent to you.  Today’s lesson in godliness is that you must give each other grace.  I am human and this whole parenting thing will always be new to me.  I have made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes and I know that it is very likely that you will be in counseling one day because of the way I have parented you.  I am so sorry for that.  Please forgive me and please extend some grace my way.

 

God, I thank you for showing us how to raise our kids.  It seems counter-intuitive to say “no” because of our love, but it is evident that you love us by the boundaries you’ve given us.  You want us to live full, guilt-free, joy filled lives and the limits you’ve given us guide us towards that full life. I beg you to give me wisdom and help me to make wise choices when it comes to raising my boys.  I pray that you and my boys both will forgive me when I screw up.  Just as you forgive and forget our mistakes, I pray that my faults won’t leave a lasting impression on my kids.  May they be able to overcome my imperfection and learn from my faults.  But more than anything, I pray that You help me achieve my parenting goal, may these boys grow up to be godly men who put You and others before themselves. May I learn that lesson as well, and love my boys more than I love my own time. God, I cannot do this alone.  Thank you that I don’t have to.  Thank you for Randall who compliments me perfectly.  Thank you for a community of people who care enough about my boys to have the same goal.  Thank you most of all, for never giving up on us and for never once leaving us to do this on our own.

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

 

 

 

The Most Beautiful Sound

When I was in labor with Asher, I got an epidural and expected things to move smoothly and painlessly from there, just like it did with Isaac.  Unfortunately, it slowed the whole birthing process down, so they let the pain meds wear off.  I think Isaac was born with Coldplay in the background so the first thing he heard was Chris Martin singing and piano keys playing.  The first thing Asher heard when he was born was probably one loud yell from his mommy…

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When Isaac was placed on my chest, he immediately started peeing in my face. The first thing I said when he was born was something along the lines of: “A little help here?!”  When Asher was placed on my chest, he let out a faint yet beautiful cry.  I remember my first words when he was born: “That’s the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.”

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I loved my babies with an unconditional love from the moment I first saw their faces. From the moment I first heard their cries, there was not a sweeter sound on this planet.

Then they started telling me they loved me.  Asher would tell me he had a secret and then whisper in my ear, “I love you.”  He still does that often to me.  It’s my favorite secret.  Is there a better sound than hearing those three words?  Don’t get used to hearing those words.  Don’t shrug them off.  When someone tells you they love you, pay attention.  It is a beautiful moment… every time.

This Christmas season has been filled with music.  Asher’s teacher gave him the Michael Bublé Christmas CD and we’ve been listening to it and singing along for weeks now.  Asher sang Silent Night in his preschool performance and played the hand bells to We Wish You a Merry Christmas excellently. Isaac had a performance at school the week before Christmas.  He was proud of himself and I was so proud of him!

One of my favorite moments this Christmas season was taking Isaac caroling with me.  He video taped my 10th grade small group as we sang to a group of retired folks.  He got bored pretty quickly and wanted to go home.  But on the ride there, Isaac and I practiced our Christmas carols.  I gave him a song sheet that he can now read and we sang together songs that have been sung for a hundred years.

Asher has been singing Christmas carols around the house too.  He sings Gloria in Excelsis Deo beautifully and it often merges with Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Follow.”  I think all of the Glooo o o o o os turn into the “oh”s of Tomlin’s song in his head. Whenever the house gets quiet and no one is paying attention, Asher’s been singing Silent Night to the dog.  I’ve caught him on multiple occasions when he didn’t think I was listening.  When he noticed that I was listening, he got louder.

Isaac got to sit in church with us on Christmas Eve and standing next to him, hearing him sing in his distinct small voice (the only time he has ever had a small voice) just melted my heart.  I struggled not to drop everything and pick my big 6 1/2 year old boy up and hold him tight the whole service.

As time goes by and boys grow and favorites change, I think this favorite may stick for a while:

Hearing my boys sing praises to their God.  It’s not perfect, some of the words and notes are wrong, but the heart of it makes it the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.