I Do Not Want My Kids To Be Happy

I just came back from the doctor.  Let’s have a moment of silence because I have begun menopause. (Insert silence…sigh…more silence)  I live with 2 teenage daughters that on any given day can have as many as 50 personalities BEFORE we get to school.  (Another moment of silence…and glass of wine)  A husband that could be on the show, “House” with his mystery illness. (Pour another glass) A senior citizen dog that has dementia, and a young dog that has pride issues and gives me looks that say, “Go ahead…make my day.” (The older dog actually drinks wine because of this.)  Sound familiar?  Does it sound like your house?  Maybe a little different context, but you get the gist.  This is life.  Life is hard.  Life is funny.  Life is unfair.  Life has left me asking myself, “But, what about the happily ever…?”  Nope.

I do not strive for happy.  I do strive for contentment.  There is a huge difference.  I strive to be content in all situations in life and it has not only changed my perception of life, it has changed me.  I am teaching my daughters to do the same.

1. Stop Comparing

This is a game changer.  I once knew a college student that had worked so hard in the off season to compete in the hurdles.  She worked out in all kind of weather.  She had a goal and she was not going to let ANYTHING stop her.  She was amazing and ready.  During the race, she had to keep focused, but she didn’t.  She looked to the side.  She looked at her opponent and when she did, she fell.  She lost the race.  Comparison robs you of contentment.

2. Enjoy the Process…

I recently asked our girls, “Do you spend more time practicing or playing games?  Do you spend more time preparing for a show or actually performing the show?”  Their response was the same.  “We spend more time preparing.”   My reply was, “If we spend most of the time in the process, why do we not enjoy it more?”  We have to be intentional in enjoying the process.  It is messy, full of failure, and hard. It is filled with temporary feelings that pass.  And if we are not careful, we will only be longing for the future and not enjoying the now.  If we can enjoy that, hard life moments will be easier to embrace.

3. The best memories are when things go wrong….

I love to hear the girls tell stories.  They never say, “Remember that one time, when everything was perfect and we just laughed and had fun.”  I know there have been times like that, but if you get them telling stories, it is usually funny stories when things went terribly wrong.    “Remember the 14 foot tree that you HAD to have for Christmas and it fell on dad twice…and he made you hold it while he went to Lowe’s?”  Those moments are when we grow…learn to laugh and let go of what it is supposed to be in your head.  It will never measure up.

I hear parents say, “I just want my kids to be happy.”  Nope. I am not the happy wagon.  I want my kids to learn to be content in all situations. I want my kids to feel the feelings and own them.  Angry? Yep.  Disappointed?  Yep.  Feeling inferior?  Yep.  Gritchy (that is a word co-workers and I made up.  It is between grumpy and b*&(#y)  It Happens.   Feelings come and go, how we choose to respond to them and the situations in our lives shows our true character.  Contentment is learned and we need to teach it.

Conversations…One of The Best Presents

“Is Daddy okay?’

“He is pretty sick. Just a step backward, from the medicine…I think.”

“Should I be worried?”

“No, we shouldn’t be worried.”

“Like that Bible verse from Matthew about the birds…if He takes care of the birds, He will take care of you.”

“Yes…exactly.  This is where He meets us.”

“You are good at this.”

“I have had a lot of practice.  You are just getting started.”

“I thought…before all of this happened, that my life was way too easy.  That it was almost perfect.  But, then it seemed like everything fell apart, but it didn’t.  Daddy’s eyes are better than they were before.”

“Yes.  God showed us many things this year.  And He is still showing us things.  This…this…is what it is all about…”

“You have been really mad at God sometimes…”

“Yes, and God can handle it.  He meets me there. God shows up.  He always does.  Not in the way we want, but in the way we need.”

“I see it, Mom.  I see it.”

Yeah, lacrosse doesn’t really matter.  Performances do not matter.   Mother’s Day doesn’t matter .  This conversation.  Watching my child grow in only ways that God can do…this is what it is all about…our girls discovering how to paint beauty with the ashes.

 

An Open Letter From Your Crazy Mom

An open letter to my 13 and 14 year old daughter’s on Mother’s Day 2016

Dear Girls,

I am a hot mess.  I have not tried to hide this from you…ever.  I have an addictive personality and on the day you were born, I was committed to love you in a way that you would never doubt my love for you and never have to recover from your childhood.  This made me very, very scared.  Your dad believed in me when we brought Grace home and I looked at him and asked, “Now what?” I knew that it was going to be an adventure.  And even though I may have spanked the wrong child before (social workers can’t come and get me…the statute of limitations is over) and I warn you when I am about to turn into the Wicked Witch of the West, you know I love you.  You also know that mistakes are expected and embraced in our house. I am not June Cleaver.  I am not Mrs. Brady.  I am your crazy mom that rides her skateboard and does gymnastics at the age of 44.  And when we are together, Daddy says we are like three little old ladies.  But, there are certain truths that I need you to begin practicing at this age.

Be Strong.

Strong doesn’t happen overnight.  It is a process that is learned in every moment.  You fail a test?  You learn from it and study harder the next time.  That makes you strong.  You want to quit?  But, you do not, you stick with it until you get it. (Bowers girls do not quit.)  That makes you strong.  Your knees are shaking, but you stand for something nobody else does.  That makes you strong.  Becoming strong means that you will do hard things over and over.  Doing hard things will make you mentally, physically, and emotionally strong and that journey will never end.

Take Risks.

You know right from wrong.  Take risks that will put you out of your comfort zone because that is where you grow.  Go for it.  Compete.  Take the shot.  Go Big.  You will never regret any chance that you take, whether it is good or bad.  If it works out, it was worth it.  If it doesn’t, you learn and try again.  YOU WILL MAKE HUGE MISTAKES!!!  It is in your DNA.  (Look at your mom’s learning style…oh that’s NOT how it was supposed to go…)  Own it.  Own every part of it and move on.  There are always other opportunities if you have the reputation of being a hard worker and are respectful.

Fail Forward.

I have no regrets.  Bad boyfriends.  I learned what I didn’t want in a husband.  Eating Disorder.  I wouldn’t have compassion for broken people today if I didn’t endure that.  Car Accidents.  Well, I am working on that.  I am a work in progress and so are you.  Let’s celebrate the physical, academic, spiritual, and emotional growth you have made and let’s strive to continue to grow.

Out Work Everyone and Be Respectful.

This is the non-negotiable in our house.  Nothing else needs to be said.

You are going through some tough years.  I will be your biggest fan and your biggest truth teller.  I am learning not to lecture, I am TRYING to get off my soap box, and TRYING to just listen.  There is nothing that you can do to make me love you more and there is nothing you can do to make me love you less.  I am giving you the grace to grow.

Happy Mother’s Day 2016! It is an honor to be your mom.

XOXO and BIG SMOOCHES,

Mom…because you do not call me Mommy anymore.