Learning To Wait Well

“Don’t pray for patience girl….you will get yourself into a hot mess that will never end.” This was advice from an older teacher that I worked with in Baltimore.  I was young.  She was not.  She had stories, scars, and a sense of humor that would make me pee my pants.  I thought I knew it all like most 20 somethings.  Her words of wisdom stuck with me over 20+ years.  I never, ever, ever, prayed for patience….but here I am.

I am a fixer.  If you are ever in a situation with me that calls for a cool head and a plan of attack, I am your woman.  I got it covered.  I do all of the things….as long as there is control.  But what about when there isn’t?  Have you ever realized how much of life is not in our control?  Health?  Death?  People’s actions?  Consequences?  We really do not control as much as we would like to think.

I have learned that for me there is a process that I go through when I am given bad news that is not something I can control.  The teacher in me likes to break things down to the smallest parts, analyze them, and put them back together in a way that I can understand it better.  There is a process of waiting that I have learned to work through.  This is not researched, it has just been experienced and I have a feeling I may not be the only person that struggles with this.

Denial

This can’t be happening.  Are you serious?  No.  No.  I do not accept this.  This can’t be right.  We will get a second opinion.  We can try this.  Or this.  What about this?  No.

I frantically search my brain to see if it can be solved despite being told that it can’t.  I stay in this mode for however long it takes trying to solve a problem that I can’t solve.  I like to spin my wheels and that leads to the next phase.

Frustration

Last year our crazy dog was on a leash and he ran after something taking my middle finger with him while I stayed where I was.  He actually broke my finger but when everyone standing there asked me if I was okay, I said, “Yeah…I am fine.”  I got in the car and I let the &%$# fly.  Holy macaroni!  It freaking hurt!!!!  This is the second part.  We have a lot on the inside that is going on more than we let the outside see.

You realize that you do not have control and the emotions begin to settle.  Anger, sadness, exasperation, exhaustion, regret, grief, and the list goes on.  Many times through our insistence that “WE ARE FINE!”, we really are not.  This is where the struggle is because this part is the part that we often try to skip but it is the area where we grow the most.

We like to go to from denial to pulling up our big girl pants and dealing with it.  I get it.  I do it.  BUT, I am learning that those emotions are real and they need to be expressed and felt especially in a life changing event.  This is coming from someone that has stuffed things for over 30+ years.

“I am okay.  I am okay.  I am okay…” isn’t a coping mechanism.  It is still denial.

I am the worst at feeling the feelings.  I am learning that it is healthy and necessary to allow yourself to work through this process on your time table…not somebody else’s.  As a mom, I want my girls to know that it is okay to have feelings and emotions.  What we do with them and how we respond are two different things.

During this process, I also look for the good.  I celebrate small things when I can.  Dinner together as a family.  I savor it. My husband reaching for my hand to hold.  Hope.  Both girls in a good mood at the same time. Bingo.  One girl in a good mood. I will take it.  No dogs eating a piece of the house.  Yay.  Simple things become the most important and the most appreciated.   Looking for the good helps you to balance out the bad.

I am learning to feel these feelings and I do not need a safe space, just a few good friends and a physical outlet to express myself.  I need a place to entertain my “What if’s…” and a short pity party.  Those emotions come and go and leave you feeling stronger because it takes you to the next part.

True Surrender

After you have felt the hurt, anger, frustration, regret, guilt, etc. you begin to look around and see that that pain didn’t destroy you.  It hurt.  It was hard.  And you can handle hard things.  You learn that no matter what the outcome is…you will be okay. There is a peace that comes upon you.  That peace makes the struggle worth it.  It will change you…it always does.  But you will have grown.  It always hurts before you grow.

Wait on a test. Patience. Wait on an appointment.  Patience.  Wait on results.  Patience.  Wait to see if you are healing.  Patience. Wait on more appointments.  Patience.  Wait on a plan of action.  Patience. Waiting on answers. Patience.

I have realized that we spend most of our life in the waiting process.  We wait on things constantly.  The small waiting develops you for the big trials of waiting which gives you confidence.  I see this process in the smallest moments to the biggest moments.  I have learned that every moment matters to teach us and guide us for something bigger.  Be realistic and celebrate what you can and mourn what is lost.  You will be okay.  You are still here.  You are still fighting.  You are still waiting. You are developing patience.

 

 

My Kid Is Not Great

 

I thought it was bad when I was 16 and was learning to teach swim lessons.  A parent said to me after their child refused to sit on the wall, swim, or stay at the pool, “We never say no to our child.  It is not a nice word.”

I thought it was bad when I was asked to change a grade from an F to a D during my first year of teaching because we didn’t give “F”’s even though the child did nothing.

I thought it was bad when a sophomore got her feelings hurt when I was coaching volleyball when I said, “They do not pay me enough to shag your volleyballs….hustle.”  The parent said I was OBVIOUSLY in it for the money.

But no…it has become worse.  Much worse.  Look around…do we really think this behavior is acceptable?  Parents…we are to blame.

We Reward Mediocrity

I cannot tell you how many times parents came into my office when I was a principal and told me how smart their child is because they can download an app.  No.  Your child is not smart because they can push buttons…so just stop.

Yay!  You did a chore. Reward.  Yay!  You were well behaved.  Reward.  Yay!  You participated.  Reward.

We are limiting our kids because we reward everything.  What happened to knowing you did your best just because it was expected?  What happened to internal motivation?

There Isn’t Any Delay of Gratification

There is nothing to look forward to or aspire to in childhood.  Kids get to do everything now.  All stars in minor league?  Yep.  Three teams of all stars?  Yep.  Eighth grade formal…let’s act like it is prom.  Kindergarten graduation?  Let’s dress them in robes and celebrate that they know their letters!

We have bought into the idea that kids have to have everything now and when they do, why would they have to work for it?  If you get to experience everything, what do you get to day dream about or work towards?

Kids Lie…Stop Believing Everything They Say

Kids will do whatever it takes to get out of trouble and work.  Be aware that your child is VERY capable of lying.  It is not always the other person. Kids are manipulative.  Very manipulative.

The World Does Not Revolve Around You

In the big bad world of adults…

  • You get your feelings hurt.
  • You do things that are not fun. Most of your day is not fun.
  • You do things that are gross.
  • You do things that require work with nobody giving you a sticker…it is just your job…so you do it.
  • Nothing is free.
  • You are responsible for you.  Don’t blame others.
  • Own your mistakes.
  • Fail forward.
  • Life is boring and mundane.
  • Details matter.
  • You have to finish your job.
  • You are not in control.
  • There are MANY THINGS YOU DO NOT KNOW!!!
  • You have to start at the bottom. Every single time.

What are we doing now to prepare our kids for this?  There shouldn’t be a new flash at the age of 23 because that is what is happening and they do not have ANY COPING skills to deal with this.

And here is the BIG NEWS FLASH:

STOP EXPECTING SCHOOLS TO DO THIS!!!!!  IT IS YOUR JOB AS A PARENT!!!!!!! 

My kids are not great.  They are average.  They have talents and they have AT TIMES been big fish in small ponds.  Not anymore.  Both girls know that anyone can be a middle school super star, but work ethic, hustle, and personal responsibility get you where you need to be in life.  AND…there is always someone better working just as hard.

Scenario 1:

Daughter: “Mom…I do not understand my Math.”

Me: ”I wasn’t in class.  That is your job.  I have my degrees and I got them by myself.   How can you figure it out?” (Besides she has passed me with math.)

Daughter: “It is hard.  I can’t do this… The teacher…. I am not good at this….”  Insert sobs, kicking of feet, etc.

Me: “Pity Parties are fine for about 20 minutes MAX.  Then, get over yourself and be a problem solver.  Let me know how it goes.”

Drops mic.

She gets on Kahn Academy…..teaches herself….does not get F.

Scenario 2:

Daughter at 12: “I want to play midfield.  I do not want to play defense.”

Me: “Play defense. You do not get to choose where you play.  Learn to play defense the best. You are not consistent as a midfielder.  You have to work harder and get better.”

Daughter crying: “But, it is hard.  I deserve to be a mid fielder.”

Me: “No. No you do not.  You are not the coach.  Play where you are put.  Complaining isn’t going to make you better, working hard is, so suck it up and stop being a pussy (yes, I said that, notice mom of the year trophy doesn’t exist).  You do not get your way just because you want it.  AND EVEN WHEN YOU WORK AT IT DOESN’T MEAN SOMEONE IS NOT BETTER THAN YOU!!!”

I hope I am not the only mom having these conversations.  I know people are doing it better than me and more articulate.  After working with kids from the ages of 3-Early 30’s over the course of 20 years, I can guarantee one thing…..my kids will not be spoiled brats.  I love them too much to allow that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nope…We Are Not With Her

Over the last weeks, we have had some amazing conversations in our house.  I want my girls to think.  I want them to make decisions.  I want them to be strong on a variety of different levels.  I want them to choose their role models wisely because I believe strong women can help grow my daughters and challenge them.  They are at the age that they need to select them.  Hillary Clinton is not a role model for my daughters.

The standard that which our family holds itself to is the Bible.  I do not go around speaking Christianese or quoting scripture.  It is not my jam.  But when my character comes up short, I look to the Bible, not what others are doing or not doing to point me in the direction I need to grow.  We do this as a family.

Also, when choosing people to align ourselves with, we need to choose wisely.

Last year, we were having some wonderful “motivational moments” that seemed to consist of selfishness, negativity, and dishonest behavior.  When we are out of check, we do not compare ourselves to Hollywood, social media, or friends.   We take it to scripture.  We let that step on our toes.

As a mom and 2 daughters, we dove into Proverbs 31:10-31.  My favorite verse that I recite to the girls as we turn into school on 2 wheels most mornings is “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  I claim it as my life verse.

This passage is about the wife of noble character. I asked the girls to read it and as we read it, we compiled a list of characteristics of this strong woman described in the Bible.  This is the list we compiled:

  • Noble
  • Practices Discernment
  • Physically Strong
  • Speaks with kindness
  • Wise
  • Selfless
  • Dependable
  • Smart
  • Trustworthy
  • Creative
  • Resourceful
  • Multi-tasks
  • Giving
  • Positive Attitude
  • Prepared
  • Put Together
  • Sense of Humor
  • Loyal
  • Honest
  • Provider

This is the character traits I want my girls to aspire to and when choosing a role model, I want them to use this as a guide.  Nobody is perfect.  We look at this list and see areas we do well and areas we need to grow.  In our house, honesty and trustworthy are at the base of all healthy relationships.  Integrity is hard to gain and easy to lose.  I want my girls to know what they believe and why they believe it.  I want them to hold their ground, but be able to listen to others and be respectful.  I want them to choose their friends and allies wisely. The question was asked:  Would you choose Hillary Clinton to be in your corner?

The girls responded quite simply.  No. She is not a role model at all.  She has worked hard but we have to question how she did it.  She doesn’t know what she believes.  She is not a role model.  Just because she is a woman does not give her good character and does not mean we follow her blindly. We can find much better role models.

Nope…we are not with her and we never were.

 

How To Have The “perfect” Christmas Season

One of my all-time parenting fails was allowing the girls to watch “Christmas Vacation” before they were ready.  John and I had not watched it in over a decade and it is one of our top 10 Christmas movies.  I remembered the context but had forgotten about the language.  I had lost my “MOM OF THE YEAR” award January 1st, so life went on.  My favorite part is when Clark Griswold goes ballistic at the end after bending over backward to have the “perfect” Christmas.  If you can’t remember…google it.

Every year I expect a Hallmark movie at my house.  Every year I am extremely disappointed.  Go get the tree?  Someone is mad at the world.  Cookies?  They leave me and move on to something else.  It never quite lives up to my expectation.  So, I quit.  Seriously.  I quit.  I am not having any expectations this year and I HAVE A PLAN FOR THE TEENAGE ATTITUDE. 

Over the course of years and especially the past two with John being sick, my expectations have changed dramatically.  Between sickness, death, and family things, Christmas has changed for me.

I say no to a lot of things.  I do not want to be busy. Busyness tends to cover up other things and draw you away from what is most important.

I do not buy frivolous things just to say I bought someone something and that it is Christmas.  I would rather buy them something through the year when I see it and think of them. Or do something from my heart because I want to not because it is Christmas and it is expected.

I decorate for my family, not to impress anyone.

I treasure traditions that matter to our family.  I say no to traditions pushed on me.

Sometimes I get Christmas cards out.  Sometimes I do not.

I like small gatherings.  Big parties do nothing for me.  Small talk bores me.

I wrap all at once and at the last minute because that is how I do life.

I spend time with my people that I care about most.

Finally, as I have teenagers, I am preparing my Clark Griswold speech and giving it to them AHEAD of time.  This year I am playing offense instead of defense.  If you are a mom that has been exasperated at ANY time because of family attitude problems, you have my permission to use any parts of this that you see fit.

“We are getting ready to (fill in your family tradition) and I know that you would rather be snap chatting or netflicking but, we are all in this together and we are going to have the hap-happ-happiest time doing it. 

That means you….with the red hair, I do not care what kind of mood you are in, I expect an Academy Award winning performance tonight.  I expect singing and fa-la-laing ALL NIGHT LONG.  And you…Miss “I WANT TO BE WITH MY FRIENDS”…First of all…no.  Second of all…no.  Uncross your arms, get rid of your Resting Bitch Face and try to enjoy the last couple Christmas seasons that you have left at home.  And you…Grinchy Boy…you have 6 weeks of being off your medicine before your big health test.  We have a lot to fit in.   I expect you to put on your red coat and cut down that Christmas tree no matter how high it might be…even if we have to tie it to the wall.  And me…I will not expect perfection.  I will not expect Hallmark.  I will expect the Bowers family in all their glory and messiness to make some kind of memory.  That is all.”

It will not be pretty.  It will be messy and I am okay with that because that is us.  We are here.  We are showing up with small expectations and so much hope.