So, I know that I am a good mom. I wouldn’t say a great mom, but I think that I do well for my kids. The first two out of the four kiddos were easy to raise thus far. Sure, our eldest son had a bout of depression that was difficult to get through and I had to balance my time between school, caring for my mother and caring for our four children, but I still counted myself as a good mom. So, why do I feel so guilty about how slow our five-year-old is doing in kindergarten? When I first heard how she was struggling in kindergarten and had to have additional help, I felt like I was failing.
I told my husband earlier today that I felt guilty because I had wondered if I should have not put her into bilingual classes and that I was selfish. I was selfish because I wanted our daughter to have a chance to speak more than once language because I did not have the same opportunity. Thankfully, my husband is the partner that was meant to be a parent with me. He told me, "you are looking to give her the best opportunity in life not only now, but in the future." He is correct, I want something better for her life and she will get that by being in the dual immersion program. It is my personal truth that she would have had difficulty in class regardless of where she was. Truth is, our daughter just needs a little extra boost. The 3rd child of four kids means that she gets little attention for herself, a reason I was so adamant that I didn’t want another child after her (yes, I LOVE ALL our children equally). We have welcomed Marie into our life without any regret. However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have times when each child is lagging a little.
What my husband mentioned was that before, our older two had my attention as our younger children have not had. My heart still hurts, and I feel guilty, but I have begun to think differently as a mother. Going from being a stay at home mom to a working mom is going to have unique challenges. I am going to have to make sure to turn the outside world off and be available for my family. I have even begun to do this by leaving my cell phone in the vehicle when we are out together. I have put off writing numerous times because I need to sit with a little girl who is crying in my arms because she is hurt and tired. I am going to have to fight a tired kindergartner who doesn’t realize that her tantrum has been brought about because she is exhausted and not because she is a bad girl. I have to schedule in time for my children like I never had to before and that is okay.
I am on a mission to change the world, but I have to make sure that I do not forget the next generation that sleeps in a room across the way from mine. I have to remember that feeling of guilt as a motivator for good and not allow it to depress me because believe me, I can get depressed. I have depression where I have no motivation and want to shut myself off from the world, so I really have to be diligent at keeping my guilt in check.
As parents, we have a lot of pressure on us and this can be a good thing. We cannot go backwards to when children were simply seen as a tiny adult who could work in the factory for hours, making peanuts to bring home to their families. We cannot get lacks on the laws that protect our children from not being in proper car seats because these things are better for our families today. However, we have to be sure to give ourselves a little bit of slack. We are not going to feed our children perfectly at every meal. Shoot, I cannot get my youngest to hardly ever eat. So, when she does eat, it’s a mom victory for me. My kids’ hair isn’t going to be perfectly coiffed at each outing or maybe, just maybe, they’ll go to bed without brushing their teeth one evening (gasp!)
I have to allow my guilt to motivate me to be a better parent and remember that mama or papa who struggles is my comrade and not my enemy. When we see other parents struggling, remember to smile at them or offer a helping hand if you can. Until next time, mommy failure 3.0, I will strive to be the best mom I can be.
Ah the topic of sex and the even more joyful parental responsibility of teaching your child about sex. You toe the line between making sure that your kids know enough about sex to keep them safe but worry about giving them too much information and encouraging them to go out and engage in said sexual acts. Let’s just set the record straight, kids informed about sex are not going to go out and jump into bed because they “suddenly know about it”. Let’s dispel that myth. It’s like the myth that if you ask someone about being suicidal, they’re going to go out and commit suicide because you asked them about it.
Let’s face it, sex is a part of the human creation. It’s literally the way that humans are created. As Christians, we believe that sex is meant to be enjoyed within the marital union. This doesn’t always happen though as we live in a sinful world. Sadly, sexual transmitted diseases, cancer as well as unwed pregnancies are a real part of life, difficult and sad parts of life. Arming our children with knowledge is our duty as parents. Educating our children starts at home and it can be simple from the start. You don’t have to wait for “the talk” to begin to educate children about sex. Here are a few pointers starting from young to adult children.
I understand that as a parent, we want the best for our children. I want the best for my four children as well. If I say it here to all of you, I pray that I can put my own wisdom to work should I need it later on in my children’s lives. Sex is special and should not be used to trade for anything other than the love, honor and respect of one another. Remember everyone uses the bathroom, everyone farts, everyone sneezes, and yes ladies and gentlemen, everyone has sex organs. Don’t treat the human life like it’s shameful, but with honesty and respect.
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The sounds coming from our house are often quite loud. With an active toddler who makes it a point to let her presence be known, a one-year old baby girl who swears you are breaking her heart each time you leave the room, and two adolescent siblings who fight near as much as they breath air, it is no wonder it is loud. I haven’t even got to our house yet. Oh boy, it looks is like a cross between a teenager’s bedroom and a toy box that threw up and then threw up and well, threw up again. And then there is my mother, she is often very quiet. Sometimes I worry that she is too quiet, and I feel like a terrible daughter because I am not spending more time with her, guiding her as she does something she once enjoyed doing. The other day I made the mistake of leaving her alone to cut some fabric that she had purchased for a few quilts she intended to make. Let’s just say a slight disaster ensued. I made the mistake of telling her that the fabric for her quilts was under the bed (in my defense, at one point it was), and that she could start cutting it soon. Oops! I didn’t realize that she would take the steps to get the fabric or would not have notice that the fabric she decided to cut was the hand-me-downs that I have been saving for our 2 younger daughters.
These are the things that I live with now. For us, it is Frontal Temporal Degenerative Dementia that is slowly taking my 56-year-old mother. It has been less than a year that she has lived with us, but there are some days when I think it has been much longer than that. It has been at least two years since her mind has began to decline. In the early stages, when something was not quite right, I knew. There was a feeling inside my gut that told me it was some form of dementia, but I must admit, I was in denial. Then denial was taken over by a very much unexpected pregnancy (I mean supposed to be permanent birth control unexpected), and then that was followed up by a traumatic car accident. To say the least, we are a busy family. For us, the dementia adds new challenges every day. The fact that my husband and I are in our early thirties means that we often have hectic schedules, doctor’s appointments, school activities, 4-H, and boy scouts to only name a few happenings that fill up our calendar. For other families living as members of the sandwich generation, it may be cancer, unexpected accidents, or another form of illness. I started graduate school after the birth of our third child, which was way before I knew that we were taking my mother into our home.
I struggle on a daily basis to find a balance to my life. There are times when my heart hurts, when all I want to do is sit in my room and allow the tears to flow. There are times when I am so angry with the thought that such an illness is taking my mother, a woman who is one of the kindest, sweetest, and hard-working people that I know. We are in the moderate stage of her illness, but I am in the beginning stages of wrapping my brain around what the next few years, hopefully more, of our lives will look like. How on earth am I going to survive this? This is a question that I often ask myself. I have read more lists on how caregivers should take care of themselves, but I struggle to find enough time in the day. I have researched over and over again the timeline of progression for someone with my mother’s illness. I have been pulled in so many directions that at times I literally feel like the room is spinning. I have change baby diapers then hop up to make sure my mother is no longer tangled in the straps of two of her tank tops. There are so many times when I feel like I am not doing enough or that I am stretching myself too thin, but then I really don’t have much that I can cut out.
So, here I am, trying my damnedest to survive, to pray and trust more. I have gone through Army deployments with my husband of ten years, I have felt the pain of childbirth, I have graduated college, I am a survivor of trauma, but I am honestly feeling like I am being punched in the gut on a near daily basis. Being a part of the sandwich generation seems like an cliché, but it is a true fact of life. What I have learned, honesty has become a stronger part of my life. When people ask how I am doing, I make it a point to tell them honestly that I am not doing well. I make sure not to make life seem happy-go-lucky all of the time. Asking for help is difficult for me to do, but I graciously accept my husband’s assistance with cutting my mother’s meat at the dinner table. I allow myself to cry on my husband’s shoulder and try my very best to explain to him what is going on inside my mind and heart. I have even sought out the fellowship of our local support groups to surround myself with others who know what it is that I am going through (at least partly). Speaking honestly, this does not mean that I have found the time to follow through with actually attending a meeting, but the fact that I am even considering sharing my world with others (especially strangers) is a big step forward.
Shew…on to another person who needs something from somewhere for some reason.
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She had her father’s eyes from the first moment she was born. We were a younger couple, living about 30 miles outside of Fort Riley in mid-Kansas. I was about to be a second time mother, but my husband was new to the experience of delivering a child; new to the sights and sounds of anything to do with having a baby. He was a rough and tough sergeant in the Army. Our wedding was a quick no family affair, but the birth of our first child together was going to be anything less than routine.
I was nine months pregnant on our first Christmas together. Before putting our son to bed, we all sat down to watch a movie, a Christmas present for our two year old. It had been a wonderful Christmas as we spent the duration of the time laughing at the movie “Cars” then at our energetic boy who raced around the room with excitement. In between laughs my husband and I would steal glances at each other; we were in utter joy that we were able to have this Christmas together, a recent deployment fresh in our minds. Everything was perfect, sitting on the couch as a family, a little life kicking inside of me, waiting to get out. Out little baby wasn't due until January.
It was shortly after midnight that I began to feel the pangs of contractions. I nudged my husband who rolled over and asked me how intense the pain was. It was pretty intense, I remember telling him. All he knew, at this point, was that he had to begin counting, calculating how far apart the contractions were. The difficult part about all of this was that my husband was able to roll over and resume his sleep. It didn’t matter if ten, twenty, or thirty minutes had passed. Each time I nudged him, he sounded as if I had aroused him from a deep sleep. Truth was, it never really took much for my husband to fall asleep, not when he was tired. Overseas, he was known for sleeping through mortars outside his room or famously falling asleep in his mashed potatoes down in the chow hall. So naturally, the precursor to childbirth wouldn’t be any different. I was in pain and he was blissfully asleep.
Nothing about this pain seemed normal, it didn’t have normal intervals. When our son was born, it was all “textbook”, meaning the pain increased at steady intervals and I had plenty of time to make it to the hospital. This pain was alarming and I should have known that something was unique about this. Still, our baby wasn’t due for another three weeks, so I had no plans for this baby coming so soon.
Roughly two hours had passed by the time I finally decided to get up. I figured attempting to use the restroom would aid in relieving some of the pressure and I was sorta right. My husband, actually roused slightly from his sleep, didn’t even follow. It was only when I yelled from the bathroom that I believed my water broke that he appeared in the doorway. I saw my husband snap into action, and he roused our son from bed, started the car, and grabbed our hospital bag. But as he stopped in the doorway to hand me a pair of pants, I felt the pressure increase. I knew that something beyond our control was about to happen. I pleaded for my husband to understand that we were not going to make it to the hospital, not before our baby’s grand entrance. Once he understood this, he asked what I needed him to do. I instructed him to gather clean towels and bring them to me. Before doing this he laid me down on the bathroom floor. To this day I remember the look of surprise on his face, seeing his baby’s head coming from his wife caused him to utter a simple, “whoa.”
Down on the bathroom floor, I fought the urge to push until I saw my husband again. He knelt in front of me readying to catch a little bundle of joy as he or she may their way into the world. It didn’t take long. I didn’t see what my husband saw that evening after the baby was out. Here was his baby, a purplish tiny creature, no sound. I remember my husband’s look of dread as he wondered what the consequences of not being at the hospital were. Then there it was, the tiny black orbs looked up at him, blinked once or twice then closed again. This was their moment. The first person to see the baby was my husband, who looked up at me, his messy child in his hands as he informed me sweetly that it was a girl.
The 911 dispatch worker timed the birth at 2:35 am December 26th. What rounded out this evening was the fact that her umbilical cord was tied off with 550 parachute cord, and then cut by her father. My husband was a branded joker, so as I laid there, our daughter wrapped in his arms, I remember mentioning to him, “your mother is never going to believe this.” In fact, we couldn’t believe what had all just transpired.
After returning home with our baby girl, the Captain of my husband’s company called to congratulate us. He offered my husband a few extra days off then informed me that my husband had been aptly titled, “the doctor” around the motor pool.
Eight months after she was born, her father was deployed for 15 months. I saw how this separation changed a little baby and a man, yet to this day, their relationship has never been stronger. Four children in total now, and this little girl was the only one to be born while my husband served in the military. There is something that words cannot describe when it comes to that moment because I know it is the moment that created an amazingly true, father-daughter relationships. Nearly ten years later and her eyes are still fixated on her father and his on her.
Honestly answer the question, “How are you?” in relation to you or a loved one’s condition. If you’re not doing well, what would you say to yourself to help you get through this moment?
I was at the dentist the other day for my own routine cleaning and teeth maintenance, and though I had put it off for some time, I decided that I should probably get my mother into the dentist. There’s significance to this, earlier this year, my mother was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Degenerative Dementia with primary progressive aphasia, which means that although her behavioral demeanor has remained mostly in tack, her cognitive abilities have begun to dwindle. I am now her primary caregiver, and as of earlier this year, my mother has moved into our already crowded home (husband, wife with 4 children). Nowadays I am often found running around the house either changing a diaper, helping our older children with various task including 4-H and Boy Scout projects, and more often than not, switching around my mother’s backwards shirt or assisting her in some other fashion. To say that most days I go to sleep exhausted would be an understatement. To say that I still cannot get adequate sleep on most nights would also be an understatement. My life is consumed with being a caregiver, and this often times leaves little to no time for me. The time that I do have for myself is often spent working on my own college school work, or ducking away in my husband’s barn for some alone time with him. It is not uncommon for people to ask “how I am doing” or “how my mother is doing”. In the beginning, I rarely answered this question honestly. Nowadays, the question still seems loaded, but I try to be honest when I answer it. Truth is, I do not know when I will honestly be able to answer the “how you are” question in relation to my mother’s disease with “things are going well.”
The other day, my mother began to cry. I believe this was because she comprehends that she is becoming more and dependent on someone else. All I could do is look at her and tell her that I would be there for her through all of her disease, a disease that has struck my mother in her early fifties. Truth is, it tears me apart to see a once independent woman, the soul breadwinner of our home reduced to uncertainty and child like demeanor. Truth is I am saddened by the thought that there will come a time when my mother doesn’t recognize me. I am angered by the fact that this burden is on my husband and four children. I get frustrated with having to take two vehicles if we want to go someone as a family. It is no fun to deal with my mother’s unexplained sadness, tears, and hugs (which she never really did much of before). There are days when nothing gets me though the day, when nothing seems to get me though the moments of despair. It is easier to deal with the frustration because I remind myself that this is not my mother’s fault. Given the opportunity, she would buckle her own seat belt in the car, she would handle her own doctor’s appointments, handle her own bills, and she would certainly dress herself. I know this journey is going to get darker, and I honestly do not believe I am ready for it, no matter how much I prepare. So, right now, I can honestly answer “how are you” in relation to my mother’s illness with “I am scared”. I am scared because I do not want to see my mother become more and more fragile, and I am sad that my children will not get to grow up with her as a grand mother (the woman who was once going to be their guardian). I am trying every single day to grab on to life with two hands and fight to stay on the ride. Most days I am successful and we have joy and laughter, and some days there are tears. Today just maybe one of those good days, time will only tell.
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The other day I was watching Strahan and Sara, where the host Sara talked about the privilege of breastfeeding and that breastfeeding is more than just a nutritional food source debate for infants. As the mother of four, breastfeeding was something that was talked about when I was pregnant. I’m going to be completely honest with you, the first two kids I breastfed for maybe three months and then switched over the formula. When it came to our third child, I again attempted breastfeeding. She was a tiny baby with Uterine Growth Restriction and weighed 4 lbs. 8oz and this meant it was very difficult to get her latch on. Our sweet baby had a tiny, tiny mouth but I struggled through it because I wanted to give her what I believed to be the best start to her tiny life. I ended up breastfeeding her for a whole year, so when it came to “surprise your having baby number four”, I knew that I was going to attempt to breastfeed again. I had such determination from the last pregnancy that I was going to breastfeed her no matter what it took, whether that was breastfeeding directly skin to skin, mixed with pumping or just pumping, I wanted her to have breast milk. I struggled through the depression portion of breastfeeding, a sadness that you can feel, and successfully breastfeed another baby for a year.
During the time of my last two children, I was going for my master’s degree in professional counseling. Breastfeeding, taking care of four kids, their school, my school and everything else that goes along with being a parent kept me busy. When it came to taking my last intensive, which meant that I had to fly to Virginia for a week, I ended up having to postpone. I was still breastfeeding and couldn’t leave her, nor would I have the time to step out of class to pump.
I mention this because it ties back into Sara’s comment on breast feeding being a privilege, being able to stay home with your kids or having a job that can help fit in the feeding of your child is a privilege. Everything becomes about your child, you begin to fix your schedule around when they need to eat or when you need to pump. You wonder what you're going to wear, where you can go and for how long or if you have enough milk for them if you go away for the day.
I absolutely have had the privilege of being a parent to four children and I have had the privilege of breastfeeding all of my children. I love the idea of breastfeeding because it does connect you to your child in a special way that nobody else can. I am definitely not knocking using formula because like I said, I used formula mostly for the older two children. Furthermore, a feed child is definitely the best. There is a significant amount of pressure and guilt placed on mothers who don't have that privilege of being able to breastfeed. Everyone has to remember that circumstances are different for everyone because of job because, family circumstances, physical circumstances or mental health, a woman may not be able to breastfeed. You must do what is best for your family and for your child.
Please, be careful with pressing breastfeeding upon mothers especially in a time when her hormones are all whacked out, and please keep in mind that hormones do not regulate themselves right after birth. It is not as simple as flipping a switch and we’re “all good”.
I encourage you to breastfeed because it is a wonderful experience, it can be painful and frustrating, but a great way to connect with your baby. Doing what you believe is the absolute best for your children because in the end, that is exactly what matters. When they look up at you and say, “I love you” or come to you when they're crying with a hurt only you take care, you’ll know whatever choice you made was the right one. Above all, remember as a parent, whether that be natural or adoptive, you were chosen to connect with this child and that is the greatest privilege of all
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I have had some trouble writing this post because something has been nagging at me. A part of me feels bad, feels devastation for women who desperately want to be mothers and are having difficulty achieving this. I just want to preface that I'm talking about my situation and by no means intend to seem callous to the struggles other woman have had becoming mothers. Here is why making the transition from being the child bearing woman to simply a busy mom of four has been so eye opening for me. When I was growing up, the thought of having children always scared me because I knew that I would have these “beautiful children”, love them and then I would have to let them go. This always terrified me, the thought of getting older and being closer to death has always plagued me.
I love, love being a mom even through there is often a lot of screaming, fighting, bickering and busy schedules. There is something precious about being a parent especially being a mother. When it came time to have our third daughter, I knew that she was going to be our last and I became content with this. After all, the way that the whole situation went, the pregnancy with Pre-eclampsia and all the all the aches and pains as well as the struggle with gestational diabetes, I really got on board with only having three children. I even became content with God, “I got it, this is going to be our last kid” and I started making peace with it. I was content. Then, surprise, here came an unexpected 4th child! I mention this so many times because she really was an unplanned and very much unexpected blessing. If you get a chance, please read my post, “Unplanned but Not Unloved” about learning of our fourth child. I was so stinking ready to be done having children that I became angry with the pregnancy. Soon after seeing her face, any anger melted away and my love for her became immeasurable.
So now here we are, our youngest child is going on four and I have found myself learning to be content with where life is bringing us. I mentor at the Alpha Women's Center and get see young babies all the time. I love canoodling next to other children and fawning over them. Interestingly enough, I didn't used to enjoy this before because all my heart and mind was devoted to being a mother to our children and canoodling over our children. The change, now I'm content to know that I can snuggle with these babies and go home to my children, be completely content with the fact that I'm no longer in the childbearing era. My husband had a vasectomy while I was pregnant with our fourth child and I have since had birth control coils removed and my tubes “tide”. I was at peace with closing this stage of life for us. My husband and I love the fact that we no longer must worry about birth control, and I don't miss those nights of being extremely exhausted and tied to changing diapers or whether my schedule was going to fit into an infant’s schedule. I do not miss rushing home from a doctor's appointments because my child is tired, and I needs a nap or moreover, I need a nap before they wake up.
I wish I knew exactly what it was that made this transition all the easier for me. I believe that it is the fact that I have begun to create an identity separate from being a mother (my most coveted role) that allow me to be more at peace making such a large transition. Perhaps, it could be that our oldest child is a freshman in high school, which means that in a few years, he's going to graduate and shortly thereafter, will leave our home. Fingers crossed, he will stay with us while he is in college, but whatever choice he makes, I am sure I will ball my eyes out then learn to come to peace with his adult choices. Of course, we have a decent age range between the children, so we’re looking at another eighteen years of parenting before we say good-bye to all our children. We will likely become grand-parents before our last child is out of the house. Oh geeze, I haven’t even thought about that role in my life and all the joys that time will bring. For now, being the referee between a five and three-year-old has kept me busy as well as starting a counseling practice and applying for state licensure. I am content knowing that I am no longer a child bear, giving birth, holding an infant because this means that I can move on to other stages in my life with a thankfulness that many other mothers before me have experienced. I am looking forward to passing my motherly wisdom down to other woman who are becoming mothers for the first time.
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It seems like it has been forever since I last posted a new article. I've been working with a few people on my “point of view” series. Please keep an eye on out for up and coming POV topics such as Bullying from the point of view of a successful news anchor as well as Psychology and spirituality from the point of view of a pastor.
Okay, a deep breath here. With the recent loss of our cat, I wanted to touch on the topic of children and teaching them about death, dying and loss. Believe me when I say that I completely understand that as parents, we want to guard and shield our children as much as possible especially with the cruelties and sadness in the world. Something that my husband and I decided when we were first became parents was that we didn't want to shield our kids from death. It is not that we were hoping a loss experience would drop in our laps, but we wanted them to understand what loss really was. When our son was younger, our dog ended up running away. We had a terrible screen door and he was a very rambunctious pup who decided that he wanted to go explore the world as opposed to staying put. Sadly, he never came back. Our son was about seven or eight and he was angry and sad over the situation. Now imagine if we had just moved ahead, patting him on the back all while saying, “it'll be alright.” Instead we explored his feelings of being angry and upset and we found out he was sad over the loss of the buddy who slept at the end of his bed. His feelings were all real and rational for a child and he needed to be able to explore them. He needed help to explain them.
Later, down the road, his great-grandfather passed away. It was thought-provoking for me to see tears on our little son's face as he sat there at the funeral service. This was an open casket, so he was able to see what a dead body looked like and know that it was indeed his great-grandparent. Continuing to speak specifically about our son, after we had a traumatic car accident, our son went to school one day to find out that one of his friends had died in a car accident. I am not sure how he would have handled this if we had not introduced the idea of death, dying and loss to our kids. I wanted him to be “somewhat ready” when something huge hit him. I wanted him to have a grasp on what was going on, it hurt my son's heart, knowing that he was just in a car accident and survived, but his best friend didn't. I had no idea what it meant to attend a little boy's funeral. It was one of the toughest things I did, dropping my son off and looking at pictures of a little boy my son’s age who had died. Knowing that a mother lost her child was difficult enough for me to grapple with as an adult, so if you can imagine, a little boy was torn apart. Thankfully, he had an idea of how to handle his pain and was willing to explore his feelings with his own mother.
Later, down the road, their great-grandma passed away. This is family member that we visited on a regular basis, so the kids were familiar with her and how she fit into our lives. This time we had a fourteen-year-old, eleven-year-old, five-year-old and a three-year-old and yes, we did take them to the funeral. They did know what was going on because we had talked to them about it. Sure, our three-year-old will tell somebody out of the blue that her grandma died, but it's important to talk to them about such topics in order to maintain their awareness of life. It is also important for maintaining their safety. I have told my kids repeatedly that you can't run out to the street without holding somebody's hand because you could get hit by a car and die. I don't want to be vague and tell them you won't “be safe anymore” or “you get hurt really bad”. No, I want them to know the possible consequences and how much I love them. That's why I try to be age appropriately truthful and that if they do certain things, they could get hurt to the point that they never come back. I want them to comeback. Another reason I decided to have the kids attend the funeral of their great-grandparents is because I want them to know that family is together in sad times. They know that everybody gets dressed up to go to a funeral and that we sit together as a family. Despite the tears and sadness, everybody's hugging and holding each other because family makes themselves available for family. As parents, we are here when their hearts are hurting. I want them to be able to feel the pain, so that way they can heal. If they can't do it on their own, I want them to know that their parents are available for them, to hold them and to let them cry or get angry.
So, here's hoping that our cat comes back, sadly we know that this isn’t likely going to happen. I am hoping we can help our kids get over the fact that they did lose an important little family member. Either way, we'll find a way to move on together, always together as a family.
IMPORTANT! We did rescue our kitty from the cold outdoors, and he is inside, safe with his family.
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PBS is great television for children. They have a regular snippet during cartoons where they will have different adults talking about their various professions. One woman spoke about being a scientist, another a doctor and this particular morning, a gentleman was speaking about being a firefighter. At the end of the snippet the adult would ask, "what do you want to be?" I was busy readying our kindergartner for school that morning, finishing putting the last flower clip into her hair when she then turned to me and said, “I want to be a mom”.
What was my first reaction? I told her sweetly, “you can be a mom and something else if you want to.”
She gave me a kiss.
Then it hit me, as a mother I must being doing something right. My daughter is looking at me, believing that this job is better than any other. What if she just wants to be a mom? Is this so bad? I am positive that she will venture into some other career form or another, but what is so wrong with having motherhood as a job and that being your number one job? I love being a mother, and I know that my daughter sees my love for this job. Sure, she sees mom frazzled and frustrated. She sees mom must discipline her and that her sometimes repetitive speech gets under my skin, but overall, I must be doing something right as a mother. We have to remember as moms and dads that our job is huge and amazing. We are good enough for our children as we are; they need our love and devotion more than to care about our chosen profession. My children do not care if I am a professional counselor or not, they care that I am there mom. They care that they have a mom and this is exactly what I want to be as they grow up.
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As a mother of three beautiful daughters, I have begun to look back on my life and wonder if I have the tools to raise them up to be strong, beautiful, honest and least of all, independent women. I investigate my own life and begin to dissect my shortcomings, and cringe at the thought of my daughters’ broken heart. I cringe at the thought of them meeting a man who does not honor their faults and love them unconditionally. I have a sense of anger when I think of them meeting someone who belittles them or worse, combines mental and physical abuse causing our daughter’s beautiful spirit to break. Worst of all, I worry that they will not be able to stand up to a man, have a broke heart, and come back out of it strong and more beautiful than ever.
So here it is, a woman should want a man and should strive to find a man with refusal to settle. Honestly, what do I mean, a woman should want a man who adores the woman she is (faults and all). I am not saying that a man needs to constantly give her everything she asks for. I am not saying a man should be a “yes man” or loose himself to keep her happy. What I mean is this, when a man truly loves a woman, he will yearn for her. He will want to learn for her, to make himself a better man. He should understand that she has value and treat her heart like it is a prized possession. I am not saying he will never break her heart, nor does this mean he will be without fault. Everyone is human, and everyone comes from different histories with their own set of stories and wounds. A man who truly loves a woman will challenge her; he will seek to encourage her. He will cause her to question herself, and aid in helping her find answers. A woman should want a man that she doesn’t have to change, but who will grow for her (notice I said not change for); she will want a man who knows when to stay silent and hold her when she cries, understanding that he cannot fix everything. He will not become angry at her tears; a woman should want a man who understands that his issue with her tears is his fault and not hers.
A woman should want a man who, if given daughters, should become the example of what a woman should look for in a man. A man should teach his daughters the value of a woman by example, loving their mother unabashed and wholeheartedly. If he is given sons, he will pass his wisdom to the next generation of husband and fathers. A man’s world will become her, and he will respect, love, and honor her so she will never doubt where he stands even when he pursues his own passions and dreams. She will come first; she will be his partner. A woman should want a man who learns to say, “I am sorry”, but she will have to understand that this is difficult, and together they should learn from their mistakes. A woman can be strong and independent; she can be a wife and mother. A woman should be able to depend on a man, but not become dependent on one. There is no “give away” when giving away one’s heart; it is not one or the other. A woman can rule the world and submit to the love of a man.
Relationships are beautiful; they were made in the Heavens before humans drew breath. Marriage is a union of two imperfect people, coming together to learn and grow. There is often confusion when looking to the Bible for understanding of how a man should treat his wife. Let us not be confused when the Bible states, “wives submit to your husbands as you do the Lord” Ephesians 5:22. This does not mean a woman does not have value in God’s eyes and in marriage. This is not a statement of enslavement. What follows is this Ephesians 5:28-33, “in this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
I must laugh at the description my husband gave me the other day. He has noticed how I have grown in our relationship together, just as he has grown too. He is the tornado and I am the hurricane. He drops down, creates chaos then moves on, back up into the sky. He says that I start small, and give hints that I am coming, so be all should be prepared. Then I slam onto the coast and cause major destruction. What did he mean? Though not perfect, I have found a man who understands that I am a force to be reckoned with. I have grown, and he understands that to keep up with me, he must grow too. He knows that he must be prepared for the woman that I am now. I am a destructible force when it comes to protecting my family; he knows that I am strong even when I do not feel strong. He is a man who understands and submits to his love for a woman. He understands that he cannot get away with being less than a devoted husband, and he knows even though I will not leave, I will not become less than what God has intended me to be.
I pray our daughters, through their struggle, will understand these lessons and seek out a man who can enhance their joy in life because no one on this earth can fill a void or increase the value one already has in God’s eyes.