Transformations: A response

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My friend Amy gave birth to her fifth child at the age of 41. This baby has brought so much joy.   I find myself thinking of the years of sacrifice it takes to get a newborn off to kindergarten.  I remember the demands of being fully responsible for keeping another human being alive for those years and I feel exhausted just thinking about it.  I love being a mother and would not trade the experience for anything but thinking about doing it again at my age makes me tired.  It won’t happen.  It’s not physically possible since my hysterectomy and that’s ok.

Amy’s friend Molly just had her first child.  She’s young and new to the experience bringing a fresh perspective.  I see myself in a new role as I read their blog Life in Tandem.  I am the soon-to-be empty nester, the crone to their maiden and mother.  I watch as all the children I’ve known since they were babies move into adulthood.  Skinny, squirrely boys sprout muscles and real facial hair.  Awkward, giggling, gangly girls suddenly curve into graceful knowing creatures.  It’s in the conversations too.  In a place where before a parent had to prompt a one word greeting or response, these changelings share their opinions in detailed and even eloquent ways.  They get the jokes.  They share.

I’m looking forward to my new role with these children of mine.  I am anxious to discover what world they are creating and learn how I fit in it.  Day by day I turn loose a little bit more.  Soon I’ll hand over the reins entirely and see where they take me.

To read Life in Tandem visit http://tandeminlife.blogspot.com/

Call of Duty, NOT

Imagine the phone rings and it’s the phone call of all phone calls.  It’s the call that makes your day, your week, your year.  Who would be on the other end of that line?

My phone rang last night after dinner and the caller ID said it was my older son calling from college.  My first thought was, “what does he need me to bring him, now?”  My second thought was, “oh, no, something’s wrong.”

So with trepidation, I answered the phone.

“Hello…”

“Mom?”

“Yes…”

“Guess what?  I am having the greatest day!”

So there you have it, my phone call of all phone calls.  My 18-year-old son was having a great day and he called home to talk about it.  I really can’t imagine anything better than that.

All those time-outs, and sleepless nights, and demands that he at least taste the food before he refuse to eat it had paid off.  Despite the nights spent at the kitchen table over homework with me yelling, Sit up in your chair!  Now pay attention!” and that year he told me he hated me and I was the worst mother in the world, my son wanted to share good news with me.

With passion in his voice, he told me of professors he had met that day and brainstorming that had occurred.  He had a plan for the next
four years and he was inspired.  We talked until he was all the way across campus and in front of his dorm.  We said our good-byes and I sat for a moment stunned.

I don’t think I would have been any more excited if the President himself had been on the line.  My son is 18 years old.  He has dreams and goals.  He is inspired.  And when he wants to share good news, he calls his mom.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Because I Said So (A Mother’s Day Tribute)

Mother's Day 2010

It’s interesting how friendships occur throughout a lifetime.  In school we make friends with people involved in similar activities.  In college we make friend with those who live in close proximity and whose schedules fit our own.  Then if after marriage we become parents, the kids take over the friend making process.  We find ourselves spending time with the parents of our kid’s friends.  We make play dates and plan school parties together.  We go on field trips, attend school plays, and sit in the stands together. Over time, we blink and find that together we’ve raised a generation.  Though sometimes we disagree and make different choices, we are bonded in parenthood.   

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share some wisdom I’ve picked up from some fabulous, fellow mothers.   

A (The improv mom):  “Don’t negate.  Say yes, but with limitations.” “Yes, you may have a cookie after we eat dinner,” softens the blow where a “No” would have sparked a nuclear meltdown.  Save yourself the headache.   

K (I mean business):  Sometimes there’s nothing left to do but pull the car over and give them your FULL attention.  That’s usually what they’re after anyway.   

Mamma L (The shepherd): Make them cut their own switch.  Kids will typically punish themselves worse than anything a parent could come up with so let them make the call.  You’d be surprised, really.   

V (Just V): Laugh with your children or when appropriate laugh at them.  A sense of humor is a gift to be passed on.   

A (The juggler):  If you put garbage in, you get garbage out.  Choose how much trash your kid is exposed to wisely.  Put in a lot of love and that’s what you’ll get back.   

L (The chauffeur): Playtime and coffee is only good until somebody gets hurt.  We have learned from experience that there is such a thing as too much fun and it usually ends with somebody going home in tears.  Most of those events are curable with a good nap.  (Naps for mommies have double curing power.)   

My Mom (numero uno): Kids lie.  They don’t mean to, but they do.  So, call them out and teach them that life is easier to navigate when you don’t have to remember which version of the “truth” you told last.   

I guess I would add two of my favorites to this list:    

1.) Only say it, if you mean it and are willing to follow through.  Too often in the heat of the moment we react to our children.  I have found that it is much better to say, “I am not happy with your choices and there will be consequences…I’ll get back to you on that,” than to say in anger, “You are grounded for the rest of your life!”  Let’s face it; I don’t have the patience or the stamina to enforce that one.   

2.) Counting to three works.  I don’t know why.  I’m not even sure what happens if I get to three.  It also works in reverse as a countdown…3, 2, 1.  I tried it on my teenagers the other day just to see if it still works and it does!  Though I did get a little feedback at 2, to the sound of, “Wait, I’ve got to finish this level!”  It’s a beautiful thing.   

I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day.  Feel free to add your favorite parenting tip to the list.

April 23, 2010

I made my kids go to school today.  They didn’t want to go, and that’s unusual.  Both my boys have discovered that it is easier to just go to school and keep up with the work than to miss a day and have to make it up.  I’ve had to put my foot down in the past to get them to take a sick day when they truly were sick.  They are also socially motivated to go to school, so when they balk it’s cause for concern.

It seems that last year, a high school student made a threat about shooting up the school on April 23, 2010 and a message to that extent was found written on a bathroom wall.  The school investigated and the author of the threat was never found.  Today is the threatened day.

When Jake asked if I would pick him up today at 11:30 so he wouldn’t have to walk from the middle school to the high school for Japanese class, I was surprised.  Jake loves his Japanese class and I couldn’t believe he wanted to miss it.  So, we talked about it and I found out that Jake was having anxiety about the shooting threat and felt he would be vulnerable walking across the street to the high school.  It hadn’t even crossed my mind how that would feel.

The high school is built up on a hill and looks over the property on which the middle school sits.  Of course, if there were a gunman anywhere on the north side of the building, anyone walking from the middle school over would be vulnerable.  This image makes me so sad.  I am sad that my fourteen year old was driven to calculate a point of vulnerability in his daily routine.  I’m sure his exposure to video games and movie footage gave him the knowledge to figure it out, but going to school just shouldn’t conjure those images.

Up until last night, Sean, my high-schooler, hadn’t mentioned the threat.  By late evening, kids were posting concerns and bantering about wrong and right choices for the day on Facebook, so I asked Sean how he felt about it.  He said he was scared to go to school but he hadn’t mentioned it because he figured I would tell him to go anyway.  Well, he was right and I think we will all have a talk after school today about why going to school was the right choice in my opinion, but he also described a jarring image at the root of his fear.  Sean said he was concerned about passing periods because the hallways are so packed full between classes that he feared turning a corner and coming face-to-face with a gun wielding student and having nowhere to run.  Again, I am disturbed that my child has thought this through to this degree.

I am angry that my kids had to summon courage to go to school today.  I am angry that a terrorist put me in the position in which I had to choose whether or not to send my kids to school.  But then I remember that the terrorist is a child.  The person who wrote the words on the wall that marked this day is someone who is hurting.  Even if the words were written as a misguided joke, the person who wrote them is in need. So, this morning when I asked God to give my kids courage and to protect the children of our community, I also made a request for that one.  I asked God to bring that child peace and a sense of belonging so that whatever feelings drove him or her to write those words will be relieved.  I firmly believe it’s wrong to let fear drive our decisions and so I made my kids go to school today.

http://www.fox59.com/news/wxin-center-grove-threats-042210,0,1990266.story

Snow

Woke up this morning to our first dusting of snow in Indiana this season.  By noon it was a melty muddy mess.

My son texted me from school to let me know he arrived safe.  I’m not sure which emotion I felt more:  relief that he was safe, or guilt for not realizing the roads were bad.  He survived his first drive in the snow so I guess I should just feel thankful.