mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Doodle. — Treasures Found.

I used to get so anxious when people messed with my lists and To Do notebooks.

I needed them to be pretty close to uncluttery.

But as usual, having kiddos has made me let that little obsession for perfection go.

(Just like Felix had to let go of the whole “no spots on the faucet’ thing he used to fuss about several years ago.)

Now,  every so often, I will flip through my To Do list notebook and find little treasures.

Little treasures left as doodles by the boy child.

Now, I’m so glad when I find these.

They are like snapshots of  his five year old thinking. Right now.

smart

Yes. Yes, you are smart. Always believe this. But never ever begin to think that you are too smart to learn.

penguin named bacon

You have an awesome imagination. I hope you will always make time for play. And dream up penguins named “Bacon”. (Actually, the teacher in me thinks you are spelling “Penguin” there at the top…But as your Momma, I just think it is pretty ironic that it also looks a lot like “Bacon”.)

tgiving meal      santa

Holidays are magical. And I get the message, you are not a fan of turkey or … mashed potatoes, maybe? At least right now. I am betting that will change as you get older. But I think we both agree that Santa is awesome and should always be in color!

portraits

Always know this. You will always be in my heart, too, Buddy. (That is X and Me! Just in case you couldn’t tell!)

You. You are a treasure.

And so are your random doodles.

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Gasp. — Then Get Up and Try It Again.

I remember when my kiddos were just learning to walk.

For a short time, they both did the Frankenstein walk, taking a few unsteady steps with both hands either out in front of them or above their heads for balance.

And inevitably, they would stumble and fall.  Y was always pretty good about getting her hands down in front of her to cushion the landing. But the boy child. Oy. The boy child was always a little top heavy it seems and while he got his hands down, he still ended up falling forward until his little forehead touched the ground. I swear in slow motion sometimes.

Fortunately, we haven’t had any super major injuries (KNOCK ON WOOD!) except for that one unfortunate collision that X had with the corner of the kitchen counter a few years ago that left his father and I making that decision about heading to the Emergency Room. Felix googled and made some phone calls, while I stood there looking at the hole in his little forehead, saying, “Yeah, that is not going to close up on its own.” while realizing that the loudest cries where coming not from the injured boy but from the hysterical girl child, sobbing on the couch a few feet away. But I digress…

Being a connoisseur of all things parenting magazines and books back then, I recall articles from random people who are experts on … well, themselves … about how I should react when my kiddos fall down. I remember reading about how I shouldn’t OVERreact, how I shouldn’t run over to them and make a big deal about things, but instead I should encourage them to get back up and do it again.

Easier said that done when it is your kid hitting the pavement.

But I have to say that I have developed my own personal response style when it comes to my kiddos falling down and/or getting hurt.

I gasp.

I don’t mean to, but I have come to realize that when they are doing those things that could cause major injuries and more trips to the Emergency Room…like jumping off of high things or swerving on bikes and doing tricks off of the diving board or throwing balls at each other’s heads or … you know, the stuff of being kids… I gasp.

I suck in air and make a noise like the world is ending in front of my eyes. Probably in reaction to my heart skipping a beat and my mind’s eye seeing all the ways that this could go terribly wrong, terribly quickly.

But then I will say that I do recover quickly and tend to respond in a fairly calm manner to each of these scenarios:

*** If it was a ‘kid-stoopid’ thing to do but no one is hurt: “GASP!!!!! OMG, Do NOT do that again!”

OR

***If it was a ‘kid-stoopid’ thing to do but there is a minor injury: “GASP!!!!! Are you ok? OMG, Do NOT do that again!”

OR

***If it wasn’t a ‘kid-stoopid’ thing, but was a true accident with a minor injury: “GASP!!!!! Are you ok? Let me see it. Let’s get you fixed up. Ok. Get up and and try it again!”

Depending on the situation, there might be a kiss and a cuddle or an extended time spent just holding in my lap, but then it is usually, “Get up and try it again.”

It is just hard to watch them fall down. It is. There is nothing easy about seeing your child get hurt or seeing the potential for injury which abounds in kidland. Mommas are masters at the silent prayer, “Please don’t let them get hurt. Please don’t let them get hurt.”

But isn’t it true … that making mistakes and getting hurt sometimes is part of the learning process. A part of the process where we learn how to make better choices. And we learn how to do things better. Because if we don’t fall down. If we don’t mess up. If we don’t get messy. If we don’t try. If we don’t take a risk sometimes. We never learn what we can do. We live in fear and miss some of the magic that comes from these experiences.

And as parents, as hard as it is, we have to let them try. We have to let them know that …

We fall down. We get back up. And we learn.

We learn to keep our balance better.

We learn to land with both feet.

We learn to protect ourselves.

We learn to think ahead and have a plan.

We learn not to make too-sharp turns.

We learn to watch where we are going.

We learn how to try something new. And then try again.

We learn that it is not the end of the world if we do fall down.

And we learn that someone we love will be there to pick us up when we do.

Even if your Momma does make that horrible GASPing noise in the process.

We still learn how to get back up, dust ourselves off …

and try it again.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Just for fun, here are a few video examples of my kiddos falling down. 

While ice skating. 

My GASPS are not audible, (however my southern drawl seems to be working overtime) but trust me, there were LOTS of GASPS!  Lots of them! And for the entire three hours that we were all on the ice, my silent prayer was: “Please don’t break anything. Please don’t break anything.” 

This is my hockey player, for sure. Look at that style of run, glide, run, crash. At least he followed my directions when I said, “Don’t hit your head!”

Yeah. I know. Ouch. This is when I remembered how serious I was about NOT falling down myself! I don’t bounce like that anymore.

Y’s my cautious glider. She got the hang of it so fast and I think she is really good considering this is her second time on ice in three years. (Third if you count that weird outside plastic ice rink we went to that time. But that was just weird, skating on white plastic and made me paranoid about the plastic shavings all over us…and even though it was on ice skates, I don’t think it should count.)

And then the race. Figure skater vs. hockey player. Y would like it duly noted that X crashed immediately after he passed by the camera. That’s true.

And the sibling love continues on.

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Nourish. — Green Smoothies and Big Dreams

This morning, I opened the fridge and pulled out the spinach, an avocado, a lime and a banana to make my favorite green smoothie.

It is the prettiest of greens and although it might not sound good to you, it really does taste great.

I love to pour it into X’s Avenger tumbler and head off to work with it in hand. It is like my very own Incredible Hulk smoothie and I like to think I look cooler carrying this young, hip cup into the office.

cup

But more than the perceived hip factor, I also love what this green drink  does for me.

It provides nourishment.

This is good for me. This greenness in a superhero cup feeds me well. It gives my body energy…good, whole foods energy. There is nothing fake. Nothing processed. Nothing phony baloney in it. Just a serving of fruit and a serving of vegetables that I can enjoy before 9 a.m.

In a superhero cup no less.

And this is what I want 2014 to be about. This is the verb.

Nourish. To provide with food or other substances necessary for life and growth.

As Mommas, we work hard everyday to make sure we are providing our families with the “food and other substances necessary for life and growth.”  We stock the fridge and pantry with good foods.  We make sure people are fed and clothed and as clean as humanly possible in kidland. We take note that the jackets are zipped up and the shoe strings are tied before they head out the door. We’ve read with them and checked their homework. We’ve tucked them in and sang the 17 required songs and supplied the hugs and kisses needed for sweet dreams. We plan for their events and schedule the games and practices into our lives. We encourage their BIG dreams and applaud their triumphs and confidence. We cuddle them through disappointments that teach life lessons along the way. We say prayers at night for their health and safety.

We remind. We teach. We fuss. We laugh. We cry. We play. We feed. We zip and tie. We love.

All in the name of providing them with the nourishment that they need to grow and live life.

And we get up the next day and do it all over again.

In 2014, I want us Mommas to remember that we also need to make sure we are just as focused on nourishing ourselves just as much as we think about how we provide nourishment to our families.

Sometimes I think that it is selfish of me to still have BIG dreams. To still want to do ‘other’ things with my life. Sometimes I think, I had my chance. I should have done it then. I should have traveled there before. I should have pursued this goal a long time ago. Sometimes I think that my time has passed. That this should be their time. That my focus should be on them now.

But I always think of a few years ago, when the girl child was just one and I had a chance to go to NYC on a business trip. Travel is a rarity in my work world and I took the opportunity to go and be a part of this conference. While I was there, I started feeling those twangs of Mommy Guilt. Oh, my poor baby, at home with her very capable, very caring father. What have I done? Why did I think I could come to the Big Apple and be among esteemed colleagues and learn more about my profession? Why did I think I could travel and sleep, uninterrupted, in a soft bed with clean sheets and a venture down to a continental breakfast prepared for me? (And on and on and … on…)

Until my friend traveling with me, stopped me from my own self-imposed downward spiral of guilt and regret by saying this:

“By being away on this trip, you are teaching Y a powerful lesson. You are showing her that she can do it all. She can have a family when she grows up. She can have a career. She can always continue to learn, no matter her age. What a gift to show her the power that comes from pursuing a dream.”

Nourishment.

We can still be the Mommas. We can provide and love and care and comfort. And we can also learn and grow and dream and try.

And we should. We should make sure that our bodies, minds and souls are nourished. Everyday.

Eat the food. Get the rest. Write in the journal. Read the books. Listen to the music. Take the class. Be with friends. Be still sometimes.

And go after those BIG dreams, whatever they are, while you encourage your kiddos to pursue their own.

That is how a good teacher teachers. By modeling. By showing. By engaging each day with action words.

We should practice what we preach. We should walk our talk.

Eat well. Play more. Choose happy.

Dream Bigger. Make it happen.

Create the time to really nourish your body, mind and soul in 2014.

(And drink a few green smoothies, too. They are good for you. Trust me.) 

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

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Bother. — The Little Brother Trick Revealed and Debunked.

Years ago, I taught Y the classic and infamous “Little Brother Trick”.

Fail-safe. Sure thing. Works every time. 100% guaranteed.

You know this, right? The Little Brother Trick?

Step 1: You want something that your Little Brother has. Or you want him to do something for you. Or more likely, you want him to leave you alone and do not want to share with him right then.

Step 2: Completely and politely ignore him … BUT…go do something nearby that looks gloriously more fun and exciting than anything he is doing at the time.

Step 3: As he gets distracted by the amazingly awesome activity you are engaged with and comes over to investigate…slowly and carefully transition him to the ‘new and improved’ game and sneak away to do what you wanted in the first place.

Win. Win. Big Sister gets what she wants. Little Brother is happily entertained. And….Momma is left completely out of it and never has to endure the sibling squabbly-scream from the living room, “MOOOOOOOooooo-OOOOOOOOooooooMMMMMMMmmmmm! He won’t leave me aloooooo–ooooooonnnnnneeeeee!”

Win. Win. Win.

Except, I have to say …. this isn’t working for Y.

Yes, it seems she is the exception to the rule. She is the anomaly. She is the glitch in the Matrix.

Because it seems her Little Bother Brother gets the best of her 9 times out of 10.

Two weeks ago, he decided to try to trick her by sneaking in her room, swapping her real five dollar bill with a fake one that he made.

Last week, he drew a picture letting her know that that he kidnapped a bear from her room.

Yesterday, he was bargaining over 4 quarters and a dollar bill to pay her for helping him (aka getting her to do it instead) clean his room.

He’s five. But he seems to be really good at it.

And the Little Brother Trick doesn’t work for her.

She just wants it too much. Whatever IT is. And he knows that.

He’s had her number since the day he took his first step. He is … immune to her tricks.

They are so different, these two. In so many ways. Their spirits and personalities are almost complete opposites.  How they see the world, how they interact with it. From the minute they get out of bed, until the very last minute before sleep takes over.

She wakes up a little grumpy and needs a few minutes to be left alone before much is expected of her.

He pounces down the stairs before anyone and is ready to take on the day…after a cup of his caffeine of choice: chocolate milk.

She needs 17 reminders to get her jobs done in the morning; brush your teeth and hair, get your shoes on. Hurry!

He just gets it done.

And then some days. They are completely the opposite of this. They switch roles in a heartbeat.

She is up and ready with her hair in a ponytail and her tennis shoes and backpack on.

He’s still in a ball in the floor in his Avengers pajamas bemoaning the fact that he has to wear pants instead of shorts to school today.

We call it the good child/bad child effect.

When one is falling apart, the other one pulls it together. When one’s horns are showing, the other is polishing the halo.

She is the Yin to his Yang. And visa versa.

And he is the Neo to her Little Bother Brother Tricks.

And even though they don’t always get along…they love each other.

Because that is what family does…and there’s no trick there.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

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Share. — What Comes Easy….

Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. As a Mom, I feel like I’m always ready to skip over Halloween and get on with the stuff of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Halloween is a little detour full of candy and sugar and pumpkins and costumes and usually involves me having to walk around after dark, in the cold.

As a Mom, you know that I put on a good show for the kiddos though and try to keep my true feelings about All Hallow’s Eve Hoopla on the down low.

Because, I still remember what it was like to be a kid and I wouldn’t do anything to keep them from making these kinds of memories and learning these kinds of lessons.

When I was a kid, I was just like every other kid. I loved Halloween. I loved Halloween so much that my school colors growing up were actually orange and black. Ok. I had nothing to do with that, but it is true. Orange and Black. So it was kind of like Halloween all year long.  But on October 31st, I loved the chance to go door to door, collecting candy taxes. It was like an annual food drive, only for me and only for sugar.

I remember one Halloween night, out walking the streets with my Mom and brother and about 300 of my closest friends. I was probably 10 years old or so and there was a group of us moving from house to house together. I was dressed up as, … honestly, I don’t remember. I will go with a princess. But I’m pretty sure that my brother was a bum. My memories sometimes run together, so I am not sure, but I think he was a bum for Halloween from ages 3-8. Mostly, because I don’t think he cared and it was such an easy costume. Dress him up in older ratty clothes. And then I vaguely remember my Mom burning the bottom of a plate to create some kind of smudge that she could wipe on his face and make him look dirty.

Even though I can’t remember the costumes, I will never forget that we were carrying large brown paper bags for the loot collection.

As we were walking and laughing and playing around going from house to house. I remember spotting candy on the ground. Candy. A lollipop. Then a Hershey’s Kiss. A KitKat there. A Reese’s Cup here. Just lying there in the street. What? I looked up. Did it fall from heaven? Was this that magical manna that I had heard about in Sunday school? It simply must be.

So. Having hit the lottery of childhood, I started collecting it as we walked. I started quietly, nonchalantly (so as not to draw attention to myself) picking it up off of the ground and selfishly putting it into my bag.

It was so easy. I was so excited! I was getting candy from the doors AND candy from the street. Some pieces here. Some pieces there. Lucky, lucky me!

At the end of the night, as we rounded the corner and headed back to our house, I was more than pleased with my night’s work.

Just as I was struggling to lift my bag to dump it out on to the kitchen table to be checked, my little brother was discovering that … yep, you guessed it, there was a hole in his bag and a lot of his candy had fallen out.

Fortunately for him I had been collecting it all night.

My Mom made me put our piles together and divide it evenly. Even though I protested saying that some of the candy at the bottom was mine and made the very mature ten-year-old argument that I could tell which pieces I had picked up off of the ground that were his pieces.

She made me share.

See. It was too easy.

Candy on the ground…who does that?

When things are too easy, we don’t appreciate it. We get greedy and we want more.

When we have to work for something. When we have to wait and anticipate and grow our collection one by one,

then each piece is more special.

Each person. Each friendship. Each experience has a story.

When we work for something and build it a little bit day by day, it means more.

Maybe it is not supposed to be easy.

We are not supposed to get everything we want when we want it.

X doesn’t get to be the Star Helper and Line Leader every day…but he looks forward to his turn, he’s even adding it to his prayers at night.

Y doesn’t always get to play first base…but if she works hard and impresses the coaches with her leadership and positive attitude, then she gets to play it more.

Felix doesn’t always get what he wants. I don’t always get what I want.

Sometimes we get lucky.

And sometimes we have to work for it.

And ultimately, we have to share.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: Share. Go share something with someone else. Anything. A cookie. A cup of coffee. An hour. Go share with someone else. See how it makes you feel.

FYI...Don't get too excited. This is from a few year's ago, before we gave up on the whole sugar thing. Kiddos are getting glow in the dark goodness from me this year.

FYI…Don’t get too excited. This is from a few year’s ago, before we gave up on the whole sugar thing. Kiddos are getting glow in the dark goodness from me this year.

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Right. — Why I’m Thankful My Kid is Crying.

My husband and I went out of town this weekend for a night and Nana came over to stay with the kiddos.

I’m not sure what got into the boy-child, but he decided this would be a good weekend to try on a new costume for Halloween.

Apparently, it is all the rage and quite popular among his set. It is called Five-Year-Old Jerk.

I only know this because as soon as we arrived home, the girl-child did some reporting on his behavior.

Back-talking. Pouting. Stomping off. Playing with things he knows he is not supposed to. Perhaps a little attempted extortion as well.

Nothing too, too terrible, but certainly disrespectful and absolutely not acceptable.

So as Mommas and Daddies do, we called him into the office to have ‘the talk’.

He completely knew that this jig was up. He came in with a shy smile and tried to work his precious blue eyes, charming red hair and freckles for all they were worth.

Until he realized it wasn’t working.

We calmly explained that we love him very much, but we were very disappointed in his behavior. That his Nana doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. And that there would be a consequence.

The quiet tears began somewhere between disappointed and consequence.

I am not a heartless Momma, but in this case. I’m thankful my son is crying.

Because it means he is sorry.

He feels some remorse for saying what he said and doing what he did.

He should.

He should feel bad.

Of course there is a part of me that hates to see him cry.

But I think I would be more concerned if he wasn’t upset at all.

He went to his Nana and gave her a big hug around the neck and told her, through some tears, in a genuine and weepy way, that he was sorry for not listening and talking back at her. And he told her that he loved her.

That’s what we do when we mess up, right?

We have all done this. We have all said things or have done things that hurt someone.

And when this happens, we should feel bad about it.

Then we should make it right. We should know that it is okay to say, “I’m sorry. I love you. I respect you. I appreciate you. And I shouldn’t have said that or I shouldn’t have done this.”

I’d be more concerned about us if we didn’t notice at all. Or worse. If we didn’t care.

Recently, I got frustrated at work and sent a more-snarky-than-usual note to a colleague. I heard back from this person who was just as frustrated with the situation.

But I felt bad about it. So I delivered a Crunch bar and a note that said, “Sorry. I think I was feeling a bit too much of the Crunch lately.”

The next day I received a Snickers bar and a note that said, “No worries. I’m sorry, too. I think we all need more Snickers and less Crunch in our days.”

Agreed. And thank goodness for cleverly-named Halloween chocolate.

Saying you are sorry means a lot. Really meaning it means even more.

Whether it is with tears or with a hug … or with chocolate, we just need to make it right.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

P.S. The boy child did receive his consequence. He has lost a privilege for the next 5 days. Later that evening he brought me this piece of paper and said: You know how when people are in jail and they write the days they have left on the wall. This is that.”

jail

I call that a parenting win.

Today’s Action Challenge: When you mess up, how do you make it right? Do you regret your actions or words? Do you say you are sorry? How do you show you mean it? If there is something wrong in your world that tears or a hug or a note … or a piece of chocolate can still right…

…then… Let’s all, Go. Do that.

4 Comments »

Entertain. — Hey Kids! It is not always all about you.

Every now and then I find myself saying to the kiddos: “This is not about you. This is about (_________). I know you can do this.”

I’m usually saying this to them when I need them to recognize that it is not my job, at that moment, to entertain them.

When I need them to sit still and quietly and find something to do amongst other adults.

When they need to know that it is important to be able to focus on others sometimes and learn how to (gasp) wait for their own needs to be met.

I said this to the kiddos a few nights ago, when we all needed to attend an event.

An event that was clearly not going to be exciting for kids. It was a political forum. So maybe it was an event that was not even going to be exciting for some of the adults around us, too.

But their Daddy is running for a public office, so we were there to show support. To show solidarity. To quietly be his cheerleaders.

The kiddos needed to be able to sit in an auditorium and be quietly entertained.

Which is hard when you are a kid. But it is also something that I believe, for my own little world, kids need to be able to do.

We came prepared though. We had books to read. iPads to play on. Paper and pens to write and draw.

But still there were a few times of shhhhussshhhhhing interventions, several trips to the bathroom, a few “I’m boreds” and “I’m hungrys” thrown in for good measure.

As tired working Mommas, we have probably all had to drag our kiddos to events like this. Well, maybe not just like this.

But we have all probably needed to be somewhere and our kids had to come along with us. Maybe we had to bring them to work or to a meeting. Maybe we had to bring them to a race or a performance. Maybe we had to be at an event to talk to someone, in front of a group, or even just needed to have an important conversation with someone else.

Whatever it is, I think this is important for our kids to know.  While we work hard to engage in their lives, not every minute, every second has to be about them. Not every activity needs to revolve around them. Not every conversation is ok to be interrupted with their immediate need or want. And sometimes, sometimes, they have to learn how to wait. How to sit still. Be quiet-ish. And entertain themselves.

I’ve seen children that don’t know how to do this.  I’ve seen my own kiddos who don’t always know how to do this.

So, how do we model this for our kids? How do we teach them that sometimes, it is just not going to be about them? How do we give them opportunities to entertain themselves? How do we help them understand that sometimes they have to ‘show up’ for someone else? How do we let them know that they may need to put their immediate needs aside for a few minutes to support someone else?

We give them a chance to practice this. Practice showing up. Practice sitting still. Practice listening and watching.

We set expectations ahead of time. Prepare them for what’s coming. Give gentle reminders. Applaud their successes.

And let them know how much it meant to (__________) that they were there for them for this event, For this performance. For this race.

Overall, they did a great job and I was extremely proud of them.

Y did some reading. She also did some observing and had some fascinating insights on the whole political process. I really enjoyed talking with her about it afterwards. At 8, she has politics figured out better than some adults I know.

By the end of the forum, X was laying on the floor, between the rows of seats, doodling. Quietly doodling.

doodle

And I even captured his masterpiece to have forever as a treasured souvenir.

As bored as they may have been for the evening, they learned three important lessons that evening:

1. How to entertain themselves.

2. It is important to show up for someone else.

3. It is not always about you.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: Think about how you show up for others. When do you put your needs aside to really be there for someone else? How do you entertain yourself? If applicable, how do you help your kids know how to entertain themselves?

Recognize when it is important to say, “It is not about me. It is about (______).”

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

6 Comments »

Publish. — Thanks Huffington Post, but I’m Still Just Mom.

huff post title 2

Yesterday, a blog that I submitted to The Huffington Post was published.

A post that I wrote about pausing to find your pause button.

Published. As in online. On The Huffington Post.

I immediately felt like I needed to hit the pause button and share the news with family and friends.

For the rest of the day and evening, I was completely overwhelmed by everyone’s response.

You all provided me with … pause.

Pause to bask in some of the beautiful “Likes” and “Comments” and “Shares”.

Pause to look at the amazing and inspiring people that I’ve been collecting all of my life.

Pause to count my many blessings.

Pause to remember that you read these words I string together. More of you read than I realize.

Pause to recommit; because you read these words, I want to be mindful about telling the truth and minding the gap between my beliefs and actions.

Pause to even feel the fears of “Is it good enough?” and “What if?”

Pause to be excited about setting this intention and following through, with the fears in tow.

But oddly, yesterday afternoon when I picked up the kiddos…

I was still just Mom.

There were no balloons. There was no confetti. Not even a stinkin’ parade!

I’m still just Mom.

They don’t read The Huffington Post. Huffington Post? What’s that? Sounds like something out of a Harry Potter book, which for the life of me I can’t get them interested in. (I’m hoping they are just still too young.)

I’m still just Mom.

They didn’t notice the outpouring of “Likes” and “Comments” and “Shares” on Facebook. (They are not on Facebook precisely because they are still too young.)

I’m still just Mom.

But. They were excited to see me and ran with open arms to greet me.

They had their own big news to share, too. Bigger news. Bigger than Huffington Post news!

X got to eat lunch in his classroom today because of the field trip to the pumpkin patch!

Y made it to the elusive and proverbial “Super” on the behavior chart today, earning her a purple smiley face in her book and a trip to the treasure box.

X had a new “Scat the Cat” book to read to us along with 18 more words to sing in the “Banana Nana Bo Bo Bana Fee Fi Mo Mana” song. (Yeah. I’m ready for this phase to be over…maybe just a little.)

Y finally got to meet with her reading group today and read the next chapter of “Shoeless Joe Jackson” which she is so excited to be learning about. Of course my references to “Field of Dreams” were completely lost on her. I will have to work on that one. Soon. She’s not too young for that one.

And with their bigger news, I once again, found my pause.

Pause to remember that at the end of each day, no matter what happens…

I’m still just Mom.

I could have had the best day or the worst day.

I could have met my goals or experienced complete failure.

I could have been published or rejected.

I’m still just Mom.

There were still errands to run.

There was still dinner to make/get.

There were still baths and showers and “Brush your hair and teeth” to do and say.

There were still the 7 tuck in songs, 24 hugs and kisses and countless repeated “Good Night. I love yous”.

I’m still just Mom.

They love me. Unconditionally.

Just like I love them. Unconditionally.

I once heard someone say, “There is nothing you can do to make me love you less. There is nothing you can do to make me love you more.”

Nothing changes.

Because I’m still just Mom.

And I love you that much.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

huff post title

P.S. I did sit down with Y to show her the post online. The post with my name in the byline and the little black and white picture of me at my brother’s wedding. I wanted to show her to let her know that she can do anything. Anything she sets her mind to.

Her response: “Cool.”

So now, I’m still just Mom.

But maybe just a slightly cooler version of … Mom.

Today’s Challenge(s):

Pause. Again. To recognize and appreciate the amazing and beautiful people you have been collecting all of your life!

Pause. Again. To take a look around and notice your family and all of their love. Just walk up to them and hug randomly.

Pause. Again. To scroll through your facebook friends list and leave messages of kind words on the pages of folks you haven’t heard from in a while.

Pause. Again. To set an intention. Name something you want to do. Enjoy the pondering about how to make that happen.

Pause. Again. To be You. Maybe even just a slightly cooler version … of You.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

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Solve. — The Puzzle of Life in Six Easy Steps.

I keep thinking about a phase that X was going through a few months ago. He was really into puzzles.

Solving puzzles. Putting puzzles together. He would sit for the longest time and really work a puzzle. I loved watching him to do this.

I learned so much about his little big personality.

And I decided that four year olds really know how to live. They have it figured out, this puzzle of life. It is really not so difficult.

If we just stop for a little while. Stop and watch the four year olds. We might just find the pieces we’ve been missing.

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There might be 100 pieces to this puzzle. 100 pieces is a lot. They are all different shapes and sizes and can be overwhelming when we open the box and look at everything that has to be accomplished. Today. Tomorrow. This week. Before the holidays. We can choose to just say, “Nevermind. This is just too much.” and put the lid back on the box. And put the box back on the shelf.

Or. Like the four year old, we can throw them all out over the coffee table, and just pick up one piece to start with.

To the Mommas, all of those pieces, just laying around in a pile, might look just like a huge mess. We wonder if we can really do this all by ourselves. Put this all together in a way that makes sense.

And the Momma of the four year old wonders just how long he will be able to keep up with all of the pieces before he loses one.

We wonder about this for ourselves, too. How can we keep up with so many pieces, so many things to be and do?

But if we just pick up one. Like the four year old. Just pick up one to get started. Then find one to go with that one.

One by one, we can piece it all together.

From the four year old, here is “How to Solve the Puzzle of Life in Six Easy Steps.”

1. You start with what you know. You focus on the important stuff.

You build the people first.

In the case of X, the superheroes.

Watch the four year olds. They will always put the people, the animal, the characters together first. They are the first things that get ‘pieced’ together. They stand out the most. They have the brightest colors, the expressions. They deserve to go together first–they are in fact the most important part of the puzzle.

As the Mommas, we should follow his lead.  He’s right. Shouldn’t the people in our lives, come… first?

Shouldn’t we focus on the people we love, the people we care about.

Make the people in your life the center of your puzzle.

2. You start in the middle and work your way out.

When I was younger, my grandmother told me that you always start with the pieces with the flat edges. You find all of those and you build the frame first. I tried to pass that sage advice on to the boy child, but he had other plans. I don’t say this often, but I think this time, she might have been wrong, after all. Sure, it is another way to do it. But the frame is not usually the most exciting part of the puzzle. Yes, it holds it all together, and it is needed for sure. But it is usually just the background pieces, the landscape.

The four year olds intuitively know that the action, the real action, is right in the middle of the puzzle.

Why not start there and let the background fall into place as you get to it?

The action is where it is at. It is not the clean counter tops or the folded laundry in drawers. It is not the mopped floors or the perfectly picked up toys. We all know it is the Family Wii tennis tournament challenge in the living room. It is the squirt gun fight in the kitchen. It is the tickle monster chases down the hall. It is the belly laughs at the dining table.

As the Mommas, we will get to the frame. We will pick up the toys and put away the clothes and wash up the dishes. We will do that stuff because we are the Mommas.

The trick is not to miss the action in the meantime.

Our lives need to be lived from the middle … out.

Let’s focus on the middle, the heart of our homes and lives. We can build the frame as we go.

3. It is ok to ask for help, but you want to put the piece in by yourself. You can’t let someone else do it FOR you.

And it is. It is ok to ask for help. Ultimately, the four year old is right again. As the Mommas, we can show him where a piece might go, but he has to figure out the direction. He has to be the one who turns it over, matches the shapes and colors. He has to be the one to determine if it is a good fit.

And if he gets frustrated. If a piece just doesn’t seem to fit just right, he can ask for help.

As the Mommas, we want to help. We want help.

But just like the four year olds, we have to learn that we have what it takes. We can do this. We can reach out and get some help, but ultimately, it is our puzzle. It is our life. We know how these pieces go together. We have to trust our instincts. Stop second guessing. Stop comparing.

We know how this puzzle goes together.

4. You have to keep going. Take a break, sure. Have a little ice cream. But then keep at it. You will get faster, the pieces will come together easier.

The four year olds totally understand this. There are sweet things in life that must be enjoyed. Sometimes we have to stop. Take a breather and then come back at something with even more perseverance and determination.

The Mommas in us need to remember that it is okay to stop. It is okay to take a break. We deserve it. We deserve to call a time out, for ourselves, and then come back to the puzzle to start again.

5. But…Sometimes you have to get IN the puzzle to really make it all come together.

Puzzle_Life_Solver

The four year old said to me, “Ok, this top part … is the hard part. I have to look close.” Isn’t that true? When things get hard; when things are difficult–You do have to really be there. Pay attention. Focus. Get in it and get messy.

Stop multi-tasking. Slow down and focus. When things get hard, we have to get into the puzzle to figure it out.

And if nothing else works, a little change your perspective can do wonders.

And last but not least…

6. Be proud of it. Leave it out on the table. Admire it. Brag about it. Call people from the other room to come and see it.

Life is made to be shared with others. Don’t hide your accomplishments. Share your talents. Brag a little.

This puzzle of life is hard. 100 pieces is a lot. As the Mommas, we spend too much time trying to live small. Trying to keep the focus on others. Trying not to sound too proud or shine too bright.

The four year olds know how to live. Jump up and down. Squeal a little.  Celebrate the big accomplishments. Make sure everyone knows that you finished this puzzle and you are ready for the next one.

Because, Mommas…it is a big deal. It is okay to be proud of the puzzle you are piecing together.

Show it off a little.

Just like the four year old, it is okay to say, “Hey! Look what I did!”

Let’s All Go, Do That.

puzzle

Today’s Challenge:

Create a puzzle of your life. On each piece, write something you are proud of. Something you are. Something you have done. Include a few pieces that you are still working on. Do all of the pieces fit? If not, stand up and move. Get a new perspective on it.

Stand back and admire the whole that is you. Call people from the other room to come and see it.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

blank puzzle

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Accept. — What Lands Through Doors and Windows.

accept

Sometimes, things happen. Good things happen with bad things.  Tragic things happen alongside miracles.

Doors Close. Windows Open.

There are red lights followed by green lights. There are complaints followed by compliments.  There is hard. There is easy.  There are family game nights and seven year old meltdowns. There is the perfect meal and then the sunken homemade birthday cake.

Sometimes the stress of a situation can take your breath away. Then a random text from a friend can relieve the anxiety. Just a little bit.

You find the parking space. You run out of gas. You are first in line. The machine breaks. This is starting to sound a little bit like an Alanis Morissette song.

Whatever IT is—it is true that you have to accept the situation. We accept that things happen. We accept complications.  We even accept credit.

I recently heard the phrase, “Accept what lands.” I find this so interesting.  Be accepting of what comes our way, both good and bad and accept it for what it is. The traffic jam. The three hour wait in line. The lost contact lens.  The sweet message from a friend. The unexpected check in the mail. The favorite movie randomly on T.V.

Accept what lands implies that we welcome our destiny. We accept the events that happen to us.  But…NOT in a passive way.  We are not victims, helpless to react to what is landing in our lives.  No. Accept implies action. Actively accept what lands, catch it and then do something with it.

But what will you do with it? How will your acceptance of what lands in your life motivate you? To be still or move forward? To Stay home or work elsewhere? To Cry or laugh?  To Begrudge or forgive? To Choose sad or choose happy?  To Wallow or Appreciate?

We accept situations, just like we should accept the people in our worlds. I accept my best friend/partner/hubby for who he is and what he brings to my world.  I accept Y for her firecracker ways, for her sweet, sincere spirit, for her over extremes. I accept X for his red-headed monkey loudness, his interrupting manners, and his incessant talking at times.  I try not to make excuses for them. I accept them and their behavior and their gifts and their mess ups. Just as they are.

Accept what lands means that I have to accept me, too. For what I am and who I become. For what I see in the mirror and the number on the scale. For my triumphs and overcomings and my foul-ups and shortcomings. For when I have it all together and for when I just… don’t.

The good, the bad, the beautiful. I have to accept it all.

Accept what lands.

Let’s All, Go. Do that.

Today’s challenge: Free write about acceptance. Set a timer for 5 minutes and just write. Don’t edit. Just write.

What does acceptance mean? What does it look like? When have you found it? When have you given it?

When have you not felt accepted? When have you made others feel this way?

What good has come from bad? What miracle have you found in tragedy?

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