The Parenting Season Rocking My World

When our oldest daughter turned three, we welcomed twins into our family. When the twins turned three, our last baby was born. For about six years, our family life revolved around colic, thousands of dirty diapers, playing Thomas the Train on the living room floor, and gallons of coffee.

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Moms, you remember these early years, right? If it’s blurry, the disgusting smell of spit-up, the whirling of the breast pump, and the sweetness of those first baby grins might jog your memory. These infant/toddler years are so hectic, yet the hours of rocking crying babies creep by so slowly.

While in survival mode, I got some advice from moms in a different season. We live in a neighborhood where most of the kids are a few years older than ours. When I was sitting on the bathroom floor during those early years, trying to coax twins to use the potty, my neighbors were outside with their elementary-aged kids. When we would see each other at the park, they would mourn the busy-ness of their lives. “I remember those baby days!” they would tell me. “Believe it or not, your life will get even busier.”

Really? Impossible. Their kids were not only old enough to potty unassisted, they were old enough to bathe themselves. Fifth graders could read their own bedtime stories. First-graders could watch an entire movie without getting distracted. Or freaked out by the bad guys. Or freaked out by the squeaky noise their closet door made. These moms could reason with their bigger kids. Their parenting season had to be easier.

But they only said, “Bigger kids, bigger problems.”

Fast forward to this year, the year that has rocked my parenting world.

Our kids are turning 10, 7,7, and 4. All of the sudden, they’re big-kid busy.

Overnight, they’ve developed these huge personalities, they have all these ideas, and they are always going, going, going. They want to try it all: after-school clubs, activities at church, private lessons, and sleepovers with friends. This means I’ve been promoted from chief bottle-washer to swim team taxi, pool party lifeguard, and math-fact & sight-word tutor. Our lives have suddenly become one of those movies stuck in fast-forward.

You know what the difference is? Why this season feels so much more hectic than the early years did? Because the kids now have their own opinions. Organizing their schedules is like arranging the schedules of four unique adults.

The older moms were also right about “bigger kids, bigger problems.” My kids are struggling with learning disabilities, bullying, hurtful friend drama, and real-life disappointments.

Yes, they may be able to tuck themselves in at night, but it’s important for me to be there. This is when they ask the really important questions. I may not be rocking them to sleep, but I’m still in that same rocking chair, now talking about how we know God loves us and why He lets bad things happen.

While I am able to shower with a little more regularity, this season is rocking my world. It’s definitely the busiest of our lives.

I’m sure the puberty years will be easier…

Right, Moms of teens?

Hello?

us

 

Christina Hergenrader blogs at www.christinasbooks.com/blog and writes Christian books for women. She lives in Katy, Texas with her husband, four kids, elderly Cocker Spaniel, and surprisingly-slow Greyhound.

 

 

 

No genetics necessary

So Ellie’s post the other day got me thinking about my own kids and the ways in which they’re like The Professor and I. It’s funny how adoption works, you see families with kids that look just like their adoptive parents. For our family, I’ve certainly had people tell me that both of my daughters favor me – I don’t see it, but I know that the stuff underneath, there’s a whole lot in common.

Yeah, we could say it’s all nurture, but I don’t think that explains all of it. Some of it is simply divine matching – the way The Professor and I found our girls – out of all the couples in the world and all the kids in the world, we somehow found each other. And they are OUR kids. Sometimes I even forget they aren’t of our blood.

$T2eC16JHJIEFHSoyF!lCBSJo)wv8RQ~~60_35For example, Busybee, well, she and I aren’t a lot alike. She’s an extrovert and full of energy and smiles and joy. I’m not saying I’m a grump, but I’m more quiet and reflective. But there’s this one way in which we are totally alike and it kinda cracks me up. I noticed it first a few years ago when I bought them the Thanksgiving Little People play set. The box they came in is a reusable one so we keep them in there and on the top is a picture of the playset all set up. Busybee would look at the box and set everything up just so and get kind of anxious if her sister came along and changed things. More recently this has manifested itself in play with her sister – Babybee is a free spirit in many ways and has an imagination a mile long – so she will try to correct and manage how her sister is playing to make sure she does it the “right” way. I can totally relate to this, I get it, I’m the same way, but Babybee, she’s not like that – she does her own thing. So I try to remind Busybee that her sister can play however she wants even if that means pretending her mermaid is actually a blue elephant. 🙂

 

So I don’t have the same outlandish imagination that Babybee has, but we have other similarities. She’s an introvert, doesn’t care for crowds. But she’s also really precise. Even when she was really little, she was very specific about the way she did things. Where her creative play is bold and colors outside the lines, if you will, her artistic techniques are linear and clear. I can give her and Busybee the same art project, leave the room and come back and know just which one Babybee has done, all of her stickers will be perfect aligned. She’s the only kiddo in her classroom at Mother’s Day Out who is allowed to do the glueing herself on her art projects because she does it just so. She even sits like me, with her legs crossed over one another just like I do, just like my grandmother sat.

They have similarities with The Professor too. It’s crazy to me how perfectly they match us, how perfectly the fit in our family, how they create our family. Family life is messy and hectic and amazing and exhausting and everything in between. But family, no matter how you create yours, is a miracle and I am one blessed mama.

Christmas is Not Your Birthday

In my adult Sunday school class we’re doing a unit on Christmas is Not Your Birthday. I sometimes teach the Three-Year-Old Sunday school, so I’ve missed some of the lesson, but the gist of it is: stop trying to make Christmas perfect and all about you. It’s about a gift we were given and a sacrifice that was made.

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So we have been trying to think of ways to impart this idea to Baby Galen. It’s not easy when, before Halloween, Christmas lights were up at local shopping centers and everywhere you look is a Santa or a Christmas tree. To kids, Christmas is about how much will I get, not what can I do for someone else. But our halfhearted efforts were brought home to us the other day when someone asked Baby Galen what she was going to ask Santa to bring her for Christmas. She immediately whipped out her praying hands and started to pray to Santa. Oh, the horror! My child was praying to Santa Claus. Immediate action had to be taken.
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First of all, we talked more about the real meaning of Christmas and how so many kids don’t have anything. Along with some friends, we chose a needy family and bought gifts for a little boy about her age. We brought food to the food bank. We donated clothes to the local homeless shelter. I still don’t feel like it’s struck home yet. Maybe she’s too young, or maybe it is sinking in, and I just haven’t realized it. She did attempt to pray to Santa again, so that hasn’t sunk in!

What do you do to try and help your kids understand Christmas isn’t just about consumerism?

Shana Galen, Multitasker Mama
I’m Shana Galen, AKA Multitasker Mama (and aren’t we all?). I’m a wife, mom to a four-year-old daughter I call Baby Galen. My parenting motto is, “Keep moving. Don’t pass out. Don’t throw up.” Or maybe that’s my fitness motto? http://www.shanagalen.com

 

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September 11th and Children

First of all, RIP to all the Americans we lost on 9-11. And to all the children born on September 11, I hope your parents have been able to filter out all the noise and keep the sense of personal celebration that you deserve to have on your birthday. I wish that for the grownups born on this day, too.

A lot of you reading this might not have had kids on September 11, 2001. You might even have been a young teen yourself. But for those of us who were parents, it was really tough, as you might expect. How do you explain such a disaster to children without destroying their sense of security?

photo-13 I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to say that September 11 changed everything for the kids who lived through it. My son says his generation is dogged by the events of that day. We tend to forget about it on a daily basis, but it’s there, stamped into our collective unconscious. My sister, who teaches college, says that her current students–who ranged in age from 6 to 10 at the time of the attack–have so much more anxiety than their pre-September 11th counterparts. According to her, the anxiety levels have been getting progressively worse since September 11th happened.

No one was left unscarred.  I know personally of two friends who lost loved ones. One of them was a flight attendant on the plane that crashed into a field. The other was a stockbroker in one of the towers–he left behind a wife and two toddlers. And then in my own family, my brother-in-law was inside the Pentagon when the plane hit. And my brother was in the air on a flight out of Boston, heading to D.C. We had NO idea of either of their statuses for a while. Could my brother be in the plane that crashed in the field? Or was he possibly in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon? Was my brother-in-law hurt inside the Pentagon? It was terrible not knowing.

If it was such a trauma for the adults, imagine what it was like for the kids. I do know that where I lived, in Hickory, NC, the elementary schools turned on the TV’s in the classrooms. I can’t remember if they dismissed them early, and that’s because I was homeschooling at the time.

My two older kids were 8 1/2 and a brand-new 10.  We saw the towers fall. I remember falling to my knees, literally. I cried and prayed and said things like, “God help them!” as we witnessed, surely, thousands of deaths at almost the same time. I wonder if not only the world trauma of that day but the household trauma branded itself deeply onto my two older kids’ psyches. What happened to them when they saw Mommy so afraid? All I know is that in general, they have suffered more anxiety growing up than our third child, who was in diapers at the time and had no idea what was happening.

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Of course, we talked about it. We talked about it a lot. The drawings and narration you see here were done by my then 8-year-old daughter the next day. She made a book entitled, SAD, SAD DAY.  I have to marvel at the resilience of children, how they are filled with optimism no matter what. Look at the cute winking heart on that top drawing! And in the bottom narration, my daughter leans heavily on her faith in God to make it all better.

Other generations of children have been scarred by war. I guess at this point all I can do is pray for the children who went through September 11th and hope that the day will always remind them that we can never take our lives for granted or the lives of the people we love. Maybe our children who witnessed that day’s events will also live less on the surface and more in the realm of the substantial. They “get” loss and death. May they use the knowledge and experience thrust upon them on September 11 to make the world a better place.

I’m curious: If your kids are too young to remember September 11th, how do you handle the day? Let me know in the comments! And of course, please share anything you’d like about your own experience. 


Hi, I’m Kieran. My family loves music and anything that makes us laugh out loud. Along with Chuck, my husband of 24 years, I try to teach our kids that we have to actively choose happiness–and if I accomplish nothing else as a mom but pass that one lesson along to them, then I think I’ve done my job. My oldest guy, Nighthawk, was diagnosed in kindergarten with Asperger’s syndrome, and now he’s a senior in college; his sister Indie Girl, who’s younger by 16 months, is a college junior; and my youngest, Dragon, is in tenth grade. For our family, it’s about managing your weaknesses and wringing everything you can get out of your strengths. And along the way, finding joy. www.kierankramerbooks.com

Warning: Religious Post Ahead

I don’t usually write about religion or politics, but this morning something happened and I felt like I HAD to tell someone. I love to listen to Christian contemporary music. I sometimes sing with the band at the contemporary service at my church, and between Elmo and the Wiggles albums, I play a lot of Christian music for my daughter when we’re driving. She has a particular affinity for old Amy Grant, who is not one of my favorites.

One song I really do like is a song that came out a few years ago by Britt Nicole. It’s called Set the World on Fire.

This is kind of a lame YouTube video, but you can hear the song. Baby Galen really likes this song, so I play it once in a while when I can’t listen to “Wheels on the Bus” again. This morning, out of nowhere, she said to me, “Mommy, am I going to set the world on fire?”

It was one of those moments, where time completely stands still. I felt like my answer would really make a difference, so I turned to her, and I said, “Yes, You are going to do great things. You are so special. There’s no one else like you.”

She said, “Okay, Mommy!” and ran off to play. Ever have a moment like that, where you feel like all of a sudden you’re just given way too much power, and you’d better use it well?

 

Shana Galen, Multitasker Mama
I’m Shana Galen, AKA Multitasker Mama (and aren’t we all?). I’m a wife, mom to a three-year-old daughter I call Baby Galen. My parenting motto is, “Keep moving. Don’t pass out. Don’t throw up.” Or maybe that’s my fitness motto? www.shanagalen.com

Joy

It’s a long standing joke in my family that we’ll throw a party for anything. We like to hang out, and we like to eat. And we like to celebrate.

Superbowl party with tons of snacks? Check. St Paddy’s Day? Oh yeah. Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day. Getting a new contract, finishing a book…you get the idea.

photo-15This past week we’ve discovered a new kind of celebration, and a new kind of food. This here is my mom’s No More Chemo cake. It’s pretty spectacular. Earlier in the week we had No More Chemo Pie, which is similar to No More Chemo Cake except it wasn’t as gorgeous and it was pie.

My friend’s mother-in-law made the cake to celebrate the fact that on Friday my mom had her last chemo treatment.

I don’t think I’ve blogged about this here. Which is strange because I’ve been VERY personal on this blog. But cancer is sad. And it sucks. It sucks to deal with, it sucks to blog about. But I’m doing it now.

December 31st, 2012 they saw a spot on my mom’s MRI. I rang in the New Year with my mom giv ing me that news in my office. Happy New Year to us. Still, I hoped it was nothing. I hoped it was as small as it appeared.

It wasn’t. It turns out it was stage 3 Ovarian cancer. My mom is 56 and the picture of health, though over the past few months she’d had a lot of bad symptoms. She wasn’t eating very much anymore, and it was uncomfortable when she did. Her back hurt a lot. “Getting old sucks!” she said.

Her doctor said it was IBS and to take some enzymes, but it didn’t get better. My mom got pushy, and I’m SO glad she did, because her doctor didn’t follow up. Her doctor never put the symptoms together. And she had every symptom. (You have to fight for yourself! But that’s another blog post altogether)

Within a week of the diagnosis, my dad, brother and I were headed up north for her surgery. And after that she started the first of 6 rounds of chemo.

Chemo is hard. And when it got hard we would remind my mom that was the drug killing the bad stuff too…it was just the good stuff was getting pulverized with it.

It’s easy to see why the No More Chemo Cake says Joy on it. Because we have joy because the treatment is done. Because, for now, and we pray forever, she’s cancer free.

But the thing that struck me the most during this process is how much joy my mom has all the time. Her faith is so evident in her life. In all that she does. She has that peace that passes understanding. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard. That she didn’t get upset or cry. Because she did. Because it was not a small challenge set before her. We had so many friends here supporting her, supporting us.

I have to give a big shout out to local romance author and friend, Lisa Hendrix, who not only shaved her head in solidarity, has come to visit at least once a week to help my mom keep that smile on her face. Hard times show us how many people love us.

And that adds joy too.

Even in the dark times, there was joy. In every meal someone cooked and delivered, every bouquet of flowers sent. Every person who offered prayer and good thoughts, contributed to bringing joy in the middle of a trial.

Joy is, I think, different than happiness. Joy runs deeper. It transcends circumstance. It’s the manner in which we look at things. A ways we choose to live.

I’ve been inspired by my mom’s ability to choose joy. And I want to do the same in my own life. There are always bumps in the road, but the outlook we have on life has so much to do with how we weather the bumps. It may not change the outcome, but it makes the ride more fun.

Like making everything a celebration. 😉

I raise my No More Chemo Cake to you in salute!

The Brighter Side of IVF by Guest Tina Hergenrader

Almost a decade ago, when my husband and I found out we were infertile, I dedicated every spare second to learning about IVF.

Seriously.

As soon as our doctor told us IVF (thousands of dollars, a couple small surgeries, hundreds of painful injections) was the only way we would be a family, I went straight to Google.

And stayed there for the next several months.

I stalked Trying To Conceive (TTC) websites like I would be tested on what they said. At our doctor’s appointments, I had so many anecdotes and testimonies from my online friends rattling around in my head, I questioned our doctor like his professional peer. Because, truly, at this point I probably was. I certainly spent more time reading about Lupron injections than he did.

The TTC world is a strange one. I knew more about strangers’ menstrual cycles than I did about my own. It’s also a sad world. Obviously. Most women going through IVF want a baby worse than they’ve ever wanted anything. No matter how much money they spend trying or how many hormone-altering shots they grit their teeth through, the process often ends in heartbreak.

This is the stuff of (really, really sad) Hallmark movies.

Because of this, the whole TTC world has kind of a dark cloud over it. Even if (yea!), you get pregnant, you’re so worried your cycle buddy won’t be, you don’t want to tell any of your online friends. You certainly can’t ask your dearest infertile friend to throw your baby shower.

This is why people name their IVF blogs and TTC websites “MY IVF JOURNEY.” Women need a somber tone for this terrifying, lonely business they’re going through…and “IVF IS HELL” seems so brash.

Anyway, if the Lupron and progesterone shots don’t get you down (they always do, by the way), this dark cloud of TTC websites will. I distinctly remember one particularly low day with I googled, “IVF Humor.” The response was, “Your search did not match any documents.”
Ha ha…eh.

All this to say I’m here with some perspective. Four kids later (yes, they were all conceived through the miracle of IVF) and ten years worth of perspective, has helped me see that all of IVF wasn’t hell.
Only the shots were hell, really.

And the miscarriage.

But, wait, that’s not funny.

Let me try again.
Here’s the lighter side of IVF…
1. Look on the bright side! With IVF you have the perfect opportunity to choose your child’s birthday! Or close to it. Actually, the laugh is on me with this one. I chose summer birthdays for all our kids. Which, really? Every mom who has ever debated her child repeating kindergarten knows summer is the WORST time to have a baby.

2. Conceiving your child through IVF means you can call your dad, tell him you’re pregnant, and also never have to admit you’ve had sex.

3. When someone says, “you can’t be just a little bit pregnant,” you can say, “Actually, yes you can.” You can be a little pregnant when you have a couple of perfect embryos in your uterus, and you’re waiting to see if they’ll “take.” So, there’s that.

4. Twins! Triplets! The goal for IVF clinics is “one healthy baby” per IVF cycle. But, let’s be clear, the goal of the patients is “as many babies as I can get for all this pain and money.” The idea of multiple babies to an infertile woman is like dangling Louboutins in front of a shoeless SJP. So, when the doctors tell the patient, “Now, you understand there is a risk of twins, right? You understand the stress two babies can cause, right?” The patient is thinking, HECK YES! I know about the twins. And that’s exactly what I’m praying for, buddy.

5. When your kid is older, and they claim you don’t love them, you can always bring up how much money you spent conceiving them. “Sure, Jimmy might have a new XBOX. But, we had you instead. Sorry, honey. But now maybe you understand how much we wanted you.”

6. Most every day you get a progesterone shot, which is one of those deep-tissue ones that goes right into your thigh muscle. It’s one of those shots the nurses describe as, “you’ll know your husband hit the right spot if it hurts really bad.” Yes. One of those. Every day. The bright side of these shots is that you have the most amazing dreams on Progesterone. Like 4D, super-magical, intense dreams that really give your brain a work-out. Which is nice compared to the mush it’s been before that with the estrogen suppositories (yes, seriously) and daydreaming about babies for months.

7. You get an up close and personal look at what your body was designed to do. While tracking your cycle and egg production and ovulation, you see how outrageously perfectly God designed your body to function. Even the most cynical, egotistical doctors admit that whether or not the embryos “take” was a miracle they couldn’t understand.

8. Prayers. When you’re going through IVF, you can ask your best friends or your whole church to pray you’ll get pregnant. They can even have a little prayer vigil while you’re high on Valium and your legs are in stirrups at the hospital, getting surgically impregnated. When you’re trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, a prayer vigil during the actual act is a little more awkward.

9. You will grow closer to your husband. We would do lots of fun little rituals together during IVF. My husband would name the shots he gave me. “Oh, look. This one is the DOUBLEYOURENERGY shot. Take this and you’ll wake up with twice the energy!” Truthfully, he should have named all of them the THISHORMONESHOTWON’TMAKEYOUSOCRAZY shot.

10. The best part of IVF is, of course, the babies. Our four IVF babies are a blessing beyond my comprehension. The years have faded the memories of the miscarriage, hormone shots, and heartbreak. But the joys of IVF—the help conceiving these precious, beautiful kids—is obvious everyday.
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Kids
Christina Hergenrader is the author of eight Christian books. When she’s not writing, she loves to bake, take pictures, and soak up life with her husband and four kids. They all live in Texas with their ancient Cocker Spaniel and unusually slow Greyhound. Her most recent book is Starring Roles, a devotional about friendship.
Starring Roles

“Can you please just stop time for me, just for a little while?”

When Dreams Die. That’s what I was all set to blog about…and I still plan to. But then this week happened. This week that started off so beautifully (for me), with clear skies, warm, abundant sunshine, balmy breezes, and a very special birthday with my husband and kids, only to slam into a wall the next day when news of the Boston Marathon bombing struck. Then, two days later, the horrific explosion in tiny West, Texas. It’s against that backdrop that I was on Facebook as a post floated by from my daughter’s former preschool teacher, Laura. She says she’s not a writer. She says she’s not articulate. She says words aren’t her thing. But I sat there so moved by the beauty of what she had to say,  I knew I had to share it here. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t consider herself a writer. Because Laura is a woman. She’s a daughter, a mother, and a friend. A teacher. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t consider herself a writer. She’s real. She faces challenges head on and digs deep to find strength and solutions.

I’ve always known she was special. Now you will, too.

From Laura…

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Sorry – had to vent. This is my brain and heart spilling out after this week’s tragedies……

When I was just driving home for lunch, I saw NUMEROUS flocks of birds out flying together so freely and happily. They were making the most out of the beautiful day. Up until then, I had spent today, and the last week, at work with cranky, dysfuntional, mislead, and confused people. On any given day, I usually NEVER let them influence my mood or how I treat others. Between that environment and the constant tragedy coverage on 5 different TV’s however, my soul yearned to escape it all.

My heart found the beauty and peace it was needing when I went outside to the beautiful day and the beautiful birds, because I was back in God’s world. That’s why the birds were so happy, because they were only allowing themselves to be a part of God’s world. I DO NOT feel we should not care, shut ourselves off, or be in denial – not at all. I’ve wanted to know every detail of what those people went through  so I could assimilate and assess it all. However, we all must look for and stay in touch with God’s love and peace that is still inside of us and in this world. We must all remember it is His world – we are not and will not be in the clutches of evil!

Evil things are happening – more and more – and are so so scary – if not for us, then for our children. But we must continue to feel the love – the love of the whole universe because we have to. We have to to survive – the love feeds our soul, but the fear kills it. Fear is not real – it is only the absence of the true reality. We also have to, because we have to continue that energy across our world for those, who through their suffering, can’t do it for themselves.

This morning, my daughter said, being sleepy and fatigued, “Can you please just stop time for me, just for a little while?”

I told her I wished for that more than anything. I want to stop the world long enough to go back and fix it. NOT to take away the guns and bombs or the actual genius minds that are able to devise and plot with them – but to take away the pain and dysfunction that WE have created, that creates the people that hold the weapons.

My pain comes from knowing that this pain is in the world and feeling how much pain must be in these people. I want to try to hold true to the love and peace I feel from God’s world and hope that helps give me the comfort to trudge on through all the sadness. I hope all of those who can, will continue to send out the energy of love and hopefulness in the times when it is most unlikely. Maybe this is what will overcome and treat the pain in our world.

Thank you to God for letting me see the birds and for reminding me it’s Your world. Their brains and hearts are so much smaller than ours, but they don’t forget. They have found peace and freedom today. Although evil rips away at us, this is what will always remind us and help us feel we are ONLY bound by and in the clutches of God’s love.

Evil will never win and cannot take us away from that.

 

A Letter To My Daughter

SuperheroYou are beautiful. Not just on the outside, but on all your sides. And there will be a lot of people who say you aren’t. That’s because they feel bad about themselves. Or maybe because their mom didn’t tell them they were beautiful. I don’t know. But I know that what they say doesn’t change the truth. And that is that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made. That God took great delight in fashioning you, and that you are utter perfection, to him and to me.

You don’t have to fit into a box. You don’t have to be one thing. Be a superhero. And be a princess.

You were made to be great. You’ve been given dreams and talents so that you’ll follow them, use them. Your gifts are yours alone, and if you don’t use them, no one else in the world can, not quite like you. So make a splash with them. Share them. Spread them all over like glitter that the world will never be able to wash off (you know how glitter is.)

Friends are wonderful gifts. Some of your friends will last all of your life, and some of them for only a short time. That’s okay. It’s part of life. It’s part of growing. Losing friends is hard, especially to those Jr High and High School type situations. The ones where they say mean things and make you feel like you fail at life all because they won’t be your friend anymore. But you’ll make new friends. Better friends.

You’ll worry about boys for the rest of your life. So start as late as you can. Play with dolls. Play with stuffed animals. Play in the dirt with your brothers. Play fetch with your dog. Wear striped leggings and a polka dot dress because you want to, and don’t worry about what anyone thinks.

Speaking of boys, the boys in high school aren’t worth your time. Trust me on this. I know you’re going to waste time on them anyway, but I consider it my duty to tell you: they aren’t done baking yet. They’re going to be frogs for a few more years, no matter how many times you kiss them. My advice is to just hold off on kissing them. Make them come to you a prince already. Because heaven knows, you’re a princess.

Confidence is beautiful, don’t let insecure people tell you differently. Believe in yourself. And when you can’t, know that me, and your dad, and your brothers, and uncle and grandparents, will be behind you believing in you for you.

Stand firm in your convictions. Your friends might make fun of you, but that’s okay. If you know who you are, and what you want. Don’t let other people change you into the version of you they’re most comfortable with. Be the you that you want to be, and blaze the trail down your own path.

Tell me everything. I promise not to get mad. Well, I promise to keep my blow-up short and sweet, and then have a meaningful conversation with you. But I’d rather know what you’re doing, than be kept in the dark. I’d rather be able to support you, than let you go through something alone. Even if I don’t agree with your choices. Because no matter what, I’m on your side.

Toilet papering houses is great. Filling a boy’s car with balloons and saran wrapping it shut is better. (because no matter what I say, you’ll like those dumb high school boys. So you might as well torment them a little. I’ll probably drive the getaway car. My mom did it for me.) Learn to laugh at yourself. Spin around in open fields of grass. Look at the stars. Read books under the covers with a flashlight.

Be fierce. Be independent. Be whatever you want to be. As someone once said: Don’t be like the rest of them, darling.

And know that when I look at you, I’ll always see the baby you were. The girl you are. The woman you’ll be. And that I love you.

In the Forest

Note: I wrote this blog shortly after being traumatized a bit. I want to post it still because it was a really honest reaction to what I was/am going through, and I want people in similar situations to know, you aren’t alone. But I wanted to add a note to let you all know I’m feeling better now. 🙂

This wasn’t the blog post I was going to write. Not even close. In the past month we’ve been on vacation, moved, gotten a dog, I’ve signed with a second publisher been to RWA…it’s been a huge thirty days. I was going to talk about change.

Now I’m going to talk about things not changing enough.

It’s especially ironic considering my last post, but I think that’s parenting in a nutshell. The feelings are different every day.

Today I feel like I’m in the woods. I know they end somewhere. But I don’t know where. I thought I was closer than I am. I can’t go back, the option isn’t there. And I wouldn’t. Except I just want to sit down and give up today.

We moved into our new house a week ago. The first thing we did was put chains on the doors. Then we fenced the back yard. Why? Danger. Danger is an escape artist. He wanders. We thought we had it.

Tonight he unlocked his window and got out while I thought he was sleeping. We went to bring his dog to his room and he was gone. I’ve experienced this three times now. They have been the longest, most hellish moments of my life. I would go through unmedicated childbirth ten times over to never experience them again. To have avoided ever experiencing them. In those moments you realize how all those brilliant things that happened in the past thirty days mean nothing if that child isn’t coming home to you.

Thank God he was safe. Thank God.

I thought he’d progressed past this point. I thought he was progressing and I suppose he is, but it’s easy to let something like this steal that feeling. Like an alcoholic who loses their sobriety and has to start the count again. I’ve never seen him stim like he was tonight either. He was totally overdone.

Here’s the thing about parenting a special needs child: No one asks you if you’re up to the task. I’m not special. I’m not stronger than anyone else. But just like the mother of a typical child I love my son. More than myself. It’s the love that keeps me going. Without it, I would just be lost in the woods. As it is, I’m lost in the woods with that love pushing me forward.

Tonight I thought, I just don’t want to do this anymore. And then I thought WHY ME? And then I looked at him and thought, I love that kid. And so I keep going. Because I need to. Because I can’t do anything else. Because my son is precious to me beyond words. Because he’s brought me joy that surpasses the sorrow.

Maybe that sums up parenting for everyone. You will never know love so deep, joy so profound or sadness so intense as you do when you love a child. Adopted or biological, son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandson or granddaughter. Because they are in our care. Vulnerable to us.

And again, I wish I could see the edge of the forest so I’d know I was getting there. So I’d know I could make it through this okay. So I’d know I wouldn’t let him down. That I won’t let my other beautiful kids down either. But I don’t know. I can’t tell. So I keep walking. And I hope that love makes up for my missteps. I hope my kids’ guardian angels work extra vigilantly to cover where I fail. I pray that God is there to catch them when I don’t.

This isn’t the blog post I was going to write. But it’s the blog post I needed to write. Someday I’ll write a blog post about the shenanigans of our new golden retriever. Or about Diva picking grapes in the backyard. Or Drama and his impressive knowledge of geography. But today I had to write this. Right. *grabs walking stick* I’ve got to keep on hiking through now. I can’t see the end. But I hope love lights my way.