Tuesday Truth :: Kids will be kids

The moment that I fully embraced the “kids will be kids” expression, and began taking it for full face value, my life literally changed. Up until that point, I was the mom who would get upset with my children when they didn’t take family photos on command, when they threw a fit in the grocery store because I chose to take my three minis shopping before dinner, and when they had a meltdown at the 4th of July because it was 2 hours past their bedtime and we (as parents) made the decision to keep them up for the celebration. I would find myself irritated, thinking “why are my kids doing this?” “My kids are the only ones NOT taking the photo!” “My kids are the only ones throwing a FIT right here in the middle of a carnival while the rest of the world is having a blast.” I was so self-absorbed with my own children (and their many shenanigans), that I wasn’t looking at the world around me. I wasn’t taking note of the other struggling parents, of the tantrum-y toddlers, of the middle schoolers talking back. I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that we are all just parents of kids. Not bad kids who want to ruin our lives – KIDS.

I vividly remember one day when my 4-year old was in his OT lesson (for sensory integration). I was talking to his teacher, Ms. Sue. Now I know that Ms. Sue’s job (in relation to my family) was to work with us on Brecken’s sensory needs in regards to textures that he was/ wasn’t eating. But, because I found myself desperate for help, I would elicit free parenting advice from all genres and poach answers whenever I could get them. Heck, I would take the word of a 9-year old boy whose only contact with children was to pass them in the toy aisle at Target. Again, I was DESPERATE. I paid no attention whatsoever to the fact that Ms. Sue was a middle-aged woman who had never been married, had no children of her own, and had only recently started working in this field when some other things “fell through” (according to her). To me, I took what Ms. Sue said as the holy grail and tried to wrap my head around her suggestions and advice, as best as they could fit within the confines of our family.

As I was sidetracking his eating lessons again, I mentioned that bath time was a struggle. I told her that every bath night yielded the same results – Him refusing to get in, him being forced to get in, him screaming throughout, him being punished with the loss of bed time books or snuggles after his behavior, me feeling upset and frustrated the next several hours after he went to bed, unable to complete my own required work in the evening. She ever so innocently (and now as I look back at it, possibly with an air of “well duh”) said, “How important are baths?” At the time, I remember she instantly lost all credibility in my eyes. OF COURSE HE NEEDS TO TAKE BATHS – HE’S A SMELLY, DIRTY KID. THIS LADY KNOWS NOTHING! WE QUIT!!!! I now realize I was the idiot.

Our beloved pediatrician, Dr. Bodine, once told me to choose my battles. In choosing, he stated that there are three simple things that NO ONE can EVER force a child to do, if they don’t want to do it.

Those three things include:
Eating. Sleeping. Peeing.

He told me parents drive themselves mad trying to force these three things, and in the process spend hundreds of dollars on gimmicks, books and apparatuses. All to no avail. The bottom line is kids will be kids. Then, eventually, they won’t be kids anymore….. And somehow between “kids” and “no longer kids,” each and every one  of them learns how to eat, sleep and poop on their own.

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The Independence I’ve Always Wanted, Until I got it….

As I lie in bed, I hear the kitchen stool being scooted around to various cupboards. My 4 year old just got the bowl from the bottom shelf, the cereal from the pantry, poured the cereal into her bowl (it sounds like only a few pieces hit the floor, fingers crossed), retrieved her spoon from the drawer, and found the milk in the bottom shelf of the fridge.

My 4 year old just made herself breakfast. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for.

So why, then, am I almost in tears? I’m feeling like a failure of a mother because my 4-year old doesn’t have a GOOD mama that makes a gourmet breakfast for her each day. I have failed her by not doing my “mom duties.” Or, perhaps, I have spent years doing my “mom duties” and building her up to feel like she TOO can do these jobs.

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My big girl made her own breakfast!

I am no longer needed in all areas of her life. BUT, I am here to celebrate her independent successes, no matter how small they may seem.

10 Smoothies for Different Occasions

Dear Readers,

Sticking true to our smoothie devotion this summer, the kids and I have loved getting adventurous and trying new ones.

Joy, over at FreezerLabels.net was kind enough to share some fun new ideas with my readers… Lucky you! When she first contacted me, I thought I already had a long list of fun smoothies in my repertoire. As it turns out, she has a lot more….. And in cute, easy to print labels as the cherry on top! Check out her info here to get recipes, labels, and helpful freezer information. From weight loss smoothies to breakfast smoothies, alcohol smoothies to detox smoothies, energy smoothies to anti-depressant smoothies, Joy has something for everyone!

In addition, you can also download FREE Freezer Labels for all kinds of meals. As I start to stockpile meals in my freezer for another busy school year, I can’t wait to use these to help with our organization.

Thanks again, Joy! I look forward to working with you again in the future 🙂

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Five Minute Friday :: LIFT

I was once rock bottom. My heart was filled with despair and I couldn’t fathom getting out of bed. I didn’t know how to move forward, or if I even could. Everything I had known and believed in was taken from me. In an instant. My mom was gone.

And then, I was LIFTED by the power of prayer, the love of friends, the strength of family, and the overwhelming presence of my mom’s spirit who lived on in each of us.

On February 2, 2011, I received a call while teaching at my elementary school. My mom was non-responsive and 9-1-1 had been called. Non-responsive. Fever of 108. Non-responsive. Cold to touch. Non-responsive. Had to be stabilized before they could get her into the ambulance. Non-responsive. Air lifted. WHY WAS SHE NOT RESPONDING?? The voice of my beautiful mother, whom I had spoken to on the phone a mere 12 hours prior, LIFTED me into my car to start my trek to her.

I lived 6 hours away. Driving through a horrible snow storm, I barely made it through the mid-way point when they closed the Interstate that separated my worlds. The snow still falling in great numbers, the roads around the hospital were eerily empty. I would not stop. I would not waver. My mom must respond. She needed to wake up. What happened?? My friends LIFTED me as they cried on the phone with me. Keeping me alert, providing me comfort, assuring me they were there for me.

So many tubes. She didn’t look like herself. Why were her feet black? Why were her fingers purple? Why was she so cold. Non-responsive. My family LIFTED me through those awful moments. They hugged me, cried with me, helped me comprehend the words the medical staff were trying to articulate.

I am still in shock. I am still numb, heartbroken, and confused. But over the past five years, my mom LIFTED me when I needed lifted. I hear her advice when I am stuck, I feel her hugs when I am sad, I see her smile when good comes my way. She loved me enough in her 52 years of life to carry me through all of the days I have on earth.

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Five Minute Friday :: HAPPY!!

I have teamed up with a wonderful team of bloggers who participate in “Five Minute Friday.” Here’s the skinny: Every Friday for nearly four years hundreds of people joined a kind of writing flash mob. We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that is posted by the the team starting at 10pm EST on Thursday night and all through Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FMFParty (It stands for Five Minute Friday Party). No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

The prompt for this week: HAPPY

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My last “happy” was 5 years ago. There have been smiles and hugs since. There have been new memories and amazing milestones. Heck, there has even been singing in the car and dance parties. But pure happiness is hard to find without “my person” in this world.

Prior to February 2, 2011, I didn’t realize just how HAPPY and complete my life was. Then, my mom died very suddenly at the young age of 52. She left without a trace, and it would be days before we knew the “why.” With her passing, she took my full happiness. She took my innocent ability to feel like home was always just a phone call away. With her tragic end, life in my mind will always be defined as the before and the after.

In retrospect, it doesn’t feel like my post is full of HAPPY. However it is. My heart is full of HAPPY memories of a HAPPY life with my HAPPY mom. The HAPPY that I pass onto my children each day is a reflection of the life that she gave me. I am so, SO grateful to have grown up with her as my mom. I had 30 years with her. To learn her ways, to receive her guidance, to soak in her advice, to feel her love. What she gave me was easily enough to be carried with me each and every day, for the rest of my life.

My mom, and her memory… Make me happy.