Mother’s Day

To all the mothers out there I want to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day! Sometimes being a mother is the toughest job out there but also the most rewarding. I hope that each of you are taking a couple of moments to pat yourselves on the back and recognize all the good work you’ve done so far. And keep in mind my rules for being a great mom:

Show up everyday

Love your children

Try to make the best decisions you can with the information you have

Never give up and be tough when needed

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Why the Judgment?

Have you read any of the press about Guiliana Rancic’s comment that she puts her marriage before her baby? More importantly, have you read the comments section of the articles? The comments are cruel, unfair, judgmental.

If you like, you can read one of the many articles and comments here:
http://moms.today.com/_news/2013/03/02/17163522-giuliana-rancic-puts-marriage-first-child-second?d=1

Unfortunately this is a sad part of parenting. Fellow parents are so quick to judge and criticize kver silly things. I see it everywhere. In the media, in the comments sections of news articles and blogs and in my own hometown. I know I personally have been whispered about at my sons’ elementary school as “oh, his mom works.” As if it explains every minor transgression my child has ever made. I have had a perfect stranger shout at me when my youngest was 2 and bolted away from me and ran into a busy parking lot before I could catch him. The stranger didn’t know that my son had never done that before and doesn’t know that he never did it again. Unfortunately, children don’t come out of the womb knowing that you shouldn’t run into a busy parking lot and lots of other things.

I understand the criticism when children are being neglected or mentally, physically, sexually or verbally abused. Those children need us to be their voices. To cry loudly when they have been treated unfairly. To ensure that we intervene on their behalves by calling the authorities or reporting abuse through hotlines. This is where we need to focus our attention and our voices.

Our children benefit when we lift each other up as parents. It’s a struggle to be a good parent on a daily basis. We all try to make good decisions and weigh the consequences of everything we say to our children and things that we let them do. I personally have benefitted from having a strong group of friends that I can rely on for solid advice. I can be honest with them about my struggles and my children’s struggles. They are always a good sounding board and helpful. And yes, sometimes they might even offer some criticism. Criticism, when it conmes from a good place, has helped me be a better parent.

Let’s focus on criticizing parents who are truly abusive and neglectful. Let’s report them and make a stronger effort to keep them safe.

Seriously with Lulu

Seriously, we have to go through this again? You seriously leave this crap under your bed? I am pretty sure we have had this conversation many times and I have taken many photos of the crap you leave under your bed. And you did it again? Seriously? How many times do we have to go through this talk? It is gross. It attracts bugs. It could damage the nice floors we put in your room. Yet, you persist. Seriously!

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Ahhhh…the lovely joys of parenting a teenager. They seriously don’t understand what gross means. Seriously. It is a good thing I love you with all my heart or I might have to kick you out. Seriously.

Here is a previous version of another mess I pulled out from under his bed:

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What Happens When…

What happens when you wake up one day and realize that all of the goals you set for yourself as a young woman are mostly complete?  You are now in your 40’s and have checked the boxes you set for yourself in your early 20’s.  Things like:

Attain a bachelors degree – check

Get married – check

Start career and climb up corporate ladder – check

Buy first home – check

Buy 4 door, practical car for future family – check

Have first child – check

Work on climbing corporate ladder more – check

Have second child – check

Buy larger home – check

Continue climbing corporate ladder

You realize you’ve checked all the boxes.  Everything seems to be going swimmingly.  Your oldest is approaching the end of high school.  Your youngest, still in elementary school, but growing quickly.

What now?  What goals do I set now?  I am interested in setting goals?  I have had a good career and while I’ve done well I haven’t attained all the career goals I have thought I would.  But is it worth to reach for more?  Will it fulfill me?

This is where I am at in my life.  And so far I discovered that this has been a wonderful time to discover more about me.  Who I am, what I’m doing and as Oprah would say, how to live my best life.  I’ve spent a lot of time working on myself and it’s been a tough but satisfying journey.

I have re-discovered friendships.  For so many years we were all so busy raising children and running them around that we didn’t have time for friends.  Now we are all starting to free up and we actually get to socialize with them more.  The teenager can babysit the younger one on occasion.  We can meet for dinner.  We can meet on a Sunday afternoon to listen to a band at the local watering hole.

I have time to work on my relationship with my Savior.  I get to think deeper thoughts and explore where I want to go with my relationship with Him.  I am learning to surrender myself to His will.  

You also get to find out that your children are pretty cool.  You can start to have real conversations with them.  Talk about their hopes and dreams.  Enjoy their sense of humor, which is for me is the most amazing thing.  I love to laugh with them about stupid stuff and family jokes.

This is turning out to be a really awesome time.  It’s making me look forward to my 50s.  I am hoping that I’ll get to travel more with my husband and continue to watch my children grow and start to fulfill their own dreams.

What happens when you reach your late 30s and early 40s and you realize that you accomplished most of your goals?

I am pretty sure I don’t have the definitive answer for it.  But for me, so far, it’s been about re-discovering who I want to be, to have the luxury of more time for friends and watching my children blossom into young adults.

You can call me Frank

When it comes to discussing sex with my boys you can call me Frank. My mom did a great job of discussing sex with me and my siblings and I am trying to emulate her in my own style. You could discuss anything with my mom and she said we should consider it to be like talking about your elbow. It’s just your body and you shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about how it functions.

Having said that, I have been surprised by some of the questions that have come my way. Other children with older siblings and unlimited access to the Internet have helped my sons pose questions that I wasn’t prepared to answer. I won’t repeat the questions because they were pretty graphic. But it did lead to a discussion about healthy, normal sex between two loving partners.

Here is one tip…bookmark urbandictionary.com. It helped me with my own education.

In the end, all questions have opened a door for me to share my opinions on sex, relationships and morality. There is nothing wrong with that, no matter how the door was opened. Don’t be afraid to walk through that door.

I’m not Guilty

There is always a lot of talk in the media about work, motherhood and guilt. While I have struggled with being a good parent, I haven’t struggled with guilt over working outside of the home. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing anyone who may feel guilty. I feel guilty about many aspects of my parenting. Working outside of the home just isn’t one of them.

When I originally wrote this post I listed all of the reasons that I don’t feel guilty about working. However, in the end my reasons aren’t important to anyone but me. Everyone should make a decision based on their own circumstances.

What is relevant is that I made a choice with confidence in my decision. I enlisted the help of my husband and family to help me. I weighed the reasons why I was going to work outside the home and the reasons were important to me.

It doesn’t matter which choice you make. It matters that you are doing the best you can with the information you have at that time. And remember, no matter your choice you can always make a different decision if circumstances change or if it’s just not working for you.

This parenting gig is so much harder than I thought it would be

I honestly believed before I had children that I was going to be an awesome parent.  My plan was to give lots of love with firm discipline. It turns out that parenting is so much harder than I ever imagined.

Fast forward to today.  Here’s what I’ve learned about parenting:

I love my children more than I thought possible.

Both of my boys have completely different personalities and require different parenting techniques.

When either one of them are struggling, be it school work, sickness, behavior, getting along with peers, romance, you name it, my heart breaks.  It sometimes feels as if someone has stuck a knife in my belly anytime something isn’t going right in their lives.

Teenagers will take advice from a perfect stranger before they will take your advice.

First love sucks.  It is drama and angst filled and you will be drawn into it.

Sometimes you just need to hang in there with whatever difficulty they are having.

Sometimes you have to be tough.  You have to follow through on tough discipline and you have to fight for them.

People are quick to judge your parenting.

I am sure that there are things that I’ve left off the list.  But if I were to summarize all of it in a nutshell I would say that it’s really all about hanging in there, cherishing the small moments of love and laughter, loving them, fighting with them and fighting for them.

It really is so much harder than I thought it would be.  And so much more rewarding.