I Blinked

The Distance From Where I Am to Where Nate Is ...
The Distance From Where I Am to Where Nate Is …

Three weeks ago, I did one of the hardest things in my life. I put my second born on a plane headed for Kansas to go to college. Kansas! Wow! I never saw that one coming, and let me tell you, it hit me pretty hard to realize that I blinked and here he was, all grown up and heading off to college.

It has ALWAYS been my Nathan’s aspiration to play baseball. My husband, knowing this, has kept him on track, making sure his grades were on point, and that he played high school baseball, travel baseball, made videos, and took him to various baseball camps for recruiters to scout him. He kept him safe in that he monitored his pitch count, took him to various appointments when he suffered an injury, and bought him the equipment he needed to succeed. My husband does the same for our younger son, Noah, who has similar aspirations. Had it not been for him, I’m not sure that Nate or Noah would be in the positions that they are in now.

Nathan signing his Letter Of Intent to play baseball for the Bethany Swedes!
Nathan signing his Letter Of Intent to play baseball for the Bethany Swedes!

Enter Coach Bartman from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. In mid July, my husband received a call from Coach Bartman asking for Nathan to come out to Kansas to tour the campus and to talk about possibly going out there to go to school and play baseball. Unfortunately, because of timing of our vacation to Maui, and the Coach’s availability, it was not until early August that they could fly out and meet. My husband, thinking that Nathan wouldn’t really like the thought of going to school so far away, especially in Kansas, agreed to take him just for the experience of interviewing and talking to a recruiter. That meeting would prove to be a life changing moment for all of us as Nathan was offered an athletic scholarship, and then we were surprised that Nathan was excited and signed his letter of intent to play prior to leaving Kansas.

Here is where is become somewhat tricky … Nathan signed the Letter of Intent on August 8th, school was to start on August 18. There was no time to process. No time to ask for time off from work so that I could help him move and get settled. The only time that we had was to make sure that he got immunized properly, got a physical prior to leaving, pick up some clothing, and pack only the essentials that he needed and then send him off.

You cannot imagine my anxiety prior to his leaving. I like to let everyone believe that I’m made of armor, that I’m this emotionally strong person who doesn’t cry. It’s a facade. I’m really good at pretending and not letting people see that I’m vulnerable. I’m not good at letting people see the “real” me, nor do I like to let my guard down and let people get through the wall that I have built so nicely around myself as protection. Let me tell you, the heavy heart, the chest tightness, the constriction in my throat, and the tears that leaked out of nowhere … I had no idea that it could be so bad. The pain and struggle are both so REAL. The anxiety attacks would come at me out of no where, and the only thing that would help was for me to run – to physically run because I really felt as if I were crawling out of my skin! It’s safe to say, to tell everyone that I’m NOT made of armor, that I’m as normal as the next person. Awwww, com’mon now, don’t be so surprised!

150003Putting him on that plane, watching him walk away to fly a distance of 1,665 miles away was one of the hardest things I have ever had to endure. Let’s face it, it’s just not somewhere you can hop into your car and drive to should he need help.  I asked my husband if he would tell Nathan that he couldn’t go, to tell him that he had to stay. He would not. He reminded me that this was what we have worked so hard for. He reminded me that this was the goal – to raise independent, strong, good-willed children, who go off to college and find their passions and go after them. I know and understand that, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me. He also told me that had I coddled him just a little bit more, and done more things for him, that we would not be in the situation that we were facing, that he wouldn’t want to leave the nest and that he would just want to stay home and let me continue to take care of him. Yeah, that wasn’t happening!

It’s safe to say that Nathan made it to Kansas and got himself set up without the help of his Mama. Despite my anxiety, I am incredibly proud of and happy for my boy! I will be okay, and I know Nate will be successful. He is making his dreams come to reality – how can any parent be upset about that! I only wish that I had a little more time to spend with him; that time could’ve crept by a little slower instead of sneaking up on me so quickly! I was okay, once I knew that he had made it to Kansas and situated for the most part. So hard to believe that he can do those things … without my help.

When I was much younger, even before I had thoughts of having children of my own, I read a book by Kahlil Gibran called The Prophet.  I pulled my dog-eared copy from my bookshelf and re-read page 17:

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

I’ve always loved this passage. I didn’t quite fully understand it until I had children of my own, and got to where I was letting them go to do things like go to parties without me, learn how to drive, go off to college, and then move far away from me.

My advice to you younger parents is this: Don’t Blink. Seriously. It seems like just yesterday when my kiddos were learning how to walk, how to ride a bike, starting kindergarten. Time flies by so quickly. Enjoy your children – EVERYTHING about them because it’s true that you’ll miss it. Hug them a little tighter, but not so tight  that you stifle them. Give them the space, and foster an environment where they are able to learn independence and grow with your guidance.  Set their wings securely so that eventually when the time comes to let them go, you can be confident in the fact that they will fly in the direction of their dreams but yet know that they can always come home, that you will provide them with a safe place to land should they need help.

I am so proud of all of my children.  This year Grace started 6th grade, Noah started his senior year of high school, Nathan started his freshman year of college, and my Samuel started teaching a college class and started graduate school! Wow! I look forward to what the future brings. I am excited and happy for all of them. Like I said though, I wish I hadn’t blinked!
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Your Kids Don’t Parent YOU …

Some days I wonder how some people make it to parenthood, let alone adulthood. Seriously … I work with the public, and am in constant contact with some very interesting people. Most days all I can do, short from asking them if they are serious, is just keep my mouth shut and shake my head. Oh, if you could only hear the conversations that I have with myself in my head … Yeah … If I could say what I really want to say and exactly what I feel …

Take for example the woman who came in because she stepped on something and she just knew that there was a tiny piece of a wood splinter in her foot. The Doc on examines it, and orders the appropriate x-ray, and finds nothing. However she is insistent that there’s a splinter in her foot and she wants it out. The Doc explains to her that it’s not visible, and that there is no reason to cut open her toe to find a splinter that may not even be there. She is devastated because her toe hurts, she wants us to find that splinter. Ultimately, she is discharged home. She’s upset because she doesn’t understand that cutting open her toe would be FAR worse than just letting the “invisible” splinter work itself out. She tells us that she would be heading to another ER for a second opinion.

Then there’s the mother who brought her son in to the ER because he told her that he was playing and his heart stopped. Really? He was playing, then he came to you and just told you that his heart stopped? Well, yeah, and I want him checked out. I ask the child if, when this happened, he fell or if he passed out. He tells me, no, that he was just playing and it stopped. Here’s the kid bouncing off the wall in my triage room, as happy and as healthy as can be. Okay? Could she not see that her son was perfectly healthy? Did she really want us to find something wrong?

What about the 7 year old girl, whose mother brought her in because she threw such a huge temper tantrum that “she started shaking and just didn’t look right.” She, too, was acting appropriately in triage, albeit she had what I call the “sup sups,” you know the diaphragm spasms that you get when you have yourself a good cry? Nothing wrong with your kiddo, Ma’am, except that she knows how to play you and get what she wants.

Then there’s the 15 year old girl who shows up with an infected tongue. Hmmm … let me see … yep, it’s green. Through her lisp, she tells me that she just got her tongue pierced. I tell her to take the piercing out, and she argues with me that she can’t because of the fact that the hole will close. Um … I look to her mother for a little support, and I find none. She tells me that she doesn’t listen to her ever. She tells me that she told her not to get the piercing, that she was against it. I shake my head, then turn to my patient, and tell her once again to take out the piercing. I explain to her that her tongue is infected, and that it could get worse. I tell her that she doesn’t have a choice unless she wants to lose part of her tongue. I ask her to try and swallow without using her tongue. She tells me that she can’t. Case and point, now hand over the piercing.

I love this one … Young boy comes in with a head injury sustained from falling off his bicycle. I ask if he was wearing a helmet, and his mother says that he was not. I ask why and she tells me, “I can’t make him wear a helmet.” Excuse me, ma’am, but you are his mother, are you not? YOU ARE HIS MOTHER! You don’t need to explain anymore. If he wants to ride his bike, he wears a helmet, no ifs, ands, or buts!

If I sound judgemental, I don’t mean to be. I won’t tell anyone how to parent their child, but it does grate me when parents tell me that their kids don’t listen to them. What? YOU are the parent. They don’t get a choice. We are responsible for them at least until the age of 18, and this means that we prevent them from causing undue harm to themselves as best as we can. This doesn’t mean that they get coddled, or that we overprotect them. It means that they don’t parent you. They don’t get much of a say when you decide something, they don’t get to tell you what they are going to do. I don’t understand why some parents are afraid to discipline their children. It’s not that hard. Children need boundaries that they cannot cross. They need rules. They need that discipline.

Too many times I see parents who are overwhelmed and have the look of defeat on their faces. I say that they gave up, they let their kids “win” because they don’t want to hurt their feelings, or that they want to be their kid’s best friend. You are not supposed to be their friend, you are their mother/father, suck it up, and be the parent that they need you to be.

I smile when my nine year old daughter, can spot a rowdy, obnoxious kid and tell me exactly what he needs – a good spankin’! She can tell if a baby is tired and needs a nap, or if it’s hungry and needs something to eat. I listen to the conversations that my boys have about kids who are annoying, and how they understand that their parents are in need of being parents.

Mind you, I am not a “perfect” parent, but I am the parent. My kids don’t get away with much. What they do get away with are minor incidents that don’t require any or much punishment, but rather a stern talking to. I am thankful to have a husband who is a great dad, and who is on the same page as I am when it comes to parenting. That’s important. My kids have wild requests for tattoos and earrings, etc. The earring I can handle. The tattoo, they know not to ask until they’re 18. For the most part, my kids are just as spoiled as the next, and they understand that they have it pretty good. They’re great kids – smart, funny, polite, individuals, and I would not trade them for anything. I am thankful, and I know that I am very blessed. I have to thank my parents, who didn’t let me get away with anything, or raise me to be an idiotic adult. Thank you, Jesus!

Now … Repeat to yourselves as you peruse the following pictures … “I will not complain about my children. I will Not complain about my children. I will NOT complain about my children.”

Pouty lip? I don't feel sorry for ya!
Wow! Really?
Oh my ...
I don't even have any words ... There are NO words ...

***Note: I downloaded these pics from the internet. I don’t know who these individuals are personally, but I DO understand that they are someone’s children. I am just amazed, and looking at them, it makes me even more thankful and grateful for the children that I have been blessed with. God bless the parents of these children. I only hope that they are loved unconditionally …

Run With Me, Not Away From Me …

I know and understand that we are not all meant to be the same. I get that we were born to be original versions of ourselves, that we all have our own paths in life, that we all have our own destinies to find, and our own plan that is already predetermined and laid out for us by our Creator. I believe that wholeheartedly. However, I when it comes to those that are closest to you, you would think that we would be somewhat closer or more similar, especially when it comes to your own children.

I have four children. Yep, that’s not a typo, I did say FOUR. 4! Three boys, and one girl, the youngest. All four similar to me, yet all different in their own right.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wished that they were MORE like me in some respects, yet I appreciate their individuality and their uniqueness. I can’t turn them into Mini Me’s, nor do I believe that I want them to be “just like me.” As they get older, it’s difficult to try and keep them on the the same path that I am on. Try as I might, I can only do and say so much to try and persuade them to stay on course with me.

I watch and listen to them formulate their own decisions. Some I let them make on their own, others I believe they are not quite old enough to decide for themselves yet. I can put my two cents in and gently guide them back on track, or if need be, I can assert my authority as their mother and let my upper hand rule for the time being. Sometimes they look at me as if I were crazy and didn’t know what I was talking about, but for the most part, for now, they don’t resist, they just roll their eyes or cop an attitude but do as told.

I can’t control what happens when they are not in my line of vision. I can’t control their thoughts or make them do anything. I understand peer pressure and the influences that their friends may have on them. I can, however, let them know about my experiences and my thoughts on the matter and hope and pray that they make wise choices and decisions.

I worry about their futures. I stress about the things that they are or may be exposed to. I worry about the kinds of friends they may have chosen for themselves. I harp on and constantly nag them about doing their homework and doing well in school, and about doing certain chores around the house. I wonder what kind of people they will grow up to be.

The truth is … I have no control over this. I can’t determine or see the future. I can’t wrap them up in bubble wrap to shield them from life’s unfairness and harsh realities. I can’t hold on to them so tightly that they would only recoil and land farther away from me when let go.

It makes me sad to know that time is flying past me so quickly. I find myself wondering when did it happen that had to start looking up so look into their eyes? So many times I find myself wishing that I could do more, would have done more, had been more patient, took more time off. Believe me … it breaks my heart to know that my time with them is so limited. On the outside I may appear so strong, yet on the inside it takes all that I have to hold myself together when it comes to them.

This is not exactly where I was going with this blog post. I was writing this because I was thinking, and I wanted to write that sometimes I wish that my children (or at least one) enjoyed running. Mind you, I am thankful for the times that my boys have ridden their bicycles or skateboards beside me as I ran. I just feel that I spend so much of my time on foot that if they were to actually run beside me, we could spend a few more precious moments together. Alas, NONE of my children find pleasure in running … only in running away from me as I heard my Nathan jokingly tell someone recently when asked if he ran. My children enjoy swimming, baseball, football, and jump roping. I have one that loves poker, another that enjoys skateboarding, and one that I have have dubbed my “GQ” boy. But … I am NOT complaining. I would not have them any other way. I enjoy them as they are – they are their own people. A different, better, more improved version of me and their father … I love them all dearly.

It is my desire that they find wisdom eventually in my nagging – do your homework, study hard, do your chores, be nice to people, save some money, etc. I hope that they eventually learn that what I do, what I have done, I do/have done for them. And I find comfort in knowing that if I *really* wanted them to … Really, really wanted them to … I could just ask them and they would run with me … and that one run would be enough to last me a long time.

– Posted using BlogPress from my RowPhone =]

Ask Your Children

**This was originally posted in  April 2009 in another one of my blogs, but I loved it so much and wanted to keep it.** 

 

Copy this note, ask your child the questions and write them down exactly how they respond. 

 

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Samuel: “Get off the couch and go do something!”
Nathan: “Nathan, pick up your plate/socks/shoes/stuff!”
Noah: “That she loves me.”
Grace: “Knock it off!!!”

2. What makes mom happy?
Samuel: “Chocolate, purple things, reading, writing.”
Nathan: “Being with her family.”
Noah: “I do.”
Grace: “When I bring her a Pepsi.”

3. What makes mom sad?
Samuel: “Grandpa Alex.”
Nathan: “When her family is being mean.”
Noah: “When a relative dies.”
Grace: “When I don’t bring her a Pepsi.”

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Samuel: “She says DUMB stuff. LOL.”
Nathan: “By saying funny things.”
Noah: “She tells jokes.”
Grace: “She tickles me.”

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Samuel: “The same that she is now?! How am I supposed to know, I wasn’t alive.”
Nathan: “She had big, giant hair.”
Noah: “I don’t know, she never told me.”
Grace: “Small.”

6. How old is your mom?
Samuel: “Young.”
Nathan: “40 years old.”
Noah: “40.”
Grace: “40.”

7. How tall is your mom?
Samuel: “Short.”
Nathan: “4ft. 10/11 in.”
Noah: “A little taller than me.”
Grace: “She’s little.”

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Samuel: “Read, workout.”
Nathan: “Go to the gym.”
Noah: “Run, exercise.”
Grace: “Ride her bike, run, play.”

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?
Samuel: “Work.”
Nathan: “Sleep or go to the gym.”
Noah: “I don’t know.”
Grace: “Goes to work.”

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Samuel: “Her memoirs.”
Nathan: “For finishing a big marathon first with a record time.”
Noah: “Running.”
Grace: Unable.

11. What is your mom really good at?
Samuel: “Cooking!!!”
Nathan: “Running.”
Noah: “Running.”
Grace: “Playing games.”

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Samuel: “Dancing.”
Nathan: “Swimming.”
Noah: “Break dancing.”
Grace: Unable.

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Samuel: “Nursing.”
Nathan: “She is an ER Nurse at .. (that place that shall remain nameless).”
Noah: “She’s a nurse.”
Grace: “She fixes people.”

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?
Samuel: “IDK. Chocolate chip ice cream?”
Nathan: “I am not sure.”
Noah: “I would have to say salad.”
Grace: “Rice and soup.”

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
Samuel: “She takes care of 4 kids and works two jobs.”
Nathan: “She saves lives every day.”
Noah: “That she runs.”
Grace: Unable.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Samuel: “Speedy Gonzales!”
Nathan: “Road Runner.”
Noah: “The Road Runner.”
Grace: “Dora, Dora.”

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Samuel: “Eat, sit, play Bejeweled.”
Nathan: “Watch movies.”
Noah: “Sing in the car.”
Grace: “We talk, play, and eat.”

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Samuel: “Skin color! Reading.”
Nathan: “We both run a lot.”
Noah: “Well, people say that we look the same.”
Grace: “We’re girls.”

19. How are you and your mom different?
Samuel: “She’s older, and I don’t like to work out. And she’s a girl!”
Nathan: “She’s a girl and I’m a boy.”
Noah: “She’s older.”
Grace: Unable.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Samuel: “She works, and she picks me up from school, and she gives me money!”
Nathan: “She says it a lot and she shows it.”
Noah: “She tells me.”
Grace: “She kisses me.”

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?
Samuel: “Barnes and Noble!!!”
Nathan: “To the gym.”
Noah: “The gym.”
Grace: “To sleep!”

Pennies From Heaven

It never fails.  Everyday when I set out to leave on an outdoor run, my daughter says to me, “Mom, remember to pick up the pennies that see for me.”  I never think anything about it.  I just smile, and tell her that, “If I find any, I will.”  And that’s that … she kisses me goodbye and I’m off and running.

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve been intrigued by money.  I’ve always been a saver, and to this day, I have several jars and piggy banks filled with coins and even dollar bills.  It’s just by habit now that I empty out all of my pockets and that of my husband’s and put everything in a jar.  My dollar bills all face the same way in my wallet, and I always pick up any amount that I find on the ground.  It’s a habit that has yielded me quite a large sum!  It’s a habit that I learned from my father, and have now passed onto my own child.

I cannot help but smile when I find a coin and pick it up.  I can hear her call out, “Money magnet, Mom!”   So I diligently keep an eye out for those coins, and happily hand them over as she comes toward me when I walk through the door after a run.  To some they are just mere bothersome little pennies, but to us they’re lucky pennies.  Pennies that we feel are given to us from Heaven.

“Imagine,” my oldest son once said to me, “that if you didn’t pick up that penny.  What would happen if you only needed that one penny to be a millionaire, but you didn’t pick it up.  You would only have $999,999.99.  You will have wished that you would have picked it up.”

The little things that make one happy, that eventually add up and make one feel rich.  Never discount the power of the penny.