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Monthly Archives

December 2016

    Motherhood, Parenting

    Walking With Your Child Through Their Struggles

    Yesterday, while at a lunch playdate with some friends, my two and half year old came up to me after being away playing for awhile. He tugged on my arm and said, “Mommy, that boy push me”. I said, “Oh no, I’m so sorry! Tell him, ‘Please don’t push me, that’s not nice'”. And he ran off as happy as could be. Later, I couldn’t find him in the playplace for awhile, until I found him in a corner of a tunnel protectively holding his cars he had brought while another little boy was trying to grab them. He was just sitting there saying, “Stop, don’t do that!”. Just sitting there.

    I didn’t think much of it until later, when all of a sudden I realized the significance of that moment in time and I almost started to cry. Eighteen months ago, this day seemed far away. When he was about sixteen months old, he started to go through a hitting and pushing phase. It was random and didn’t seem to be a reaction to anything, just something he started doing. It’s a common phase that toddlers go through, but that doesn’t mean it is not a hard phase.

    This affected me as a mother in a significant way. No matter how much I snuggled him, hugged him, spoke kindly to him or reacted after each instance, nothing changed. It made socializing with other moms and kids so hard. I sometimes avoided going to playdates because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be too far away from him.  I struggled with how to respond. I struggled with feeling judged by those around me. Honestly, I probably had a harder time with this phase than my little boy did.

    Finally, I had to make a decision. I knew that he was not an aggressive little boy. I knew that he was simply trying to communicate and interact with others, and he just wasn’t able to in the way he wanted. But others didn’t know that. I eventually had to choose to walk with him through his struggle. I had to stop paying attention to those around me that gave judgmental and sometimes hurtful comments or stares to me or to my child. The thing is, I understood where they were coming from too. It’s a mama bear thing. But my little boy was also not even two. It would be different if he was eight or even four or five.

    Instead, I had to choose to focus on him and walk with him through this phase of his life. It didn’t mean I didn’t tell him no, or put him in timeout, or respond when he hit or pushed someone. But it was loving and always followed with me telling him I loved him and that he was a good boy. I gave him love. I played with him at the park. Every time I put him down to sleep I whispered in his ear that he was a good, sweet boy.

    This went on for several months. I started to see slow declines in his hitting and pushing and it was so encouraging. He was a bit slow to talk and the more he was able to communicate, the instances decreased more and more. Now they are almost nonexistent (except for the occasional target- his little sister who doesn’t know how to wrestle yet) –almost eighteen months later.  It took eighteen months. But he and I, we worked together, I walked with him and loved him through it and we made it!

    So back to my experience yesterday. While he has been doing great for several months now, this was the first time I heard him communicate so clearly with me and I could see and hear that he got it. So fulfilling as a mom.

    It also got me thinking about all I have ahead of me. This little trial was probably very small compared to some of the struggles and trials my kids will go through as they grow up. I’m so grateful for this experience because it gave me a chance to see what it means to walk with my child through a struggle, to love them through it, not shame them and both of us come out better on the other side.

    So if you find yourself in the middle of a struggle with your child, walk with them through it, love them, build them up ad you will find yourself, and probably them, better on the other side.

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    Collective Thoughts

    Riding the Rollercoaster

    I haven’t been on a legitimate rollercoaster in…well, it’s been years now, I think. But as a kid, I loved them! Something about the excitement, anticipation and thrill was very enjoyable to me. I’ve been thinking this year a lot about balance in my life. So much is said about balance. How do we balance all the different aspects of our life so that we don’t feel like one area is lacking too much or one is attracting too much attention? This year has been an interesting one for me, as in my own life, a lot of what I have done has been very much my choice. In the past several years, my schedule was dictated by babies, a class syllabus, demanding internship or work hours. This year, much of my schedule became my own choice as my schooling ended, any work I did was on a flexible schedule and babies have grown up.

    Life is much like a rollercoaster ride, am I right? You get on, a little uncertain of what’s to come ( for me it’s been. college, marriage, babies, graduate school, moving to a new city, new jobs, maintaining a home, etc), you head up the hill, working, working, working. You reach the top of the hill and you breath a little at a break and then all of a sudden you’re rushed into the next thing suddenly feeling like you’re barely hanging on and just making it through the day. Then, you reach the bottom and once again everything feels a little calm. Then you might hit a really rough patch (you know those parts of a roller coaster that go around and around, tighter and tighter and you can feel gravity closing in on you). You wonder if it’s going to stop soon, then it does and once again you breathe. This all repeats itself a few times and then you pull to a stop and get off the ride. Except I’ve learned that in life you never really get off the ride.

    That has been a struggle at times for me, especially in this season of life, where so much is unpredictable. Sleep patterns, moods, eating habits, even my address. It’s hard to know if I’m talking about my babies or me here. I find myself trying a new behavior strategy with my kids, or maybe a new approach to chores. Even a new “morning routine” for myself. For a couple of days, it would go smooth as silk. Then chaos returns on the third or fourth day. For months this year it has felt like the unpredictability was wearing at me.

    Personally, I am a person of order. I enjoy routine, predictability and not a whole lot of change on a day to day basis. Girl with the color coded planner and categorized to-do lists? That’s me! This uncertainty of what lay before me each day often left me frustrated and wondering if things would ever settle down.

    As I  tried to think about my reaction to this unpredictability, I found myself thinking about my approach to riding a rollercoaster as a child. I was excited. It was highly anticipated! I loved the experience and got off wanting to go again! The more I see life as a rollercoaster, the more I realize, I have to approach life with the same enthusiasm. I have to look forward to that unpredictability. I have to anticipate it and I have to enjoy the experience as much as I can while it’s happening or I get that feeling like I am on a rollercoaster spinning towards the ground and gravity is pulling me harder and harder.

    Because like so many people I pass at the grocery store tell me, “It goes so fast”. Just like a rollercoaster ride, in the blink of an eye, these moments will pass. The unpredictability will change and I know I will miss it. So I have to hop on, hang on and enjoy the ride.

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    Holidays

    Christmas Memories We Hope To Make This Year

    I mentioned in my post on Monday about how this Christmas is truly our first Christmas in our marriage where we don’t have major life events or the end of school semesters. This whole year has been the same, no school, no pregnancy or newborn. It’s allowed a little more time to think about family traditions and memories that we want to be intentional about creating.

    Here are a few traditions and activities we are looking forward to doing as a family this Christmas season:

    Reading Christmas Books. This is one of our favorites and it is one of the easiest. We have a pretty substantial collection of Christmas books thanks to some generous gift givers a few years ago. Every year we add one or two. Finding a spot for them is always tricky! The first year, twenty-four books were wrapped and we opened one each year to read, which was so fun! Now we leave them all unwrapped so we can read them multiple times. There are some great Christmas books out there of every kind- classic, spiritual, funny, nostalgic.

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    The Elf. Last year, my kids started asking about an elf visiting our house. They were pretty insistent and finally I obliged. Now, before you get all excited there won’t be any funny antics posted about our Elf. Our Elf is very uneventful. He moves from place to place but doesn’t do anything funny or report back to Santa. My kids don’t know that is an option, they just love looking for him! I forgot to move him last night (yep, Day 1) and this morning they thought that maybe he fell asleep. To be honest, this was not a tradition I was interested in or wanted to pick up. However, my kids get so excited just looking for him each day, that it is worth it to me. I’ve learned that sometimes I just have to suck it up as a mom and do it, even if it is not at the top of my list of priorities.

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    Traditional Christmas Meals. Both Brian and I have traditional Christmas Eve meals from our childhoods that we love. His is a formal delicious feast (formal clothes, beautiful table, delicious food). Mine is an informal delicious feast (non-formal clothes, a blanket on the floor, also delicious food). This year, we decided to do the formal meal on Christmas Eve and the informal meal on Christmas night. I am so excited for both of these delicious meals.

    Christmas Lights. Last year, on our “official” drive around town to look at Christmas lights, I fell asleep. Yep, I sure did. In my defense, I had just finished the last semester of graduate school, my graduation had been that night, and I had a 4 week old baby. This year, I am hoping to take my kids out multiple times to look at the many great displays around our area and not fall asleep while doing so.

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    Christmas Cookies. This is one thing I always say we are going to do and then for some reason it doesn’t always happen. But I have a box full of Christmas cookie cutters and a delicious cookie recipe and can’t wait to decorate with the kiddos and share a few. Or maybe not, because cookies.

    Community Activities. A couple of weekends ago, we went to a tree lighting in our area. I had the best time. We ran into friends while there, the kids ran around playing and Christmas music was playing loud over the speakers. Santa arrived and lit the tree and then there was a Christmas light show set to music. Thought I did not know 99% of the people, I felt this unifying feeling with my community as we sat there in the chilly night watching the tree be lit. I am hoping to take in a few more activities before Christmas is over.

    Serve. I hope to do a good amount of service, individually and as a family this year. Serving others brings a special spirit to my life that is hard to replicate with other activities. I hope to instill that spirit in my children too. A great way to do this is by following along with the #LightTheWorld initiative. Learn more about it here

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    Image from The Small Seed

    Tomorrow the forecast is in the 40s and rainy all day. I’m looking forward to jammies all day, blankets, books, movies, popcorn and hot chocolate!

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