I watch our 12-year-old straddle the line between childhood and being a teenager on a daily basis. He struggles with wanting to spend hours in the basement building LEGOs with his younger brothers and crawling onto the couch with headphones and listening to music. I wasn’t surprised when he said he was too old to don a costume for Halloween. I was disappointed to see that door close, but had a feeling it was coming. I reminded him he could... [Read More]Read more
“You’re always helping and never with us.”
Truth from my nine-year-old filled me with guilt, even if “never” was a bit of an exaggeration.
We were talking about the upcoming annual fall festival at the elementary school my two youngest boys attend. I was telling them about some of the games and how they’d have to help daddy get costumes together before they came up to the school that night. I’d already be up there helping. That prompted the small outburst from J. It’s true. I only have one memory of walking around the school enjoying the festival with my kids. That was the first year when it was dubbed a family night by the school. As parents and teachers, we want the children to enjoy a fun evening at school, but in order for that to happen, parents and teachers have to willingly give up their time to make it happen. I can’t be the only one with kids wishing mom or dad would just walk them around the school instead of manning a game booth.
I’m much more cognizant of what my time is used for the last six months. Our oldest starting middle school hit an emotional nerve with me. Those 12 years went too fast. I don’t want to always be the planner, organizer, doer at school or church or anywhere. I took a step back over the summer and early fall from church commitments to work for better balance for our family. I made decisions this school year to do the same. Taking on freelance work has effected what I’m willing to give the time I have left to. I had been using the word “no” more than ever. I felt I had done a decent job of being more present, but hadn’t actually asked my littles if they felt the same. They don’t.
This morning we talked about service which isn’t a new topic. They’re familiar with the importance of serving your community whether that be your family, your school, an organization, your town, your county, or your country. Life is better when we serve for and with each other. They have parents who serve on boards, teach, coach, lead groups, etc. For little people, they’ve taken time to serve with their own abilities and have been wonderful about sharing their parents. Apparently this sharing thing has run its course.
Most of our commitments have one or more of the kids there with us. It’s for their team, class, or group. That’s the type of service they can get behind. We’re present with them and for them. Serving on boards is more abstract to grasp. It’s harder to see the benefit of your mom attending meetings concerning the public library. When you’re 5, 7, 9 and even 12, it’s tough to understand the idea of working for a greater purpose, or working to make something you are part of better by willingly giving your time to plan and implement.
Try as I might to explain all this and more about service to the kids, it really just boiled down to them wanting their mom and dad together with them enjoying a family night…TOGETHER. They want both parents to be part of that memory. There’s a chance they know how to pull my heart strings. A few of them have learned the ways to open the door for guilt to set in and change my course of action.
The last couple weeks we’ve watched friends struggle with children issues bigger than I can fathom, my dad’s increasing health concerns have plagued my thoughts, friends who are dealing with the disappearance of and search for their mother, and a friend who received health news no one wants to hear. I want to take drastic measures, buy land far from everyone and stay there together forever. It’s not realistic or plausible, but I want to hold them closer longer. I long to spend this unknown time I have with those people who mean the most, but I also want to serve others. It’s the idea of serving others while not having anyone who lives in my house feel like they’re being left out that seems to get more tricky with each passing year. Parenting is tough business. I’m both succeeding and failing simultaneously. This is why attempting to please people never works. I know this.
The give and take of time and resources for the different passions I have is an ongoing internal struggle for me. There’s much I’m passionate about. This is a constant conversation between God and I. I’m continually in need of guidance. My children are old enough now to have a say in the flow of our family. For the most part, they can articulate what they like about how our family works and what needs modifying. It looks like it’s family meeting time.
We spent Saturday at our Alma Mater taking in this year’s homecoming festivities. We live close enough to visit several times a year for sporting events, but this visit was different. This was the first time in over a decade I walked across campus alone. I offered to walk back to where we had parked our vehicle and move it closer to the football stadium. I started out walking briskly against the crowd heading to the stadium. My pace slowed... [Read More]Read more
We’ve always kept dress-up supplies in all sizes available for the kids to use. I enjoy watching their imaginations explode with the help of a simple piece of fabric. Most days our house is home to archers, spies and princess warriors. Forts are erected, and the kids disappear into a world of make believe. Halloween is one day of the year where a whole lot of people will play make believe together with the bonus addition of candy. Seeing children... [Read More]Read more
I’ve done more research than I care to admit on gardening. I’ve read article after article and cannot seem to grow a thing. Gardening advice is hard for me to comprehend. My friends, who manage to grow food, seem magical to me. This year I didn’t even attempt to plant anything. Our apple tree, which was already full grown when we moved in, decided to show me the glory of nature…again. Our tree sits in the backyard next to our... [Read More]Read more
I didn’t go to the Denver Broncos football game on Sunday thinking I’d be able to use my day as a teachable moment for my kids. I went to the game with my husband to visit with friends we hardly ever see and have an experience without my lovely children. We arrived at Sports Authority Field at Mile High almost four hours before kickoff, something we would never have done with four kids in tow. We didn’t really have any... [Read More]Read more
There are days when it’s for the best that my normally vigilant children don’t catch everything I do or say. Today is one of those days. It was a chilly 45 degrees and rainy this morning when the boys were dressing for school. Today was school picture day for the two younger boys. They came out of their room in shorts and the prerequisite polo shirt. Me: “No shorts. Change into jeans.” Nine-year-old son: “Jeans are too thick. They aren’t... [Read More]Read more
I watched our oldest son carefully listen to the directions as he nervously played with the harness he was wearing. He had chosen an aerial obstacle course to celebrate turning 12 years old, and this past weekend we ran from our over-scheduled lives to Keystone, South Dakota to let him give it a try. He was minutes away from climbing above the earth and into the trees above our heads. I could tell he was a little nervous. His only... [Read More]Read more
B: “Mom I think people would say you’re passionate.” It was 7:15 a.m., and we were heading out of the driveway to get my tween to school. I’ve learned he almost always picks the most random times to bring up topics that need a little work to get through. Deep breath. Me: “Would you call me passionate?’ B: “For sure. When the coaches say to fire up, I think about how you are sometimes.” Seriously, kids miss nothing. Me: “I... [Read More]Read more
My emotions have been raw this week. I feel unsteady and frazzled. I took two phone calls this week from people telling me of the unexpected deaths of two people I served side-by-side with on different boards. They shared my passion for children, literacy and our community. They were here one day and gone the next. I’ve struggled to find peace in what I don’t understand. I stood in my front yard and listened to children playing during recess at... [Read More]Read more