In our house we are pretty big on not being wasteful. This idea, of course, carries over to food. If you ask for a snack or a meal, only get as much as you can finish. We don’t do the “clean plate club” per se, we just start the girls with small servings and let them have more if they’d like.
Bella really takes our “rules” and way of life seriously. For her, eating all the food you ask for equates to doing the right thing. This works great in our house. I rarely toss food in the trashcan as I’m sure so many other parents do. But it doesn’t work so well when she goes out into the world, away from us. Yesterday is a perfect example of that.
Her first grade class had their holiday party yesterday. One of the activities was decorating cookies. Every child got 5 huge cookies to decorate. I got there late and only saw two cookies on Bella’s plate. She ate one of them and with exhaustion in her voice asked me to eat the second. It was only then that I realized she had also had 5 HUGE cookies and she’d eaten 4 of them.
Yes, she had applied the rule of not being wasteful to her class party that included excessive amounts of junk food. After the party her class went to lunch and of course Bella ate everything I packed for her.
For a moment I was worried that she was a glutton, until it occurred to me that she was actually only doing what she thought was right and following Mom and Dad’s rules. I guess it’s time to add an addendum to our rule…
Today is my baby’s birthday! Can’t believe how fast the time has gone, she’s such a big girl now!
With Bella just hours after her birth.
At her first college football game a few weeks ago.
I try to avoid writing about the girls these days unless it is glowing. I am happy to brag about them and completely fine hearing other parents brag about their kids. (I was talking with a mom the other day who was telling me about her kindergartner’s excellent reading skills. As the conversation went on she assured me that she wasn’t bragging and seemed concerned that I thought she was. It hadn’t really crossed my mind, though it would have been understandable for her to brag on such an achievement.) So, anyway, it has occurred to me that what I put out here is well-out here-so I try to avoid complaining or mentioning the struggles we have. Today is an exception.
Callee is a Florida girl all the way. From March to October she lives in sundresses and Crocs or flip-flops. She like to be as free and unrestrained as possible. During those months of the year there aren’t too many battles between us. That time passes and I almost forget the war that comes with the arrival of Winter. Now it’s here though and after only a week of it being absolutely necessary for her to wear pants, long-sleeve shirts, and socks I am losing my patience like you wouldn’t believe. Everything is too tight. She pulls on a pair of pants and I can see the painful look forming on her face. We just bought her a new pair of tennis shoes and she cries for the first twenty minutes that she wears them. On many occasions I give in and let her take them off, but there are some times when tennis shoes are a must. We went shopping this weekend for some warm clothes for the Disney trip coming up (it’s going to be in the 40s in the mornings when we arrive at the parks) and she tried on the cutest jogging suit at Children’s Place. It was on sale and fit her perfectly. Before I even had time to admire her in it she was on the floor pulling at the cuffs around the ankles with tears forming in her eyes.
This time of year I absolutely dread the cold mornings. For 4 years now we have had the same daily fight all Winter long. Last year there were two pair of pants she was willing to wear. She wore those pants every single day. By the time the warm weather arrived they both had holes in them. When I take her out I am certain people think I am a terrible mother for not dressing my child appropriately. Trust me, I try to.
When she was born she had hip dysplasia and had to spend her first 6 weeks of life in a harness with her legs constricted in a “froggie” position at ALL times. Mark is convinced that this is what created her present day problem. Once she got a taste of freedom she never wanted to go back to being constricted again! If you ask me, it makes a lot of sense. Even if we don’t remember traumas we experienced around birth and in infant-hood, I believe they stick with us.
As this cold weather has set in, I am going to do my best to stay patient with my little one. I may have to go back to some of my favorite mantras such as “I choose peace instead of this” or “I’m sorry, I love you, Please forgive me, thank you” to get me through.
I knew I’d be writing a post like this. I knew I’d feel changed and ever-grateful for my time with Lissa last week. But to tell you the truth I thought it would be for totally different reasons than it is.
You see, Lissa is a Goddess. She is a Rockstar. She is a Rockstar Goddess! She is grace under pressure with enough energy to light up a big city. I was in awe of the way she moved through each day, accomplishing everything on the agenda, answering her hundreds of emails, and being loving and open enough to sit and talk with individuals after events about their very personal female problems. She has made her way to the stage and it’s going to be so much fun to watch it all unfold and know I had a small part in it.
When the opportunity to serve as “roadie” was first brought to me I told Mark I needed to do it so I’d know if my career goals were right for me. Since I started writing again in 2007, I have dreamed of a career like Lissa’s. I wanted to write books and travel, speaking to crowds and doing book signings. I’ve thought so much about this dream that in ways it has disrupted my creative writing. As time passes and I see myself no closer to “the goal” it has really brought me down. So getting to experience the “Rockstar Author” life vicariously through Lissa was just what I needed.
I assumed that I’d get there and think “YES!! THIS IS THE LIFE FOR ME!” Instead, it didn’t take long for me to realize I thrive on the simple, quiet life I have. I reserve the right to change my mind (which is something I am told Charles Fillmore, founder of Unity, used to say), but that high-demand-everybody-wants-a-piece-of-you life is not for me. I love that I can sit on the couch and read a book for an hour without feeling like there is something else I need to be doing. It’s nice knowing I get to pick the girls up from school everyday and schedule playdates for them. I don’t need to be anyone else’s Rockstar because I am one to the people it matters to the most.
During her presentations, Lissa often mentioned how you can leave your job but you can’t leave your calling. Her calling as an OBGYN was to take care of women. As the author of What’s Up Down There? and creator of Owning Pink, she is still answering that call. This was something that flashed like a red light across my imagination every time she said it. THE CALLING! I’m not 100% sure of my calling but the trip definitely gave me some ideas. Although I’m resisting it like you wouldn’t believe, I think it has something to do with teaching! Just like Lissa, I left that traditional job yet I still feel called to help educate people (though I’m not exactly sure on the subject).
This Thanksgiving week, I am so grateful for the chance I had to test-drive the car before I plunked down the money to buy it. Now I’m one step closer to the me I’m meant to be!
In honor of the holiday week the next 4 days on the blog will be low-key! I am still in need of “click stories” if you have an “aha” moment you’d like to write about!
Right now, I am sitting in a tea spot called Hooker Tea in Tampa. I’m drinking my first cup of hot tea ever (I’ve tried it before but never liked it enough to actually drink it). Lissa Rankin is next to me doing the same thing I am, typing away on her laptop while sipping tea. This is our last full and busy day of the Florida leg of her book tour. We have a couple of hours downtime until the event tonight at University of Tampa.
This week I have served as the roadie/personal assistant for Lissa. My duties include keeping track of the schedule, driving her to events on time, and doing what I can to make things as easy and stress-free as possible. I have really been enjoying it. My soul purpose for this week has been to serve another person, no strings attached, and it has been great.
Each step of the way I’ve found myself thinking of ways to help Lissa out before I think of what I want or need. Somehow it’s easy to do this when it is “my job” to. I don’t have to analyze it. At home when Callee requests milk in a sippy cup and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crust cut off I wonder if I am spoiling her by giving in to those specific wishes. When I look at the clock and see it’s almost time for Mark to get home from work, I’ll often scramble to straighten up the house out of guilt that I’ve wasted too much time in the day. I get frustrated when I have to tend to the dogs in the middle of the night or wait for them to do their business when I’m in a hurry. Sometimes, on the drive to Bella’s school on volunteer day I just wish I was driving to the gym instead. My career right now (whether I’ve viewed it that way or not) is all about serving my family, yet I don’t always look at it as a joyful endeavor. This trip has opened my eyes to the joy of serving.
My hope is that I take this pleasure and satisfaction I am feeling by helping someone out back home with me and to my family. Service really does start with your own family, friends, and community. I really believe that if I can hold this feeling in my heart and think of the duties I do for my family as gifts that make their life experience more pleasant, I will feel better myself. It’s really quite difficult to feel guilty, insecure, resentful, or frustrated when you are giving gifts! I will set the intention to be mindful of my gifts of service and allow it to bring me joy! I’m quite sure that all involved will benefit!
My Unity church is a small one. We don’t have a big children’s program so for that reason my youngest daughter, Callee, is almost five but still a “nursery kid.” Her age group doesn’t yet get spiritual instruction. Up until September she hadn’t really been introduced to Jesus. (In our house we pray to God or Spirit not to Jesus.)
In September we (Callee and I) went to NC for my grandmother’s funeral. In the days leading up to her death, Mema had a vision of Jesus. It was a given that when she finally passed everyone talked about that vision. Jesus had come to take her home.
Before the funeral, the family went to privately view Mema’s body. I really didn’t want to take Callee into the room. I didn’t think she would understand. I thought it might scare her or scar her. In the end, the confusion scared her more. There was a mysterious room where people walked into and then started weeping. My brother-in-law did his best to distract her, but ultimately I decided she needed to see what was going on.
When we showed Callee Mema’s body it was explained to her that now Mema was with Jesus in Heaven. I did not realize then how seriously she was filing that statement away.
It has been two months since the funeral and pretty often Callee still mentions, out of the blue, that Mema is with Jesus. The other day though she said something that made me realize that this particular way of explaining death to her may have been a mistake. We had stopped to check the mail when Callee stepped in a huge fire ant nest while wearing flip flops. She ended up getting eleven ant bites. When we got in the house she sat down and was furiously scratching the bites. While doing this she said in her meanest voice “I wish all the fire ants in the world would just go with Jesus to Heaven.”
On one hand, I wanted to crack up laughing but on the other hand, it made me sad. Now my little girl equates Jesus with dying. I’m realizing now that although it wouldn’t have been as sweet, it would have been much more productive to have just told her that Mema had died.
With this in mind I just have to hope that she doesn’t come in contact with someone trying to evangelize to her. The moment they ask her if she wants to have Jesus in her heart she’s likely to wonder if it’s some kind of death threat!
A friend has invited me to help her write an article for a local publication. The theme is nurturing your children’s spiritual life. We talked last night about choosing three points to make that would be most valuable in the lives of our kids. The first thing that popped into my head is the importance of intuition and listening to yourself.
I have a terrible, terrible memory so it may be that I just don’t remember BUT I don’t think I was ever told to listen to myself and the feelings that rise from within me. I knew to listen to my teachers, my parents, other adults in my life, and even my friends. It never occurred to me to listen to ME. In fact, I’d say I was often even afraid to listen to myself. When I knew the answers to questions in class I was terrified to raise my hand and respond for fear I’d be wrong and look stupid. I remember times when I went with the pack and joined in on not so nice behavior b/c following others was easier than not. I’m sure there was a little voice or a tug at my heart reminding me to do no harm, but I ignored that voice until the deed was done. Then I had to deal with the consequences of either getting in trouble, losing a friend, or feeling guilty.
I believe that teaching our children to stay connected and listen to the voice within is vital to their emotional health. I caught a few seconds of an Oprah episode yesterday. It was long enough to hear Oprah speak to this idea. The show topic must have been sexual abuse. She said that our kids need to pay attention to those “this doesn’t seem right” feelings and speak up when they have them. Too many kids stay silent when they are being hurt because somewhere along the line they’ve learned that they should listen to everyone else but themselves. We are wired with this protective instinct for a reason. We know when something isn’t right. Instead of listening to the outside pressure, whether from peers or “trusted” adults, our kids ought to be encouraged to listen to the quiet inner voice or feeling that is saying no, no, no.
So if I had any parenting advice for myself and others I would say to teach our children that they have an inner compass and how best to use it.