Mom Appreciation

When was the first time you appreciated your parent or primary caregiver?

I adored my mother as a child. I thought she was the most beautiful, perfect person there was.

I resisted her as a teenager. I looked to her for guidance, but fought for my independence and space to make my own way.

I moved away from her (figuratively and literally) slowly over time — after I finished school, moved away and eventually got married.

Then I had my son. When I had him home for a few days I had an ‘aha’ moment. So this is what it takes to be a parent. This is work. This is hard. Wow, my mom must have really loved me. She made parenting look easy. She always had a confidence in her parenting skills and I never doubted her ability to do the job. In reflection, I am in awe of her and what she accomplished. Now it was my turn, which got me thinking will I be as good a mom to my boys as she was to me? It’s motivated me to try my best to live up to the bar she set everyday since.

As a mom, I think about my boys and how they view me. Am I adored by them? If I am, they hide it well. 🙂 Are they resisting me? A little, for sure. Are they starting to move away? Thankfully no. But one thing I know — they love me, and I, with every ounce of my being, love them.

Thank you, Mom, for everything, and Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and all the other moms out there.

I will be taking some time off to enjoy time with family and friends and will be back in June.

 

 

I Love You

How do you express love for one another in your family?

In our family there are the obvious signs–hugs whenever the kids will let me give them one, and kisses on the check at bedtime–and the less obvious signs–being present with them, listening to them, and trying to teach or help them with something when they are curious or struggling–love comes in many forms.

My oldest is starting to ‘outgrow’ hugs and kisses which is bittersweet. I knew this time would come. My youngest loves hugs, getting kisses on the cheek and saying, “I love you!” In fact, he enjoys saying ‘I love you’ so much, we’ve determined he means it sometimes, and other times uses it as a diversionary tactic: to delay having to set the table, or get started on homework. It’s not uncommon for you to ask him to do one of these tasks and hear in response, “Mom, I love you!” or “Dad, I love you!” While it’s very sweet, my husband and I realize what he’s up to. Still I’m amazed that he figured out how to use the phrase to his advantage at such a young age.

Getting the kids to take a bath or shower can be a struggle, particularly for our youngest. He will delay the inevitable as long as he can, then go into the bathroom and take his time getting cleaned and/or getting dressed. After a shower one morning, as I was trying to prompt him to hurry up to dry off and get dressed quickly so we could get out of the house to school and work, he didn’t fuss or simply say, “Okay, Mom.” Instead he said from the other side of the door, “I love you, Mom.” I replied, “I love you too, but we need to hurry!” After several more minutes he emerged, still with a towel around him, but with a big grin on his face. “Urgh! Why aren’t you ready?” I asked. He gestured towards the fogged-up mirror. On it I could see in his handwriting the words: To Mom, I Love You.  How could I stay mad? This time his message felt part diversionary tactic, part love letter. Regardless, I treasured his simple message. It’s not everyday your morning gets interrupted by a proclamation of love. It’s one of those moments I’ll remember forever.

When has your child caught you off-guard with their love for you?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

The Greatest Gift I got from my Dad

What are your best memories of your father?

A flood of memories come pouring back in each Father’s Day. I can see my dad rooting me on when I played a sport, I can remember him teaching me skills I needed to be independent, I  can recall watching many a college football game together. There are many, many wonderful memories. While my father gave me many gifts, there was one in particular I hold above most others, he gave me the gift of knowing myself. There are moments in time, when he would help show me what I have to offer (to another person, to a sport, to myself or to the world) simply by telling me what he’d observed. It made me feel recognized, valued and appreciated. Too often in life, you can think no one is paying attention. My dad ensured I knew that wasn’t the case. It’s the greatest gift he’s ever given me. I don’t think he realizes the impact those conversations have had. I’m grown now, but still cherish these talks when we have them and I’ll miss them desperately when he’s gone. In my eyes, while not a perfect man, he’s the perfect dad.

As you raise your child, what special memories are you creating that they’ll remember future Father’s Days from now? What’s your most treasured memories from your own dad.

Happy Father’s Day!

First Kiss

Do you remember your first kiss?

My youngest has a ‘girlfriend’ that he’s known since kindergarten. Now, you wouldn’t know they are boyfriend and girlfriend because they barely interact with each other when in close proximity. But there are these moments when they are inseparable. It doesn’t take much, when one of them initiates doing something with the other.

There was an “engagement” last summer when, during a day at summer camp, they decided they wanted to plan out their life and make it official. Our families had a picnic to celebrate their plans. We have some great pictures of them. While their pretend ceremony was very innocent, and they posed for pictures as though they were kissing, they actually did not. My youngest was fine with this, and thought all of it was good fun.

His girlfriend moved to another school this year, so their interaction has been even less with the exception of the occasional playdate. When she last came over to play, they did what the normally do, they sat in the same room, but proceeded to read books and not actually play together. As their playdate was ending, his friend suddenly decided they needed to play a quick board game (is that even possible?) and while her mom and I allowed them to play for a few minutes, we were working to wrap it up so everyone could go home. While her mother and I were talking, the kids decided to resume their almost ceremonially kiss pose they had at the picnic. I have no idea what prompted this, as it happened so quickly. After seeing what they were up to, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but it didn’t take long to figure it out. My son went in for the kiss this time and was smiling from ear-to-ear following. It was very sweet. I was happy for him that his first kiss was with a girl he really liked. I was happy that he didn’t have to go through the fretting I did in wondering when the first kiss would happen and who would it be with. It also felt like I just passed a milestone with my son way earlier than I’d anticipated. Of course, every milestone that occurs reminds me how quickly my sons are growing up. And while things can move fast in life, I’m don’t want it to go by at such a rapid pace.  I realize this is a bit out of my control, but boy, would I love to slow down time sometimes.

How do you experience milestones with your child?

 

Love, Mom

How will you celebrate Mom today?

In the past, I just wanted alone time. Peace and quiet — what a luxury.

There were years I wanted flowers or a spa trip — don’t get me wrong, I love these treats, but I love hand-written cards, gifts, hugs and kisses more.

I love being a mom. I love being silly and seeing my kids delight and giggle. I love watching them as they grow into young men. I love watching my husband with my boys. I love that they love me and I love them back. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, and the most rewarding. I’m exhausted, and content, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How do you experience being a parent? How do you celebrate being a mom (or celebrating your mom)?

Happy Mother’s Day!

Young Love

Who was your first crush?

The first person I can remember swooning over was Shaun Cassidy. Yes, that Shaun Cassidy. I had a Shaun Cassidy iron-on t-shirt and thought he was absolutely dreamy. I had no idea what I was feeling other than I thought this boy was really handsome, and could sing a catchy tune, and would love it if he felt I was dreamy too. My first, non-fantasy crush was a boy in my third grade class, Brian. He and I had always been friendly to each other, but one day someone came into class, said something mean to me, and Brian defended me. I was smitten.  I was seeing Brian in a new light. He seemed like more than a friend, but someone who cared. I didn’t know what to do with this feeling as an eight-year-old. It faded quickly once Brian decided he wanted to date my classmate, Mallory. I was a little heart-broken, but got over it quickly.

My boys are both interested in other people. My oldest is interested in girls, but not sure what do to with it. Similar to how I was in third grade. There are many myths around what you’re supposed to do, and when you’re supposed to do them, and how you’re supposed to magically figure out how love works. My oldest decided he liked one of his classmates and she would make a good girlfriend because they like the same things and get along. He has taken no action to let her know how he feels. On the flip side, my youngest has no fear around ‘dating.’ He and his classmate even had an ‘engagement’ picnic last year. I have to admit my husband and I were surprised when this happened as we thought he and this girl were just good friends, but  it’s fun to hear him still talk about all the wonderful things they are going to do when they are both 25 including getting married, where they are going to live, what their jobs will be and how many kids they will have. (I have no idea how they came up with this all happening at 25, but it’s really sweet to hear them talk about it).

What do you do with young love?  How do you dip your toe into romance at such a young age? Of course, my husband and I have told the kids that they don’t need to worry about dating for many years, there is no pressure. And if they like someone, the best way to let them know is to tell them. Yes, it can be scary, and yes, you can get rejected, but you’re not going to know if you don’t try. We’ve offered to role play with them to help them figure out how or what they want to say to someone they are interested in. Of course, my youngest doesn’t seem to think he needs much help, since he’s already ‘engaged’, but my oldest does. Fear of looking stupid, being embarrassed, or rejected are holding him back. I think most of us can understand how he feels. Young love is hard.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, there is pressure to “show how much you love someone” or at least, identify someone you like. That’s a lot for anyone at any age. My oldest isn’t ready to reveal his feelings for anyone just yet. I hope with my husband and my help, we can give him the courage that he needs to try when he’s ready.

How did you experience young love?  How are you helping your child navigate feelings for another person?

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

 

#Lovin’ It

With abundant heart decorations in stores, my kids have expressed an interest in why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, and who their valentine should be (thankfully, it appears the only ideas coming to mind are Mom and Dad–phew!). It’s forced me to come to terms with my own experience with this well-intended holiday.

I have to admit, Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. While there was a lot of people in love, I wasn’t exactly loving it. I stressed out about who would be my Valentine as a teen and young adult, when I was dating I stressed about what to get my Valentine. How serious is this relationship anyway? What does my gift say about the relationship–it’s too serious or not serious enough? Hard to find the romance amongst all the stress. After getting married and had kids, I’ve stressed about trying to remember the holiday and take action on it. While I like the idea of romantic gestures, I don’t think they should be stress inducing or be limited to Valentine’s Day. My idea of what a romantic gesture has changed over time too. I used to crave flowers, jewelry or a fancy dinner. Now I treasure connection, conversation, handholding, foot rubs, or a simple card. They are gifts that require nothing more than thought, and time. They are stress free,  and I love them. It helps to think I can share this knowledge with my kids…hopefully they’ll avoid much of the unnecessary stress I experienced.

How have you explained Valentine’s Day to your child? What is the best stress-free gift you have given or received?

Thankful with a side of Gratitude

Each Thanksgiving before the meal we say a prayer of thanks, sometimes going around the circle and having each person share something they are grateful for. While we make a point to do this on Thanksgiving, we also work to carry on the tradition throughout the year. Being grateful for what we have, the people in our lives, the joys and beauties we are allowed to experience, and addressing it in the moment, just feels good.

I was asked to write a letter for a girlfriend’s daughter for a retreat she is attending. I have known this young woman since she was born and have watched her grow into an amazing teen. In the letter I was asked to include memories, thoughts and feelings. It was an easy letter to write. When my friend’s daughter was young I joined her family for dinner. Her mom and dad were there, along with me. We started by saying grace. At the end of the prayer, she added what she was thankful for. She said, “Ms. Tricia, I love you.” It melted my heart. It was so precious. She looked earnestly at her mom and said, “Mom, I love you.” Then looked at her dad and said, “Dad, I love you.” She had us all in the palm of her hand. She took a deep breath, turned back to some candles that were on the table, and said, “Candles, I love you.” She then looked at her plate and continued, “Chicken nuggets, I love you.” My friend, her husband and I burst into tears laughing. Being put into the same category as candles and chicken nuggets was humbling, and hilarious.  What I remember most from that experience was the innocence of my friend’s daughter. She believed in what she was saying. She was truly grateful for the things before her…people, candles and all. It reminded me that we can find gratitude in anything and everything around us, and there is no point in putting gratitude off when it’s starring you in the face.

How do you give thanks? How do you show gratitude? Happy Thanksgiving.

I’ll be enjoying some time off with family and will be back in early December.

You’re Great!

Doesn’t it feel wonderful when loves you for who you are because they just do, without any strings attached? We don’t experience it often, but it feels great when we do.

We recently had some out-of-town guests. The mother in the family visiting and I have known each other all of our lives. Our families have been very close. She is like a sister. She has not seen my children in several years because of the distance, but that didn’t stop her from treating my boys like they were very special to her. She made a point to talk to each boy, asking them how they were doing and what they were up to, and encouraged them to share some of their gifts with her (e.g. their ability to read, draw, etc.). She cared. They felt it. It really made an impression on them.

My friends gesture made me think about where I have experienced this myself, or where I may have given this to others. I’m reminded of a friend from church who was much like a grandfather to me. He would greet me each week with a great big smile and tell me how glad he was to see me. He would often say, “We (referring to his wife and himself) just think you’re great.” It felt amazing. I didn’t do anything worthy of this praise, but it didn’t stop him. You could tell that he genuinely felt that way too. It was a gift to be the recipient.

While our guests were in town they were very busy: sightseeing, visiting with other friends and enjoying some outlying attractions. They weren’t at our house all that much, as a result. When my boys learned that my friend and her family would be heading back soon, they were sorely disappointed. “When can she visit us again?” and “When can we go visit them” they inquired. Wow, I thought, she really made an impression. While I’ve always cared for my friend dearly, I love her even more for sharing her gift of love, acceptance and joy with no strings attached with my boys. I don’t expect they’ll experience this very often, but know it will feel wonderful when they do.

How do you make others know that they are loved? How do let others know that they’re great?

Written to the One I Love

The class lists came home in my boys’ backpacks earlier this week, and we’ve been working on their Valentine’s Day cards ever since. I asked my sons what Valentine’s Day was all about. One son said, “Presents?” The other said, “No, it’s about love!” I continued my line of questioning. “So, why do you think we have a holiday about love?” One said, “I don’t know.” The other, “Because.” I love how simply they accept this holiday, and their willingness to show their classmates they care about them.

When I was eight years old, I had a crush on a boy named Greg. He went to another school and though I liked him, I rarely saw him. One day, a mutual friend found me and told me that Greg made something in school and wanted me to have it. She handed me a clay snake that Greg had made in his art class. I remember my heart racing, so happy to receive Greg’s gift. We were young, and our concept of love innocent. While his gesture was simple, it had a impact. He made me feel special.

I used to think love came in the form of notes, but Greg helped me realize it can take many forms. It can be in a card, or a song, a vulnerable moment, even in a clay snake. As my boys deliver their Valentine’s Day cards today, I’ll remind them that we can show others we care about them many different ways, and any day of the year.

How are you teaching your children about love? How are you encouraging them to show others they care?