“Open, Shut Them. Open, Shut Them. Give a Little Clap!” Parenting Adult (ish) Kids

photo“Open, shut them. Open, shut them, give a little clap. Open, shut them, Open, shut them, lay them in your lap.”

For years, I sang this little song to pre-schoolers. First- to classrooms of children I taught. Eventually-to my own preschoolers.

“Open, shut them. Open, shut them.  Give a little clap.

Open, shut them. Open, shut them. Lay them in your lap.”

It always worked to get their attention and to get them to cooperate- sitting quietly at tables hands in laps and ready for the next activity.

Today, the words have a different meaning. It’s not preschool hands I’m trying to control.

It’s mine.

Today is an “Open, Shut them. Lay them in my lap.” Kind of day.

Not because I can’t sit still. (I can’t. I don’t even bother.) It’s because parenting has become a high-stakes strategic game of knowing when to hold on, and when to let go.“Open, shut them. Open? Shut them? Give a little clap? Open, shut them. Open? Shut them?  Lay them in my lap?” 

Today is a “letting go” day. My older two sons are taking off to go with a friend, to a gaming conference in Seattle. Hello, Seattle is across the country from Detroit! They’re going on a plane. Unsupervised.

The very same college kids who stay up all night playing video games, drink Monsters like they used to drink apple juice and sleep till noon or later-when they aren’t in class or, working.  Those giant man-boys. Through TSA. On public transport. To a city they’ve never been to. OY.

Let’s just say I;m doing my best to keep my hands open- but it’s hard to lay them in my lap. It’s really hard to give a little clap. But, I want to.  I want to cheer them on. I know they can do this. I know this is a good experience for them to have. I’m pretty sure they will have a great time. They are good kids. I don’t even anticipate a call from jail or a hospital. (Oh, please lord- keep them safe and out of jail…)

So my hands are: Open.

But- I really want to shut them.

Parenting is a lot of letting go and holding on. From birth- to burping-babysitters, preschool, to bike riding, elementary school to middle school. High school  to driving and graduation. College.

It’s all holding on and letting go.

I remember older Mom’s telling me on “Open, shut them.” kind of days- that it gets easier. They lied.

It doesn’t get easier- it gets: differenter.  I trust  them more- but the risks they take are bigger.

  • Career choices.
  • Life choices.
  • Safety choices.
  • Oy let’s not mention: drug, alcohol and sex choices.
  • For pete’s sake: flight and trip choices had me ready for a xanax.

(My mom reminded me last night that she understands. Apparently- her daughter is always flying off somewhere unsupervised- and actually- supervising others. I know. It’s crazy. Yes, I’m her only daughter.)

So how do you cope when it’s one of those days? When it’s right to open your hands and let them go- but you desperately want to hold them back?

Well- I’m going to be doing pretty much the same thing I did the first day of kindergarten.

  • I’ll manically clean.
  • I’ll knit like a fiend.
  • I’ll wait till they come home and be thrilled when they safely do. I will do my best not to embarrass them. (Too much.)
  • I’ll pray and I’ll trust.

Not just my kids- but the one who’s always got them in His hands- and the one who loves them best.

(No- not the internet. The other one- Jesus.)

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“Dear Lord- Help me as I let go once again. Like first bike rides and first days of school and driving- this is just another step in their becoming adults. Be with my kids- as you always are. Help me to trust you- as I let them go. Parenting is hard lord-it gets different- and it’s amazingly good- but it’s also:  hard.  Give me wisdom to know when to hold on and when to let go. Help me to give a little clap (Quietly. In my mind. So I don’t embarrass them to death.) as they do yet one more thing on their own. Help each reader, to do the same. In Jesus name- Amen. PS: Please lord- help them continue to make smart choices and have fun and avoid jail or hospitals… EVEN THERE. In Seattle. Justsayin.”

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” John 3:35

A Mile in My Own Shoes….. In which the path is messy- and I walk it anyway.

IMG_8032 IMG_8047 IMG_8048IMG_0010 IMG_0021IMG_8078 IMG_8092 IMG_8063 IMG_8058 IMG_8059 IMG_8060 IMG_8034 IMG_8035 IMG_8046I love to take my camera for a walk. I am braver with it-than I am without it.

I walk places I might not walk- without it.

I know I’ll find something amazing to snap pics of.

Somehow- when I’m behind the lens- paths that seemed too root filled and rough- without the lens- are transformed into opportunities.

I take the next steps. even if the path is mucky and edged in slippery mud.

 

 

Or, when the path is narrow- and the drop off is steeper than I’d prefer to fall. (Which = not at all. I’m not a fan of falling- neither is my bionic neck.)

 

 

I walk on. Finding patches of light under a dense, forest canopy.

 

Even when I know part of the trail may be: “Open for hunting.” (For real? That’s comforting.)

 

 

Because when I do- I bend down and find things like this.

A fairies teacup…

 

 

 

A hot air balloon reflected on the lake’s surface….

 

 

 

A perfectly spectacular Indian Ghost pipe.  That you’ll never see walking through a backyard in the suburbs.

 

 

 

Dappled light draws me in- deeper to explore.

 

 

 

 

A perfect branch- about to burst in bloom.

 

 

Breath taking luminescent leaves.

 

 

 

all because I took the risk to take the next messy step.

 

 

 

even when the light starts to fade…..

 

 

 

 

 

And the holes you find could hold snakes……

 

 

The walk is always worth it.  Even when you start out on one path- and find yourself on another.

I’m making a lot of tough decisions. Every day, I feel like there are new obstacles, new twists, unexpected turns- directions I wasn’t planning to walk in.

Yet- I take the next steps. And as I do- I’m amazed at both the challenge and beauty I find along the way.

Not sure what your walk is like right now- maybe it’s full of beautiful light and a clearly defined path. Or, maybe it’s “Open to hunting.” And you’re feeling at risk. Maybe it’s full of roots to trip you up and mud to make you stuck.

Keep walking. take the next step.

I’ll do the same.

Wherever it leads. Watch for beauty along the way. Yes- even in the mess.  And even if you have to hide behind a lens to be brave enough….. maybe the lens is seeing your path through this lens: 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 [Full Chapter]
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

In which I decide we need a DSMM- Diagnostic Statistical Manual Of Mommy Disorders….

531884_624643007568545_930571928_nTruth: I’m a mom. I am crazy.

Also truth: I’m not the only one.

In another life I used to use the DSM on occasion. It’s a helpful tool that professionals use to diagnose and treat mental disorders. (It can also convince you that you’re crazy if you buy one on clearance at the book store- and don’t know what you’re doing.) In my case- as a pastoral counselor- I used it as a reference guide to understand  clients’ diagnosis’. Mental illness is not a joke. I’m not making light of it… I am however going to have some fun with the crazy that is mothering.

Here’s the thing: The crazy that is mothering is not listed in the DSM. I think we need our own version. I see some common issues that could be helpful if we had a guide to help us understand.

Here are a few potential Diagnosis’ I’d like to present to get the ball rolling: Continue reading

In Which a #Speak Up Conference Speaking Critique is NOT American Idol for Speakers…

This nest and bird have been in my foyer for 3 years..... please note it's exactly the same bird.
This nest and bird have been in my foyer for 3 years….. please note it’s exactly the same bird as in the centerpiece from Speak Up that I posted yesterday.

Speak Up Conference part 2: The Speaker’s Track- Small Group Critique

“We won’t get rid of your butterflies, but we’ll help them fly in formation. A little nervousness is good.” Carol Kent- Speak Up Conference- 2014.

I get nervous before every talk I give- but I’ll be honest- I love writing and speaking so much- that my nerves are about 50% excitement, at this point. It’s not so much feeling afraid as excited and a little nervous that I’ll suck.

Not so much at the Speak Up Conference – Small group critique session. this was pure terror. Butterflies? Mine had razor blade wings-and I could feel them slicing up my guts.

The butterflies sprouted razor blade wings for 3 reasons: Continue reading

Speak Up- The Conference I Came to For All the Right and Wrong Reasons-

I came for: Polish. Pizzazz, Professionalism, Networking. I came to become a better writer, a better speaker and a better leader.

All the reasons anyone attends a conference like this. The right reasons.

And all the wrong reasons- because it’s not about me.

When I arrived- I’ll be honest- I was a hot mess. (Even more than usual.) I wasn’t even sure I should be here. Wednesday morning we were in the oncologist’s office- where she told us my husband’s cancer had spread to the bone.

I struggled with whether I could or should even come. “Really? A conference on ministry this week? “Speak up?” I don’t think so. I think I need to stay home, eat cupcakes and cry. Besides- how selfish can I be? Leave a man at home who’s struggling with all the emotion wrapped up in facing the next level of treatment for a zombie cancer that refuses to die? (Scroll down for the Zombie cancer post.) It doesn’t make sense.”

Except- I’d already paid. And my husband said: Go.

So, I came.

In part for escape and distraction. But mostly= to hopefully become “good enough” to finally be a part of God’s work.

When I arrived- (Slightly nauseous- maybe a side effect of cancer-guilt? And maybe- because- well-  I don’t have a book out  (yet) I don’t speak to groups of thousands Why should I attend a conference like this? Then there was the whole: “Seventh grade-I won’t fit in thing.” I have tattoos. I say awkward things. My humor is a little. well-iffy. So,  yeah.

I checked in- sat down and opened my Conference guide.

Which is when I realized I’d signed up for all the wrong breakouts. Continue reading

When Cancer is the Zombie that Just Won’t Die……Or- when the dog pushes me over the edge and I’m holding on by my acrylic tips.

blog headerI need a katana. Obviously. It works for The Walking Dead- so why wouldn’t it work for us? It’s about the only thing we haven’t tried. (Surgery= not the same. Much too nice and gentle. At least, when compared to a katana.) Why a Katana? Cause this cancer won’t die. It’s no longer Ninja cancer- it’s zombie cancer. I decided that yesterday. When My husband’s PSA jumped from 2.3 to 11.7 in a month. (For the record? A jump in cancer numbers like that -gets you a “go to the head of the line pass” for scans and appointments. Yup. even at the cancer center.) Yesterday it was CT scan day. Today it’s bone scans. My man is positively glowing- in a nuclear kind of way.

Over the past three years we’ve:

  • Biopsied it with leather punch- like tools.
  • Surgically excised it.
  • Implanted gold bling around it- and then nuked it for the obligatory (And biblical- I ma add)  40 days.
  • Attempted to chemically starve it of it’s preferred food: testosterone. Manopause= crappy. Just saying.

Still- the cancer keeps creeping around my husband’s body like a micro-scopic zombie. It has evaded and survived everything we’ve thrown at it. (By “we,” I of course mean our awesome medical team at U of M. At this point- Kyle and I both feel entitled to honorary degrees. Probably not Doctorate’s – yet. But at least Bachelors of Cancer Sucks. Just saying- we’ve spent a couple of tuition’s worth of dollars there and probably  almost as much time at the cancer center and subsequent appointments as we did during our undergrad stint at Eastern Michigan. Granted- our EMU time involved a lot of breakfasts out. But then- so do cancer center appointments.)

Since January we’ve been in what oncologists call “A watchful waiting” period. Which basically means- we watch and wait while the cancer grows. (Yes- in cancer-land this is a treatment plan. No- I didn’t buy it either. Keep reading.) Well- Okay- they’ve been doing hormone suppression- but this cancer laughs at hormone suppression. It’s a jerk.

FYI? This is not Giant oak tree cancer that is slowly growing over decades. (The norm for Prostate cancer.)  This is the ugliest chia pet -ever- cancer- it grows fast. I guess we’re in the process of finding out whether it’s actually more Kudzu than chia.

Kudzu or chia- it’s invasive, aggressive and more annoying than the ch ch ch chia pet commercial.  I hate it. Continue reading

Garbage Jenga— “winner” takes all …the trash out…

garbage jengaShoe boxes, sushi containers, empty coffee cans, paper towels with nefarious stains.  Empty milk bottles, dirty chopsticks and vaguely-recognizable foodstuffs.

Each object is precariously perched upon another. A leaning tower of garbage. A haz-mat situation in the kitchen.

Really? It’s a rousing family game of Garbage Jenga.

What started as a necessary kitchen garbage can, has become a family past-time. Each day’s game of Garbage Jenga offers a chance to win. The game grows through out the day, every family member adding to the tower, bit by garbage-y bit.  Each one quietly backing away from their last addition, afraid the vibration of their footsteps could lead to jenga-tastrophe.

The rules of the game are simple:  Whom ever placed the last item on the garbage pile prior to it’s toppling, is the tortured soul who must: (cue the ominous music) TAKE OUT THE TRASH.

It’s  amazing to see the engineering skills employed to reinforce the garbage tower.  Please note the turned up edge of the garbage bag that gives just enough support for items to be slipped into the sides without adding to the height. (It’s the height that gets them-every time.) I have explained countless times- that the energy exerted in reinforcements, arguing (about who’s turn it is) and studying garbage tower engineering is considerably more than what would be required to simply TAKE out the TRASH… but alas… they disagree.

And so- each day..the game begins anew.  An empty box- coffee grounds, a candy wrapper, a broken toy or *gasp* a pile of old schoolwork at a time…

Just one question?  Garbage Jenga- does this count towards our one million minutes of family game time?

I will refrain from describing the argument that ensues over who has to replace the garbage bag with a clean one…or who has to pick up the garbage that inevitably drops off the jenga pile and onto the kitchen floor as it’s being bagged.. Suffice to say, it’s not  pretty . Really- I have no clue why my extremely intelligent family seems to be incapable of taking out the trash without waiting for a trash-alanche or my (loud) complaints…. but there you have it- just another adventure in motherhood, you gotta laugh to survive ;)

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When my heart condemns…..me.

“I can’t believe I said that.” “Will I ever learn?” “Why did I do that?” “That won’t very Christ-like of you.” “Yup- straight to hell for that one.” “I never should have done that.” I wish I hadn’t done that.” “How stupid can I be?” “There is no way someone as jacked up a mess as me- can be helpful to anyone.” “If GM can re-call all these cars- why on EARTH DOESN’T GOD JUST GO AHEAD AND BRING ME IN FOR SERVICE? Obviously- I’m defective.” 

These are just some of the ways my heart condemns me. I second guess. I wallow in regret. I doubt. My heart- condemns. Me. When my heart condemns?  I end up a mess. Paralyzed. Broken. Hurt.

By:  myself.

I know- It’s my brain. It’s my heart. I should be able to stop it. Sometimes, I do. And the verses from my devotions the other day are the way that I can….By loving with words and action in truth. By setting my hurt to rest in that truth the way I used to have to put cranky little ones down for naps- sometimes by closing the door and leaving them be.

And most of all- by remembering: God is greater than my heart. HE alone know everything- and he choses not to condemn.

He chooses to love.

Even me. Even here. In the middle of my jacked-up imperfect mess.

Today- I chose to trust this truth. It’s enough.

Maybe – when my heart isn’t so busy condemning me for things God doesn’t- I’ll have the confidence to do the next thing- love the next person- trust Him, in the next thing.

I’m praying you will too.

“Dear Lord- my heart condemns me- gel  me to rest in you- help me to have confidence in the fact that you are greater than my heart. Keep my heart’s condemnation from keeping me from you and the things you’ve planned for me to do, before I was born- In Jesus name amen PS- Lord? I’d still be ok with that service recall- especially if it took place on a beach.)

 

Readers- Please visit the sidebar and click the subscribe button to be entered to win your choice of a Kindle Fire hdx or an IPOD Nano- ! I’ll draw once I am at the same subscriber # s on the old wordpress site;)

If you want extra entries- refer someone to subscribe-here- and have them comment that you sent them;)

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Bad Mom Monday’s – In which I knock my kid’s tooth out, to make a point- and lose. #EPICMOMFAIL

10418321_10204003894840689_4010609270357542301_nMom: “Eat your grapes.”

Son: “I can’t. Green grapes are gross.They’re sour. I only eat red ones.”

Mom: “These green grapes are not gross they’re sweet. Eat them.”

Son: “I will throw up.”

Mom: “You will not.” Mom eats grape to prove their yum-factor. “See? Would I lie to you?”

Son: Looks at mother incredulously. “They’re sour. I can tell.”

Mom: Makes older sons eat grapes and attest to their sweetness.

Son: Not convinced.

Mom: Loses her mind. Possibly due to stress, PMS or just plain old mom-variety cray-cray. Decides to force child to “taste and see”… after all it’s (almost) biblical. (Forget about the context- I told you she’d lost her mind.)

Son: Sees “that look” in moms eyes. Clenches jaw, shakes head.

Mom: Takes a grape and decides to mush it against son’s teeth just so he can taste the juice…..and her point can be made. (It made sense at the time.These things always do.)

Mom: Smashes grape against son’s front teeth.

Son: Begins to scream. Not because of the flavor of the grape- but because of the flavor of: blood.

401px-Green_and_red_grapesMom: Totally forgot that the son’s front teeth were loose- due to his being: 6. The age at which all children appear toothless for a season. But not quite this reason….

Son: Running to the bathroom- blood, spit and grape juice dripping from his mouth like a vampire who’s feasted after a 6 month fast. “YOU KNOCKED OUT MY TOOTH!!!”

Mom: Dies inside. Has visions of DSS arriving at any moment to remove all minors from the home. Also thinks for a brief moment: that might be a good idea. Grabs a dark colored washcloth to hide the blood from the green grape hater’s view. Because the only thing he hates more than green grapes is blood. Double bonus bad mom points.

Much crying- and apologizing and basically spoiling of child to make ammends-later-

Mom: “But the grape was sweet. I told you so.”

Son: “It tasted like blood.”

Mom: Never buys green grapes again. Is thankful they are homeschooling so child doesn’t go to school and tell this story tomorrow.(Although it will be told 12 million times over the course of their lives. Fact: son is only 12 now. Still won’t eat green grapes- tells everyone he meets this story. because: His moms a dork.)

Tooth Fairy- left a ridiculously huge guilt offering. (One of the few times she actually remembered to show up.)

True story.

Names withheld to protect: ME.

The bad mom.

Who always says:”never fight battles you can’t win- like food, sleep and potty.” The pastoral counselor who specialized in working with kids.

Yup. Her. I mean: me.

She’s not alone. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there. Done something crazy to make a point to our child- only to have it totally backfire.

My youngest still loves to tell the story about that time I knocked out his tooth at the dinner table….

He leaves off the fact that it was hanging my a gummy-thread. Of course.

Parenting is hard. There is no user manual that tells you how to get your strong willed child to just TRY the stupid green grapes.

We all make mistakes. We all NEED SOME HELP HERE.  If you’re that mom- struggling to figure out what to do when your kid makes life difficult- I encourage you to read Kathi Lipp’s new book- “I Need Some Help Here” Because we all do!

Here are other some ways to connect with Kathi- you’ll want to- trust me- she’s been there- she gets it and isn’t afraid to share it.

Facebook 
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I Need Some Help Here! webpage, incl. testimonials

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Where I write about what it's like to walk a few miles in my shoes and the shoes of others….

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