The past few weeks have been hard. Events I’d like to have control over, but don’t, brought my father’s death back to the forefront of my mind, and my emotions are raw. These emotions seem to be reflected back at me through my daughter as well. She is such an amazingly strong and loving little lady, but I see the sadness lurking behind her eyes. While she is happier now than she was a few months ago, I still see the shadows that dim her happiness.
It concerns me that I see in her a child trying to take control of her surroundings. So much like me, only far too young to have those responsibilities. I do everything I can to remind her to be a kid, to keep her focused on things more positive than the random emotions tearing at my own heart.
We’re working through it.
God’s working through us.
I know there is a reason to all this, and I have faith that in the end it will all be for the better. Until that time I do what I can to keep the balance. I workout to strengthen my body for God’s work, and I spend time with Him daily. I turn to Him in thanksgiving as well as for strength.
Some days are easier than others. There are great days, and then there are days when I’d rather never get out of bed again. On those days even sunshine doesn’t seem as bright, and I am reminded just how imperfect I really am.
I’m thankful that God loves me anyway.
So, together, God, my daughter, and I will work through it.
Ever since I was first introduced to April Fools’ Day in the early years of elementary school, I’ve dreaded the first of April. I hated falling for lies in the guise of ‘jokes’, and most importantly I hated not being able to trust the people I saw each day.
I’m sure it didn’t help that the way kids played jokes weren’t particularly funny. The jokes–or in most cases the pranks– were often mean-spirited and made the person, unlucky enough to be caught in the middle, embarrassed and uncomfortable. Some people, like myself, hate being in a spotlight of any kind, and these types of jokes are akin to being thrown onto a stage in a fully-packed stadium.
If jokes are supposed to be funny, those situations failed dismally.
As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that many people never outgrew this rather childish and loathsome activity. However, many of the ‘jokes’ are now played online. For instance, at any given moment today I could scroll through my Facebook feed and see numerous posts about pregnancies. Now, for many this isn’t a big deal, but for people who are desperately trying to conceive, or have experienced the loss of a child, it isn’t an amusing topic.
Also, in this age of social media, there is a much wider base for ridicule. In the case of a few people on social media who post outrageous–yet totally plausible ‘plans’, and then sit back and watch as their friends and family ridicule and tear down each other for believing the words in the first place.
My children haven’t had the experience with All-Fools’ Day, because they are both young and educated at home. My daughter is much like I am, and though we enjoy goofing off and telling actual jokes, we never aim to get a laugh at someone else’s misfortune.
As a Christian, albeit a rather new one, I feel that the overall point of this day is decidedly UN-Christian. Nothing about it promotes a happy or exciting and enjoyable experience. I feel that this one day of the year is used as a way to say, “Hey, it’s okay to make fun of others, or to hurt, ridicule, and embarrass others, because it’s ‘just a joke’.”
We spend so much time dealing with bullying and abuse in our society, yet no one seems to blink about the pranks and jokes associated with this particular day on the calendar. Shouldn’t we use every day to teach our children the difference between a joke that makes EVERYONE laugh, and something that causes one person to be laughed AT? Shouldn’t we teach our children that it is never okay, not even one day a year, no cause others pain and embarrassment? Shouldn’t we be teaching our children that a lie even on the first of April, is still a lie?
I’m sure there will be people who feel I am overly-sensitive. That’s fine. It won’t be the first time those words have been applied to me in life. The difference now is, I’m an adult and I’m a mother. The only thing I care about it raising my children to be respectful of everyone, regardless of who they are or what time of the year it is. I don’t ever want my children to feel like it’s okay to make fun of someone, or be made fun of.
Even if it makes me out to be “overly-sensitive”, I will not confuse my children by participating, or allowing them to participate in something that at the very core marks what is wrong with our society. Words and actions affect people. The date on the calendar doesn’t change that.
When people hear about homeschool, they tend to ask the question that every homeschooling parent rolls his or her eyes at. “What about socialization?”
Let me put this in perspective for you. First, as the saying goes, “I’ve seen the village, and I don’t want it raising my children.” Second, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know I find true discomfort being ‘social’. You also know that I ignore that idiosyncrasy for my children’s benefit.
My children, but especially my seven year old daughter, have no shortage of socialization. They’re social with children at church, at Awana, at our local homeschool meet-up, and at various play dates. They interact regularly with both children younger and older than they are, as well as adults.
People who have never educated their children at home have a hard time understanding just how many possibilities there are to make sure children get adequate time with others. In fact, sometimes there are just too many possibilities. There is such a thing as too much socializing. Not just for the moms, like me, who find socializing to be more exhausting than manual labor, but for the children as well.
God has called us, as parents, to raise our children, to teach them, and to train them. While that does include spending time running around outside, or playing “Narnia” (feel free to insert whatever imaginary game your children currently find interesting–this seems to be my daughter’s favorite this month) make-believe with friends, that isn’t the only thing. We need to spend time together at home. Our children need to see what it means to be a family. This includes responsibilities,like chores and actual school work. After all, those bathrooms don’t clean themselves.
Normally, we don’t have a problem balancing socialization with our at home studies. Keyword there is normally. This week is anything but normal. In fact this is a week where socialization is threatening to take over our lives. With that in mind I think a cave far away from people sounds delightful. This is where the sometimes magical word, ‘no’ comes in. For both my want of a cave (no, Sare, you can’t run away to a cave), and for adding anything else to our already packed plate.
It’s okay to say no.
In fact, children whose parents say no don’t appear to grow up with extra arms or an uncontrollable need to brush their hair with eating utensils (I’m looking at you, Ariel). At least, not that I’ve ever seen.
Repeat after me: It’s okay to say no.
You’re not a bad parent if you do. Ignore that guilt. Your children will survive if they don’t get to hangout with Susie Q tomorrow. Especially if she already hung out with two other friends this week. Children need downtime as much as they need socialization. Sometimes, I think they need it more.
I’m saying no, because there is so much on our schedule this week we haven’t had a chance to enjoy each other. All our time together feels rushed. We ARE rushed. I homeschool my children, because I want them to have every opportunity to excel and to thrive. I don’t believe a person can really thrive when they are so busy they don’t have a chance to breathe, or process what they’ve already done.
So, I’m choosing to embrace the word no, and I’ve decided I will not feel guilty about it.
Today would have been my father’s birthday. I’ve been aware of the date my whole life, and for the past few weeks I’ve seen the date staring at me from the calendar. Up until this morning I hadn’t realized it would be so hard to breathe when the day actually arrived.
It became very obvious this morning when I woke and realized I wouldn’t be contacting him for our yearly conversation on aging and the unimportance of celebrating birthdays after the age of 21. I wouldn’t hear him chuckle over the phone when I asked what he wanted for his birthday, and there wouldn’t be a gruff reply of “new eyes” or “working ears”.
Grief is amazing when it hits. The feelings can blindside you, and leave you groping for a foothold. For me, I often don’t realize it’s hit until I can no longer see for the tears. I’ll be a curled up mess on the floor, the bed–or when I’m really lucky (and by lucky, I mean not at all)–in the car driving through the rain in crazy “Oh my goodness, it’s raining!” Pacific Northwest Traffic.
My grief today has been like a world-class roller coaster. The loops alone would leave even the biggest thrill seeker checking their throat for their stomach.
I know healing takes time, and on most days, I’m good with that. Today however, I’d love if grief would show itself to the door so my lungs could resume functioning properly again.
There’s always tomorrow, right?
Until then, Happy Birthday, Daddy.
I ask you to guide me through this day LORD. Help me to see the light through the darkness, and to embrace joy rather than crushing despair. Amen.
Since my father passed away, I’ve been even less social than normal. The thought of getting out of my comfy clothes, brushing my hair, and forcing a smile is almost more than I can handle most days.
Monday was particularly hard. It was also the night of our small group study. Most of the day I couldn’t hold in the tears, and everything broke my heart. The heirloom nut chopper my mom had given me shattered, and from there everything seemed to crumble around me like the ruins of an old and forgotten city.
How was I supposed to go out, be happy, smile, and socialize with people I’m just beginning to know? I couldn’t just arrive wearing the workout pants and tank top I’d been wearing since I worked out. What kind of picture would that make? What kind of example would that be for my children?
Even though my daughter and I had already made the snack we were bringing, I couldn’t see myself actually getting out the door, into the car, and to the home where we gather.
My husband came home, and I was curled in a ball on the couch, covered in a blanket and shivering. We needed to get ready to go or we wouldn’t make it.
I had a choice to make. I could stay home and continue to feel pain, or I could go out and try to find a few moments of happiness. So, I prayed, and listened to what the LORD put in my heart.
We made it to small group, and I even managed to change my clothes before we left. I admit the tears continued to fall until I got in the car and we headed down the street, but by the time we arrived, I was feeling lighter.
I can’t say for sure that fellowship heals, but it certainly helped on Monday. God knows what He is doing, even when His will makes us do things we would rather avoid. I still would have preferred to remain in my comfy clothes, but wearing jeans was a small price to pay to move away from the hurt for a few hours.
Not to mention, there was amazing cheesecake there, and I don’t normally like cheesecake. 🙂
My daughter is an amazing person. She has a wonderful heart, loves her brother, and loves to give to others. As a person she is more than I ever could have hoped for. Her beauty comes from within and radiates from her.
Even for happy, caring, and giving people, not every day is a good day. Not every day is filled with joy and happiness. Not every day is a day we want to repeat.
Recently, my daughter and I have been butting heads. Our issues aren’t over anything major, but I don’t want to set a precedent that allows her to believe having a bad attitude is a key to success. I try to keep in mind each time things get tense and emotions run high, that she is learning who she is. She is entitled to opinions, feelings, frustrations, and to make her own choices and decisions (within reason). As her mother though, I know it is my responsibility to guide her through these experiences. To help her make better choices, or to learn a different way to approach a situation.
I’m trying to help her understand there will be times in life where something needs to be done that isn’t fun, or exciting, and doesn’t bring us joy. Not all things in life are meant to entertain, but we can learn from every situation.
Though I’m her mother and I require she give me respect, as I require she give her father and other adults respect, I also want her to know that I respect her. I try to show her that respect isn’t something guaranteed, but is earned. I want her to respect others because they respect her. I also acknowledge to her that I make mistakes too. Just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be respectful to others, but sometimes I mess up. I know I’ve messed up with her before. When that happens I try to lead by example and show her when we make a mistake it is important to admit it, say you’re sorry, and ask for forgiveness.
So even though as I write this my daughter has been grounded to her room for a few hours, and has lost bike privileges for the day, I hope that when she gets over her anger and frustration she will be able to think of other ways to express her opinions with kindness and respect.
Do you have children or do you remember a time as a child where you made a mistake because you wanted to be heard? I’d love if you shared with me in the comments.
I don’t know if many of you have heard of the DVD series, “Buck Denver asks…What’s in the Bible”. It’s from Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales. When I popped in the first DVD and realized it was a bunch of puppets I was NOT excited. I dislike puppets. I was the weird kid who didn’t like the Muppets. In fact, I still don’t like the Muppets. I do however, enjoy these puppets now.
Each morning this week, after our one-on-one studies are completed, my kiddos and I take a break for some snuggles on the couch. We watch one of the thirty minute episodes (today’s was on 2 Samuel), and I smile when my youngest who isn’t quite a year-and-a-half yet, starts dancing on his bum. My daughter, who has seen many of these episodes in Children’s Church will giggle and sing along with the songs. I’m not ashamed to say I often find myself tapping my foot or my fingers to the beat as we all sit together.
It is wonderful to know that something created for kids can still entertain an adult. It is even better to know, that even though we don’t watch a lot of television- preferring books for our entertainment- that there are shows out there that teach wonderful things. This show has opened up the stories of the Bible in a great way.
I love being able to snuggle with my children while they learn about the LORD…
Okay, I admit it, I’m learning too. 🙂
Snuggles and the LORD…a great way to start any day. 🙂
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4