Soccer mom!! Soccer fun!! So excited!!!!

 

Screech!!!

 

Elijah isn't into soccer — not yet, and maybe not ever. There are seven kids on his team, and at any given moment in a game or in practice, six of them will be excitedly circling the ball and/or the coach like a pack of wriggling little puppies. The seventh, my boy, will be studying something—trees, people, grass. If he’s not in deep concentration on who-knows-what, then he is loudly announcing that he needs a BREAK. Then he comes and sits in his chair with his water bottle and watches the rest of the team run around like they’re at Disney. And he studies them with detached interest. Watches them like they are in an experiment he is running.

 

It appears that I don't have to worry much about peer pressure impacting his decisions, and I don't think he is going to be much of a follower. He seems to be quite satisfied with his choices. No amount of perceived joy on the field sways his decision to relax for a bit.

 

Of course, this may change. We are only a couple weeks in to the season, but the season is only going to last a couple more weeks. I was kinda sporty when I was in school—more so in my head than in my actual talent, but nonetheless, I appreciate a good team competition. I have really been looking forward to my kids taking up sports. I love the lessons that being a part of a team instills. I want that for my littles. I really want that. And while it is premature to think either of my children are, or are not, 'in to' any certain thing, I have to at least brush up against the idea that what I hope for and what I get may be two different things.

 

Darn it.

 

And….oooo.

 

These little people are of me, but they are not me. They are a mix of me and their father and some third thing that is wholly and completely their own. It is my job to encourage them, to push them, and to follow them where that mix leads them. Both follow and serve as a buffer. I've had to remind myself of that through these last few weeks. Elijah gets to be Elijah. Elijah is perfectly Elijah. With a bit of encouragement from me, Grace has agreed to try soccer when spring rolls around. We will let Elijah choose whether or not he wants to play again. I'll be signing them both up for more team sports in the future, and they will have to give some different things a chance (at least), but if they decide something isn't for them, then I'll tag along until we find what is.

 

Band mom! Chess mom! Dance mom! Robotics mom! Reader mom! Whatever—as long as I get to be my littles’ mom.

 

We all need that, don't we? We need permission to be exactly who we are. I think sometimes well-meaning parents, society, and friends conspire to make us feel like we are supposed to be something that is outside of us—something that has been defined by our culture as what a mom/dad, wife/father, (insert your job here) is supposed to be. But God created us as complete beings. We only have to be who we are, and nothing more. As a matter of fact, the more I try to fit a mold, the less I am anything.

 

Maybe it's silly and maybe it's just me, but I'm just now learning how to relax and be who I am. I'm learning to not care about what anyone thinks about me except God. You know, if you try to please God, you are pretty much bound to please every other healthy person out there. The people who you don't please either have their own issues to deal with, or perhaps you slipped up a little. But all you have to do in that case is look inside and see if your actions meet up with who God intends you to be. If not, apologize and move on, and if so, keep on keeping on.

 

I used to think that people’s perception of me had something to do with who I am. In reality, they do not. If someone doesn't like what I'm doing or thinks I should do something different, it is not my job to figure that out and make a change. It's their job to come to me and talk it out. That is incredibly liberating….when I remember it.

 

It's costly to try to fit someone else's mold. It's costly to try to be who people think you should be rather than who you are. It costs you, and it costs the rest of us. We need the real you – not some made up pretend you. You were created for a specific purpose that cannot be served as long as you are distractedly looking around trying to figure out how to please everyone else.

 

So, I'm going to do my best to help my littles understand that they get to be whoever they are. They don't have to live up to anyone's expectations other than their own. I'm going to try and instill in them the values and self-assurance that allow them to be comfortable in their own skin.

 

Based on the little boy sitting in his lawn chair observing the game, I'm on the right track so far.

 

My family has a big milestone coming up next week – the first birthday for my dad after his passing last December. Looking ahead to this upcoming milestone has really kicked my rear end. This whole year has, really. Right when I think I'm doing okay, I realize I'm not. It has just been a sad year.

But a lot has been happy, too. Life is a thing of beauty. It's tough, but it's primarily beautiful. I've tried to really pinpoint why I'm so sad—what it is I miss in particular, and you know what it is? I miss the things I never really received.

I know my dad loved me, but he had some challenges in communicating it sometimes. He was tougher than he needed to be. He had some walls built up that I just could not scale. And I failed him, too. I didn't try hard enough to break through. We did the best we could at the time, and that's all we can ask for. But, that doesn't negate the wish for a chance to do things differently.

After a lot of talking this year in grief therapy, I'm starting to accept that things were as they were, and they can't be changed. That seems pretty obvious, but I've spent a lot of time wishing it were different. I'm learning to see through the pain and treasure the beauty. It's a long road, but it's a journey worth taking.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about the gift of acceptance and what a treasure it is to be accepted fully. I know that it is one of the things that makes my marriage so strong. Greg and I accept one another completely – flaws and all. We are in this thing together, and we know it. When we start slipping apart or having some distance, it's because one or the other has started wishing the other would do 'this' a little differently, or approach 'that' the way the other one would. That's a sign of acceptance drift. Don't let your acceptance drift. Acceptance a gift.

“Don't drift; it's a gift.” My new tag line.

Acceptance is really important to kids. It starts at a young age, this need to be accepted. Grace, at five, already worries about people laughing at her. I was startled by that concern at first, but she is a sensitive and intuitive being. God made her wonderfully and perfectly and with an extra measure of sensitivity. So I make sure she knows that her dad and I think she is just right, just as she is. I have even started telling her that if she comes home from school with her behavior card on yellow, or orange, or red – we still love her just as she is. (Even the thought of being not on green horrifies her. Still, I want her to know that it doesn’t horrify me.) She knows that we love her no matter what. The other day she came up and gave me a big hug and said, “Mommy, you love me when I do something wrong and even when the seasons change.” “Yep – even then,” I said.

Elijah is less touchy-feely from an emotional perspective. He is a more aggressive kid, a little more pre-occupied, and therefore a bit less inclined to notice if you are frustrated with anything he is doing. But I try to make sure that I reassure him, too. Because I know that sometimes we look like we have got it all together, but on the inside, we worry that we are not enough. I never want him to worry that he is not enough. (I'll admit that I don't have the yellow, orange, and red discussions with him because I think he might learn of our never changin' love of him from a real brush with the color spectrum).

I don't do this perfectly. I get too 'fwustwated,' as the kids are quick to point out. At times, I speak too harshly to these little miracles in my life. I have to tell them straight up and out right, because my actions fail me sometimes. So then I tell them I'm sorry, and I remind them that my 'fwustwation' is my problem…not theirs. I remind them that, even when frustrated, I love them. There is never a time I don't love them.

I want to encourage everyone to take some time and think about the people that love you and you love – not just your kids — and ask:

“Do they know I accept them?”

“Do I need to ask for acceptance?”

“How can I better show the people I love that I accept them?”

Acceptance. We crave it . We were made for it.

Romans 15:7 says, “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” For those of us who believe, this is yet another place where the Bible speaks so plainly to who we are and why we need the things that we need. God knows that we were created for community and peace, and when we act in that way, it demonstrates all the love He has for all of us. To give God glory is to live just as we were designed – that is His wish and glory, to see us perfected as we were created to be. Never will it happen completely in this time, but we are blessed with the opportunities to brush up against that glory in ever increasing measure. We are asked to do so – because it is so beautiful when we do.

Acceptance is not based on people doing the same things, the same way. Acceptance is a decision. Acceptance is a gift we give one another. Don't let the sun set tonight if there is someone out there who doubts your love for them or your acceptance of them.

This is a mea culpa and love letter to my dad. I miss you.

 

 

I’ve read a lot in the last few days about mother’s trying to protect their young ones from this new world that we live in.  One mom wrote a letter to all the teen girls posting sexy selfies that her teen son’s could see.  Such a fantastic message.  Unfortunately she was a little unforgiving in her post and she included pictures of her boys on the beach in their swim trunks.  A lot of people saw red when they read it and took umbrage with her approach.  (She has since changed the pictures based on the criticism received)

We do that, don’t we?  We look at something that is 80% good and focus on the 20% that didn’t quite hit the mark.  I agree with many of the comments and the issues that others pointed out, but I wonder why we tend to do so with such violent and cruel abandon.

The old saying was, ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’  In today’s society we need to re-purpose that.  ‘If you can’t type something nice, don’t type anything at all.’  This is not to say that a constructive dialogue shouldn’t be had, but you can tell anyone almost anything with love and sensitivity.  As an example, I thought this response was very well done.

So I implore you, all of you, the entire world,  the next time you see red just take a moment.  Take a deep breath.  Realize that you do not know the intention, or the person, and give people the benefit of the doubt.

 

Five Minute Friday

So the littles are in their second week of school—one in preschool and one in kindergarten–and we have had some surprises. Our little pre-schooler is just doing two days a week so that one has been a pretty easy adjustment for everyone. He loves it and wonders why he can't go every day. Our kindergartner is the one who has surprised me. I expected some trepidation but we have had only excitement. The biggest surprise though has been the amazing amount of fatigue. I don't know why I didn't think to expect that one, but I didn't.

Here are my top five lessons learned from the Kindergartner:

1. Kindergarten is full-time job, and it's hard work.

The concept of sending the little to Kindergarten was intimidating, but I focused mainly on the big realities that scared me. The fact that she would be out of our little protective bubble. The fact that she would be influenced by kids whom I do not know. The simple scariness of not knowing what she is doing every moment of the day.

What I did not think of, however, is how exhausting it would be for her to be engaged for that long, every day of the work week. When we picked her up after school last week, on pretty much every day she asked if it were almost bedtime. A couple of times she fell asleep in the car or came pretty close. She loves going to school so far, but it's a whole new, demanding world for her.

2. My girl’s temperament is a lot like mine, and school's not really built to support it.

I did not take into consideration that my girl is an introvert – the same kind as I am. We love people and we love visiting, but we need some quiet time. Going to school for seven hours a day means that she lost her ability to choose quiet time when she needs it.

Being the introspective little girl that she is, she seems to realize that she’d better soak up some alone time when she can. The minute we get home, my girl bolts for her room, closes her door, and takes a good 20 or 30 minutes to decompress. After that she and Elijah usually play pretty well with one another. It's nice to see them miss each other, even if they don't know that's why they are playing together.

3. She is really thoughtful.

Before kids get out into the world a little bit on their own, it is hard to really know everything about them. Limited experience gives you limited perspective. But every night when I tuck her in, she says a prayer for whomever has had trouble at school that day. She prayed for the same little boy two nights in a row, and on that second night her prayer was, “Please, please, PLEASE help him listen.” She was pretty worried for him. It touched my heart.

I am just so surprised by this spontaneous thoughtfulness toward her new classmates. I mean, had you asked, I would have told you she was the sweetest girl ever, but to see her act out what I knew was in her heart just swelled my own heart with love.

4. She was ready. Just like she said.

You can psyche yourself out as the first day draws closer. You can start telling yourself that they really aren’t ready. For me, the truth of the matter was, I really wasn’t ready. She was totally ready. Suddenly my little girl who had very few rules to follow is a table monitor and line leader. She is telling me about her PE class. She is proudly saying, “I was so brave today, Mommy. I went down the slide!” She is naming new friends and talking about recess (her favorite part of her day, most days). She is basically reveling in every moment. And by the end of our first week, I was right there with her—celebrating a little more and fearing a little less.

5. Everyone has her limit.

Toward the end of the first week, we went to the grocery store after school. Before we went in, I excitedly told her we had soccer sign-up sheets for her and her brother. “Do you want to play soccer?” I asked. She had been to her cousins‘ soccer games, whom she adores, so I was certain of her answer. Imagine my surprise when I hear a big sigh from the back seat and her exasperated reply of, “Mommy, I hardly ever see my Grandmas, and I don't hardly ever get to play with my Pet Shops. I do NOT want to play soccer!”

Well, okay then. I guess that one shouldn’t have surprised me. (See realization #2 above!) It looks like she’s learning to treasure the way God made her—introverted, caring, and brave. And that’s a pretty good lesson for the first two weeks of school.

 

 

 

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