Loving Them Through Lice and Logarithms

parentingThere are some things that no one tells you about when you become a parent. {Like how to handle a head lice breakout and logarithms at 11 pm.} You will probably hear, on more than a few occasions, that “your life will never be the same”. It’s often said as if it’s an obvious thing, a statement in passing because you should know this already. The delivery of this truth is severely understated because one can not put enough emphasis on the fact that YOUR. LIFE. WILL. NEVER. BE. THE. SAME.

In the spirit of brutal truth, here are 5 simple things every parent should know….

1. You won’t always like them. It’s hard to believe when you are looking at those precious baby cheeks and listening to their adorable toddler babble, I know. You will always love them – but not always like them. There is a period around adolescence  where many children are unrecognizable to parents. That was certainly the case for me. The snarky comments, the eye rolls and what we like to refer to in my family as “momentary lapses of self-control” AKA Teen Temper Tantrums. No, you won’t always like them. Love them anyway.

paper heart

2. Parenting is not a bicycle ride. They say that once you know how to ride a bike, you never forget. You’ll be able to get back on it years later and the ways to maneuver & balance will all just come back to you. Maybe you think having children is like this. That once you’ve raised one through a certain stage, you can easily do the same with another. You. Are. Wrong. Each of them is different. That Cheerios-In-the-Potty game may have worked to potty train one child, but it’s not guaranteed to work again. You will use those tried & true methods on later children and life will laugh in your face. Just remember, there are more methods to get from A to B than a bicycle. Discover new modes of transportation and find a way that works for you.

bike ride

3. You are not always the teacher. As adults, we often take on a “Been There, Done That” mentality with children. I’ve experienced this lately with my teen and his Algebra 2 struggles. I did really good in math. In fact, I was studying to be a high school math teacher when he came along {can you say thank God that didn’t work out?!}. So when he came to me in need of Algebra 2 help, I just knew I had this covered. Wrong! That’s a very literal example of not being the teacher. But, more often than not, the examples are much more subtle. I am a firm believer that there are things about yourself that the Lord will only show you through your children. They are a reflection of our ways and behaviors, as well as our hopes and dreams. While we busy ourselves with the task of teaching them all about life, God is using them to teach us what life is all about.

algebra doodle

4. Questioning you is a good thing. There are some lessons that we don’t want our kids to learn the hard way. There are some truths and beliefs that we want them to just take our word for. But what we know about human behavior and learning is that those lessons we experience, not just hear about, are the ones that are most real to us. There is no one path or purpose for each of our lives. Let your children ask why and discover answers for themselves, rather than resting on “because I said so”. We want them to be leaders, not followers. So why is following our reasoning simply because we say they should any different than following their peers? If your logic and reasoning is based in love and faith, you have nothing to fear. Let them experience those lessons so that they will truly learn them.

why

5. Don’t blink. It’s so cliché that a country song was made about it for a reason. You will look around one day and wonder where the time went. All those things you meant to say and wanted to teach them will be lost opportunities. Those memories you should have made but didn’t because there was work to be done, dishes to be cleaned, laundry to be put away will haunt you. This time with them is fleeting and we all know it, so why do we waste it? Why do we put off putting in the time? In the end, those are the things that really matter – not the amount in your bank account or the sparkle on your counters.

don't blink

Behind the Humor

 

Robin Williams

“Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” Proverbs 14:13

The Mardi Gras season may be gone, but my thoughts still linger on how we all wear masks of some kind. The recent Oscar tribute to Robin Williams and his body of work have especially lingered in my mind lately.

Robin was an undisputed talent like no other. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He made us think about being better people. Yet, underneath his mask of humor, he was fighting a battle few knew existed.

Like Robin, many of us wear a mask of humor that makes you laugh so you can’t see our tears. The mask of a good reputation so you’ll think we have it all together, not showing how things are falling apart. It keeps us safe, with you at a distance.

The thing about blogging that is very much like acting is that you get to put your best foot forward. There are edits and revisions that allow us to get things in just the right order before you see them. It allows us to manage our reputations and the messages we send about who we are.

Lisa-Jo Baker, one of my favorite bloggers, said, “Being real will cost us being perceived as perfect..” We throw around statements about not being perfect on the regular, yet in our hearts many of us truly want you to think we are. Letting you see my mess takes away any purpose for the mask of a good reputation. Showing you my tears can melt away my mask of humor.

One thing I have learned from the tragedy of Robin Williams’ death is this – you can never fully know if someone is wearing a mask around you or not. But the best way to increase the odds of authentic relationship is to take off your mask first.

In the end, your mask & who you present to the world is really all you have control over in this life. Give them something real. There is far too much plastic in the world already.