Parenting an Adult???

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Well it’s happened. My baby, my firstborn turned 18 in December. Someone once told me that the days are long but the years are short. I think when you’re in the throws of parenting toddlers it’s hard to imagine that the years are short because the days are hella long. But now, as we are in his Senior year of high school, he’s 18 and heading off to college in the fall, I think about that phrase a lot and it’s so true.

Three weeks before Connor turned 18 he sat me down and announced that there was no way he could finish all the merit badges he needed to complete his Eagle Scout requirements. He has been a scout since he was six years old, completed the mandatory Eagle project and when he told me this I sobbed my brains out. I have listened to the wise advice of  parents who had gone before me….the ones who told me there were valuable lessons in letting your child fail. I absolutely believed this until it came to the failure of my son. The fact that he had come so far….to climb the rope and slide back down without ringing the bell…was NOT okay!!! I contacted the Scout Master and by the Grace of God, he rallied the  troops and these amazing men came alongside my son and dragged him over the finish line. He had his board of review on his 18th birthday and passed. We are now planning his Eagle Court of Honor ceremony.

I realize that I’m less important to him in the mundane day to day living. I’m painfully aware that he wants my opinions and views less and less. I’ve heard “I’m an adult now” more times than I can count. While I appreciate and accept his autonomy as he finds his way in this world I want Connor to know that I’m always there for him. I’ll always be his biggest cheerleader and right or wrong I’ll drag him across that finish line myself when I think he needs the “W.”

A new year, a new decade, change…growing pains for both of us and I learn to let go and he learns to fly. By the way…we were playing a game last night at a family birthday party and you had to name your biggest accomplishment. He said his was getting his Eagle Scout. #proudmama

Christianity and the Greek System

I remember vividly being a fresh-faced college freshman walking along and admiring “Fraternity Row.” The large beautiful homes proudly displaying their Greek letters and emblems.  I couldn’t wait to go through rush (the rigorous process of visiting each sorority and ranking them while they in turn rank you…not stressful at all…HA)! I desperately wanted to be part of the social and philanthropic aspects of sorority life. The Greek population at Ball State University in the mid-nineties only counted for about 20% of the student population. I successfully navigated rush and got into a sorority that I loved! It felt so special. I shared something in common with all the men and women that had chosen to take the plunge and rush a fraternity or sorority. Even though we may have been in different houses, we all came together under the category of “Greek life” and being part of that group felt really good. It was a sisterhood I could depend on, fun, laughter, and friendships that continue to this day. Some of my best days have been spent with my “sisters” and I look back fondly at those memories.

Picture it…Bid Day of Fall 1993 a day of nerves and anxiety in spades! In college, after you have visited every *house and met all the girls (you choose them but then they have to choose you back). Then all the girls who participated in rush are gathered in the gymnasium for the big reveal. You’re given an envelope containing the “magic words” that you’re expected to leave unopened until told otherwise and wait patiently with it on your lap while the people in charge give you the spiel about how it was a difficult process and some people may be disappointed blah blah blah.  Finally, the go ahead is given and you find yourself ripping open your envelope with lightning speed to see where you will be pledging your love and loyalty for the next four years of your college existence (and more if you choose to become an active alumni).

*At Ball State sororities didn’t have houses, we had suites.

I clearly remember opening my envelope and seeing my first-choice sorority! Looking back, I wish I had saved that card that clearly had Welcome to Alpha Phi written in script. It was so exciting and new and wonderful! I was giddy with the thought of being part of this special group. I had four amazing years with my sisters and best friends. Parties, fraternities, Alpha Phi does a lot for the American Heart Association and it was great to be involved with that on a charitable level.

Then you graduate and unless you get directly involved with the Alumni or choose to work for a fraternal organization it pretty much moves to the back of your consciousness. Jobs, houses, spouses, kids, dogs, laundry…life. It can leave you feeling lonely…accept that there is a “Greek System” available to us and it’s through the community in our churches. As a body of believers, we are all in the special club! It’s the club of Salvation and your Bid Day card says Welcome to Eternity with the Prince of Peace. How awesome is that?!? Within that club we have different choices. The Tri-Delt’s (Methodist), Pi-Phi’s (Lutherans), Kappa Delta’s (Presbyterian), Evangelical Alpha Phi’s. Even though we are different and that’s a place that could easily divide us, we are under the larger umbrella of God. As believers we have an opportunity to proudly display our “letters and emblems” and invite people to join. Yes, this is a very special club but unlike the girls gathered around me on Bid Day who were openly crying because their envelopes didn’t have the beautiful script writing they were expecting. God is offering salvation and everyone is invited.

Loving Left

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

There are two absolutely polarizing topics that one is to NEVER mention in public without fear of permanent banishment from all things social. They are politics and religion. So, this makes life very dangerous? Exciting? When the very essence of the person you love most in the world is the polar opposite of you in not one but BOTH of these taboo topics.

I am a conservative Christian married to a liberal atheist. Has this made for some serious debates? You better believe it! Have I gone to bed hopping mad? Yep! Have we followed each other around the house arguing our point of view to exhaustion and in utter disbelief that we haven’t been able to change each other’s point of view on gun control, salvation or illegal immigration? 100%. Do we love each unconditionally? Yes to that one as well…he’s my person for better or worse. We have committed to love one another and fight with and for each other till death do us part. In full disclosure, we’ve come close to that a few times during some Presidential elections.  J

How has loving my husband changed me? I am gentler to those who don’t share my opinion. I am more open to hearing other points of view and why someone feels a particular way. I am less quick to judge. I am slower to anger. I am more accepting. I am a better listener.

I live with and share every detail of my life with someone who has fundamental differences from me. I would tell you that I think he’s the greatest man I’ve ever known. My ride or die. Do I want him to “see things my way” absolutely yes! I pray for him every day of his life. I have also stopped trying to change him. I love him where he is and for who he is. I’m grateful for the person I am because of him. He teaches me to love unconditionally and be kinder and more open to understanding. These are great things! I believe that he would say the same thing about me.

I am going to love my husband and appreciate that we are different people. We are always stronger together. Loving left…not for the faint of heart but totally worth it!

The “Last” First Day​

Psalm 121:7-8 New International Version (NIV)

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Well, it’s arrived. The moment I’ve dreaded since sending my oldest to Kindergarten. Today was Connor’s last first day of school. He has started his senior year of high school. I’ve said many times that Connor gets a lot of the fearful parts of my parenting. As my oldest, everything is new and terrifying for me. I have prayed so many times for a “Parenting in the Age of Social Media” manual but one has yet to appear. I hate the cliche “the days are long but the years are short…” and I hate that cliche for being so darn true! I blinked and now this man/boy is staring back at me. He has his own thoughts, opinions and feelings and several times I’ve found myself staring at him and asking “Who is this person?” As I reflect on this life that I birthed and poured into I feel scared and proud and happy and anxious….but mostly I feel not ready. Read that carefully I AM NOT READY. But as I have found this to be true with almost all of my parenting life, this isn’t about me. Connor IS ready. Connor is confident, smart, funny, a dreamer, a leader, a great son, friend, brother, and follower of Christ. There are times he drives me crazy but mostly I am so proud of him. I like him. I would choose him as a friend. He is prepared.

A few thoughts I want to get down as I know this year is going to fly by much faster than I want it to. It’s my first last day too and I want all my sons to know…

  1. Know your worth! It’s NOT what anyone at Carmel High School says it is. Your identity is in Christ! Place your trust in Him!
  2. Look for the joy in little things!
  3. Be grateful.
  4. Be humble.
  5. Be kind (I’ll say it again because it’s so important, be kind).
  6. You can do anything you set your mind to.
  7. Take care of your body. Don’t do stupid stuff with it!
  8. Look for opportunities to grow spiritually.
  9. Your family loves you know matter what.
  10. I am so proud of you. You are ready! Follow your dreams and fly!

“Lord, I pray a hedge of protection over my sons. I ask that you are a constant presence in their lives and that you make that presence known. I pray they are uncomfortable with sin and I pray they always get caught. Shine your light through them and use them to advance your kingdom. Your will be done.” Amen

 

Summer Schedule

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:1

Since 2012 summer has represented a very bittersweet season to me. I love when, to quote Alice Cooper, “school’s out for summer.” I long for those lazy days and sleeping in and swimming and all the carefree fun associated with vacation time. I have never been the mom counting down until the first day of school, end of Christmas break or wondering when the kids were going to be out of my house. I LOVE having a loud house with my three teenage boys running around, pushing, fighting and laughing. They are such typical “boys” and I wouldn’t have my house any other way. As I sit here, I’m entirely sure that collectively they are responsible for each gray hair I have colored on my head every five weeks. 🙂 It hasn’t all been roses and unicorns, but I love being a mom and I love being their mom. I daily navigate a world of testosterone that rivals that of a fraternity house but again, I am so grateful that God gave me these three children. I know it’s not very PC in today’s day and age but what I really wanted to always be (yes, my answer is still the same at 44 years old) is a mom.

I refer to myself as divorced, not by choice. For the sake of my children, the details pertaining to this circumstance will not be on the internet. We got divorced in 2012 and that’s when my thoughts of carefree summers changed. According to the law, we now had the “summer schedule” which is a 50/50 split in parenting time. In the absolute most plain English I can use…I hate it. The boys are with me most of the time during the school year so this 50/50 split in the summer is drastic, awful and again, I hate it. I miss them terribly. To my ex-husband’s credit, when the boys were younger, I would only go about four days max without seeing them. I think he knew it was very hard on me and tried to accommodate my broken heart. I really appreciate that about him. Last summer, we started a week on/week off schedule. And while I think this is easier for the boys, I still hate it…every single stinking second of it. Have I mentioned that I hate it? As June approaches and people are renewing their pool memberships and updating their summer wardrobe…I’m dreading the “Summer Schedule.” I realize that many divorced people have a 50/50 split all the time. I get it. You may think I’m lucky that I only split the summer… but, for me this is very difficult. It represents scars from surviving divorce and I know that it’s not supposed to be this way. I’m supposed to be there. All the time. I didn’t give birth to these three precious children to be reduced to a “summer schedule.”

Seven summers later, where is God in all of this? Where can I find hope and faith when there are parts of my heart that still break when I know what’s coming for three months? How does God use this pain to help others? I can honestly say this was the first summer I didn’t spend the month of May riddled with anxiety and sleepless nights imagining worse-case scenarios while the boys are with their dad. I spent more time mentally preparing for how I was going to use my free time to meaningfully engage with my sweet husband (celebrating FIVE years of marriage next month) and incredible friends. I spent more time at the pool this summer reading and floating and being in the moment. I spent LESS time feeling guilty….why is mom guilt the worst? I choose to be happy and content this summer. I read the bible more and studied God’s word more and truly thought about what it meant to live that out. I let my kids figure some things out on their own and manage their own feelings and expectations. I guess we are all growing up. In the end, I know that it all works out. I know that God is always victorious and to those who love him, all things work for good. I also that he has a plan and it’s for me because God is always for ME and God is good! I have chosen to believe in his truth and that is how I have managed the stinking summer schedule.

Yay for me!

p.s. I only have one more week to go until we back on our regular schedule….Yippee!!!

 

 

 

Words don’t have Power…Say what?

“Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.” Proverbs 18:4

I am not a cool parent. My kids have curfews, chores, rules, and responsibilities. I offer an abundance of love, grace, mercy, choices, and autonomy. The autonomy part is what’s currently coming back to haunt me. I’ve done my best to not only talk about Jesus but to show Jesus to my children. They have grown up going to church, youth group, camp, VBS, we pray, we openly talk about salvation and Christianity, we discuss other religions and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Now reader, with all that going on you might assume my home is the epitome of good Christian values and morals and my darling obedient children fall in line with a simple glance from me. Sigh…deep deep sigh. If only that were true. I am raising teenage boys (3 of them) and they are forming values and opinions that are of their own volition. One such belief recently came from my oldest son, Connor. He’s 17, smart, funny, handsome, loves Jesus and Kayne, and is quite a good rapper and can drop a sick (or is it psik or sic) beat (see…NOT cool).

Connor has a sound cloud account where he makes and mixes music to share with the world. He doesn’t want me listening to unless he sends me a song. I have tried to respect his art/music while also talking about an electronic footprint and things that colleges and future employers will have access too. AND let’s not forget WWJD. This weekend he has been asked to perform live and I told him I would love to go and support him! That’s what moms do…we support!! He said that I was absolutely NOT allowed to go because wouldn’t be sharing lyrics that would make me proud. As my feathers start to ruffle and my blood begins to boil (because I’ve been working for 17 years to ensure that he is the very essence of Christian virtue) he follows up with that it’s no big deal because “words don’t have power.”

This thinking could not be further from the truth! Words are the ultimate use of power. They can build people up…spread kind words like confetti! Go ahead and make someone’s day! Cute outfit? Share it! Love someone’s haircut or smile or shoes? Shout it from the rooftop! Words that build people up are the ultimate FREE gift. It costs you nothing to be kind and say something to lift someone up!

They can also be used as the ultimate destroyer and a source of deep pain that can never be taken back. Words are precious and should be used with prayerful consideration and strong conscious thought as to what is being put into this world.

So, my sweet boy, my son, my light…words DO have power. I pray that you will use them wisely and you will be the bubbling brook that God wants you to be. You have so much talent and God has truly blessed you. You make me proud every day! Use your words for good because you have so much good in you…share it! I love you!! XOXO Mom

 

 

Discovering Cooper

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Nature versus Nurture, the long-debated topic as it relates to child rearing. Which is the stronger entity? How do children in the same home with the same rules and same upbringing turn out so different? These are the questions that ran through my mind before I became a mom…

Then I became a parent to three sons and I can tell you exactly how children in the same home turn out very different. I am not the same parent to each of my children. When my children were little I fully expected to raise them exactly the same way. As they grew and formed into these amazing human beings with thoughts and feelings that were independent of one another, I realized what worked for one may not work for the other two.

I believe I parent my oldest son, Connor, from fear and/or trepidation sometimes. Everything with him is a new adventure (some great adventures and some rides I would prefer hadn’t been taken). I don’t know what the outcome will be. I’m Jasmine from Aladdin singing “A Whole New World.” I’m literally winging it (just like my eyeliner). I pause, I second-guess, I make mistakes, I take some wins and praise God when things turn out ok and cry out to God when they don’t. I lay awake at night the most… worrying about Connor.

My second son, Carter, is parented from a place of pure joy! I have learned from Connor that most things in life won’t kill my children. Situations turn out ok, the worry is mostly unwarranted. Carter is this amazing human being. He’s funny, super talented in the performing arts, smart and I stress less about things with Carter because Connor has blazed the trail and things are much less scary the 2nd time around.

Meet my third son, Cooper. In full and complete honesty, sometimes  I feel that I’m a lazy parent with Cooper. I know for SURE that he will still get into college someday even if he gets a “C” on a test. Issues will friends will work out, issues with teachers will work out. It’s no biggie. I monitor screen-time less, grades less and worry less about Cooper. He’s got it! I could tell you he is the biggest sports freak I know. He requested ESPN+ for Christmas so that he could watch all the back episodes of 30 for 30. Cooper is also so funny and smart and charming. He is someone that will impact change in this world for good! Cooper tends to stay more to himself than the other two. He won’t tell me who he likes, share his hopes and dreams, or watch the 30 for 30 episodes with me (yes, this rips my heart out with a dull spoon).

Yesterday, I was speaking at Cooper’s school for Career Day! I had a BLAST! Boy was it fun getting to talk with students about being an author and sharing something I am so passionate about. When it was over, Cooper’s sweet English teacher asked if I had read any of Cooper’s work. Sheepishly, I admitted that I hadn’t. He doesn’t like to show me his work, and being the 3rd child, this isn’t a battle I need to be in. Well, she proceeded to share with me that he was a talented writer and a very bright student that shines through his writing. She kindly showed me a few samples and I was blown away. My incredible kid who only wants to ever talk about sports, breath sports, live sports, is a very gifted writer. I told him I saw his work and he was embarrassed and didn’t want to make a big deal. But on the inside, I’m so incredibly proud of him and so ashamed of myself that I didn’t know this about him.

Then, last night was Cooper’s end of the year choir concert. I was shocked as he got on stage and had the voice of an angel. Strong. Confident. Self-assured. This was his last choir performance as he told me in no uncertain terms that he was not continuing in the choral program (yes reader this pains me deeply). What a way to end though…he was amazing. Again, I’m so proud of him and the young man he is becoming.

Cooper-I love you. I am sorry if you’ve ever felt like you got my parenting left-overs. You are an amazing gift from God and you have been given so many talents. You shine in everything you do. I am so proud to be your mom and every day you bring me joy. Your role in our family is so important. You are special. You are a star. You are so very much loved. I see your future and know that you can do anything you set your mind to. My prayer is that you always love God and are in a relationship with Him. Follow him and he will make your path straight.