Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Worry About You...

...and I'll also worry about you.

Isn't that how we do?

When our kids tattle on each other, we more or less say, "You worry about you, and let them worry about them." It's our way to stop the whining noise of a do-gooder, telling on their sibling or friend... our way of stopping the repetitive insanity of petty crimes among the playgroup.

But we worry about and rehash everyone else's wrong doings all the time.

On any given day, my life is filled to the brim with things to handle. That's because I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, a boss, a friend, a family member, a cook, a cleaner, a manager... I'm a typical woman. And while I use this blog to broadcast much of my parenting journey and help others along the way, I am acutely aware that at the end of each day, I am ultimately only responsible for what goes on under MY roof.

See, we like to watch how other people are doing things and critique every single move, especially if it's an area where we are not convinced we're doing that great of a job ourselves. Parenting is one of those areas where we judge most! We do it among our friends, our family members, and we CERTAINLY watch how celebrities parent and get on our soap boxes about them!

I am SO TIRED of hearing Kate Gosselin's lack of parenting, I could SCREAM. I don't CARE how many kids Brad and Angelina have birthed/adopted/or stolen. I can't tell you how little I lose sleep over the Kardashian sisters' parenting escapades, nor can I express with words how little I mull over Nicole Ritchie's lack of wisdom.

What we forget while we are casting stones are three basic things.
1. Each PARENT represents a CHILD(ren) who are at the mercy of their parents' decisions, successes, and failures. So while we're paying money to read about Sandra Bullock's child who is now caught in the middle of a shameful divorce, this baby is blissfully ignorant of the long road of single parenting that lies ahead of his mother.
2. We only get the pieces of people that we are privileged (or misfortunate) enough to see. Proverbs says there's two sides to EVERY story. We don't live in anyone's skin but OURS, so we don't know why people do what they do.
3. I recall a very wise man (*Jesus*) saying to hypocrites that "He who is without sin should cast the first stone." My pockets are empty of rocks.

Now, I am certainly opinionated, thus my blog's existence. However, I am very much aware that I am an imperfect woman who is an imperfect parent. I am not the "end-all, be-all" authority, nor am I famous for always handling things the right way. But I can tell you this... I have learned that people have their own reasons for doing what they do. A "bad" parent may be fully aware thay they are failing big time, or they may simply be repeating what was modeled to them throughout their lives, unaware that they are messing their kid up for life.

Either way, my challenge to you is this...

When you look at the way others parent, first look at yourself. Are you doing all you can to make sure that the little ones God entrusted to your care are growing up to know that they are loved and cherished? Example. Remember the "All the Single Ladies" video I blogged about a while back? I ain't gonna lie. I wanted to punch some parents in the face, and quite frankly, every time I think about it, I want to somehow get their phone numbers and give them a nice little phone call. But I then make myself look at WHY it bothers me so badly. The reason is, I am one of the moms who was blessed to be given a daughter to raise, and anything that becomes a threat to HER becomes a threat to ME. If this is where society is headed, I am angry about it. But honestly, all I'm seeing are the pitiful little girls being exploited. I'm not seeing the broken parents behind the stage, who are so desensitized by life, they have no sense of judgment when it comes to their little one.

Should we be concerned about the world around us? Yes.
Should we be angered and stirred to bring action when we see a child being failed? Yes.
Should it be water-cooler conversation? No.

Remember. If the parent fails, so does the child. I want to see them win.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Dad. *happy sigh*

I am SO a Daddy's girl. That's not to say I'm not a Mama's girl (so settle down, Mom). But my Dad makes my heart smile. See, like all children, I was born with a dad-shaped hole inside me and thank God, I was born into a family with a father who is every kid's dream dad.

Dad and I are alot alike. Believe me, this has caused mucho mucho mucho friction through the years, but the undercurrent has always been one of deep love between us. He's a booger, that guy. Hard-headed doesn't even TOUCH the will and determination of this man. He's precise, to the point, black-and-white, and VERY fact-of-the-matter. He could be a bully, (used to be a bully) but thank God he found Jesus in his early twenties and became a revised version of the tough guy he was.

I couldn't let Father's Day get this close without writing a "tribute" of sorts to the man, who in my book, stands shoulders above all men.


He's so stinkin' cute.

My first memory EVER is of me crying because white bread with mayo was stuck to the roof of my mouth. Dad was saying, "QUIT YOUR CRYING AND EAT THE BREAD."

He used to take me to town with him on Saturdays to run errands. He'd pretend to fall asleep in the barber's chair while getting his hair cut and freak me out. I fell for it for YEARS.

Another early memory is Dad standing outside in the early morning beside my new swingset he put together, smiling.

I loved wearing his work boots when he'd come home. Who knew that three decades later, I'd be following in those big footsteps for real.

When I was a little girl, we'd dance in the living room, me in his arms. He'd step on my socks and pull them off. I "hated" that. But not really.

I love his hands. They represent years of digging ditches, driving heavy machinery, highlighting Bible verses, laying hands on hurting people, spanking his children's rear-ends when needed, and holding my Mom every chance he gets.

I love it that I have the same annoying baby curls around my hairline, the same strange birthmark on the back of my neck, and the same one-sided dimple as he does when I smile.

I love it that even though MANY other people call him "dad," there's only two of us who really can.

When I was 17, he and I went to a car dealership and I fell in love with a 1987 Chevy Spectrum. I knew we didn't have the money, but it sure was fun to dream. I went skating that night. When I came home, he was so mad that I "left without taking out the trash to the garage" like he asked me to earlier. I went out to the garage, trying to remember him telling me to do that to begin with, and there was my car. How he worked that miracle I'll never know. But the even better part is he loved me enough to make ME make the monthly payments.

I remember when his step-grandfather died, he sat in his home office and wept from his soul. I was a little bitty girl then, but the sight of my dad crying broke my heart and made him even bigger in my eyes.

He has no problem apologizing when he has wronged me.

When my childhood dog came up missing, my dad searched endlessly for him. After days, the dog came back, barely alive from being mauled by pit-bulls. We didn't have the money to save him, so my dad had to make the gut-wrenching decision to have a friend take him away and "take care of him." I was so angry then, but I know now that as much as it broke MY heart, it broke his 100 times worse.

The man cannot talk about how much he loves his family without crying.

He actually is sweet to the dog, in spite of her girliness and finickiness. I think it's so cute when I pull up at their house and he's standing there with her on her hot pink leash with bows in her hair as he tries to make her go potty. He does NOT look happy, and neither does the dog.

He rarely gets excited about anything, but can't wait until Christmas morning... so he can see all the kids (me, Lori, our husbands, and now the grandkids) open our gifts.

The day I got married, he woke me up with bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits from Hardees. You gotta love a man who will give you breakfast in bed on special occasions, even if he didn't cook it.

I love it that I can still curl up on the couch beside him. I can still hold his hand in public. I can still sit in his lap and sweet talk him into just about anything.

I love it that he has made it his own personal mission to hang the blinds and pictures in every house we move into. (and that's alot.)

I love it that he doesn't treat me like his child AT ALL just because I'm on his staff... But as soon as we walk out of the doors of this building, I'm his little girl again.

I was induced into labor with Abi, so we were scheduled to be at the hospital at 7 AM that day. He was waiting on the sidewalk in the cold when we pulled up.

His integrity is his finest asset. I've watched him all my life and I've had a front row seat to see what only a few people have ever seen about him. And there are no loop holes in his character... no false pretenses, no fakeness. He is who he claims to be. Is he perfect? Nope. But the key is he knows he's not.

When I was 29 years old and falling to pieces with depression and literally thought I was losing my mind, he sat with me on my couch, wrapped his arms around me, and said, "Baby, I've got the faith to pull you through this. Lean on me. We'll get through it.” A small glimpse of hope came alive in me in that brief moment.

I love that man.

He's big and bad, but very meek and fuzzy. He's my first love. He modeled what a real man is my whole childhood, and will be my gold standard my whole life. And because of him, my heart to lead me to Rodrick. For that reason alone, I praise God that Allen Speegle is my dad.

Dad, you're literally THE man. I hope that other men read this and strive to be 10% of the man you are. But more than that, I hope you see that I would be literally nothing without you. Because of you, I'm confident, a little cocky, assertive, sensitive, bull-headed, and a little bit off in the head.

Thanks for all of that.

And no matter where I go on this planet, I gotta tell you Dad… I still smile when people say, “This is Allen Speegle’s daughter.”

I always will.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"At What Age...?"

People ask me lots of questions like these:

How old should my child be to date? (Answer- 27)
How old should my daughter be to wear makeup? (25)
How old should my kids be to go to the mall alone? (31)

You get the picture.

While there's so many questions like this that are VERY concrete in their answers, there are some that just can't be answered like that. For instance, if a mom asks how old her daughter should be in order to shave her legs, that's pretty dependent on the child and her ability to keep up with the endless task of shaving. But if it's a matter of the child's well being, here's a little litmus test I like to use.

A child cannot get a driver's license until he/she is 16. Right? (I'm not talking about their learner's permit. That is NOT a license, even though kids like to call it that.) Once that precious bundle of hormones has his license, he is capable of driving a motor vehicle wherever he wants to go. This means he is literally a moving weapon all the time. He is inches away from death on any two lane road he's on. He has the ability to change his life, and the lives of others, every time he gets behind the wheel of his car (or his parents' van...heehee)

In light of that responsibility, I am a FIRM believer that until a young man has proven he is old enough to drive a motor vehicle, he CERTAINLY is not old enough to navigate healthily through a relationship with my daughter. And even then, it's on MY terms with MY boundaries.

Let me tell you this. There were no age-givens in our home growing up. Age 16 did NOT automatically qualify you as license-worthy in our house. We knew from an early age that if we didn't get our hineys in gear and show responsibility and respect, our driving, dating, and social privileges would scoot further and further away from us. There was no magic number for ANYthing. We had no guarantees. What we DID have were parents who watched us like hawks, especially when we didn't know they were looking. They observed our patterns, our habits, our maturities, and in a time when THEY deemed it appropriate, privileges were given.

And keep in mind the fact that what one child can handle at 14, the other might not be able to handle until 17.

Uh oh. This means we have to actually BE INVOLVED in our kids' lives in order to see who and what they are.

The other night, Abi told me that a boy in her class had "been in love" with her during the school year. (Keep in mind, this was kindergarten). Of course, I said, "He wasn't in love with you, Abi. He liked you. But being in love is when you're ready to love someone for the rest of your life." We moved on. But it made me see how early a child will push to move on to the "next level" in their lives. They are surrounded by a world that is spinning out of control all the time. It's like they're watching a game of jump rope and waiting for their moment to jump in.

But parents, WE SET THE TEMPO. Don't let the world tell you that your child should wear makeup at 12, date at 14, and drive at 16 if she's not emotionally ready. And SHE doesn't get to decide when she's ready. After watching and partcipating in her life on a front row basis, that's YOUR job and YOUR prerogative.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Running In the Rain.

It's raining. That's one of my favorite things to see. I love to have opened curtains while I work and see the rain falling. Love to sleep while it's pounding my window. Love to drive in it (weird, I know).

But when you're a stay-at-home-mom of a very active toddler, rain equals stinkfest.

I remember during a particularly rainy week, Abi was about to push me to my limits. All she wanted to do was play on her swingset or write on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. So, I had to summon my mommy powers to find other things that were just as satisfying to her as drawing stick men and balloons in hot pink and yellow. We played Barbies. We colored. We watched 12,321 episodes of Lazytown. We made cookies. We played hide and go seek. But alas, nothing was as satisfying as running around outside. Poor child, and poor mommy.

After endless whining from a soul tangled in knots with boredom, I'd finally had enough. I snapped. I grabbed my little three year old Abi by the hand, opened the front door, and yelled, "LET'S GO!" As we are running out in the POURING rain, she yells (with a scared look on her face), "WHERE ARE WE GOING?" She's thinking Mama's cheese has finally slid off her cracker. I yell back, "NO WHERE! LET'S JUST PLAY IN THE RAIN!"

I will never, ever, EVER forget the look on her face in that moment. Confusion melted into sheer joy as she realized we were doing something crazy and off the cuff. Something we'd never done before and might never do again.

She's laughing from her belly. We're running, chasing each other, as people are driving by thinking we're insane. I slipped and fell on my rear end, and she toppled on top of me. We laid in the wet grass, rain falling on our faces, laughing and soaking up both the rain and the moment we were in.

Summer's here, parents. That means lots of time with your kiddos. That means lots of, "I'm boreds," lots of "There's nothing to dos" and a few "I wish school would start alreadys." But never fear. When you get pushed to your limit with the whining, open your door and run in the rain. Or perhaps it means you'll need to dive for your kid's legs and knock them down, then tickle the heck out of them. Or maybe bomb them with a water balloon IN THE HOUSE.

Whatever the moment is... SEIZE IT. Your kids already think you're crazy...

Prove to them that they're right. :-)