Monday, February 27, 2017

Do the unexpected

As a parent, my mom was wonderful because she was consistent and, in most ways, predictable.  If you were refusing to finish your dinner, she would ask you your age and after you replied, say "5", that was how many bites she assigned (if you were particularly lacking, she might assign 5 bites of meat, and 5 bites of vegetables.  But, it was still consistent (and seemingly fair since 5 is a good number for 5 year olds).  Similarly, if you were acting out, you might earn 5 minutes of time out (unless you were 8, then it would be 8).  It was predictable and consistent.  It wasn't based on how well or poorly her day had gone, but on a specific strategy of parenting.

Then, sometimes, she would do something totally unexpected. Like the one time she served us waffle cone bowls and let us make ice cream sundaes for dinner. Not dessert. That was dinner.  Once.  It only happened once, but man did it stick!  It was a beautiful thing.

She did special things for us and by making them out of the ordinary, they became extraordinary and that was awesome!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Remembering the markers

Happy anniversary!  
Today would have been this lovely couple's 46th anniversary.  
I can hardly imagine what it would be like to spend the day, after over 46 years together, without your beloved.  What I do know is that they shared a lot of love over the years, both with each other and with others.  In 2015, then into 2016, she spent about 6 months in rehab, then a little time in the sun in San Diego before heading home. They'd only been home a couple of days and she still managed to arrange a surprise party/dinner with friends at a local restaurant.  She loved to plan surprises (though really preferred to anticipate the joy for herself), to buy gifts, and to spend time with friends.  

I'm grateful for the amazing example of love, care, support, encouragement, trust, generosity, and service that I have in my parents.  They didn't fight in front of us.  They communicated regularly and openly. They were intentional in showing love in various *languages. They proved that marriage takes work and it's worth it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Parenting advice

Parenting is hard work. If you’re a parent, you know that.  If you’re not, you should know why the parents around you are exhausted and sometimes at their wits-end!  There is love, snuggles, cuteness, and laughter—all of which are awesome.  And there are tantrums, power struggles, food battles, and learning wars that are not so awesome.  

I have to say my parents (yes, both of them) are amazing, stellar, cream of the crop parents.  They are amazing people too. But as parents, they rocked it.  They were consistent, even keel, affirming, loving, kind, and a wonderful example.  I cannot remember one instance where either of them yelled. Not once.  As a parent myself, that’s pretty miraculous.  I wish I could say the same about myself as a parent.  Instead I’ll just say I’m a work in progress.  

Before I was a parent, I was a youth leader, youth counselor and youth pastor. I worked with teens at summer camp and in the church for years. And from time to time I would need advice about how to work with one.  Regularly, I’d call my parents to ask for their input.  Almost without fail, if I asked my dad, he’d say something like, “You should ask your mother; I learned everything I know from her.” And he’d pass the phone to my mom.  

Always, she’d have an answer. She was an educator who had both her masters and extensive continuing education training.  She and my dad took ELEVEN parenting classes before my brother was born.  (He was the firstborn).  ELEVEN classes.  That’s a lot.  I mean, parenting is hard, I get that, I’m grateful I’ve had 3 classes.  I could benefit from 11, maybe it’d help the yelling thing…anyway.  She knew a lot. She understood behavior from a developmental perspective, as well as a social one, and even an intelligence level one.  She could identify the underlying issues and offer a dozen options for how to handle it and work with the student.  

And then once I had Ruth, she continued to offer good wisdom.  It’s a bit different as a grandparent because you don’t want to stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong (or isn’t solicited) and as a parent you don’t want to be seen as a failure (or at least that’s my issue) and so you (I) don’t always ask for advice when you should.  

In January we started a new stage, it’s super *fun*.  I don’t know which stage it is exactly…my mom would have been the one to tell me that.  But it’s where my kid asserts her independence by ignoring, arguing, or defying most every bit of instruction I give.  I wish I understood it so I had more patience for it.  And, I wish I had my mom’s dozen options for how to curb it before it drives me insane.  

I miss her. I wish I could call.  It makes me sad she’s not on the other end of a phone ready to answer.  But it also makes me grateful that I was raised by someone so amazing.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Missing My Mom

My grief has been hitting particularly hard.  The day my mom passed, I sobbed. Hard. For a long time.  While her death wasn’t unexpected, it was unreal that she was actually gone.  And then I quickly fell into the doing…thinking about her service, writing liturgy, helping sort at the house.  The busy work of grief.  And I didn’t feel it much.  I missed her, but it didn’t sting like grief often does.  And then January came and my grief hit like a ton of bricks.  Grief is funny that way. It comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, often unpredictably for things we’d never imagine.  

I’ve been remembering a lot and savoring various memories.  And still the sadness lingers.  And that’s ok. I’d certainly tell someone I counsel at the church that it’s ok to be sad.  At the same time, I hope for something beyond the sadness.  So, I thought I’d start writing and sharing memories, hoping that something more fruitful might happen, or at least that it would provoke the tears to do the healing work. 

It will likely be a series of posts, memories and lessons from my mom.  I like assonance as a communication tool, so I’ll stick with “Momma Mondays” and share my stories of her.