Tuesday, April 3, 2018

MOMs in Middle-School

The Headlines:

I knew it was going to be hard. 

For HER.

What I didn't know is how hard it would be for ME

You ever notice how things change but really stay the same?  Even down to the name of 6th/7th/8th grade.  It used to be called Junior High when I was going.  Now they call it middle school.

It honestly doesn't matter what they call it... the name change doesn't make it any easier.  It's still, typically, the hardest time in a persons life.  Not just for the kids in school.

Everyone else in the family suffers too.  Especially Moms.  I first wrote something about my daughter entering "Middle School" back in August, when it happened.  You can read that HERE ... what I didn't know is how the transition would also affect me.  As a Mom, going through it with your child, it's like you're being traumatized all over again.  It's almost as if they throw you back into that very same situation that you experienced yourself ump-teen years ago.

But it's not you.  And as a parent that's the first thing you have to remember.  No matter how much your child cries.  No matter how hurt they are.  You have grown since those days.  You, as a parent need to keep a cool head.  You have to advise and diffuse.  Stoking the fire is not an option.  Putting it out is your job.  Though sometimes, the trauma and drama may feel like towering inferno... it is not.  No Fire Department is needed.

So put down the phone and talk to your child.  Let him or her vent.  Then take a moment... and think.  Think about how most all kids, especially at this age, are good.  They're just trying to muddle through this difficult thing called the "pre-teen" years.  They're dealing with raging hormones and changes they knew not physically possible.  They're getting challenged in school un-like ever before.  Sports are harder.  Emotions are stronger.  Parents seem meaner.

Friends... well they're there to help you through it.  Until they're not.

Remember in all "situations" there's one side, another side and the truth... which lies some where in the middle.  When times are tough I think about the fact that while my child is hurting, she probably also hurt someone along the way as well.   Because hurt people hurt people.  And all kids, this time in their lives... are hurting.  It's inevitable.  While you may always want to blame the other side, it takes 2 to have a "fight."

Our school year started strong.  It went down hill in the Fall.  I'll be honest, my daughter made some poor choices.  Not pretty but a part of growing.  I explained to her that by acknowledging the mistake we take that power away from the problem.  Then change happens.  Change did happen in our household.  Not just for her... but for our whole family.  I wrote about that HERE & HERE ... we took the opportunity to seize the moment and produce a difference.  It is, and always will be, a work in progress.

The work continues today.  But as we strive to be better, kinder, more forgiving people bad things will continue to happen... especially in middle school.  So what is a Mama bear to do?  If it was only as easy as producing a list on a blog.

It's not.

So everyday on the way to school  I will tell my kids 1 thing:  be nicer to people than they are to you.  Someday, it will come back ten-fold.

Will they be?  Everyday?  Of course not.  But if I say it enough times... it will resonate.  Then, she/they will be better than before.  I think it already seems to be working.  I see a confidence building, a heart that is warming, a head that is focusing.

Many times my daughter gets frustrated with me because she thinks I take the other side.  I don't take it, I help her look for it.  Because, like I said, there's always more than one way to look at a situation.  Like views of the same Sunset... everyone sees something different.  And I will help her sort through those views.  However painful.

This conversation can happen multiple times for us during any given week.  My best guess - that will continue through the next couple of years.  It's good for both of us... as we march through Middle School - together.  As long as... at the end of the day,  she lets me hold her and remind her -I love her.  Always will.  No matter what side she's on.

I'm forever on hers.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What's Your Family Brand?

The Headlines:

In this brand rich world... I think we all need one.

So what's yours?

I took a walk this morning.  Not a big deal, I do this on many mornings.  Honestly, walking is my main form of exercise.  On most days I take an hour plus walk in my lovely neighborhood and I do the exact same route.  Every time.

But here's what I did different today.  I turned around.  I was ready for a change and guess what?  The world looked completely new.  It was really incredible.  Everything that I was used to somehow, from another point of view, was revealed in a different way.

I think that's how we are in life.  We do the same things over and over, the way we know, the way we're used to it.  Until one day... when you're ready to change.

This year, my kids will turn 7 and 12.  The years haven't just gone fast... they've gone at lightening speed.  I feel like I'm blinking and in that one tiny second I'm missing so much.  BP, the husband, wants me to slow down, enjoy it more.  I do too many things he says, I'm on the computer too much (rarely doing social media), on my phone. planning, scheduling... he's right - it's exhausting.  But I love my kids, my friends, my house, my work, my shopping... what's going to give?  Anything, he says, everything.  But the stuff that's truly important.

He's right.  We are ready for change in my house.  Ready to look at the world from a different point of view.  I spoke of it first in my post about children and entitlement.  You can read that HERE ... that book helped open the door for my family and I to change things.  Christmas was also different around here.  We adopted a family and spent almost as much on them as we did on us.  My kids also contributed their hard earned cash to the quest.  It was a defining moment when we walked into the home of the woman who had lost her husband to a brain tumor.  My son built legos with her boy and my daughter talked with her little girl about her favorite sport.  The sport she couldn't afford to play.  And as we visited with her... where she raised her 3 children under the age of 9, in a two bedroom apartment, all by herself, I couldn't help but think that the vision of her tiny, 2 foot tall tree would remain in their heads forever.

And we're not stopping there.  I'm reading a new book.

The Book, called "Having a Mary Spirit" by Joanna Weaver, was born out of the story about Mary and Martha in the Bible.  They were two very different people and sisters.  In a nut shell, Jesus came to visit them and Martha was scurrying around prepping and cleaning, making food.  She was doing it all FOR Jesus.  But Mary was doing nothing except being WITH Jesus.  Martha got annoyed with Mary for not helping but Jesus was glad.  Two totally different ways of showing their love, gratitude and support.  But one... better than the other?

I am Martha.  Many of us are Martha. I will try to be more like Mary this year.  I'll probably fail at it... but that's ok, trying is better than nothing.

Which brings me to our family brand.  The pastor at our church brought this up on a Sunday a while back.  It's such a good, valid question.   See a swoop, you know it's NIKE.  A big red spot and it's Target.  Golden arches, McDonalds.

What about your family?

What do people see when they look at you?   This year, it's time to define who we are.  So, when I made our last Christmas cards I started that "branding process":

I wrote on my Christmas card the things that we deem truly important.   I'll list them here:

Care more, worry less
Love everyday
Learn to fall... and get back up
Other before ourselves
Be better than good
Live God Centered

Our thought is... we will live our days, through those 6 "pillars" trying to get better.  In case you're wondering, we don't have an official family brand.   Our brand is not truly visible through the eye... it's not on a commercial, not on the side of a truck, not on a bottle.  It's a feeling hopefully seen and felt by those who know us.   

So the question is, are you ready to find your family brand?  Don't even attempt if you're not prepared for change.  Because things are seen, movement happens, cracks occur and life truly alters when you decide it's time to take a different path then the same one you've been walking down for years.

If you don't find it - I promise - it will find you.  The trick is, you have to be ready and willing, like many of us aren't, to see it.  Acknowledge it.

I have a friend... who had a crappy year.  One thing after another.  Deals fell through,  sickness happened, robberies occurred, literal "disasters" inside the walls of their house... people even died.  Through it all I would occasionally ask (hopefully not "judgey" like - that was not at all my intention): "Do you think someone's trying to tell you something"?  It was received with a hard laugh.   My friend wasn't ready.  And that's okay... 

Things can only be seen from a different perspective when you're willing to turn around.

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