When Taking is Giving

Contemplating my day yesterday and an interesting parallel came to mind…Let’s do a run down of my Sunday. This is one day in the life of what many of you can relate to.

  • Take clothes out of dryer
  • Take dog to groomer
  • Take kids to breakfast
  • Take car to car wash
  • Take care of flowerbeds
  • Take girls to play with cousins
  • Take ice to baby shower
  • Take kids to Vacation Bible School
  • Take trash to curb
  • Take kids to bed

As parents, it’s in the taking care of things and people that we give. Taking is giving. The giving of ourselves, our finances, our time and energy, our lives. We can’t do it all, but man, don’t we try? I think we’d all take our kids on more vacations if we could afford it. Vacations with kids can feel like anything but, but taking is also making memories that will last a lifetime for all of you. I want the memories as much as my kids do. Sometimes we need to take and sometimes we WANT to take. As a parent, it’s all giving.

Taking our kids to school and taking ourselves to work. Taking our kids to church, dance, softball practice, birthday parties, the doctor, the dentist, camp, the grocery store. Not easy, but still fills our hearts in a way we can’t describe. Because they are ours. Because of our love. Taking is giving.

It’s tiring, it feels never ending, and it’s so precious. It’s in these days of taking that we need to remember what a blessed assignment it is. I’m well aware these days don’t last forever.

It’s not until they become parents one day, that they will also recognize the incessant giving that taking requires. I hope this helps you. When you’ve taken (given) all you can, fuel up on the fact that you were given these children to take places and the ultimate blessing to them and to you that it is. It may not feel appreciated, but I applaud you and one day they will “get it” too.

Think of the gift that taking on someone else’s kids is. I recognize this even more as a single mom. Parenting is hard. Step parenting is ginormous. No one has to. They choose to. And, it may feel even less appreciated by all involved. Still, you take. Give and take.

Being with someone who is all “take, take, take” is frowned upon in relationships. We’d all rather be with a giver. But, with kids, we take, take, take everywhere. With all the taking required in parenting, we also need to remember to take care of ourselves. If married, it’s the same. Taking your wife on a date, taking out the trash, and taking the kids or grandkids out for snow cones are all giving. Yay for the takers, because they are the givers!

I’m so thankful for family that helps me with the taking in any way, shape, or form. I appreciate their giving and recognize it as such. I realize when we love, it’s what we do. It’s how we give. We load up and take.

Once they are driving, there will be less taking. But, oh how sweet to hear those words..”Mom, can you take me….” at that point. It won’t be necessary, it will be wanted. And, I’ll do everything in my power to jump all over it. Oh, how we love…

 

 

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I Hope You Dance….

This is how Mama dances…

Co-parenting is hard. When both parents want the kids all the time. When both parents want to be involved and at every milestone. Switching weekends and sharing holidays, scheduling trips, and forgetting clothes. When one parent doesn’t like the school choice of a parent or the new relationship of the other. When both parents want their kids in different activities. When both parents have different priorities and dreams for their children. When they attend different churches or one stops going altogether. When both parents care deeply for the kids but one couldn’t care less about the other parents feelings. When both parents….tug of war.

Parenting is hard enough….

My girls dad and stepmom have a more flexible work schedule than I do. Girls asked, so they signed them up for dance lessons. Not just dance class, but multiple classes, even elite companies and competitions. Lots of money and lots of time go into this.  A lot of “my time” with the girls is affected by their dance schedules now. But, theirs is too. Lord, help me. They pay for it and they make sure they get there (since I’m working when most of the classes start).

I can’t help but feel out of the loop, it’s more their thing than our thing. For me to nix it altogether just because I could or because I want them in different activities doesn’t seem fair either. Girls would wonder why?? So, I do my best to support, but it’s hard and it hurts.

Their dance schedules have taken over our lives. Four nights a week and weekends. It just feels like too much. I don’t like it when they miss church for it, I don’t like it when they miss school functions for it, and I don’t like that they aren’t on school teams because of it.

Once again, I feel held hostage by what he wants to do. I also feel like they’re missing out on other things and overextended. But, then I go and I watch them dance. I see the passion in my oldest’s eyes when she does. I see the improvement, confidence, posture, and elegance. She prays about dance. She wants to go to class, she wants to succeed, she wants to keep dancing. How could I deny that? So, I will say “thank you”. Thank you that they even have the opportunity. Because if it were just me, they wouldn’t. This isn’t easy, ya’ll.

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure co-parenting lately. It’s stressful. Honestly, I have felt more pushed around than primary custodian because of all this. I feel like if this were my idea, I would get an earth shattering “No” from him. But, because it’s his or hers, it’s expected for me to go along with it. I’m not telling them what’s happening, they are telling me. None of this is easy.

I’m sure many of my issues with dance go back to my childhood. Dance was a “no no” growing up, in all forms. Of course, I wanted to. I think about how I have always loved to dance with a pure heart. I think about how beautiful a first dance is and how sweet a father/daughter dance would have been. I also think about how David danced before the Lord. I think about the athleticism involved, the artistry, creativity, and the outlet for expressing emotion. I think about the good things…but still worry about so much.

Once again, I struggle with what people will think and which battles to pick. But, Jesus says, “Look at Me”. In all things, all these hard and new things, I will look to Him and ask Him to calm my anxious mind and thoughts and trust that He is working. I think I will look back one day and say “Thank the Lord they danced.” May they never feel the shame associated with it that I did.

I pray for protection for my babies, their dreams, and their hearts for Him. That they flourish and that they dance to His glory. Meanwhile, I will go to every competition, recital, and performance I possibly can. The alternative would be to miss out on something they’ve grown to love, are talented at, and have a heart for. I thank God for their health and legs that can leap and plié and point. I pray that His will be done in their lives and that His grace abounds in mine. Because, I need it. Lots of it.

He knows my heart. He alone knows and holds theirs….

To my girls, I’d like to finish this by sharing a song that has always brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, because it’s beautiful and true. I mean this from the bottom of my heart…. Whether it’s writing, drawing, singing, playing, going on that adventure, staying close to home, or twirling in your tutu….I hope in whatever form it comes, when you get the chance to sit it out or dance….please dance.

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance….” — Lee Ann Womack

The Lost Ring

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After my divorce, I faced the age old question of what to do with my wedding ring. The ring I’d worn proudly on my left hand for 10 years was now a painful memory of vows unkept and a dream to let go of. It took awhile to take my ring off, but once I did, it haunted me. I knew in my spirit that I did all I could to keep our marriage alive and so in some ways I felt like I still deserved that ring. I loved that ring. I was proud of that ring and what it meant.

Did I have momentary thoughts of flushing it or throwing it out the car window? Yes. But, I just couldn’t do it. It meant too much to me personally. I gave that ring, my marriage, my all. I also didn’t like the idea of it sitting in my jewelry box for the rest of my days and glaring at me like a failure or betrayal every time I saw it. So, I came up with the bright idea to transform it into a mother’s ring.

There was no other way I could afford a platinum mother’s ring with real jewels any other way. Afterall, one of my daughter’s birth stones is diamond. That alone makes the piece way beyond my typical budget. A couple months after my divorce was final, I took it to a jeweler in town and did some refurbishing. I replaced the main diamond with a peridot (my birthstone) and one of the baguettes with an emerald for my youngest daughter. We left the other diamond baguette alone for my oldest daughter, resized it to fit my right hand, and an authentic and priceless mother’s ring was born. I wear it everyday and love it for so much more than how it looks. It’s personal and brings me peace. It reminds me that my 10 years married weren’t wasted. My daughters came from it and that would never change. I turned that sad memento into a beautiful gift for myself.

Yesterday, I was getting ready to leave the house and I couldn’t find my ring in my jewelry box. Frustratingly, I called out to the girls “Did either of you take my RING?” My youngest came in and told me she did to play dress-up. My heart sank. Of all the rings, earrings, necklaces, or bracelets she could have taken, she took the one I could never afford to replace and meant so much. I’ve told her so many times before to stay out of my jewelry for exactly this reason. And, here we are. Frantically, we all began to search.

My daughter is four, so her story changed multiple times as to what she did with it and where she left it. She said she took it off in the bathroom because it was too big and hasn’t seen it since. My oldest daughter and I searched both bathrooms and bedrooms high and low on our hands and knees for an hour. Me, crying uncontrollably which brought them both tears. They were so sorry, we all prayed, but I couldn’t compose myself. The ring was monumental to me. I was proud of the strength it took to transform it and continue to wear it. To me, it was a symbol of this strength through the whole ordeal and now it was gone.

I called my mom in tears and sobs. She promised to come over first thing in the morning and help us search. She said “Unless she flushed it or swallowed it, it has to be in the house! Don’t worry we’ll find it.” Still, I went to bed with little hope. Woke up to puffy swollen eyes, made breakfast for the girls, and waited. Mom came over as promised and sent me out for a coffee break while she searched with the girls. I needed that break more than ever.

I came home to heads shaking. They couldn’t find it either. So, I made peace with the fact that the ring may or may not ever turn up. I would let the search go and move on. I would know that my strength is not tied up in a band around my finger, that my story hadn’t changed, just the jewelry on my hand, and that the reason the ring was so special was because of the two girls staring back at me. And that we would be okay.

I started my shower for the day and as I was preparing to get in, what do I see on my bathroom floor, plain as day, the RING!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes, there it was between my sinks.  A place I know I’d looked before. A miraculous reminder that my strength was there all along and would show up when I least expected it to.

While my daughter was helping me search last night, she reminded me that “with God all things are possible”. And she just reminded me again. What a relief and a blessing to see my ring again. I will continue to wear it every day and even more proudly than before.

Far From Perfect…

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I’m far from perfect, but I am forgiven and deeply loved.

Being a mom reminds me of this when my kids get in trouble. My oldest daughter got in trouble last week and is grounded this weekend because of it. Downside of having a grounded kid and being a single mom, other than the obvious disappointment in her behavior, is that all our plans were cancelled. This weekend we are all kind of grounded. Upside is that now all our closets are organized!

Her dad and I discussed her punishment with each other and with her. We are standing firm and united in dealing with this situation and taking it seriously. Which is good….and hard! Even though discipline doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to work on it and remain firm because her behavior made me very sad. The nurturing part of parenting comes a lot easier to me. Regardless, this needs to be addressed and followed through with. And we are…

When our kids get in trouble it reminds me of how much God loves us regardless of our behavior. He forgives us and loves us no matter what, but there are still consequences for our choices. Our God is a God of so much grace and love that He does discipline us. His discipline is why so many turn away, but it is because He loves us that He does so. A parent who disciplines their child, loves their child and wants them to learn from it. Discipline isn’t easy! Parenting isn’t easy! It’s hard on us all. But, worth it. Just like God’s discipline. He disciplines us because He loves us enough to. And wants to teach us through it.

My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)

Being a parent opens our eyes to many acts of love. Providing, comforting, teaching, nurturing, playing, laughing, listening, forgiving, reminding, transporting, helping, clothing, feeding, AND disciplining are all ways we show love to our children. As does God, only better. He is the perfect Parent. And, because He is perfect and I am far from it, I am forever thankful that He is helping me raise my girls. I need Him every day.

Just like my love hasn’t changed for my daughter because of what she did, His love never wavers for us. He loves us before, after, and during our mess ups. Our behavior doesn’t dictate God’s love for us. His love changes our behavior. When we KNOW He loves us, we don’t want to hurt Him. The more we know Him, the more we are aware of what hurts His heart. We don’t like to hurt those who love us and He loves us the most. This is what changes our behavior. His forgiveness. His grace. His love.

That She’s Happy!

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Today was such a beautiful spring day that I took my girls for a roll around the neighborhood in their little red wagon when I got home from work. Just strolling along and chatting…good times. I threw out a question that I don’t think I’ve ever asked before….”Abby, what’s your favorite thing about Elle?” She thought for a few seconds and responded “that she’s cute?” I laughed because she does comment on her cute face a lot. I threw the question out to Elle. “What’s your favorite thing about Abby?” Elle thought a little longer and came back with “that she’s crazy!” Another great answer, that’s about right! After a couple minutes more of rolling down the sidewalk, I swallowed hard and asked “what’s your favorite thing about Mommy?” admittedly nervous about what their answers may be. Without a second to spare little Elle chimed in “that’s she’s happy!” What a blessing!! Her answer made me so happy.

Our kids bring us immeasurable joy. But, I wondered if they may view me as more tired, stressed, worried, nervous, or rushed than happy. Thank God she sees me happy! The truth is we have so much to be grateful for and so much to be happy about. It got me thinking, when I’m gone how would I want my kids to remember me? The answer is happy. Her answer warmed my heart and soul today. I’m so thankful for God’s graces in mommy world. His graces and my girls make me happy!