Tag Archives: children

The Hunt for a Happy Place

When I was young, I had a vision of what my life was going to look like.

I was going to be wealthy beyond measure. I was going to live in a mansion with servants. I would travel around the world and drive a really nice car. There would be much shopping, and many pairs of shoes. Jewelry, make-up and salon appointments would be a part of my daily life. It was going to be friggin’ awesome.

I met my amazing soon-to-be husband and we planned our fairy-tale wedding and then our life together. We talked about future hopes and dreams, and in my head, my vision was still alive.

We got married and we moved to another city. I didn’t move into a mansion but into a basement suite, in a place where I knew no one. I was not rich and was having to do all the cooking and cleaning myself. I was happily married, but I was not where I thought I should be. Suddenly, my vision was flung off to the side somewhere and reality set in.

I would spend days and sometimes weeks wondering if we’d be able to pay our mortgage. I was shopping in second-hand stores and only buying things that were on sale. The husband was always at work and I was home alone. I was going crazy from the peace and quiet that was now my life and I hated it.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my husband and I loved being married but I wasn’t prepared for the real world. I was 21 years old, had never lived on my own and had in fact, only lived with my parents. I never attended college and only had “life experience” to put on a resume. I was completely dependant on my husband, and had to rely on him for everything. If I needed to buy milk, or underwear or tampons, I had to ask him for money. I was madly in love, but totally trapped at the same time.

I eventually got a job, made some friends and fell in love with the city that I still call home. But for those particular moments in time, my vision had led me down a path of unrealistic expectations.

I adjusted to my new life, bills were paid, businesses started and failed. Travel and experiences occurred and then I dreamed of having children, and my wild visions went crazy again.

I was going to be a perfect Mom that bought her children only the best of everything. I was going to make their baby food, and teach them everything they needed to know. There was going to be hours spent playing and learning. I would do crafts and make up stories and play board games. They would be angels, and my life would be complete. It was going to be flippin’ fantastic.

And then I had babies. I was madly and deeply in love, but I was tired. With my first child, I had no clue what I was doing. I was fumbling about just trying to keep her alive. I let Barney and Wheel of Fortune teach her the alphabet and all of her colours. We played games and did fun things, but more often than not, I was stuck in “life” and not on her.

I then had a son, with more issues and trials than one could ever prepare for. He struggled to breathe, and learn and survive. Small everyday things challenged him in ways that were unfathomable. He was the cutest little thing, with the biggest smile and sweetest countenance, but man, was he a lot of work.

I never made a single solitary jar of baby food, I nursed them both for about 6 weeks and quit because I hated it. We tried crafts, but they both despised being dirty so that always ended in screaming. I became the Mom that loved her kids beyond measure, but one that purchased every single solitary thing from a store. I guided them and protected them and taught them how incredibly fabulous they were, but we didn’t go on nature walks or did all that much frolicking in the wilderness.

I absolutely hated myself some days and couldn’t believe how incompetent I was in many areas. I had become pretty much opposite to all that I had envisioned. I was SO not June Cleaver or even one of her long distant cousins.  Once again, my vision had set me up for failure.

Looking back now, I do know this, I raised some UNBELIEVEABLY AWESOME children. Someway, somehow, I did the right things in spite of myself, and this crazy dreamer head of mine. 30 children later, I get it. I know what’s important and what doesn’t matter. My vision was wrong, and was in no way “me”. That’s where I got lost…I was trying to create a story that belonged to someone else.

Life is a weird thing sometimes, we paint a picture and then get stuck somewhere outside of it. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t limit where you and where your path may go. Don’t set a standard that is unattainable. Don’t put unreasonable expectations on yourself or your children or your spouse. Don’t get caught up in the world’s version of perfect life, perfect wife and perfect children. That’s all crap and it doesn’t exist. Do not wait for something else, or another time or place to make you feel complete. Don’t judge yourself based on someone else’s standards.

Instead, Breathe. Enjoy the moments that you’re in, no matter how big the struggle may seem. If you can’t provide the “best” of everything, let it go. Who decided what the best stuff was anyways? If you need to run away or cry sometimes, that’s okay. If you feel like today was a complete failure, remember that there is always tomorrow. If you find yourself standing there wondering where it all went wrong, start again. Listen to your heart and find your way out to something better.

Paint yourself a new picture of “perfect” and trust in that. For me, that means happy faces running amuck and becoming people of character. They have the best of nothing, but have everything at the same time. It’s hissy fits and belly laughs. It’s unmatched socks and extra TV time. It’s unbalanced meals, unbrushed hair and a sink full of dirty laundry. It’s a husband and wife that love each other more today than they did yesterday. It is leaving this world a better place.

Let it go, and just be the best YOU that you can be. I hope you find your happy place.

charliebrown

Putting down the Pitchforks

I’d like to be able to tell you all that I’ve never left my children alone in a vehicle, but that would be a lie. I’d like to be able to tell you that I haven’t forgotten one of them somewhere or forgot to pick them up, but that would also be a lie. I’d also like to be able to tell you that I’ve always made nothing but right decisions and solid choices when it comes to my children, but that would be the biggest lie of all.

I’ve screwed up royally, and thanks to the good Lord above, all of my mistakes have never had dire consequences. My children survived all of my mess-ups and they’re absolutely amazing. They grew up in spite of me and my mistakes and I am ever SO thankful.

As we watch the news both locally and nationally, we are hearing stories of parents that made a bad decision and it cost their children their lives. When I hear these stories, my heart breaks. Not only for the loss of a child but for the pain that those parents will carry for the rest of their days. They will be judged, mocked, shamed and ridiculed while they mourn the loss of a piece of themselves. They will relive that moment over and over and over and will never escape it. I do not wish that torture on anyone. Ever.

Yes, these situations are preventable and yes, they should have never happened. But they did and there’s no going back. Harsh words spoken in judgement will not fix anything, they will just cause more pain and possibly more circumstances that are best avoided.

I’m in no way justifying what happened and saying that it’s okay, not at all. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge someone and their wrong-doings. Accidents happen ALL the time, and more often than not, they’re preventable. But they are still accidents.

In these particular situations with children being left in hot vehicles, I think we need to hear all of the story before we go crazy and attack. Were they left in the vehicle because Mom & Dad were in the bar or casino and were using the car as a babysitter? By all means, get mad. That’s a deliberate choice, that is not an accident. Were they caught up in life, or with other kids, or assumed that someone else had the baby? Well, that is different. Completely preventable but an accident nonetheless.

As we move forward from here, I hope that these situations force us to look at ourselves and the daily decisions that we make. Stop judging their mistakes and focus on not making the same ones ourselves.

How many of you have put your child into their car seat and got partially down your driveway when you remembered that you left something in the house. Did you unbuckle your kid or did you justify leaving them because you were only going to be a second. Have you driven to the store to pick up some milk, and once you arrived found your little one sound asleep. Did you wake them or did you run in without them because you could still see your car? Have you ever gone to the Park to “watch” your children play and end up watching nothing but your cellphone? Have you ever been out for a long day of errands with your kids and their screaming and fighting nonsense, only to have them fall asleep half a block from your house. Do you wake them up and possibly disturb your peace and quiet, or do you just leave them there to sleep for a bit? Lets all be honest here … NONE of this stuff should happen, but it does all the time.

Do these things make us bad parents or are they just mistakes? Be thankful that no one stole your car with the baby in the back seat, or that they weren’t grabbed by a stranger in the park. Thankfully, you didn’t slip and fall and bang your head when you ran into the house to grab the forgotten item. What would have happened if you accidentally started your car with command start and your baby was napping in the vehicle in the garage?

Our kids have all been saved by grace more times than we can even count. Never forget that. Thank heaven for keeping our babies safe and secure when we don’t hold up our end of things.

Those children should have never been left in hot vehicles, that is undeniable. They were bad choices and mistakes of the biggest kind but I challenge all of you to put down your pitchforks, thank your lucky stars and be an encouragement to your community. That could’ve been you or me.

Want to stop bullying? Then stop it.

I’ve written a couple of different blog posts about bullying … one explaining my take on the situation and another one showing how I’ve tried to deal with it in the past. In both of them I talked a lot about building our kids up so that bullies don’t have to power to take them down. I still wholeheartedly believe in that but I think it’s time that we as a society stand up and take responsibility for our part in perpetuating this insanity. Children look to us to lead them and guide them. They copy what we do. We are their guides and leaders. We need to take that more seriously. Now.

I’m thankful that people are finally really acknowledging bullying and the horrific ramifications that it brings about. What makes me sick is that it took the death of a young girl to make people take notice. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first death as a result of bullying. We should’ve taken better notice a long, long time ago. My hope is that these same people who have jumped on the “bullying is bad bandwagon” will actually do something to make a change and not just use this event as a way to make themselves look righteous. Please let that be what happens.

If you want bullying to stop, we as a society need to stop bullying. Stop telling and laughing at fat jokes. Quit pointing out “gingers” and making ignorant comments about them. Stop commenting on buck teeth, freckles, greasy hair, pimples, etc, etc. Quit pointing out the faults of everyone around you and/or laughing along when someone makes ignorant remarks.  Next time you get the urge to call someone fat or ugly, picture your daughters face on their shoulders. Not so appealing now is it? Grow Up.

Don’t post on Facebook how upset you are by bullying and how awful it is, and then go and post ignorant “jokes” or pictures. Don’t say that bullying is terrible and then start all of your sentences with “I don’t mean to be rude”, or “no offense”.  Don’t shove people out of your way in the grocery store, don’t butt in line, don’t belittle people in lower positions than you. Be respectful. Be polite. Be a decent human being.

When your children make ignorant comments about peers or people in their world. Correct them. When they tell inappropriate jokes. Correct them. When they comment that someone is poor or stupid or ugly. Correct them. Please don’t agree or laugh with them. You are their example. When the opportunity to teach your children arises, use it. Talk about how we’re all different and that it’s okay. Discuss how some people look different because they can’t help it. Teach them about money, and how not every has as much or has more than your family. Explain to them why they’re being corrected. They’ll get it sooner than you think, and their bad habits will be replaced with kind and compassionate ones.

Really teach your kids their worth. No one should ever think that they need to lift their shirt and bare their breasts to make someone like them. Teach them that they don’t need the approval of others to be valuable. Show them that they don’t need to be “sexy” to get attention. Teach them that the number of friends they have on Facebook or the numbers of TBH’s they participate in, is in no way reflective of their value. Kids need to be built up and reminded DAILY of how awesome they are. If they are getting approval and encouragement at home, they’re not going to seek it out everywhere they go. Kids still want to fit in and belong, that’s never going to change. But if they feel secure and “know” their worth, it’ll be a lot tougher for someone else to take advantage of them or beat them down. Period.

Teach your children that they don’t need to share every little piece of themselves with others. Facebook , Instagram and Twitter are not diaries. Pictures and words are forever, help them understand that. Talk to them about online predators, and REALLY talk to them. If you’re going to allow your children to use social media, take the time to figure out how it works. Learn what texting shortcuts mean. Never assume that your child is smart enough to know when they’re being lied to or scammed. And on the flip-side, don’t assume that your child would never behave inappropriately online. Kids that are normally shy or quiet will quite often open-up online because it’s so anonymous. They can hide behind a fake persona and become anything their minds can imagine.

Consider setting up a “fake account” with a picture of someone cute. Pretend to attend another local school, pick common “likes” to your kids – food, sports teams, video games. Then send your child a friend request and see what happens. If they don’t initially accept it, try again. Add a note to your request saying something like, “we used to play ball together” or whatever.  Once they befriend you, starting asking questions. Will they give you pictures when asked for them? Will they tell you where they go to school, share their phone number, address, etc, etc? If you invite them to an awesome party, will they agree to go? Maybe your kids will surprise you and will never accept your request but if they do, use this to show them just how easy it was to get them talking. Predators do this EVERY DAY.

We need to change what is normal. And what is expected. Children aren’t sexy. Physical appearance doesn’t determine your worth. Money does not equal power. Domestic Violence is not cool and should not be ignored. Movie stars, pop icons and their lifestyles are not reality. Please figure out a way to help your children see that and believe it. We need to set higher standards for our children and ourselves. Stop accepting wrong behaviour as normal.

Frankly, we as adults also need to recognize the power that we have. Our words bite just as much as those of a teenager. We are just older and “smarter” and a little bit braver. We somehow find ways to justify our behaviour because we “know” that we’re right. We’re educated, churched and have lots of life experience. Quit mistaking those things as “rights to abuse or bully”.

Politics, religion, ideals and opinions will always be fodder for bashing. Instead of joining in on the bandwagon of crazy behaviour, listen. Hear what people have to say, and then agree or disagree. If you have a concern or you don’t understand something, ask about it. So many of our “fights” are a result of mis-information or blatant gossip. Before you make a judgement, make sure you have all the facts. Agree or Not, doesn’t really matter. Your response is what’s important. Hatred should never be an option.

Bullying is a horrible, horrible thing but it’s just a symptom of something bigger. As we all move forward, working towards change, please think of this one simple word. Respect. Respect for yourself, and respect for the people around you. If we could all just focus on that, the world would be a much happier and safer place.

Sometimes enough really is enough.

Theres many times in life when we’re presented with situations and people that we really don’t know what to do with. They challenge our beliefs and test our patience. They make us question our own sanity and our place in this world. They force us to look deeply into ourselves. These relationships and situations don’t always end well, sometimes they just end.

If you’re at that place in your life, I want to encourage you. Look for the lessons that these things are teaching you, as there is always a lesson to be learned. There is good in every situation and sometimes we just might have to look a little bit harder to find it. Give every situation and relationship all that you have to give. Work with good intention and operate in grace and understanding. Then you can always take comfort in the knowledge that you’ve done your best. And really, what more can you offer than your very best?

If you’re feeling more sorrow than joy. If you’re giving and giving and never receiving. If you cry more than you rejoice. If you enjoy someones absence more than their presence. If you feel like you’re losing yourself while trying to build someone up, it just might be time to move on.  

Please recognize the value of yourself and how important your own health and welfare is. At some point, you’re going to have to say enough is enough and do what is best for you and your family.

When it’s time to close the chapter, close it and move on. You’ve done all that you could, take comfort in that.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, move forward and smile. It’s all going to be okay.

See original source of this image here: http://postitsonyourfridge.tumblr.com/page/7