adult children, clarity, family, identity, life, marriage, purpose, time, Uncategorized

Time

When I think of time and question if I use it wisely… I am conflicted.  Overall in my life I would say that we use our time well… we use it for creating precious moments, being together & building family memories.

But do you see how when I think of “my” time my response turned immediately to a “we” and I referred to family memories, being together and creating precious moments… Well, that is the conflicting part now that my children are grown.  They are creating there own memories now, elsewhere, without me.  I know that’s the way it is supposed to be, I know this means we’ve done a good job at parenting… but this is part of the transitioning process I am finding to be so difficult.

When I think of “my” time when my kids were young ~ my time was always dictated by their schedules.  School activities, sports practices, rides to friends houses, appointments… you name it we were doing it and all of these things were written out on a calendar ~ my life was based on their schedules ~ I didn’t have to think much about it. We were always in doing mode!  Now that they are grown, and two of them out of the house, my time is becoming my own and I have NO IDEA how to use it!  Literally… even dinner has been a struggle… even our dinner time was dictated by practices and activities.  With no instruction, no have-tos, I find myself not knowing how to manage my own time now.  Our youngest is 18 and a senior in high school, we are doing college visits and we use our time these days for senior year basketball games and keeping busy helping with all aspects of the basketball program… this has always been our normal with our kids activities.  With that on the horizon of no longer being our reality… it frightens me. I’m not sure how long it will take me to stop mourning that part of my life and begin to know how to live the next phase.

I believe my husband wishes I would figure it out. I think that even though we speak of the major differences in our lives since the kids have grown, I realize that the running the kids around, the hours in the car with them, the scheduling of activities, all those aspects were mine during his work hours… although he understands the changes, I do believe they are impacting my life differently.  I do know that I am happier when I’m busy.  I cannot sit idle too long or my energy is used to overthink things, and when my mind is racing it often can turn negative and I beat myself up for not doing anything.  I need to find ways of keeping busy and my mind hard at work.  I’m not sure what that looks like for my future.  When I think of next year, I think of our youngest son playing basketball at college and the potential for us to travel to games, I think of our oldest with his new promotion, his steady girlfriend and his life direction and the possibility of weddings and grandchildren… but again, do you see that my thoughts revolve around our children?  I can’t envision my alone time with myself or with my husband yet.  This is frightening.

As I have stated in many posts before, I am a work in progress. There are changes ahead and I can’t see my life’s direction clearly yet.  For 23 years (our oldest son’s age) I have had my daily decisions made for me…I dealt with things directly in front of me. I’ve been a mom, I’ve poured my whole soul into that one job… my role as my children’s mom is changing. Even with each day I am learning how to fit into the role of a mom with adult children, their needs are so different now…  I think I’m doing okay.  I will continue to grow as a person and learn my own likes and dislikes again… I will be patient with myself…I will learn to focus my energy on me and into my relationship with my husband.  After all, we just bought his and her bikes… spring days riding by the beach with my love… I can see it!

 

 

 

anxiety, clarity, family, identity, life

Growth and Transitioning in 2017…

Today is the 2nd day of January 2017. With the New Year brings hope, it brings change…with change brings transition…with transition (for me) brings anxiety. I have anxiety.  I am beginning to understand it. The “what ifs” often over run my mind. I learn daily how to deal and cope with the thoughts.

We are beginning a new year. Welcome 2017!

I am learning with each day to understand myself and others.  We just had a wonderful holiday, surrounded by lots of  friends and family, we had a blast!  I am an active member of FaceBook, I enjoy seeing others “news” and happenings.  I like to post, I like to be positive, I like to inspire, that is what I use FaceBook for.  I very rarely share the way I share here in my blog, I’m not sure it feels like the right venue.  I don’t see a point in a negative world to be negative… I usually keep negative thoughts to myself and override them in public with more positive things.  What I’ve realized this does is makes the world see one side of you… They don’t know that I wallow in sad thoughts sometimes, that I cry, that I get angry… They think all of life is rosy.  Is that really inspiring?  If I’m going to share should I try to share all of me? I really don’t know ~ who would it help? Would it help me?  I kind of feel like a fraud sometimes, like when I’m around people and they are seeing me and experiencing me… I am human, I have opinions, often negative and judgemental. Most people don’t know that about me ~ am I hiding? Do I intentionally do this? I am becoming increasingly more aware of the pressure of people saying how wonderful I am – how wonderful our family is – how wonderful our marriage is – all of these things are true – life is marvelous, we are Blessed!! I am Blessed!!  But we are human too – we struggle – we fall – we get up – we have and feel ups and downs too! Does this need to be aired out to be understood?  As I write this, I feel like I’m answering my own questions – which is why I write! I write to find clarity in things I question… I am feeling like I don’t tell untruths when I post, I don’t pretend to be happy when we are in photographs, I am genuinely happy – I am genuinely filled with joys most days, in most moments… I am not hiding.  When I get close to someone and we have ‘real talk’ – I am honest about who I am – I put no effort in trying to be someone else, so what is the worry?  Anxiety.

Most recently my anxiety runs through my mind in a strange way. As I said, we’ve had a marvelous holiday. Lots of special times… friends, family, food, laughter (all my favorite things!) But there has been terrible local news lately with the death of two local teenagers in Falmouth, both 18 years old (my youngest sons age) They were athletes, sons, grandsons, friends… kids! It is horrifying to think of their families – it is very difficult for me even allow myself to think about it. These things weigh on me so very heavily. What it does is makes me assess everything – that is what leads me to this post – when I look at our perfect Christmas card, when I look back at my pubic posts of fun times and love & laughter, when I assess our amazing year of 2016 with successes of college graduation, new relationships… all of the wonderful things… it scares me – My mind will often wander to those families who lost their sons.  I wonder if that were me… would I still be able to find joy in everyday? Would I become bitter? Do people who have had these types of losses look at me like I live in some sort of dream-state – that I don’t and can’t understand that there can not be joy… Do some of the people who see how happy we are get angry? I have a guy at my work who is cynical, he’s negative, he’s open about how life has dragged him down… He is divorced, his son is a grown man now and lives far away, they don’t see each other hardly ever anymore… He makes statements to me sometimes about how I’m “too happy” and that he was happy once too.  He says I live the perfect life.  I guess when he says these things I know them to be true – but I work at that EVERYDAY!! I nurture relationships, I love and honor my husband, I make an effort to be near my children, I combat negativity with positivity – I honestly create my own world! I wake up each day with intention!!!  So, when I worry (when my anxiety strikes!) When that moment strikes and the inner dialogue begins about scary things… like “what if” I lost one of my children… who would I be? Who would I become?  The way that I combat that fear is that I envision the struggle, the pain to overcome… I keep hope and faith that I would have the strength to honor them and that we would have enough beautiful memories to sustain me.  But I also turn my thoughts to TODAY… Live today with no regrets if it were all over tomorrow. That I think is the key – try not to fear the possibility of loss – embrace the now, we still have each other, don’t waste a single second to be stolen in the now!!

As I said, I’m learning… I am a work in progress.  I am learning to not allow my anxiety to rule me and steal anything from me. I love and I am loved… that is all I need to continue to be the best me. Happy 2017!

 

 

 

awakening, family, life, peace, teenagers

Illumination

This morning brought illumination.  My morning started early… SATs start early on Saturday morning. My son asked me late last night if I would go with him early to grab coffee and a bite to eat before his test time.  I was delighted to join him.  I was a bit groggy dressing in the dark and it was cold walking out the door, the car was cold, other than my son’s company there was not much to be out of my toasty warm bed for.

As we left our dark wooded neighborhood and approached the downtown area, the world began to illuminate.  The spots where you can peek through to the ocean took our attention…  First the clouds, pink and purple wispy clouds, “cotton candy” as my son described them.  We agreed to take a detour away from our destination and head for the ocean.  We drove to the seawall just in time to see the sun peek above the ocean and greet the new day.  The sky on the horizon was on fire.  What a wonder!  No matter how many sunrises you see, each one is filled with its own mystique.  The blazing colors of the clouds, the shimmering blue water, the time with my son… all of it a gift.

When we arrived at the coffee shop my son’s girlfriend was also there. Coincidence? I say not. He says yes. Maybe. Either way, my time with him had ended as quickly as it began. He shared with me that maybe it would just be easier if he just jumped in with her to go to the High School, I agreed, it was logical.  A bit disappointed I pulled out behind them, they drove together ahead of me, and I drove alone.  Up out of bed to spend time with him and he’s now gone off with someone else.  As I drove, it seemed silly to go home, the sun was rising in the sky and seemed to call for me to come back to the waters edge to greet it. I realized that the gift of time with my son had been just that, a true gift.  I embraced the time we were given and began to enjoy my time alone.  I sat with my coffee and watched the world illuminate in front of me as the sun began to splash color upon everything.  The fall colors of the trees were just magnificent, the sparkle of the water, the blue of the sky, the white trim of homes were whiter than white.   I drove around my town and took it all in.  I drove to the harbor to watch the osprey pole illuminate, to the beach and saw the glistening shells illuminate, to the pond by my grandmother’s old house and listened to the families of geese honk a friendly “Good Morning”… the reeds that surround the pond were ignited like candles by the sun, pure beauty surrounded me.  I drove home in awe… delighted to have had a reason to have gotten out of bed.  To be awakened to my new day this way.  I had had a long week at work and I truly needed this gift of enlightening this morning.  Thank you son for inviting me, I enjoyed my time with you.

adolescence, communication, drugs and alcohol, expectations, family, raising kids, respect, responsibility, teenagers, trust

Parties…Driving…Independence…

Being 17 isn’t easy, I remember.  Now our third child, our youngest is!  You’d think after having been through it with 3 other children I would have it all figured out by now.  Wrong!  One thing I can tell you about the way my husband and I parent is we have always figured it out as we’ve gone along.  Each child brings with them a uniqueness, a difference in personality… the answers are never uniform because each situation, each scenario deserves to be looked at with fresh eyes.  That is how we respect our children. Not to mention, even with the same child nothing stays the same, they change daily, as do we.  They grow and learn so much each day. This deserves to be respected.

The hard part is the balance.  Finding ways to respect their own beliefs in what they should be able to do and our parent ideas of what they are ready to handle. This is the reason I choose to be transparent.  I want them to know my thoughts and ideas, so there can be clear understanding when we do not allow them to do something they’ve asked to do.  I also want them to share their thoughts with us.  My husband and I are both great team players, I believe this is what has helped us be successful parents.  With he and I respecting each others ideas, we can stand united in our decisions for the kids.  We do not undermine each other in front of the kids, we often will not give an answer right away, we give them a “let us discuss it”.  The kids have learned that this is better than a “no”, because we are willing to take a deeper look into what their needs and wants are.  We do not want to be authoritarians, and just have them obey. We want to treat them with respect and ask for the same in return. This has worked beautifully.

Where we live is unique.  Small towns are a challenge, but try a small town on an island! To give you some perspective…Our pizza places close in the winter at 9:00pm!  My husband and I were both born and raised here, it is a special place, we love it.  Raising young children here is a dream. The school systems are great, the atmosphere for raising little ones is wonderful.  For teenagers, not so much.  When they reach high school age and want to be social… our island is lacking for things to do.  House parties have become the cultural “norm”.  Parties thrown by 20 somethings who have not gone off to college or who attempted it and are now back home.  Either way, it presents problems in our community. I do not find that drunk 20 somethings and drunk high schoolers are a good mix.

It is not unique to our island that parents differ in beliefs when it comes to raising their children, certainly their teenagers.  By the time kids here get to High School, there seems to be a “right of passage” message, for many, that it is okay to smoke weed and drink alcohol.  In my experience, it is either blatantly right in front of the parents and they choose to turn a blind eye, or weekend sleepovers are the norm where Sally says she’s staying at Suzie’s and vice-versa and there is no parent communication, no accountability, and then they both stay out all night and report to no one.  The way we have found to combat this with our own children is to have high expectations of communication and responsibility. Their involvement in sports and keeping open lines of communication has been key.  Sports is a great outlet for kids on this island and we have found it very important for their social lives. In my opinion, by the time they get to the High School they need the social outlet of being a part of sports and organized activities.  Our oldest was a 3 sport varsity athlete for all 4 years of high school. The amount of time and energy it took to be a part of these teams served him very well. He has been a phenomenal role model to our younger children, and continues to be.

Being involved in sports at the High School level is not the answer for all kids to stay out of trouble.  There were many, many teammates through the years, and continue to be, who have also found plenty of time for the party scene.  This is where communication comes in, we have clear expectations for drug and alcohol use.  Again, not strictly a command to obey, but an expectation to be responsible and constant discussions surrounding the topic.  Discussions of our understanding that it is available to them at their age and how they might handle this.  Discussions and an understanding of how alcohol affects different people differently, that alcoholism runs deep in our family and to be fully aware if they choose to try it how it is affecting them. We make it very clear that we have trust in them to be responsible and make good decisions and that their will be consequences if that trust is broken.  These are consequences way beyond parental punishment and staying in on Friday night (that is not how we discipline). We teach consequences of real life. Like, all the hard work that’s gone into working toward a future goal could change instantly due to a bad decision. Dreams of being recruited, being successful in a particular field, keeping the respect of others… the list goes on and on.  Pointing out the importance and the reasons for being responsible have always meant enough to our children to act responsibly. Our belief is that at age 17, 18, & 19 we are helping to guide them into adulthood. I believe it is understood that we do not want to dictate what they can and cannot do. We want to see them finding ways of having independence while staying responsible. If they show responsible behavior and make good decisions the freedom is theirs… If they show lack of responsibility and poor behavior we will intervene and help.  We believe this is our job.

Our talks with our children do not only surround drugs and alcohol.  We have open communication for anything that needs discussion.  Getting a driver’s license is a privilege. It is understood that if this is abused (in our eyes, not only the law) that we will take away that privilege. That goes for cell phones, computers, etc. We have taught them right from wrong since they were born, we do not believe stopping when they become a teenager would serve them well in adulthood. We feel strongly that this is our job.

Our family is strong. Our children are respected in their schools, on their teams, and in our community. We feel strongly about helping others when they are in need, we foster this any chance we get. I feel proud of this. I feel proud of the family my husband and I work hard to build strong each and every day. I believe they are proud of us too.

“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”  ~ A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

 

 

 

 

 

communication, family, identity, life, marriage, peace, purpose, raising kids, teenagers, time, trust, writing

The taste of my coffee, the feeling of my couch throw…

Saturday morning silence.  Husband’s left for work, college-break daughter sleeping late, high-school son at team sleepover, dog at my feet, coffee in my hand, blanket across my lap. Wow…Saturday!

My five senses are happy this morning. I can taste my coffee differently than on weekdays. I can be present and feel grounded, it’s a satisfying feeling.  Slowing life down enough to feel and experience…I live for these moments of satisfaction.

Our family was all home for the holiday.  Our oldest son has come and gone.  At age 22, he is on his quest to live his own life. If you’ve followed any of my other posts you will know that I am learning how to make this transition.  Today I am at peace. There is a story for how I got to this peaceful place this morning…

After Christmas our oldest told us that he was going to head back to school 2 weeks earlier than anticipated.  His girlfriend was coming to visit us and he would plan to head out when she went back. I had a difficult time with the news. I had prepared myself for this potentially being our last holiday break together, as Del graduates from college this May and it will just never be the same, but cutting that time in half threw me for a loop.  In fear of seeming selfish for the sadness I showed when he told us he was leaving I wanted to share my recent struggle with my children.  I wanted to be transparent in my feelings so they were not perceived wrong. I read one of my earlier posts about what I believe to be transitional depression to them.  I felt it would help explain a mother’s pain in letting go and that I wouldn’t ever be asking him to be doing anything different, that it was just the feelings that were emerging from me and the struggle between my heart and my intellect again. I hoped reading this would help them understand.  I read it with great difficulty, I had no idea I would be so emotional as I read it out loud. They heard me and I felt it helped.  I took their hands and told them that we all have a journey and that this is just part of mine. I am learning to let go.

A week after this talk we kissed Del goodbye and bid him farewell for a while. We went about our family Sunday, at bedtime I pulled back my bed covers to find an envelope with “Mom” written on it.  I knew it was Del’s handwriting and I instantly welled with tears.  My husband lay next to me while I read it out loud. The words that flowed from my child were so eloquent, so beautiful.  His words and feelings put so much into perspective for me, his words were so powerful and healing. Part of me wants to share that letter with you here, but selfishly I also want it just for me. Maybe one day it will make sense to share it, but not today. His words are my strength.

In one of my former posts entitled “From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks Grow” I stated that as my children have grown they now help to give me cover and shade when I need it.  This letter is proof of that.  The maturity he showed and the insight he shared has strengthened me. Since I read my post about transitioning to my children, I have found an even greater understanding between us. We have always had great understanding, but with each new beginning I find communicating what it feels like to each of us is important.  If we don’t share our feelings with each other then assumptions are made. I would have never wanted the assumption for my oldest son to be that my sadness was a reflection of us being disappointed in his decision.  I needed him to know and understand that my sadness is something that I am working on within me.  That we support his decisions wholeheartedly but that there is an emotional process of letting him go that we continue to go through.

I am at peace today because I believe we understand each other.

communication, family, life, marriage, purpose, raising kids, time, trust

Pondering… Wondering… Searching…

I’m pondering life. I’m wondering if I could be going a bit crazy. I’m searching for answers to where I’m headed. Is there any wonder why my head is spinning and I have a hard time functioning these days?  I have had some side effects of a new generic brand of birth control pills.  My hormones have gone array and I am literally spinning. I am weepy, I have episodes of depression that are scary and I feel very anxious.

Maybe with all of this happening with me it’s not the right time to ponder, wonder or search? But it’s part of my normal daily existence anyhow, it’s just a bit more emotionally heightened these days. Because I’m feeling out of sorts, I look inward.  I am so aware of myself and my feelings that when I am not acting like “me” I can’t stand it!! I don’t like to pretend to feel okay, but I also don’t like to burden others with my negative feelings and concerns. therefore it feels better just to recluse and not be bothered (or bother) anyone else.  But I can’t, I have a job, I have a husband, I have children… I still have many roles to fill each and every day.  I have been told by others who dealt with similar feelings that it’s best to just keep working, just keep moving, keep your mind busy.  I have been attempting that for 3 days now and I have cried on my lunch break, I’ve cried in the fire escape stairwell, and have fought off feelings of hopelessness, frustration and fatigue throughout each day. I have glimpses of ‘normal’ (What the hell is that anyway?) as my day goes on… This sudden change in ups and downs of my emotions is my very reason for wondering if I may be going a bit crazy…? I work with kids at my job, so my very best moments are when I am directly interacting with them, I feel lowest when it’s quiet and my mind isn’t busy… But I know myself, I know I can’t continue to suppress these feelings and be just “okay” or “fine”. ” My norm” is to be energized by life itself and filled with joy (even when I’m alone). I feel like part of my ‘purpose’ is to bring joy to others, I just can’t continue to feel this way.  I have a call into my doctor to answer some of my questions… is this really hormonal? Will I get back on track with the re-taking of my old birth control pill? Do I need another type of medication to get regulated again? What is happening???

In my first paragraph, I mentioned searching, searching for ‘where I’m headed’? When I say this, it is because I feel like a lot of what I am going through right now may be something I read about as I searched my odd symptoms on the internet the other night.  I was fishing for others who may have been feeling the way I’ve been feeling, looking to validate some of my own strange thoughts and behaviors.  My thoughts and behaviors clearly are defined by depression. But, what I found that seemed to make sense was something called “transitional depression”.  It is defined by people who have a hard time with transitioning and often become stressed and depressed in the process. Well, that could be me!! The answers I was searching for was ‘how can I be clinically depressed when on a normal day I am an extremely happy, positive, and optimistic individual but then sometimes I reach these points where I can not get up and function as myself and have a negative thought pattern?’  The answer is that transitional depression can strike at different times in your life and you kind of get off track.  When I analyze my life right now, I am clearly in a transition.  Our oldest son is in his senior year of college, graduating in the spring and doesn’t know yet if he will be coming home or getting an intern somewhere and moving to begin his life somewhere else. Our daughter is in her first year of college (4 hours away), we said good-bye to her in August and have only brief conversations and minimal visits since she’s been gone. Our youngest son is a junior in high school, got his license this week and will begin the process of figuring out his next step in life in the coming months… WOW!! Could I give myself a break? These are H U G E transitions for all of us! I have always prided myself in being so intuitive as a mother, my heart so attached to my children, our closeness and our unique way of communicating… now I am not sure if setting myself up for all this confusion was such a good idea?  Because of our tight bonds I am often talking each one of them through the emotions that come along with what they are going through…helping them to process and transition.  Well, in the meantime I am having a flood of my own emotions.  Learning how to let go of them… allowing my heart to break while my intellect tells me I am doing it all correctly!?!? Am I really? Is this correct??  My heart tells me to call or text them every evening (every hour) and check in, my heart tells me to visit any chance we get, my heart tells me to smother them with hugs and kisses whenever they an arms length away…. But, my intellect demands that I leave them alone… let them text and call when they have time… let them figure things out until they need to ask for help… let them spend weekends on campus to meet new people and navigate new territory.  I mentally exhaust myself by knowing the right thing to do for them, but struggling a constant struggle with what my heart feels like in the process.  The truth is… it just hurts.  Them being away from our family unit hurts.

Then all in the same moment I get mad at myself for spending that kind of energy on what that feels like when I still have my almost 17 year old right in front of me.  Believe me… I snuggle with him every chance I get, just him laying on the end of our bed staring at his phone brings me more joy then he could ever even imagine! I still refer to him as my baby, and although I suppose I should stop calling him that he forever will be just that! My husband and I have the same bond with him as we do with our others, so the thoughts of him leaving us too, is almost too much to bear and I cannot allow my thoughts to go there at this time.  Soon, we will have to.  He will begin college visits and his own life decisions… I do believe this road I am on is a long one.

I will try to be patient with myself.  I will continue to talk with my husband and my friends about how hard it is. I will embrace the moments I have left with our youngest at home and learn new ways of finding joy in my life.  They have always been a ‘built in’ joy for my husband and I.  For 22 years we have had external joy, living life through the trials and tribulations of our children, we will now find joy in each other, again.  I look forward to it actually… I would just like to be better at transitioning. 🙂changes-ahead

 

 

adolescence, communication, expectations, family, identity, marriage, raising kids, respect, school, self esteem, teenagers, toddlers, trust

All we expect is respect.

It seems to me that kids have a lot of expectations put on them today.  Expected to perform at high levels in school, in sports, and basically in life. When raising our children, my husband and I tried not to put a lot of expectations on them. We have found a foolproof way of transitioning through each phase of our children’s lives with just one thing expected: respect. We certainly didn’t set out 22 years ago as parents with any theories or agenda… we have navigated ourselves along with one simple basis for everything. Our three children, now 22, 18, and 17 were raised with my husband and I nurturing them, guiding them, and respecting them. We in return felt we deserved respect and used it as the foundation for each and every stage of their lives.

When they were young, even before the age of 2, our children were taught to understand respect. Even without language yet, there was unspoken communication happening. When they were told not to touch something, but they did anyway and looked to us for a reaction, we were teaching them then how we would handle such things. We were being tested, this set a basis for our forever relationship. If we were to say “no” to something, the follow through we exhibited was crucial to our bond and our trust. If we had not stayed true to every word we uttered to them as toddlers until this current day, I believe the trust and respect we share today could not have existed. Our oldest son said something to me once… I remember the exact spot we stood in the hallway by the kitchen, at the age of 16, towering over me… he said, “Mom, I don’t always like what you say, but I trust it.” That coming from my oldest child, at my first attempt at parenting a teenager, was a monumental moment for me. I knew in that moment that all the years of being true to my word was helping us in one of the hardest transitions of life.

We have honestly displayed to our children since day 1 of their lives that all we expect is respect. When they became school aged children we did not put great emphasis on grades. We did not have expectations set for how their letter grades on report cards should look. Our marks were always based on respect for teachers and authority at school. By learning that we had expectations of certain behavior at school the grades would easily follow. When they would uphold themselves a certain way and respect the school and the classroom, they learned respect for themselves and the learning happened.

When it came to sports we didn’t have expectations of how they would perform on the field or the court, it would be expected that they respect their coaches, the officials and their teammates. Their performance level would grow and grow due to them respecting themselves and others, and always working hard.

Our children’s social lives have always been nurtured as well. We have always put great emphasis on respecting relationships and friends. We have always welcomed their friends into our home as family members. I believe my marriage of 22 years is stronger everyday because my husband and I respect what each of us do financially and emotionally to contribute to the growth of our family. Our children are witness to that and it helps them to be better people.

Our society today puts so much emphasis on the wrong things. Raising children with morals and values and to have self respect will equip them for most anything. I am blessed to have been a stay at home mom until our youngest was five, caring for other people’s children to help out financially. If people could find ways of putting more effort into their families we would have stronger communities and stronger communities translates into even bigger successes for our entire culture. When people begin to realize that emotional wealth is more important than financial wealth. Our children’s well being should mean more than the car we drive or the house we live in.

When paying our monthly bills, I often strategize with numbers in hopes of paying more monthly to the principal of our home mortgage to pay it off earlier. To do this we would need to cut money in certain places, it’s always the “extras” that would have to go first. The “extras” in our life right now are weekend social expenses … that translates into our weekend trips to watch our son play football at college, visiting our daughter away at school and treating her out to a nice dinner, and/or the expense of buying pizzas and drinks for our 17 year old to host friends over for game night in the basement… Each and every time I consider cutting those expenses I know that we are doing the right things with our money. The investment in our children’s emotional well being far outweighs any desire I may have to cut some years off of our mortgage. What I see these days are bigger homes, fancier cars, fancy vacations, and kids who feel lost and disconnected. I have a strong wish for things to be different for future families. We need to get back to simpler times, less material things, and family togetherness.

I believe if all things could begin and end with respect we would all be better off. The definition for respect is ‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.’ Kids can learn to respect their peers, their parents, and most anyone. Teaching people to set aside ego and find things they admire in others can boost self esteem enormously. In today’s world we have to be careful to teach our children that you don’t respect someone just because they are your authority, respect is earned. It is important to learn respect for yourself as all other relationships hinge upon the one you have with yourself.

Finding ways to show our children they are special and important is the key to them learning to respect themselves and others. When we take time to really be present in their lives, they feel it. Being at sporting events, plays, or concerts… anything that is important to them makes them feel they are important. Photographing them at special times and just ordinary times shows them we care… then looking through old photos together bonds us and helps them to grasp the beauty of moments past and those yet to come. We always have had grand birthday parties, celebrating them and finding great joy in their existence!! We still have grand birthday parties at the ages of 15, 16, 17… Everyone loves a party!

We have found ways in our lives to honor and respect our children and they in turn learn how to do the same for us. Children have their own sets of woes and worries and when they do not feel like they are ‘less than’ just because they are ‘kids’, they feel respected. Let’s face it, the problems and obstacles they encounter each day are all relative to the ones we face.

“The family is the nucleus of civilization.”  ~ Will Durant

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