Archive for the ‘Thoughts From Mom’ Category

Maybe Not so Crazy

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

My husband is a movie buff. He’ll watch nearly every movie that comes down the pike. Redbox is his favorite place to visit. Any movie he finds that he likes, he’ll add to his collection. If he doesn’t like the move, he insists on watching it twice just to be sure it doesn’t have some redeeming quality. If I don’t like it the first time, I’ll just move on! I see no reason to give a movie a second chance. I have to admit that it is a failing on my part to have that attitude with more than just movies. I dismiss things, new experiences and even some people with just a cursory glance. If it doesn’t grab my interest, I just keep moving.

There is a good possibility that I am missing out on fun times and interesting people by insisting that you catch my interest with the first impression. Sometimes I’ll let things into my life for a little bit and then decide they’re kind of a waste. Another thing hits the trash. Remember that “God’s Must Be Crazy” movie? If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a great little movie. This movie is set in Africa where a tribe live in complete isolation from the civilized world. They believe that everything is sent by the gods for them and that the gods will only send them good things. So, when a small airplane flies overhead and the pilot throws out a coke bottle, the natives think it is a gift from the gods. They begin to study this bottle and soon discover it is useful in numerous ways. As a result, everyone wants it at once. This is the first time that the village has only one of something. They have to share. They don’t know how. Instead of taking the opportunity to learn the new skill of sharing, they decide that the gods have made a mistake and sent them an evil thing and that they must return it.

There are times when it’s obvious that some things just deserve to be discarded at first glance. But I think – just maybe – it might be worthwhile to give a lot of things a second chance. It could be that, like the African tribe, I am missing the positive side of the coke bottle. Maybe something or someone has come into my life to help me grow a little in some way. Maybe there are people or things in your life that are there to help you grow as well. Before we discard them as useless, let’s take the time to give them a second look. We just may find that they were worth the time.

Growing Up and Growing Older Are Not the Same Thing

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

As I raised my children, it was  important to me that they understood growing up was more than just getting taller and having birthdays.  Growing up involved learning to control your behavior.  Growing up involved learning to live a productive life.  Growing up involved becoming an example for those who were younger.   Sometimes, when I read my paper or watch the news, I begin to think this lesson was left out of many homes.  I read about a 56-year-old who set his apartment on fire because he was angry with his roommate.  I read about people in their 30s shoplifting at the local Walmart.  I read about parents punching the officials at their child’s sports games.  It makes it easy to understand exactly what the comedian Tom Wilson was talking about when he said “Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up by itself”.

Somehow, it seems we are failing to be an example to the younger generation.   Although they are working at being examples for us.   Ask any 5-year-old kindergarten student about the news articles I’ve mentioned.  They can tell you not to play with fire, don’t take things that don’t belong to you, no hitting.  They can tell us a lot of other things, too.  Pick up your own toys; no shouting at one another; be kind; if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I forget a lot of the important maturity lessons myself.  Luckily, I have a little one around the house to remind me when I forget.  If you don’t have a little one, borrow one.  Every now and then we can all use a refresher course in kindergarten.

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

For just a moment, let’s look at this scenario. You are out to dinner with an acquaintance. Bored with the discussion, you have placed one elbow on the table and your chin in your hand as you listen to your dinner partner drone on and on. He notices this indiscretion of yours and reminds you that it isn’t polite to put your elbows on the table. You can’t believe he just said that! Who is he to tell you how to act? So you put your other elbow on the table and pronounce defiantly, ‘Really?!’ You have just broken a rule of etiquette. Whose fault is it?

Most of us are going to blame the dinner partner for ticking us off and causing us to react as we did. But, honestly, he didn’t reach across the table, grab your arm and force your elbow to the table. That elbow is still attached to your arm and you are still the one in control of what that arm does. You know the rules of etiquette and you are quite capable of living by them. In this case, you have chosen not to. You may be justified in your reasoning for breaking the rule but that doesn’t make it anyone’s fault but your own.

When we were children, we all tried these arguments. He hit me first! She took my toy so I scribbled on her paper. He called me a name so I pushed him down. It was always someone else’s fault and we felt we were justified in our reactions. We also felt totally victimized when we were punished for it anyway. We’re not children anymore. We’re adults. It’s time we recognize that we can not justify our behavior by blaming someone else. Everyone in the office takes home office supplies when they need them so why shouldn’t I? It doesn’t matter how many others are doing it. Theft is theft. If there were an earthquake in your area and buildings were damaged, would you go into a store and pick out whatever you wanted? Dozens of others will be doing just exactly that but looting is looting. You can’t justify it by pointing to others and their behavior.

Just as common is the tendency to blame our parents for the way we act now. If it’s a little thing, we say ‘it’s just the way I was brought up. I have a hard time breaking that habit.’ It’s all Mom and Dad’s fault. They didn’t bring me up right. We even try to blame Mom and Dad for the abuse and neglect of our children! We don’t want to look at the thousands of others out there who were abused and neglected as children and still managed to turn their lives around and give a better home for their families. We blame our parents because we drink too much or smoke too much or any other number of vices. If you take the time to look at it, 30 years ago no one knew smoking caused cancer and it took even longer for people to realize that secondhand smoke was dangerous. Even if we didn’t know that, your parents are not standing there handing you one-too-many alcoholic beverages and they aren’t standing there forcing that cigarette between your lips. You are in control of the movements you make.

Yes, others can influence our behavior but it’s our choice which path we walk down. Accept responsibility for what you do and who you are. Start today by choosing one thing that you’ve allowed to slide in your life because it’s easier to blame someone else than to break the habit. Make each day a source of improvement. Other people can influence you. Only you can decide how that influence will play out in your life.

Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them. – Unknown

Along the corner of our yard, coming into our house are these nice little stepping stones that the previous owners placed for people to walk on. They probably did this in order to preserve that portion of the yard where everyone cut across the driveway to the sidewalk. We’ve been here three years now and those stepping stones continue to function as stumbling blocks for me. I’m just not coordinated enough to use them for their intended purpose. I need a full sidewalk – preferably a smooth one.

That tends to be the way I function in life as well. All those neat little shortcuts that are provided for me tend to confuse me more than help me. Especially in math. Remember those shortcuts math teachers were always so excited about? They would tell us how much easier and faster it was to use the shortcut? They might have been right if I could just have understood what the heck they were talking about! I just kept plodding along, step-by-step to the finish line. I think I was never meant to be the hare in the race. I was always meant to be the turtle.

There’s a lot to be said for being a turtle. Hare’s go whipping past the aquarium never stopping to watch the fish leisurely swimming by. Hares can slap something together really quickly but, if you want quality workmanship, you need to find yourself a turtle who is paying attention to detail. Hares can make friends with everyone they meet within the first half hour or so but they can, as quickly trade them in for the new friend tomorrow. Turtles take time to call someone a friend. When they do, the friendship has a deeper quality. It doesn’t mean a turtle can’t lose a friend. It just means the loss is a more painful thing because of the deeper attachment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting down the hares. We need them in this world. They get the job done and they get it done quick. They’re flashy and exciting and sometimes intimidating to those of us who are turtles. Sometimes we turtles don’t compare ourselves very favorably with the hares. We should, though. We may not dazzle the world with our thousands of small accomplishments but we will awe them with the few inspirational ones we create.

So for those of you who are like me, stumbling over the stepping stones, take heart. Stop calling yourself uncomplimentary names like clumsy, uncoordinated, slow, awkward. Start remembering that you are capable, intelligent, thorough, careful individuals. The ones who will make the solid, firm foundations for the hares to stand on. I’m going to be learning to remember that myself. I’m also going to be getting rid of those stepping stones in my front yard that I keep stumbling over.

Doomsday Whining

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Doesn’t hardly seem possible that we have already finished the first month of 2012. The world is still here.  Give the Mayans time though.  Their calendar does go through to the end of the year.  Given the way things have been going lately, that might be pushing it.   Worldwide there is a financial crisis with  the United States swirling out of control with the rest of the world.  Many people struggle just to have a place to live and food to eat. Medical care in third world countries is completely unavailable most of the time and in our country, many can’t afford the medical care they need.

Then there’s the political instability that reminds us that the earth is a very small place after all. The song was right. It’s a small world and one mentally disturbed individual at the helm of a nation can start a war that could ultimately include nearly every country on this very small planet. Life being what it is, there are a few seriously disturbed individuals running some volatile nations right now. Scary.

In other words, it’s a crazy world and getting crazier all the time. Our churches urge us to pray for our nation and it’s leaders. Can’t argue with that. Looking at our current leader and the candidates competing for his position, I’m thinking our nation and it’s leaders can use all the prayers we can send up for them. I don’t have a lot of confidence that any of the them can improve the situation. I’m actually more convinced that all of them have the potential for increasing the downward spiral. We can only hope that the churches are right when they tell us that God is still at the helm because if He’s not, we’re in some serious hot water.

So where am I going with all of this doomsday whining? I’m writing to remind us that our security doesn’t lie in our governments and the policies they are implementing. It’s not in the home you purchased. The foreclosure rate nationwide has shown us that. It’s not in the job you have. Huge companies that had once seemed like the rock of stability are failing everywhere. It’s not in government agencies or private non-profit agencies. Ask anyone who has had to go to them for help. They will tell you that these agencies are routinely running our of funds and resources to help all those who come to them.  What you really need when the world is crumbling around you is the security that can be found in your own backyard.  When things are at their worst, the family who alternately love you and argue with you and the friends who hang with you through thick and thin are really all you need.

Take a look at the early American frontier.  They didn’t have a core government close to help out so the whole community got together when someone needed a barn built or a crop brought in. Sons and daughters played an important role in the family. The more hands to help, the easier the load was for everyone. We need each other. It’s a given.  The book of Genesis tells us that God said “it is not good that man should be alone.”  He knew what He was talking about.  He knew that we would need each other.  Pay attention.  The world hasn’t come to an end yet but it is having a little trouble with stability.   So today take a little time to consider the lives of your family, your friends, your neighbors.   Hold them close.  If there is some way you can make their life brighter, do it! Do everything you can for them.   It’s a sure bet that someday you will be needing them, too.  When the earth starts rolling beneath your feet, be sure you have plenty of hands available to pull you to safety.   They’re right there round you now.  Hold them close.  Keep them stable.  If we just stick together, everything will be a little brighter for everyone.

Let’s Keep on Swimming!

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Take a look at the adults in this world.  Does it seem as if we have become a generation of quitters?  Granted, most of us don’t go to the extremes that have been in the news lately. There was the woman who turned in a fake death certificate to get a longer vacation and the notorious 72 day Hollywood marriage but other signs indicate that we are a nation of adults who quit with little or no provocation. I’m not saying there is never a time that we shouldn’t quit. I’m just saying that we quit too easily.

Our jobs aren’t ‘fulfilling’ enough so we quit while being very careful not to use the actual word ‘quit’. We use phrases like “upwardly mobile” or “making a lateral career move“. We just move from one job to the next, trading in one less than desirable job for another never being quite content in any of them. The same can be said for our marriages. The man we married hasn’t turned out to be the night in shining armor. On the man’s part, the woman he married isn’t the accomplished and perfect model he hoped for. So we quit. Trade that spouse in for another without ever acknowledging that there will never be a perfect person sitting across the breakfast table from us because there are no perfect people. Even parenting isn’t immune from this “I quit” attitude. The numbers of absentee parents attest to this fact.

I’m not saying I have the answer for all these issues because I don’t. I do know that there are a number of highly successful people who have had something to say about how they view this subject. Helen Keller, both deaf and blind, insisted that ‘we can do anything we want if we stick to it long enough‘. Clearly, quitting wasn’t an option for her. Continuing to try in the face of obvious handicaps only taught her that she could succeed if she just kept at it. Henry Ford didn’t believe that you should quit even if you had, at first, failed. He said “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again. This time more intelligently.” Thomas Edison proved to be the king of stick-to-it-tiveness when making the light bulb. His argument was not that he had failed but that he had ‘found 10,000 ways that won’t work’. He also made a very profound statement when he said “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

I’m thinking that it’s time we started paying attention to the successful people who have come before us and start persevering when faced with obstacles. Quitting should be placed way down low on our list of options. When our marriages are hitting snags, when our children are causing us grief, when our financial issues seem to be overwhelming, when any task we’ve set ourselves seems impossible, we need to listen to those who encourage us to try harder. We need to do as Dorie, the lovable, blue fish from ‘Finding Nemo’ does. Just keep on swimming!

My Canvas of Life is a Little Messy

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

You know that saying “life is like a canvas. Every day is a brush stroke”? Yesterday my brush stroke was a big blob of paint buried under a black blanket headache. Today it’s shades of gray interspersed with lightning flashes of blue in a dark sky of headache. Dancing around the edges of this sky of headache is a little butterfly who occasionally morphs into a gnat buzzing around my headache and then suddenly, without warning, turns into a mosquito that bites me causing red flashes of anger that I try to control with big brown buckets of mud I throw at her. She then slinks off, a little puppy with her tale between her legs and I sit on my recliner wallowing in puke-green feelings of guilt for taking out my pain on the butterfly in my life. I’m sure you get the picture. Some days the colors on my canvas are a little icky. I’m sure they are for you, too.

Everybody has those days. Those are the days when the people with the perky little upbeat sayings annoy the heck out of you. I’m pretty sure some of the posts I’ve written fall in that category for some of you readers. If so, that’s okay. Because everyone has days when every electrical appliance in the house goes on the blink (shortly after the warranty has run out). Or they have days when they want to stuff their boss headfirst in a garbage can and toss half their customers on top of him. Families tend to get the brunt of our emotions when those days come. While it’s not necessarily okay, it is understandable. Every now and then, we all should be allowed a day of wallowing in self-pity. It’s probably not a good idea to make a habit of it. The ones you love might run out of tolerance. It is a good idea at the end of those days to thank the husband for doing the dishes and standing in the gap for childcare. And you should also remember to remind the little one as you send her off to bed that you love her very much. Then you can look forward to the next day when you can paint the sun peaking out from behind the clouds and, when you do, you won’t feel quite so annoyed by the happy little flowers drying in the sun on your canvas.

Our Website Disclaimer

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

I received a comment from one of my readers which made me realize that some of you may not be aware of the information in the ‘disclaimer’ portion of our website. I decided it would be a good idea to post the information you will find there and include a little clarification in case you need it. So, here’s the disclaimer and it’s clarification.

Mom’s not a counselor: Although she’s spent a lot of time listening to the problems of those she loves. Clarification: I’ve also spent a lot of time giving advice to those I love in an attempt to help them avoid problems.

Mom’s not a psychiatrist or a doctor: Even if the commercials do say she’s Dr. Mom. Clarification: Don’t take my word for it. If you are concerned about a problem, I can give you my take on the situation but it’s up to you to seek out a professional for a real answer. If you are a psychiatrist or a doctor, your input would be greatly appreciated.

She may act like a lawyer on occasion when she’s had to get at the truth from reluctant teens: But she’s not a real Lawyer. Clarification: If you’re a real lawyer, an actual answer would be good if you are willing to give it.

Mom doesn’t have any letters behind her name: All she has is common sense and life experience, which, most of the time is all the advice you really need. Clarification: If you’ve been through anything similar and agree or disagree with me, please feel free to leave a comment.

Her childcare expertise comes from hands-on experience. If you need more help, Mom might suggest it to you, but in case she does not, be sure to trust your own instinct when it tells you to get professional help.

Post a comment: Mom accepts that she may not know everything. So she’s opened the website for others to give their opinions as well. Clarification: If you think you can give any further help to anyone with questions or if you think you can give input on anything I’ve written, please feel free to post a comment. For everyone’s protection, no identifying information is ever given on the website. So when you’re giving your advice, please don’t use your full name. You may use initials, your first name, or a nickname. Also, don’t disclose your address, phone number, email address or any other identifying information

Everyone Has Nicer Things Than Me!

Friday, January 6th, 2012

The little one had a meltdown today. Her friend down the street got a new bike for Christmas. She doesn’t have a new bike. The neighbor boy got a new bike for Christmas, too. Why didn’t she have a new bike? Everyone has nicer things than she does. Just ask her. She was sobbing and telling us how terrible her life was because she didn’t get a new bike for Christmas. The doll that talks, the roller blades, the doll highchair, the new COMPUTER, the numerous other items under that tree pale in comparison to the new bike her friend has. At first, I sent her to her room until she could tell me ten things she had that she was proud of. She just couldn’t find anything that could compare with the new bikes.

So I decided it was time for her to learn a hard lesson. There will always be someone who has something nicer than you have. I pointed out that other people have bigger houses than we do. Other people we know have nicer cars. Grandpa got in the act and complained that other people had nicer computers than he does. Other people have bigger aquariums than he has. Her response? “It’s not fair!” My answer? “Life is not fair!” It was time for her to recognize that, while there may be others who have more, there are many others who have less. She has her own room done up in pink and white just like she likes it. Many children don’t even have a room at all. Our car works just fine and helps us give rides to those who don’t have cars at all. Whenever she complains of being hungry, we tell her to go in the cupboard and get a snack. Many children don’t have cupboards or snacks at all. I could see that these were concepts that were simply outside her ability to understand. If they didn’t have a room, they should just get a bigger house. Their parents should just go buy a car and go to the grocery store. I tried another tactic.

I explained that we can’t always have what we want the minute we want it. I pointed out that I had wanted a breakfast nook table for our kitchen for a long time. I didn’t have the money right away to get what I wanted so I had to wait until I saved enough money to get it. That she understood. Sometimes you have to wait and save up your money. The tears stopped. Unfortunately, not because she was embracing the lesson but because all this talk about saving money reminded her that she hadn’t gotten her allowance yet. Whenever she gets her allowance, she gets to go to the store and spend it. This time was no different. She had to go shopping. She is content in the knowledge that we will do the saving for the bike while she does the spending of her allowance for other things. Someday I will have to explain that she is the one who has to work for what she wants and that it is her money that she has to save to get it. Preferably before she goes to occupy Wall Street with the rest of the dreamers who think they should have the good life without working for it.

Life Will Begin Shortly

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

The year 2012 has begun. For just a moment, let me challenge you to suspend reality temporarily and pretend that you are standing on a threshold. On this threshold is a guide who is explaining to you that life will begin shortly. Your life will begin at the age you are now. This guide offers you 10 minutes to make a list of anything that is currently in your life that you would like to take with you to start your new life. Anything left off the list will be left behind. Everything on the list will come with you. What will you put on your list?

Will your spouse and children come with you? Or will you choose to restart that part of your life again? What about your siblings? Will you leave them behind? Or your friends? Take a moment when deciding who, if anyone, should be left behind. Will you gain anything by leaving them behind? What might you lose without them?

What about the home you live in? Will you leave it off the list and take your chances on the home you will be placed in? Assuming, of course, that you will not find yourself homeless in this life you are about to start. What about the furnishings in this house? Will you dump any or all of it and take your chances on what is on the other side of the threshold? What about your vehicles? Can you leave those behind and hope you have your dream car on the other side? Just in case no car is provided, will public transit be okay with you? What about your career? Do you like your job or would you take your chances on having a better one? What about your hobbies? Are there habits that you would like to leave behind like smoking? Are there some activities that you do on a regular basis that you would just as soon leave behind?

What is in your life worth keeping?

May I suggest that if you have included almost everything you currently have on your list to take with you when you step over the threshold, then you have been truly blest. It is time to give thanks to anyone and everyone who has made your life what it is today. For those of you who have not been so blest, be grateful that life is a work in progress. Look at the things you have been willing to leave behind and ask yourself what you would like instead. Draw yourself a picture of what you want your life to be and make it your goal in 2012 to make your actual life look just like that picture.

Happy New Year!