Signed on for life

When I became a parent I signed on for life. It meant that even though it might cause an interruption in my plans, or it might be an inconvenience, I was on the job pretty much 24/7.

These musings come from the heart of a person whom God made to feel things incredibly deep. How I wish I could watch the news, or read a newspaper, or for silliness sake drive by road kill and not feel anything. At the very least to say “Oh that’s sad. What’s for dinner?” This morning, I was “feeling” in a very deep way regarding a situation not uncommon to the world around us.

The feeling was one of deep anger. Anger at a generation of parents, adults, teachers, coaches who have been put in place over children to guide, direct, and influence their lives, yet place their own needs and agendas in a place of greater importance; not recognizing the consequences of those choices.

There is a young person whom I know that I would be proud to call my own. He is polite, considerate, caring, gentle, hardworking, successful student, and athlete. He’s in the top 15 of his class. His parents are divorced. Ok, that happens. But when a parent then goes on to place his new family above his first family, that is where my understanding fails to exist. Why wouldn’t you be at your child’s athletic events? Why wouldn’t you make it a priority to be at the event honoring their academic success as they near high school graduation? Are you feeling good about telling this “child” of yours that another child’s pitching practice is more important than this once in a life time opportunity to honor your son? Are you aware of the fact that your child is afraid to ask for help, feels like he is unworthy of an adults help, all because when he comes to you he is treated as an inconvenience. Did you know when you signed on to be a parent you signed on for LIFE!!!

A few days ago, I was chatting with another young woman who’s parents are divorcing This is not a rant against divorce, however we do need to acknowledge what this does to our kids. She was sharing how her dad is out of work, and even before losing his job he was drinking. Now he’s home all day and drinking. She is working two part time jobs in order to pay for her car insurance. Her dad tells her he needs money and is thinking she owes him some. Wow, that’s a responsible human being isn’t it. All I could say to her was “Adults. They can sure let you down can’t they?”

A young girl says she “hates” her mom. She plays her sport without a parent in the stands and even has to find a ride home after so as to not inconvenience her parents. What the heck?! I watched her beat herself up many a time as she missed a crucial play. Why wouldn’t she? She doesn’t think too highly of herself because no one has told her, shown her she is worthwhile. Her dad showed up for the last 5 mins of the game. Not aware of him, I asked if she needed a ride home. With a huge smile on her face that extended into her eyes, she said “No thanks. MY DAD is here!” 5 mins.

I’m not a perfect parent. Many a mistake has been made, many an angry word spoken, many opportunities missed because of being task oriented myself. However, looking at the big picture, I did a pretty good job. My bio four are the result. There is proof in the pudding.

Last night was the last soccer banquet. It’s done. No more soccer games, no more bball games, no more awards ceremonies. I don’t just see Molly as I say good bye to this season of life, although it is she I most immediately grieve the loss of, but of all 4. Kristin acting and singing in Fiddler on the Roof, Tara being the best team captain of her high school soccer team, Michael singing Magic Changes, playing his guitar in Grease, Molly scoring another goal. It hasn’t been an inconvenience. I signed on for life. On to the next season cause life isn’t over yet.

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Spring is one of my favorite seasons. The crocuses and daffodils are sneaking a peak in my garden only to be covered by a spring time snow. Oh, but those springtime snows are the best! They are the last gasp of winter; you know that they aren’t going to stay around for long. In Colorado, this is the only time of year you will see green, so yeah I love Spring!

Seasons of life are much the same as calendar seasons. They come whether we like it or not, bringing changes with them. Parenting, my career in life, has come with many seasons. Hmm, let’s see; the building your family years, is like springtime. The years of steady growing, school age and on, are like summer. I include the adolescent years in there because I love those years. Of course with so many children, we have been fluctuating between the seasons for some time now.

What about autumn? As much as I love spring, I love autumn more. Growing up in the northeast, this time of year was incredible. The colors are like no other place on this planet! The cool nights, Indian summers, harvest time, all aspects of autumn that I love. Autumn parenting. A time of greater transition. Children leaving home, going to college, truly becoming their own person. Embracing, (or not) the things you have taught them. As a parent reveling in their accomplishments, their talents and watching them fly. We have been hovering in this season for awhile now. As one would leave, we still had dance recitals, dramas, and soccer games to attend, minimizing the feelings of loss. Until now.

As Molly graduates, the last of “the originals” as we so fondly call the bio 4, I am facing wintertime. The long, cold, dark, days of winter, and I don’t like it one bit. The emotions have sideswiped me. Totally caught me off guard. But Karen, you might say, you still have three kids at home. Oh but how strange and uncomfortable that is. (That can be “mused” on another day.)My four kids have been my “career.” Yes I can say job well done, but not sure I’m ready to say I’m done with the job! Can’t we go back to when they were younger? When they wanted nothing more than to come home to tell me all about their day? To the times of crazy dancing, baking cookies, and reenacting our favorite movies? All four kids wanting to campout on Mom and Dad’s bedroom floor? How cliche, but where did those days go? I must allow myself to feel the grief of those days being in the past. It’s natural, normal. But I don’t like it at all.

However, moving forward, because time won’t stop, I will cherish every last soccer game despite freezing my tush off. I will revel in the academic awards night, Top 10 students dinner, and seeing my beautiful girl off to her last Prom. I’ll bring a whole box of tissues to graduation and might even cry through the grad party. No one will want to be around me in August as I drive her to MN and settle her into her dorm room at Bethel.

There are alot of feelings to feel, tears to shed over the next few months. I hope the feelings of winter will pass quickly. Winter isn’t all bad after all. A time of rest. A time to ponder things from days gone by and dream of days to come. Yes, there will be many days to come filled with many new and wonderful memories. Sigh.

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My parenting journey

26 years ago, I became a parent. Kristin celebrated her golden birthday on the 26th of January. John and I made the choice to become parents starting 9 months (give or take a few!) before that day. What a journey it has been. Worthwhile. Challenging. Growing. Rewarding.

Many women dream of their wedding day; having every detail embossed in their minds. I felt that way about becoming a mother. Being the youngest of 5, with 7 years between the next oldest and me, I was able to enjoy the additions of many nieces and nephews to our family. With each one, I took great pride in being their Aunt Karen, Frah and other assorted goofy names bequeathed to me. Connie, my oldest sister was my greatest teacher. She had Amy when I was 11. 16months later she had twin boys, Jason and Scott. What a training ground for future parenting skills! I spent alot of time at their home, “helping out,” or at least I hope it was seen that way! Managing 3 little kids under 2 is a management job that should pay 6 figures!

And so it went, Shawn and Brian, Sara, Hester, Neal, Matthew and Kevin; each one of these kids left an imprint on my heart, creating in me a deep desire to have one of my own. Each of my siblings adding to my knowledge of parenting. Little did I know that God was preparing me.

John and I moved away from our hometown 1 month after being married. Never to live there again. There was no Grandma’s to take the kids to for a break. No sisters near by to bounce parenting concerns off of. But God had provided that training ground earlier that would prove to be vital for our success as parents. We read alot. Studied other parents. Not to be critical, but to see what worked and what didn’t. Are we perfect? Far from it!! But we have pursued the goal of being the best parents we can be. I feel our 4 biological kids are doing ok in life.

But parenting is a job you never retire from. So the journey continues. Maybe I’ll share some more along the way.

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I love this time of year. Or do I? Why do I do all I do? I’m not sure. Lights, and decorations, for what? I’m never ahead of the game. Always trying to “catch up.” For what? I’m not sure.
My kids say, “Oh but Mom you always do it. It’s tradition. You have to do it!” This year they helped get those lights up. What a blessing that was. They cared enough to put action to their words, “It’s tradition. You have to do it.” It became a “We.” So I guess that is one answer to my why’s.

I want to enjoy the season. I want to be purposeful in my activities. Creating new memories, new traditions with my younger three. They still have the wonder of it all. I have to keep going for them. It’s only right. Another “why” answered.

But how? Going slower. Taking moments to relish in the “meaning.” Be consistent in doing that, not so hit and miss. There is healing that has gone on in our lives over the last year. Relationships are actually growing; there are even moments of laughter and enjoyment. It should and will be easier. Not so awkward. Something to be thankful for.

Advent. The anticipation of something special. Magnificent in this case. A child. God’s child. Born for me, a quiet, simple birth. Died for me, a violent, yet purposeful death. So I can live.
He is the lover of my soul. My provider. My reason for being.

Although I get caught up in my activities during this season, I’m going to stop and breathe. Take in some much needed oxygen. Remembering who gave me this life. Who sustains me. And why I love this time of year. Another answer to my why.

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Rainy Days

It has been raining steadily since Friday. Here in Colorado, rainy days are very rare; you know the days where it’s dark and pours continuously. Many would call these days dreary and depressing. For me, they are energizing! The other day, my friend Terri even called me and left this message, “Was just thinking of you today as I know how much you love rainy days like this.” That was so special!

Previously I mentioned I am an ESFP. The little discoveries I am making about myself as I grow up are quite fun. So an ESFP likes to see all the possibilities. That can be a great asset in life. It makes life fun! But any strength taken to an extreme…. you have a person who sees all those possibilities, but is so afraid to choose and miss something else, leading to a person who suffers from “paralysis by analysis.” More often then not, I don’t get a lot done. I feel demotivated. Back to rainy days. They eliminate some possibilities! Since the field of dreams is narrowed some, it’s easier to make a choice. Energy!

So thanks God for the rain! It felt really good!

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Roxy and motherhood

Roxy is my lovely 5 yo quarter horse. Since coming to live with us, she has taught me so many lessons. One thing I discovered very early on was a buried fear of horses! Every interaction I have with her helps me get beyond that.

Today I decided to give Rox a bath. It’s fly season which comes with lots of bites and fly spray. She will tolerate having water sprayed on her from a hose, especially in 100 degree temps, we just haven’t tried much more than that. This time we were going to do a deep clean. Use shampoo. This could be tricky.

Wanting her to realize this bath thing could be a positive experience, I moved slowly. She allowed me to rub the shampoo into her coat using water from a bucket. She loved having her neck and back scrubbed. While washing her mane and tail, I began day dreaming of how professionals wash, dry and groom their horses in preparation for competitions. Anticipation grew as I thought of seeing Roxy beautifully clean, shiny and sleek. We were on our way to gorgeous!

Time to rinse. There is really only one way and that is with the hose. As I said before, she will tolerate it, but would she tolerate it long enough for me to get the shampoo rinsed off her? At first she ran back and forth as if to escape the spray. Then she began to pick up some speed circling around me, inadvertently tying me in the hose and the lead rope. Or did she actually know what she was doing? I held my own. No I didn’t fall. Finally she jerked free from me.

After a wild gallop around the field, she returned surprisingly. Guess I’ve done something right as she showed this trust in me. We began rinsing once more. It wasn’t long before she took off again. This time, I knew she wasn’t coming back. I knew what was going to happen. After charging around, bucking and passing gas as only a horse can, she slowed her pace. Walking to a spot she determined to be the softest in the field, she pawed at the ground, and you guessed it, proceeded to roll in the dirt!!! Back and forth rubbing her back and thus her mane in the dusty, manure scattered dirt! Rising on all fours again and she gave a full body shake. Most of the dirt stuck. Sigh. There’s still shampoo in that mane and tail. That can’t be good. Didn’t get to see what her coat looks like clean and shiny. Don’t think I’ll be in any competitions anytime soon.

You know what? We had fun. It was rewarding to scratch her back and know I got most of the nasty fly spray off her. It was a victory for me to wash down each of her legs to her hooves and not be afraid, and have her respond with respect. I really love watching her run with incredible strength and grace. And yes, it’s fun to see her paw at the ground in a thoughtful way and then roll like a big dog. Having her come back to me, saying I trust you and want to be with you was the best reward of all.

Roxy and motherhood? Always a lesson to be learned. So much of what we do as mothers seems fruitlessly redundant. Laundry. Getting groceries. Making meals. Mopping floors. Give them a bath and have them go right out and jump (or roll!) in a mud puddle! Over and over again we do and then do again. It could, and on many days does get really discouraging.

It’s so important for us to capture the moments and look on them with delight. See the growth. The victories. The rewards. Knowing we are doing the most important job in the world.

Having 7 kiddo’s spanning ages 25-9, I have days where the work done seems to be undone just as fast. There are also days where I seem to be watching my older kids run into the world with ‘great strength and grace.’ In those moments I can say job well done. It was fruitful. Delightful. Well worth it.

The greatest reward? After a time of establishing their own roots, pawing in their own dirt, they come back. New and different relationships evolve. It is then I know, that I did and am doing the most important job in the world.

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