Tag Archives: parenting

SuperBowl, Commercials, #tweetstorms, and Freedom

Oh, my.

Sometimes, I know I should look the other way, not say anything, and go on with my life.  However, other times I feel like I just have to say something.  This is probably one  of those times that several readers will fall on either side of the fence and think that I should have done one or the other.  My guess is that we will all have opinions.

And that is the truth, isn’t it? We all have opinions.

To be clear: the SuperBowl is one of my favorite holidays.  I prefer it over Valentine’s Day and Halloween because at Super Bowl parties I get to eat good stuff (like chocolate fondue) and I don’t have to dress up like a clown.  I love how it can pull different groups of people together in a competitive spirit.  And I like watching people watch the game. I learn so much.

Of course, the commercials rarely disappoint.

I love what Doritos has done for the past several years with the “Crash the SuperBowl” contest.  All of the Doritos’ commercials shown during Super Bowl spots were originally part of a contest for amateurs to earn their way into a professional commercial spot. Viewers vote on their favorites, and the prizes are amazing.

Last year’s winner was super funny.  Click here to watch it again.

When I saw one of this year’s ads – the one where the dad ate Doritos during an ultrasound – I laughed out loud.  Seriously.  Super cute.  Did you read that? I said, “Super cute.”

All day yesterday, though, I read tweet after tweet and more tweets responding to those first tweets about how the commercial was controversial.

Excuse me? Is this the same commercial I saw?  I am completely baffled by all sides of the controversy.  This was an advertisement, people – a well-developed, entertaining advertisement.  The fact that the wife/mom was annoyed at the crunching sound of Doritos during an ultrasound was hysterical – and almost any woman I know would love for the baby to have that kind of motivation to prompt a quick delivery.

Tomorrow is my son’s 19th birthday (I can’t believe he is that old!).  I found out that I was pregnant with him well into my pregnancy and had to have an ultrasound to determine when he was due.  A year before, I had an ultrasound to check on his sweet older sister.

When I have an ultrasound of an organ, the tech is looking at that organ, right?

When I have an ultrasound of what is growing inside of my uterus, the tech is looking at a baby…albeit one that is not ready to live outside of me at 20 weeks gestation.  This does not have to be a loaded term, and I am so confused as to why it became a #tweetstorm.

I drove for several hours yesterday and watched this play out on Twitter at my various stops along the way.  The only thing that makes any sense to me at all is that agreeing that “the thing on the ultrasound screen” is a baby gives name to “the thing” that some want to be able end its growth – abortion.

Here is the thing: we get upset when we are pushed into a corner.  Right now, all sides of all debates in the political, social, religious, intellectual, etc., arenas are pushing each other into corners because no one is listening to each other.  So – we get upset, we get used to being upset, and then we just start conversations already upset.

And we are not listening…

You say “cells” – I say “baby” – “cells” – “baby” – “cells” – “baby”!

“We’ve got spirit, yes, we do – we’ve got spirit, how about you?”

…we are at a pep rally, and we don’t even like the sport!

Seriously, none of us want to be wrong.  None of us want to drop the ball or be the quarterback who gets sacked.  And we certainly don’t want to lose the game and then have to sit through a press conference just to have the world pick that apart later.  Come on – give the guy a break…he lost a Super Bowl game, and you want him to do a press conference?

I digressed…sorry – that is another post.  The truth is that often our rhetoric comes from a position of being cornered.

None of us wants to be faced with the decision of a pregnancy that puts us in an impossible situation.

None of us wants to be the parents of the girl who has an abortion because she thought we would be angry – or the parents of the boy whose girlfriend has an abortion because he thought we would be angry.

We don’t want these things, yet we play the game as if it were our game to play.  We go out on the field, we line up on the line of scrimmage, and we hope that the other team fumbles so that we can grab the ball, make the play, and dance the victory dance.

All the while, there are real people living real life, making real decisions, and struggling through it all.

We vote for the politician who claims to support our stance on the issue, and then we realize that the Supreme Court holds the cards anyway.  We protest, picket, and plead – each “team” chanting their cheers, slogans, and angles.

Rarely do we listen to each other.  Rarely do we listen to the people who have made decisions in the past about issues or who are faced with them today.

I live in America where opinions are allowed, tolerated, and encouraged. I get to stand on my side of the field, and you get to stand on your side of the field – regardless of whether that side is the same side as mine or not.  Tolerance means that I let you think your way even when I strongly disagree.

Sometimes, our freedom gets away from us, and we get a little carried away. If only there were a flag on the freedom field for taunting…

It is time to start listening.

Several years ago, I taught a high school speech class.  When it came time for students to present persuasion speeches, abortion came up very often.  As I listened to the speeches, I was stunned at the anger with which high school students could already have toward someone who disagreed with them.  I asked them all to take some deep breaths and to reconsider their rhetoric.  Consider what it might be like to have an abortion.  Consider what it might be like to believe that abortion is murder.

For high school students, the answers seemed easy until they had to consider the other side – not the argument but rather the shoes which the person on the other side of the argument wore.  I’m not saying that abortion is a grey issue – what I’m saying is that we become less angry about difficult issues when we start to listen to people who disagree with us.

When we listen to those who disagree with us, we win the game.  We can have firm convictions, attempt to influence legislation, and help to alleviate the suffering of those around us while listening to those who disagree with us.  We might even be able to work together.

Consider what seems to be an odd pairing of pro-life Catholics with Atheists for Life.  They have some fundamental differences; however, they both want to end abortion.  Rather than focusing on that which divides them, they work together on what they hold in common.  My guess is that this required some listening to each other.

As I wrote this post, I watched the “controversial” commercial again a couple of times.  I still do not see it – neither of the possible “its” that the #tweetstorms suggested.

What I did see was that ultrasounds have gotten a whole lot better than they were 19 years ago when I looked at my son for the first time and found out that he would arrive only six months later.

It kind of makes me want to have another baby just to see that cuteness on the screen in this new way.

Hold on.  Strike that.

I’ll wait – some day, maybe I will get to see a grandchild’s ultrasound in color.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Relationships, Thoughts

A Public Letter to My Daughter as She Turns 20

Dear Beth:

I told you earlier this week that I had changed my mind about letting you turn 20 today and that I planned to write a blog post about it.  I wanted you (and the world) to know why I would let you do that.

Before that happens, though, I think we should reflect upon why I had thought you turning 20 would be a bad idea.

  1. The first time I saw you, I knew you would do this to me some day.  By “this,” I mean that you would grow out of needing me in the same way that you did then. As each year passed, our relationship changed. That scared me because I had no experience with raising a child before you came along.
  2. I liked you the way you were at each stage.  I want to freeze all of those ages in time and be able to go back and hug that little person at that stage. I also would not mind doing a few things differently now that I know what I know now.
  3. Being a mom for the past twenty years has been the best thing I have done.  If you are an adult, that changes my responsibilities.  I am not sure that I want to learn new things. I am just getting the old ones down.

Earlier this week, I decided I could let you turn 20. In fact, I felt compelled to let you turn 20.

The world is a scary place right now. There is so much wrong in it.  As your parent, it is kind of scary to consider what you will face in your adult life.  However, the world does not get better without having better people in it.

I am going to let you turn 20 because I think the world needs more adults like you.  Keeping you from being an adult also keeps you from being the adult that the world needs.  I need you to be an agent of change because you – and others like you – are the best part of our future.

You are smart, witty, and compassionate.  You see the best in people even when they have given you many reasons not to do so.  You approach learning with a hunger that cannot be satisfied, and you just keep wanting more.  You are a super hard worker, know how to work with people, and are just awesome.

The world needs you, Beth, and keeping you from it would simply be rude and unkind.  There is a limited supply of awesomeness out there, and you have a big quantity of it.  Sharing you – adult you -would help all of us.

The world is a good place because you are in it.

So – Happy Birthday!

Love you,



…and my eyes are not even leaking as I write this.



Filed under faith, Parenting

Still Stepping Those Big Steps

As I sit and write this, there is a lot I should be doing. Laundry, dishes, paying bills – tasks that need to be completed before the clock strikes the time to leave on another trip to Texas to see my two freshman Bears (sic’em!).

I have lost track of the times I have been to Baylor this year.

If I sat and thought hard enough, I would remember the whirlwind drives that have become very familiar.

If the same car took all of the trips, it would know its way without my direction.

Lots to be done. But nothing seems as pressing as this writing.

Two years ago around this time of year, I wrote a blog post titled, “The First College Tour,” a misnomer as I had not been on the first college tour. In that post, I shared about how hard this whole “growing up as a parent” seemed.  Watching the little people that I had – at times – hoped would grow up faster than they were so that they could tie their own shoes or use the bathroom without needing constant supervision as they became adults-in-training seemed so hard.

And it still is!

This continuum. This big deal.  This turning of the light switch from “my kids” to “my adults in training.”


And wonderful….

They have navigated a lot. They have had to do so – they chose to attend school thousands of miles away from home.

I can’t believe that you let them go so far away…

Famous words spoken by so many including me.

What was I supposed to do? Lock them up?

I have always said that I wanted them to fly, and they did.  And they are.  And sometimes the road is really bumpy.  And sometimes, even though it is far away, I have to go to see them.

They just left two weeks ago.

Yep. They did. They left.  Again. So much leaving.

  • The beginning of the school year
  • At the end of my surprise trip in October
  • After a wedding
  • At the end of Thanksgiving break
  • At the end of Christmas break
  • At the end of spring break (just two weeks ago)

I think I could make it until the middle of May now, but I am not going to have to do so.  I get in the car this afternoon, and 48 hours from now I see them.

Next year could be different. Maybe I can go to Texas fewer times.

I doubt it.

And it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that I can say, “See you later!” and mean it because I will see them later.

There will be summer, another break, another trip.

It all seems so final on graduation day, on moving day, and every time we say, “Goodbye.”

But it’s not final.

It’s just not.

It really is, “See you soon!”

All of this is just training for the future.

Some day, they will not have stuff stored at my house.  As I typed that, I realized that I still have stuff stored at my house in Grand Forks.   I should probably get that….tangent….

The point is that some day things will look much more permanently changed than they are now.  I have watched others go through this as they have prayed their children through college, marriages, divorces, job changes, and moves.

The changes that come because children grow is hard….for their parents….

I have cheered and teared through every moment of these big steps this year.

And I know for a fact that I will do the same for many years to come.  Every day that they fly, I learn a new way of doing life.

This change seems so sudden, but we have been preparing for it for years.  The first time I put them on the church van to go to summer camp 200 miles away from me was training for today.  The first time they went to the mall with their friends – and no parent along! – was training for today.  The first time they took the car for a drive without a parent in the car was training for today.

While it appears that we – the parents – are training them in each of these instances, there is a very real truth that those circumstances trained us as well.

Plenty of books on parenting exist. None do justice to the way that it really feels when kids leave home.

This is not some cheesy sentimental post.  Really – it’s not.

I want to be serious about the fact that we have to let them fly, to let them go the direction that God takes them, and to let them learn the lessons that we all learned through success and failure.

So…mom, it’s ok to feel like you are still taking big steps…they are big steps…just keep taking them…


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Thoughts

#blizzardof2015 is Proof that Snow is a Junior High Girl

I grew up in North Dakota and have spent most of my life in the “winter world” of the United States.

I know SNOW. I know winter storms. I know storm watches, warnings, and waitings.

For me, snow is like that junior high/middle friend that is both exciting and annoying. 

Some people love her, want to play with her, and cannot wait for her to show up. For these people, snow is the life of the party – maybe even the reason for the party. These people will actually travel hundreds of miles in search of the better her so that they can have even more fun in her.  They buy expensive SUVs to hang out with her, and they have great toys to play with her.

Others cannot stand her, hope she never shows up, and wonder why she doesn’t just go away.  Any sign of her coming sends these people running, hiding, and stocking up in hopes that she leaves – or better – just does not show up at all. These people will also travel hundreds of miles – to get away from her – and they leave for several months waiting out her departure.

I have a love/hate relationship with snow.

I love all the fun she brings – skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating; however, I’m not so thrilled about travel bans and shoveling sidewalks.

Four years ago, Minneapolis had an unusual amount of snow over the winter.  Before the first week in December, we could see the writing on the wall, and it was time for this girl to take action.  The huz and I headed out to the outlet malls west of Minneapolis, and I bought my first pair of truly awesome boots as well as a coat that says, “I know snow on a very personal level.”


A month later, the huz and I took a very needed vacation to the Duluth, MN, area, and my then-recent purchases allowed me to enjoy snow like I had never done so before.  That winter, and the winters that have followed, have been less painful because I had done some growing up, had given snow the respect she deserved, and could enjoy the fun of snow because of a great pair of boots and a winter coat.

Being prepared really makes a difference.

Today’s news shows that snow is having a temper tantrum in the Northeast. Although the reports also show that she decided to leave some states out of her blasts of mean (hurricane strength wind, thundersnow, and big dump of lots), many people are preparing to battle #blizzardof2015 as I write this post.

I read a tweet (from @ChrisCuomo) this morning as I prepared for this post: #blizzardof2015 is all about extremes. 6-8 inches in NYC but 18 on LongIsland and full day of snow and wind ahead for millions in New England.

Snow is that crazy friend – she is extreme, and people respond to her extremely.

Some are thrilled that snow has come their way while most are holed up and waiting for someone else to deal with the mess she leaves behind.

In the case of #blizzardof2015, I would rather be on the slopes than in the city.

It seems like it is all about perspective.  I think we can all agree that snow has her good days and her bad days.  Most of the time it has less to do with her than it does with us. When snow gets in the way of basic functions (will that nursing home get the supplies it needs or will the woman in labor get to the hospital?), she is a real pain.

And this is why snow is that junior high friend of ours.

When she is fun, wow – is she ever fun!

But – ruin our day with her extremes…well, then we have to run home and hide from her until she decides to play a bit more nicely with all of us.


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel

Chick-Fil-A Upgrades a Birthday

bethblogThe sweet child of mine who was just a wee lassie moments ago is now a beautiful young woman in university and celebrated her 19th birthday on Saturday.

This seems absolutely impossible.  Let this be a warning to moms of little ones: it really does go faster than you can imagine.  It really is a good think to keep in mind at 1 a.m. when they are up for the third time, and you can’t see straight any more.

Because she was far away for her big day, I wanted to do something special.

Of course, I sent an awesome gift, texted as soon as I awoke (well after 8 a.m.), posted on Facebook, and made the singing phone call later in the day.

But everyone does those things.

When she was home for winter break, the girl had confided in me that chicken in the dining hall would taste better with Chick-fil-A‘s uniquely awesome buffalo sauce and that packets would be the best way for this to happen because they would be easier to transport than a large bottle.

I remembered this on Tuesday morning and did a search on Amazon and Google.

No luck.

I decided to use social media to get some info and tweeted to @chickfila, “Can I purchase yourbuffalo sauce packets somewhere? My daughter loves them and wants to take them to her campus dining all.”

Someone tweeted back!

The tweeter suggested that I call a local Chick-fil-A to discuss my request.

Google searched, phone number retrieved, and store called.

Me: Hi! Could I speak to a manager about purchasing some of your buffalo sauce packets? My daughter would love to be able to have the sauce in her dining hall on a regular basis. It’s her birthday on Saturday, and I thought it would make a nice gift.

Sweet Chick-fil-A employee: Please hold.  Wait – what?

I patiently repeated myself because it is an odd request.

Sweet Chick-fil-A employee: Hang on. Let me talk to someone.


Sweet Chick-fil-A employee: Hello? So…how many packets were you thinking?

Me: I’m not sure…I guess 50 to 100…it’s a silly gift, but I thought it would be fun.

Sweet Chick-fil-A employee: Not a problem. We can’t sell them to you, but we would love to give your daughter this cool gift for her birthday.  Give me her name, and I will make a bag for her.

Wow.  Wow. Wow.  I was so thrilled.  I am used to hearing, “I’m sorry; we can’t do that.”  Instead, I was told, “We can’t do what you are asking, but we can do something even better!”

I told the girl she had to go to the Chick-fil-A near campus before Saturday as there was a surprise waiting for her.

chickThe Chick-fil-A staff had put together a birthday bag with packets, a t-shirt, and some “free food” coupons along with a card wishing the girl a happy birthday.

Good stories deserve to be shared and celebrated…just like my birthday girl!

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Parenting, Thoughts

We Will Be Ok

My phone dings to notify me that I have received a text. Fortunately, I am sitting in my new office – aka a breakfast nook – in my new house in our new town where we have lived for less than a month because the huz took a new job.  I look quickly at the phone and see that the text is from one of my kids, and my heart skips a beat.

Is it good news? Is it bad news?

Are they doing well? Do they need something?

It is completely unfair that my children are no longer children. They are now adults, and they are in a far away place doing great things. At the beginning of the summer, they graduated.  At the end of the summer, they started…something new, something wonderful, and something that does not require me.

It is unfair, but it is ok.

I have spent the past eighteen years caring about where my children slept, what they ate, if they ate, if they slept…basically what their every move has been.  And now I am supposed to change how I do life while they change how they do life.  As their life starts, my life…changes.

It is ok, though.

It might appear that this change from child to adult happened in one summer.  And I would like to say that they are finished in their development and are ready to rule the world.  But neither of those statements are true.  While they may not be entirely ready to rule the world, they are certainly ready to take the first steps.  More importantly, though, is the fact that they did not become ready in three months.  In fact, they started to learn how to be the people they are a long, long time ago.

The huz and I were young when the kids were born…not much older than they are now.  By the way, that fact scares the crap out of me!  We wanted nothing more than to be good parents.  We read books and hated most of them.  We talked to people we respected who had great kids, and we tried to learn from them. We wanted our kids to know more than anything that we loved them, that we had high expectations, that they were important to us, and that the belong to God.

We put in hours doing all of the things that parents do. We helped with homework until the homework (especially the math!) got too hard for us. We drove to swim practice, cross country meets, and those early morning speech meets (I even became a judge). We attended choir concerts, musicals and plays, and awards’ banquets.  We went to church as a family on Sunday mornings and played board games as a family on Sunday afternoons.

And now – they are far away….and it is ok.

Last weekend, the huz and I attended a family camp at Village Creek Bible Camp for the first time as a couple rather than as a family. The directors’ daughter and another family’s daughter were also missing as they were freshmen off to college for the first time as well.  We commiserated some and talked about how this is the right thing for them all to be doing.

It is not just ok…it is a good thing.

Each of these new students is getting ready to do great things.  They are pre-med and pre-law and pre-greatness. They are the future leaders in our country, in our communities, in our families, and in our churches. They need to hit walls, learn from life experiences, and make decisions for themselves.  When they go to the wrong classroom on the first day of class, pay a bill a few days late, or miss lunch, they are learning how to handle stress, complications, and consequences. These life lessons need to happen in order for them to learn how to do adult things.

Although they think they are adults, they are actually adults in training. We, as their parents, have not given them as much freedom to experience life as we think we have. Once they are away from home (far away, in my children’s cases), there is no way for them to miss life experiences.  Life will find them and will teach them…and we – their parents – are not there to keep it from happening, to make it go away, or to stand in the lesson’s way.

It is a good thing.

There seems to be a natural order of things, and this is definitely a step in that natural order.  While I love my children and would love for them to live in my house for the rest of my life, I love my children and want them to do what they are meant to do.  And what they are meant to do has nothing to do with living in my house forever.  This moment in time, as hard as it is for me – and possibly for them – is a step toward their future.

The best thing I can do is to let go and to let them go…and do whatever they are meant to do.

I have asserted many times over that I do not ever want to stand in the way of whatever great things my kids are meant to do. I now understand the struggle that my parents may have had when the huz and I moved to Massachusetts and then Scotland in pursuit of what we were meant to do.  They let us go, though, and did not stand in our way.  Not that they could have stopped us…but they certainly could have made it difficult.  Instead, they were ok…and they gave us the tools to help us stay connected to them.

When we say – “It is ok.” – we mean we will be ok.

So – for all of us who are doing this for the first time, I declare: we will be ok.  We can stand squarely in the knowledge that parenting will never be over, but how we do it will change.  We will be ok because they will fly higher as we hold them loosely. And we will stand behind them and cheer them on to their greatness.  We will be more than ok – we will be thrilled to watch them grow into great people.

ps: If you see me weeping a bit now and then, it is because I am just not used to this change yet.  They will be tears of joy some day…maybe they are now…


Filed under Parenting

“Between Worlds” – a Review and a Reflection

This post comes to you from a restaurant in Dallas Love Field Airport after a whirlwind trip to Baylor University to help my kids settle into their first year at university. This trip culminates a summer of my entire family preparing for this very week in our lives. We have packed our entire house as we prepared to move our children to Texas and the rest of our lives to Bismarck, ND, where God has called my huz to take on a very unique position at the University of Mary. When the boy and I left for the airport on Sunday, we closed the door to our house in Minneapolis for the last time.

Between Worlds by Marilyn Gardner speaks to this time in my life even though I am not moving to another country or from another country. I received this book in the mail a couple of weeks ago and devoured it within days. I honestly could not put it down and dreaded when other things (often very time sensitive and pressing things) got in the way of my reading it. The book is an easy read as it is set up as short essays – many former or reworked blog posts on Marilyn’s wonderful blog (communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com) where she posts almost daily about our need to engage with one another on many levels. The essays are chunked together thematically, so one could choose to read a single essay, an entire section, or the entire book (just over 200 pages) in one sitting.

I have known Marilyn since the days (over a decade ago) when our family lived in Beverly, MA, while the huz attended seminary at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Marilyn and her family served alongside our family in a college ministry at our church, but she also ministered to me in ways that I had no idea I needed. Marilyn has five children – the youngest only a year or two older than my girl. Her oldest babysat for my kiddos, and they loved her. Marilyn taught me that parenting was more than how to do things right – it was about doing things the way the child needed. It was easy to see that through her five children as they spread across various ages, and that was so helpful to me.

Facebook – though often a nemesis – brought Marilyn back into my life a few years ago…and it was Marilyn who encouraged me to start this blog. I read her blog daily, and it was a joy to read her book and see common themes united into chapters. Much of the book focuses on experiences based on her life as a third culture kid due to her family serving on the mission field in Pakistan and then as an adult world traveler; however, the concepts of belonging, home, grief, and identity are universal to all readers. This book is part learning for the reader who desires to learn more about the life of those who serve overseas and part personal soul search.

The beauty of Marilyn’s book is that I feel as though I am sitting on her porch as she talks about difficult struggles that, though different in actual content, sound like some of my struggles. It’s not that we are comparing or trying to one up each other – we are friends talking about our feelings, our circumstances, and our tears. Marilyn is honest about her faith, the hurdles her faith faces, and her commitment to believe in the midst of struggle.

As I have lived this summer in preparation for leaving behind all that I have known and loved for over a decade to start a new, unknown (and, yes, exciting) adventure, I have felt the tension in my life that I often feel in Marilyn’s writing. Joy and sadness as well as excitement and dread have been in constant flux with one another. To admit excitement about the new adventure felt like betrayal to the people I leave behind. To express sadness at the loss of friends in our former location felt like I was being apprehensive of the relationships that already exist and will deepen in the new location. These are the very kinds of emotions that Marilyn explores in her book as she describes experiences such as leaving for boarding school or returning to her passport country from one that had captured her heart.

I posted on Facebook earlier this week that I am spending this week “in between.” I do not know if I would have used that phrase prior to reading Between Worlds, but I am ever so grateful to have it in my vocabulary now. I strongly urge readers of my blog to consider reading Marilyn’s book – alone or with a group (Marilyn has created a wonderful group guide as well!) as I am sure that it will touch your heart as it has mine.

As I drove away from Baylor University today, my heart and mind were seriously between worlds. On one hand, I wanted to turn around, load up the kids, drag them with me, and lock them in a closet so that I did not have to let them go. Doesn’t that sound like love?? On the other hand, my heart swelled with gratitude that they could send me away and turn toward this new and exciting chapter in their lives. I have always wanted them to soar into whatever their future holds for them, and they both believe that Baylor University is where that begins. I cannot and will not stand in the way of that while, at the same time, I will be overjoyed when I see them again (yes, Thanksgiving tickets are purchased…and I may go visit them sooner than that!).

My “between worlds” experience will not end until later this week when I finally sleep in my own bed late on Friday night. Perhaps – now that my children are far away and I recognize that I am someone who flits from place to place on whim as well as on call – this week is just part of a “between worlds” continuum. Perhaps the timing of this book and the way its content has touched me is an awakening…to realize that I may often live between worlds and in the tension as well as the joy of that. Perhaps it is a reminder to be “all in” wherever I am while being open to the “what next.”

Whatever the case may be, I am thankful for fellow travelers who bear their soul and publish their thoughts to remind me that I am not alone. So – thank you, Marilyn, for once again ministering to me when I barely knew that I needed it.

ps: I just wanted to interject for a minute that though this post is being published on Wednesday morning, it was written on Tuesday afternoon.


Filed under faith, Thoughts, Travel

Good Dads are the Dads We Need

I started this blog post earlier this week in my head. That is how most of my blog posts begin as I think a lot in my head as I drive, as I shop at the grocery store, or as I stare out the window behind my cube on a mind break from my work.

The problem with starting posts in your head is that sometimes the really good post has a hard time getting from brain to fingers.

I have now been staring my screen for several minutes. Every now and then my brain instructs my fingers to type out some content, but then I erase the words because they do not sound like the ones in my head earlier this week.

I wanted to write a post that could identify good fathering.

The post in my head was very eloquent. It identified three key factors to good fathering that I could share with readers. The formula to good fathering would have been yours…free from me here on the internet. If you – fathers at large –  followed these three concepts, you would be a good father, and your children would be amazing.

Good idea, right?

On Friday, the post in my head pushed me to pursue some research from a quality source – my Facebook friends.  I wanted to be able to use examples from others in order to illustrate my three points.  I used my Facebook status to ask three questions of my Facebook friends (I forgot to turn the privacy setting to public as I sometimes do for these quality research moments):

  1. What did you most appreciate about your dad as you were growing up?
  2. What do you now, looking back as an adult, most appreciate about your dad
  3. What do you – as an adult if you are on – presently appreciate about your dad?

Most researchers would not be super happy with the sample of three responses that I received, but I was thrilled. I had hoped for quality answers more than quantity, and quality is what I received.  But there was one problem – the answers did not line up with my three identified qualities (which, by the way, I no longer can remember…that is probably a good thing…read on…!!!).

The answers I received completely changed my blog post.

I no longer had a grand formula of good fathering but rather a single concept that is much more true and accurate than any formula I could devise. Dads and moms are really different animals. What we need from our mothers differs greatly from what we need from our fathers. And my Facebook research reminded me of something that I have known for a long time.

Good dads are the dads we need.

Perhaps this sound trite, convoluted, or even confusing, but it is true. There is no formula to good fathering because few children are alike. Oh, they may have similar characteristics that we can put into boxes: strong-willed, compliant, soft-spoken, academic, athletic, etc. However, each child is unique and requires unique parenting. Therefore, the good dad is the dad who sees his child as unique and who becomes the best dad for that child.

The responses to my Facebook research revealed this to me as young women said the same thing in different ways in response to what they appreciate about their dads:

  1. “He was always proud of me.
  2. “His strong support of me and of what God has called me to do.”
  3. “[He] had two young girls and took the time to understand us and to accept us as we were.”

Good dads are the dads we need. They see us as we are, the help us become better, and they love us even though we (their children) are often unlovely. They approach each child differently and remind their children that fair does not mean that they treat their children the same way but rather treat them the way they need to be treated. Good dads are not perfect – they cannot be because they are not perfect.  But good dads try to be good dads, they strive to be good dads, and they are intentional about being so.

And let’s face it: we need good dads.

We know a good dad when we see one, and we need to celebrate and encourage him to keep being one of the good ones. I could diverge here about our country’s need for good dads, but I do not want to spend time talking about negative things on a positive day…but we know we need good dads.

So – to all of you good dads out there (though most good dads will not even be on the internet today), have a great day!

To all of you who are reading this, get off the internet and go celebrate a good dad in your life – your own dad, your husband, a friend, or even a stranger.  Make today, and even this week, a time to identify a good dad and tell him that he is a good one, why he is, and why you appreciate him.

Good dads need to be celebrated, so go celebrate them!

ps: I think I wrote a better post about this day in the past. My brain is just not working today. I almost gave up completely, so thanks for reading this far. If you want to read that better post, here you go: A Few Good Men – Father’s Day 2012.


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Thoughts

Graduation Day: Nobody Warned Me

Today is my children’s graduation day. Yes – both of my wee babes will wear caps and gowns and will graduate tonight. The how and why of how two kids born a year apart now graduate on the same day can be subject of another post or a private conversation for those who want to know. The bottom line is that they…both…graduate…tonight…

At the beginning of the year, they took a photo a day to document "my senior year" with them. Beth got sick mid-year, and the project sort of ended abruptly when she stopped going to school on  regular basis.

At the beginning of the year, they took a photo a day to document “my senior year” with them. Beth got sick mid-year, and the project sort of ended abruptly when she stopped going to school on regular basis.

My heart is full for them. Tonight, they will speak as the welcome speakers – together – at the ceremony. This summer, they will engage in jobs and internships that will prepare them in ways yet to be known. In the fall, they will both attend Baylor University – far from home, far from me, but full of opportunity. Their paths are in front of them, guided by God as they ask Him to guide. And I could not be happier about who they are today.

But my heart is breaking for me.

Some parents do not seem to have the same problems that I am having, but there are many of us who are. This is our first go around with this crazy graduation thing, and we are lost. We like our kids, and we have raised them to be people with whom we would like to spend more time than with some adults we know. We are thrilled for them – and even at times can’t wait for them to be out of the house because of the inevitable power struggles that happen at this time – but we really just want to swaddle them up in those receiving blankets from the hospital and place them back in the bassinets next to our beds.

And I am upset that nobody warned me of this whole crazy thing when I was in health class learning where babies come from.

I wrote that exact sentiment earlier this year to a friend as I shared with her that the boy now has a girlfriend and that I was getting to know his girlfriend’s mom. While I like the boy’s girlfriend and think that being friends with her mom is brilliant (in fact, I asked  her to be my chaperone buddy tonight at the all night party after graduation, and she said, “yes!”), I had no idea that it would happen some day. And I think that, more than the biology of how to make the babies happen, someone should warn you that some day you will find yourself in this state of jumbled feelings that makes it harder to think clearly about important things…like what to have for supper and what kind of ice cream is your favorite.

I don’t know! Can’t you see that my kids are graduating tonight? Please…don’t ask me any hard questions!

In the end, I doubt that anyone’s warnings would have mattered, and what good would they have done really?

Preparing oneself for a future grief rarely works. In fact, grief by its very nature is not predictable. We cannot prepare ourselves entirely for hard times in the future because experience seems to be different for each of us. How you handle your kids graduating may be very different from the I handle my kids graduating, and that is just fine.

So, fellow parents, let us go into this graduation season with some reminders to help us get through it.

  1. We are all in this together. I mean this! We may not have relied on each other up to this point, but we should rely on each other now. Sharing our grief lightens the load…and sharing with others who experience the same process may help us out.
  2. It is alright to cry. If you cry at the ceremony, do not hide it…whether they are tears of joy or tears of grief, they need to be shed (ask the biology kids about how tear shedding is important for your health!).
  3. We must not compare our worlds to each others’ worlds. Our houses do not have to be perfect. Your graduation party food does not have to be better than your neighbor’s food. My hair does not have to be perfect. Comparing ourselves to others robs us of our present joy.
  4. We must live in the moment. I need to get someone else to take pictures at graduation so that I can just live in the moment of the ceremony. Rather than recording the great times, I want to live in them.
  5. We have done our best; now it is their turn to live their own lives. At our house, we have a saying, “God loves you, and Stacy has a PLAN for your life.” While this stems from the fact that I like to help others discover their passions and jobs that go with those passions, it might be true that I like to meddle in my kids’ lives. I need to step back, be available when they want help, and let them lead.

This is a standing stone in our lives as parents. As many of us are going through picture albums in preparation for parties or to create books, we are seeing other standing stones in our lives. This one may be bigger than some in the past, but it is certainly not the last. We are not giving up our parent hat, but that hat is changing. We have had to be flexible as our kids have grown, and that need will continue as they grow into young adults and beyond.

Parenting is never over, but this particular chapter in our lives as parents of these particular children is over. As we grieve that ending, let us remember (and remind each other as many who have gone down this path have reminded me this year), that our parenting will change and that there are beautiful times ahead in the coming years.

Happy Graduation to the Class of 2014…and their parents!


Filed under Education, Parenting, Relationships, Thoughts

The First College Tour

Yesterday was a huge day in my life as a mom.

We went on our first college tour as a family.

This week is spring break for my kiddos, and we made the long drive to Waco, TX, to visit family and to tour Baylor University.  The drive was a blast, and our trip has been great.

I need to clarify: both of my children will graduate next year.  Because of the strange way that our family has lived out its life, our kiddos are in the same grade even though they are a year apart by age.  While this has many benefits, I can see how the nest emptying out all in one graduation moment could have its difficulties (for me).

My kids growing up has been great, but it has been hard as well.  And this whole “college thing” just makes it even more real. There is nothing like being on a college tour to help you realize that time is flying by.

Step back for a minute….

The girl had visited Baylor University in August when she flew in to visit family.  I could not believe that she had gone on her first college tour without me.  She went with her aunt.  It was heart-breaking.  I’m a guidance counselor. And I’m her mother!

I gulped hard and was happy for her while at the same time I hurt for me.  She was so proud, as we took the tour yesterday, to tell us how much she already knew.

Letting her do the tour without me was just one of many huge steps to come.

And our tour yesterday was another example of a huge step.  I trailed behind the tour guide, did not ask a ton of questions, and was not “that parent” on the tour.  I am quite sure that the boy was happy about this as he thinks I am “that parent” on just about every occasion possible.

As I rode the tour bus, it dawned on me that there is no turning back.  They are in the midst of deciding the next step in their lives, and – though I can say what I want – the decision really must be theirs.

And this step will determine the course of their lives.

It is a big deal.

And I felt that big deal most of yesterday.  I felt it all…

I realize that this is something that I have to get used to feeling – a loss that isn’t a loss yet, a future on its way, and a whole new stage of parenting.  The way I parent today prepares them for this future, but I have to accept that the new stage is on its way and will change how we interact with each other in the next few years.

Yesterday was just part of the continuum, and it is all going fast.

Too fast.

In my mind, I can still see the cute little people who stood – in their cute little uniforms – in front of our flat’s door in  Edinburgh, Scotland, on their first day of school in 2001.

And yesterday they walked across the Baylor University campus as if they were ready to stay and participate.

What made yesterday so awesome?

  1. The kids had prepared by looking at the website a lot.
  2. The kids had looked at several other university and college websites so that they were able to make comparisons.
  3. We knew people in the area and at the school.
  4. The school gave the kids free t-shirts (you think I’m kidding? I’m not!).
  5. I tried to let them lead rather than to take control of the situation (note: tried).

I will spend the next eighteen months trying to let them lead rather than to take control of the situation….and that started yesterday…

If you have a junior in high school, how are you doing? If you have kiddos who have graduated, what was the most helpful in the college search?  What has been the hardest thing about your kids growing up?


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Travel