Archive for the 'Lessons learned' Category

Lessons from kids and cats

Thank you all for your love, support and kind words about our sweet Smokey. We are all doing okay, but I am sort of hazing through today. Hmmm…I may have just made up a new use for the word “hazing.” You know how you are kind of going through the motions, but feeling a lot like you are in a haze? That is me today – hazing through.

I wish I could channel the amazing resiliency, innocence and naivety of my kids. Last week Addie’s teacher’s mom passed away. We (the parents) were organizing a gift for Miss C., but I hadn’t said anything to Addie, I just wasn’t sure if they were going to say something to the kids in the class or not, so I kind of (mercifully) avoided the subject. But Addie came home from school and just sort of matter-of-factly blurted out –

A: Miss C’s mommy died.
M: Uh…um. I heard that. Yes. Did Miss M. tell you that in school today?
A: Yep. Miss C. is probably going to be a little sad for awhiles, but that’s okay – her mommy is in heaven.

And she just walked away and continued on with her play.

Now, I know that she just doesn’t understand the permanence of someone passing, the not being able to ever see or talk to them again. But to just be so certain, and have that faith that yes it happened, it happened for a reason, and that the person is someplace better. I wish that I could have that.

We have spent a lot of time the past two days talking about all the funny stuff we remember about Smokey. The girls like talking about the other animals that we think are up in animal heaven with Smokey; their fish, Tuck – Em’s turtle, Nana & Papa’s puppy.  I told them of my cat and dog I had when I was growing up. We had a big old tomcat who was all white and named Casper (after the friendly ghost, naturally!). I think he had many more than nine lives, and used every last one of them up.

After, when I thought we were on a completely different subject, Addie just piped up with “Mama? Do you think Smokey is playing with your ghost cat in heaven?” After we laughed, we all agreed that Smokey and Casper probably were having quite a frolicking time up in a big meadow filled with all-you-can-eat tuna and whipped cream. But Tuck and the various fish probably have their own safe pond to swim around in.

The talking about it all seems to be what the girls need right now. Several times today Addie would just sigh and say “I miss Smokey.” But no tears, again just sending a little offering up. And Emma was determined to “share” Smokey with her class for share day today. So I found a bunch of photos and she went in and talked about what had happened. That, too! I can barely write about it, let alone get up in front of a bunch of my friends and talk about it. Kids are just amazing creatures and I think I have gained much more strength from them, than I have offered to them.

As for me, I just feel sad. And I keep telling myself that she was just a cat, but I know she wasn’t just a cat. She really was a part of our life. And of course, that leads to a panic with the thought of losing someone really close to me. I’ve lost older aunts and uncles and grandparents, of course. But they all seemed a little bit “circle of life-ish.” I grieved, but was able to get through it and now just remember them fondly. But…ugh, I can’t even type it. You all know those fears, and it is just too dangerous to even say aloud.

And besides the sadness, I have been feeling so very guilty. How many times did I say to J. – “Smokey is just so skinny.” Why didn’t I take her in sooner than her yearly checkup? Would it have mattered? And how many times did I curse the cats while I was cleaning up one of their “misses” near the litterbox? Or push her away as she is lying on my arm as I’m trying to work?

Another life lesson learned. Well, I guess it wasn’t really learned – I certainly know that life is not certain, and you can’t take anything or anyone for granted. We just don’t know how much time we have here. We need to make every moment count, because I want to make sure when I am looking back and remembering – I am looking back and remembering way more good stuff than bad. No regrets or “what ifs.”

It is sad that it took this to remind me and make me truly start living like I know it.

The Way I See It #292

I hardly ever read the “Way I See It” on the Starbucks cups, I have been actually trying to remember to bring my reusable cup, so I don’t always get a paper cup anyway. But this morning on our bagel date, Emma made me read my cup to her and the message really struck me. I brought it home so I could make sure to get it down.

I especially thought of my friend Kim and her recent loss of her Grandpa when I was reading it, but it really is a profound sentiment that I think we can all take something from.

The way we get to live forever is
through memories stored in the
hearts and souls of those whose
lives we touch. That’s our soul
print. It’s our comfort, our
emotional nourishment at the end
of the day and the end of a life.
How wonderful that they are called
up at will and savored randomly.
It seems to me we should spend our
lives in a conscious state of
creating these meaningful moments
that live on. Memories matter.

~Leeza Gibbons
(Television and radio personality)

Perfect Parenting

I’m so impressed with how these parents handled a very tricky situation with their son. I only hope some day to have the patience, quick thinking, and just an overall ability to handle a situation like that. (Oh, and to be able to say what the Dad did without wanting to haul off and hit the bully! That, too!)

And the maturity and grace of their 10-year old is surely proof that they are doing an incredible job with him.

Go take a read if you have a moment.

Lessons Learned

Let’s review a few lessons learned that we’ve learned around here so far this week, shall we?

First off, Addie learned that we never, ever take anything from a store without paying for it first.

Yes, Mom and Dad, I too have now felt the horror in realizing that your child has “sticky fingers” and the embarrassment of having to march them back into the store to announce our neglect in paying for an item.

Ad has a tendency to seek out stuffed cats and dogs when we are in a store, and if there is one in the store, she will find it. So while we were at the grocery store this evening she had found, and was carrying, this little puppy around. She often will ask if we can take the found object home, but I tell her the toy has to stay in the store. After an “Ok, Mama,” – she will leave it behind, and that usually is the end of it.

Tonight we were loading the groceries into the car and she looks up at me and so innocently says, “This puppy is so cute, isn’t it Mama?” And before it could even register that it was not a puppy that had traveled to the store with us, Emma yelled, “OOOHHH! Addie! You can’t take that puppy home! Mama didn’t pay for it!”

So we did the “march of shame” back into the store and I told Addie that she had to go back up to the manager and explain that she took the puppy without paying for it and that she was sorry.

I didn’t hear exactly what she said to the manager because he was leaning down to hear her and her back was to me, but I did hear her say “Sowry.” And the manager was very nice and said, “Let’s just make sure we don’t ever take anything out of the store until we have paid for it, ok?”

Then the three of us discussed the situation the entire way home, with Emma leading the discussion in typical big sister fashion – “Addie, you have to buy stuff so that the man at the store has money so he can buy food for his wife and kids too, right Mom?”

Sometimes I’m just not sure how that kid got so wicked smart.

So Addie learned not to steal from “the man” and Mommy learned to always double-check her little bear’s paws before we leave a store.

Next up, we learned that our judicial system here in the good ‘ol USA is painfully slow. When I was excused from jury selection at 3pm today we were already nearly through day two, and a jury hadn’t even been selected. For a trial that is only supposed to last a day, two at the most.

I had resigned myself to the fact that I was more than likely going to be on the jury since I was one of the least offensive and vocal potential jurors in the box, so I was really surprised when I was dismissed.

Besides witnessing the turtle-like pace of the courts firsthand, I guess I also learned that I am not a desirable juror. Meh. I can live with that.

Finally, we learn that Mommy has a pretty good “gig” in the greater scheme of things. I will be the first to admit that being a stay-at-home (sometimes work-at-home) mom is probably the hardest, most mundane, and at times, the most downright boring job that I have ever had, or will ever have. But man, to be gone from 8-5, (and I was mostly sitting around, not actually doing any sort of real work!) and then try to come home catch up with the kids, the housework, the cooking…I think I would be insanely grumpy from the moment I got up til the minute I fell into bed at night.

I really like my life. Albeit boring – I like having a routine and set schedule for errands, cleaning, and laundry. I like having the flexibility to work when I can and when I want to. And I really like knowing what the girls are doing every minute of the day and sharing those little moments with them.

Yes, today I learned to be more thankful and appreciative of the little thing called my life.

And then the wave comes crashing down…

Last night was not one of my finer parenting moments.

It was hitting-rock-bottom awful, in fact. I think it has been brewing for the past few months. I can see myself losing patience much more easily not only with the girls, but just in general. I feel frustrated most of the time and just a little bit out of control. And I have noticed the effect it is having on Em, especially. Her “stern” rants when she is frustrated, her attitude-riddled comments with me, when she yells at her sister – all of it I know she is picking up from me.

So last night.

Have you ever had an experience where you feel like you are outside of your body just watching an event unfold? I felt like that last night. And I was horrified of the monster mom I saw – impatient, yelling, acting like…well, like a 3-year old. After I managed to get the girls into bed, I just went downstairs and wept. I was so upset at myself for handling everything so wrong.

I remembered all my promised whispers when they were born – I can’t imagine ever doing anything to hurt you. I will always love you. I will always take care of you. I will never yell at you or make you feel that you are inconsequential.

I would love to blame being tired, stressed-out, home with the girls by ourselves again, but I can’t. I just completely lost control and failed especially on my last “promise.”. Clearly the book I’m reading (Buddhism for Mothers: A calm approach to caring for yourself and your children) is not working, or I haven’t yet reached the part where I can turn the theories into practicalities.

Thankfully, children wake up each morning only remembering the things they want to remember. They forget and forgive so easily. And since I am the only mother they have ever known, they don’t have a lot to compare it to. This morning they bounded down the stairs, laughing, their little bodies full of energy, ready for a brand-new day.

And, I greeted them with the same enthusiasm and showered love on them as I proposed a little “pact” between all of us. I apologized for being an ogre last night and told them how very sad it made me to be so mean. I also vowed to them that I was going to try much harder to not raise my voice, and then we came up sit a funny signal. Whenever anyone in our house starts to yell, or get angry we are going to give them the “signal.” And give that person an opportunity to settle down and compose themselves.

Em, of course, is a huge cheerleader in the whole experiment. After we had our talk this morning, I had asked Em to do something and she did her little aggravated, “ughhhhh.” I looked at her and said, “Emma Grace…” and she broke out in this huge grin and said, “Hey, Mom! You were supposed to give me our signal!”

The rest of the morning and beginning of the afternoon was beautiful. Like last night never happened. I had obedient, calm girls sharing and being very loving to one another – and me. I felt mindful and focused on them, and found our morning to be so much more enjoyable. I felt like the calm Mommy I want to be. The calm Mommy these two sweet girls deserve.

girls_bw_sm.jpg

I’ll keep you updated on our journey. I feel like we hit the crest of a very big wave last night. Hopefully we are sailing into some calmer seas ahead.

No More Crabby Patties Here

So I’m done. No more “woe is me” pity party around here. Sorry for that little derailment. Thanks for coming back and thank you so, so much for the comments. As my friend Kimmer says, “we all should get a ‘poor me’ day every once in awhile.”

Ahem…yes, I know mine was pushing three days, but we are all good again.

A couple of things pulled me out of the nasty funk.

First, all three projects are done. You know the projects that I have been belly-aching about for oh, i don’t know, like three months now? All done. All sent off. Completed. *big sigh*

And secondly, I just realized, I don’t really have much to complain about in the greater scheme of things. And I remembered the feeling I had a few weeks ago while we were in Michigan. The main reason for the girls and I making the trek back to Michigan was to see J’s grandpa who is not doing very well. He is on his third round of cancer, and this is probably going to be the last fight for him. But, the surprising thing is how totally at peace Grandpa is with all of it. He told us that he is ready to go home, he knows that there is a place for him, and he is just sad that he won’t be here to see the girls grow up. But he knows that it is all going to be okay.

Yes, it was hard to hear him say all of that. But I just remember being so amazed at his faith and his conviction that “this is how it is meant to be.” There are few people in this world that have that kind of complete and total faith. It was inspiring.

The more I thought about this yesterday, the more I realized that I really do believe that there is a “plan for us,” our “lot in life,” our “in the stars,” our “fate.” Whatever you want to call it, whatever you believe in.

And I just reminded myself while I stumble along that path, I had better darn well enjoy it.

I saw this quote the other day, and I’m sorry I can’t remember where I saw it – probably another blog, but it said, “Remember when you have children, the days may be long, but the years are short.”

Too short to sit around feeling sorry for myself, that is for sure.

Welcome Back, Mommy.

I am just feeling so very (choose one, any of them work) lucky/happy/grateful/in love today.

The sun is shining and the flowers are all in bloom. I was a packing machine yesterday (and I made up for my lack of moving organization over the past 2 weeks). I have been able to go on 2 nice long runs this weekend. AND I have had 2 (count ’em!) full nights of sleep this weekend! I’m talking over 7 hours, each night. Would have had even more except I stayed up, get this…reading a book. Not a Sandra Boynton or Elmo book, an honest-to-goodness, mommy, chick-lit BOOK!

Just for anyone taking notes – not that there is going to be a pop quiz or anything – but a “good to know” equation:

Beautiful day + exercise + sleep + leisure time = one VERY happy mommy.

And that is all I have to say about that.

The sleep part of the above equation is due to the fact that A. is back on track again. Thank you, thank you, thank you sweet girl! And it is amazing the difference in her little attitude. She is downright civil! It is like someone took my two tantrum girlies from last week and replaced them with two lovely little cherubs. I am seriously loving it.

Today A. and I had a little alone time, we went to lunch and did a little IKEA shopping and, just like my date with E. on Friday, we had an amazing time. She was perfect. She is so personable and soooo funny. I really love when she is well-rested and her real personality shines through.

I guess the moral of our little story here is that we need to divide and conquer. Although I feel like they get a lot of attention, maybe they really just need a little more personalized attention. A little more one-on-one time.

I think I can do that. Especially now that I am getting more sleep in one night than I was previously getting in 3 nights combined.  I’m back in the land of the living.