I am From…
Children learn how to speak to others by how we speak to them. If parents are constantly demanding and disrespectful to their children, then guess what, that’s how their children will speak. This is something that I have really been working on. I insist that my boys have manners and say: please, thank you, yes ma’am/sir, no ma’am/sir and things such as this. The thing is, children copy and repeat EVERYTHING. Instead of constantly telling your children to say these things (please & thank you), SHOW them by example, and just like everything else you do, they will end up copying.
I also try to speak politely to my kids when asking them to do things, but I must admit that I can lose my cool when I am rushed or just flat out irritated. To clarify, I’m not suggesting that we NEVER speak sternly to our children, because there are times that stern speech is appropriate. However, I think we should ask our children politely and not take out our emotions on them. For example, the other day we were cleaning things up so I told Max, “Please go put your clothes in the laundry room.” It’s not a question or a suggestion, but a direct order that was asked politely. I didn’t yell, “Go put your clothes in the laundry room now!” It just seems hypocritical for me to expect my kids to ask me for something politely if I’m always yelling and demanding, doesn’t it?
Now, if Max didn’t obey the first time, talked back, or was disrespectful then he would be punished. Personally, I don’t believe in repeating the same thing over and over, nagging, or counting. Oh the counting, don’t get me started. (Beware, tangent coming!) Why do people count? I have NEVER seen it work effectively. In fact, if you count to 3 or 10 or whatever, then you are just teaching your child that they don’t have to obey you immediately, but rather they can wait until the count of 3, 10, 57 (whatever number) to obey and not receive a consequence. Why would you do that? Is that really what you want as a parent? Personally, I want my kids to obey me the first time, not until I count to a certain number. I guess you could argue that you are teaching your children how to count? Okay, back to the subject. If he doesn’t obey after I’ve told him, then he would be punished. No demanding obedience or having a discussion about why he should obey because he already knows he is supposed to obey. After his punishment was over he would then be asked, “What did I tell you to do?” “Did you obey?” “You need to apologize to me for not obeying and then go put your clothes in the laundry room like I asked you.”
My point is, in regular day-to-day conversation, and while going about routine activities teach your children how to speak by EXAMPLE. The end.
Four years ago today a teenage boy named Cory Welch committed suicide. I remember the first day I met Cory. He was a freshman in my Spanish 1 class and it was my first year of teaching. Cory had bleached blonde hair, baggy clothes, and eyes that showed maturity beyond his years. I had him in my first period class and he sat in the front row, near my desk. Everyday Cory struggled to keep his head off his desk, he was clearly not a morning person. Sometimes I would tell Cory to go get a drink or splash some water on his face so that he would wake up.
In class, Cory was easily liked by all his classmates. He was gentle and sweet and very tender-hearted. Cory laughed a lot and always made everyone else laugh when he performed in group skits. He was always silly, and although I would characterize Cory as shy, he had a confidence about him and he didn’t really seem to care what other people thought.
One day Cory went to the bathroom and after 10 to 15 minutes I noticed he was still gone. My room was right near the bathroom, so I opened my door and peaked around the corner to see if he was in the hallway or at the water fountain. When I didn’t see him, I asked the male teacher across the hall from me if he would go into the bathroom to see if Cory was there. After a few minutes the teacher came out and told me that Cory had locked himself in the stall, he was crying and he would not come out. At that point administrators got involved, as well as the police officer. I didn’t see Cory for the rest of the class period. During the passing period I gathered Cory’s stuff and took it to the conference room where I found Cory, his dad, and a counselor. I had no idea what was going on at the time, but Cory, a student I barely knew, came up to me and gave me a hug and thanked me for bring him his bags. This was the beginning of a unique student-teacher relationship. One in which Cory confided in me.
Cory’s family had problems just like any other family. I learned that Cory had a twin brother with special needs that absolutely adored him. I had the pleasure of meeting all of Cory’s family at one point or another. I remember a specific incident when Cory had stayed late after school so that he could retake a test. I remember walking him out of the building and his brother being extremely angry with him because he and his mom had been waiting for quite some time. I later learned that Cory looked after his brother a lot and that they were pretty much inseparable. Cory told me a lot of things in confidence about problems with his parents, his brother, his friends, and even though he’s not here anymore, I won’t betray that trust by revealing any of that information. I did what I could to help Cory, but more than anything, I just listened.
I was lucky to get Cory in my Spanish 2 class the next year. I actually had Cory and his girlfriend in my class. I hadn’t talked to him since the year before and I could tell he had changed. I don’t really know what he was into or doing, but something was different. He seemed like he didn’t really care as much, like life had beat him down and apathy had set it. The thing is, it’s not unusual for teenager to act apathetic about everything, in fact, it’s totally normal. Cory missed a lot of school and during my class his girlfriend was in a pretty bad car accident and missed weeks of school. My class was right in the middle of lunch, so when Cory’s girlfriend wasn’t at school he always asked if he could just stay in my classroom and sleep during lunch. Sometimes we would talk, if he felt like it, and other times he would just sleep while I ate lunch at my desk and worked. I tried to encourage Cory as much as I could and give him advice and mentor him. I’m not arrogant enough to think that anything I did impacted his life in a positive way, but I tried to just listen and help in whatever way I could. That’s not to say that if I ever thought that Cory was in trouble I would have immediately told his parents and the school councilors. I don’t really know if Cory was depressed, but I fear that he was. All I know is that after that year Cory dropped out of school and started working with his dad.
One of my volleyball players, Michelle, was one of Cory’s close friends. It was through her that I found out about Cory’s death. She told me about him picking out a shirt and telling his family that they would never forget that shirt. She told me that he had hung himself in his backyard, and we cried. I was so upset and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Even though I was supposed to be teaching Spanish, the remainder of that week I talked with my classes about depression and teen suicide. I found resources on the Internet and true stories and my classes shared their thoughts and experiences and we had an open dialogue about all the difficulties and stresses teenagers face. We also talked about the responsibility that friends have to other friends to do something when they see signs of serious depression and hear their friends talk about suicide. I told them that even if they think their friend is kidding, they should take it seriously and discuss it further, and if needed, tell an adult.
Cory didn’t have a funeral, but instead there was a memorial service held in his memory. All of this happened during volleyball season and the memorial was on the same night as my team’s first tournament. Anyone that knows me at all knows that I am a complete wreck at funerals. It doesn’t matter if I knew the person really well or never met them, I don’t handle it well. I had recently been to a funeral of another former student that committed suicide and I was such a mess. It was, hands down the worst funeral I’ve ever been to. Going to a funeral of someone that dies is hard, but going to a funeral of a teenager that committed suicide is in a league of its own. In the end, I chose to coach my team and just try to forget. I admit it, I didn’t want to think about it. That night was the best night of my coaching career. My team played out of their head and beat a team that was clearly better than us. The difference was, my team played with heart, and I definitely had some serious emotion that night. On the bus ride home I told my team about Cory and I broke down crying. I told my team how much they meant to me and how they turned a horrible day into an amazing accomplishment. I felt so torn that day. I was so sad, but so proud of my girls. Whether they know it or not, they helped me get through it.
I think about Cory all the time. I wonder what was going on his head. I wonder if I could have said or done something more. I think about how devastated his parents and his brother must have been. I pray for his family in their loss. Even though it’s been four years, it seems like just yesterday Cory was sitting in my classroom and I was walking by his desk with my hand on his shoulder asking him if he was okay. I wish he wouldn’t have lied to me, I wish he would have asked for help.
I have been thinking about some of my friendships lately and how many of them have changed in the last 6 months to the last 10 years. I recently reconnected with a few friends that I haven’t seen or heard from for probably 10 years or more. Wow. That makes me sound really old.
It seems so strange that some friendships can go years without connecting, but once you do connect again it is as if no time has passed at all. Some friendships come so easily and naturally that you don’t really even feel like you have to do anything to maintain it. You just pick up right where you left off and no one’s mad for not staying in contact, in fact, catching up after not seeing or hearing from one another is sometimes the best part. It’s exciting to see the changes, but not always. Sometimes it’s sad, because people change, and that’s not always a good thing. The person you thought you knew is nothing like the person that sits in front of you now. You find yourself not really even connecting to that person anymore, and so you move on.
I guess friendships are just like relationships in the sense that you put yourself out there, if you really are a true friend, and sometimes you get hurt. These are the friendships that can be really great, but sometimes they are the ones that hurt the most. It’s hard to put yourself out there because you know you risk feeling let down and used. On the other hand, it is amazing to have someone that really knows you, including your weaknesses and faults, but loves you and is your biggest fan despite those imperfections. These kinds of friendships are rare, and if you ever find someone that you can really trust, one that won’t hurt you or let you down, then hold onto it.
Then, there are those friendships that start out well, but usually end because one or both people involved don’t work to keep the relationship going. Just like a marriage, friendships take work. Now I will be the first to admit that some friendships require a lot more effort than others. The thing is, the friendship has to be worth it for you to work at it, otherwise what’s the point. If you aren’t getting anything out of the friendship then why bother, right? Other times the friendship might feel like a one-sided relationship. I have been in so many friendships where I felt like I was always the one calling or initiating contact. These types of friendships don’t usually last, because eventually I start putting in as much effort as the other person, which is not much, and so it dies and we just go our separate ways. I just don’t have the energy to keep working at a relationship when the other person just doesn’t seem to care. Maybe they think they care, but their actions definitely don’t show it. I’m not some stalker that is going to try to make someone be friends with me, but at the same time I’m not going to play the role of “the one that keeps the friendship going” while the other person just sits and eats potato chips in front of the TV on the couch. I’m not interested in one-way friendships, I want the relationship to be a mutual one where both people are involved.
If there is one thing I hate, it’s fake friendships. I would much rather be an acquaintance with someone than to be superficial friends. These “wanna be” friendships are the ones that only talk to you when they need something. They don’t really care about you or have any real interest in what’s happening in your life, though they may pretend to at times. They want something. These are the selfish people that hang around just long enough to get whatever it is they want from you and, they are only using you, and when they are done you never hear from them again. You can usually sense these people coming, and if your smart, you act polite and steer clear. Being used and discarded is infuriating.
At different points in my life I’ve had a BEST friend. This term is so overused today, in fact, it rarely means anything special at all because people will say that everyone is their “BFF”. To me it is very superficial and it reminds me of elementary school immaturity of fighting over who was so and so’s BEST friend. Anyway, I digress. To me, a best friend is that one (or more, you don’t have to have just ONE best friend) person that you can talk to at any moment about anything. You never have to be careful what you say, or worry about that person telling your business to others. You can be completely vulnerable in front of this person and not worry at all about being judged or mistreated. At the same time, this person doesn’t sugar coat things and will tell you when you are wrong or give you a swift kick to the rear when you need it. You never have to worry about feeling inferior with this person, or that you are in competition trying to outdo one another. Your love for each other is pure, without jealousy or hidden agendas. This person genuinely wants the best for you and actually really cares about you. Again, this friendship is rare, especially as you get older. Aside from my husband, who is hands down my “BFF” (haha!) I haven’t had a friend like this since I was probably 12.
I don’t know about you, but my list of TRUE friends get smaller and smaller the older I get. Each of my friends are important to me, but they all serve a different purpose in my life. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, you have the friend that you talk to about work and issues associated with it. You have your friend that you can talk to about your family when you have problems or just need to vent. Then you have your friend that you can talk to about certain hobbies or common interests. It’s like each of your friends serve a different purpose for you, and you for them, and it’s great. You love each other for who you are, and your friendships serves a purpose to both of you, so you stick with what works. Sometimes these are the friends that can turn into “best” friends, but not always. Sometimes, they serve the purpose that they serve and nothing more, so you learn to stick with what works and not push further for fear of losing the friendship altogether.
It’s great when people in your family can also serve the role as a friend, but you can’t expect it. Just because you are related to someone, in whatever way, doesn’t mean they are your friend or that they have to be your friend. Sometimes family is just family, and nothing more. Other times, your family members are your “best” friends because you do share common interest and you do genuinely care about one another enough to put the other person’s interest or well-being before your own. You can’t find many non-family members that will be as self-less as family. It’s just rare. All I know is, the older I get, the more I realize that no one cares about me like my family.
I think friendships between girls have a completely different dynamic than boys or girl-boy friendships. Girls are more insecure and more self-conscious and that usually leads to competition and back stabbing. It can be pretty ugly. I remember some really horrible things that went down when I was in elementary school and middle school between girls. I truly think girls are meaner and crueler than boys and they know exactly where it hurts the most. For that reason, I always had a lot more guy friends that I felt I could talk to because I didn’t want the caddy back biting of girls. I still feel like as an adult that I have friends that always seem to try to ask my advice about something and then do everything they can to prove me wrong. Sometimes I am dumb enough to continue to participate in discussions thinking that the person genuinely wants to know what I think, only to be reminded that it was just adding fuel to the fire. I am still learning that it is better just to keep my mouth shut and trying very hard to put that into practice. I would much rather not say anything than give a person information and watch them use it to turn against me.
I don’t know if the tone of this seems negative, but if it did, that was not my intention. I guess I just needed to vent and get some things straight in my mind. For whatever reason, writing helps me clear my head and get a new perspective about things, usually a more positive one. Believe it or not, I feel better. I want to be clear that I have been thinking about these things for over a month now and I don’t really have anyone in mind in writing this. I’ve just been reminiscing about old times and friendships that have died, changed, and developed. I’m extremely thankful for the friendships I have in my life, and as much as I would like to convince myself that I don’t really need friends, I do. We all do, to some extent. Some are perfectly content to have 1 or 2 friends, while others need hundreds. Whatever the case may be for you, remember to be a good friend. Don’t always call your friends because you want to talk about yourself, sometimes call them and let them talk about themselves. Be honest, be genuine, and if you are a true friend, don’t slack off, give it all you’ve got. I am saying this as much to myself as I am to anyone else, I’m really going to work on being a better friend and serving others.
So today is Father’s Day and it was very fitting this morning that my husband was snuggled up on the couch with our two boys watching cartoons. Every time I see Cale playing in the floor with our boys it brings back fond memories of my dad getting under a blanket while Ryan and I tried to jump on him without getting tickled. I have 5 boys in my life that I could not live without, my dad, my husband, my brother, and my two precious boys. Two of those boys, my dad and my husband, are fathers, but they are amazing dads.
My dad and I have always had a unique relationship compared to most father-daughter relationships. I’ve never been a “daddy’s girl” in the sense that I was spoiled by my dad, or that he let me get away with stuff. I wasn’t referred to as a “little princess” or anything superficial like that, our relationship has always been meaningful. My dad is the one person in the world that I connect with the most, we are kindred spirits. We are able to relate to each other because we are so alike, and I can’t explain how awesome it is to have someone like that in my life. In a given situation he knows exactly how I feel or how I react because he knows how he would react. Now don’t get me wrong, Cale is my best friend and partner for life, but we are very different people, which is a good thing. We compliment each other well, his strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa, but our personalities are very different. Cale has had to learn how I think because his perspective is very different. My dad and I have always related without even trying. My dad is my rock. He has always listened to me and valued my opinion, and for that I am thankful. My dad and I have spent countless hours talking. Talking about important things and life-changing decisions, his advice and listening ear are always available whenever I need them. We laugh together, and we cry together (mostly me). He is my comfort and I feel safe in his arms. He still lets me sit in his lap. He has seen me at my best and he has seen me when I was a complete wreck. Just being near him makes me feel better, he is a wonderful consoler. My dad is one of my favorite people and I’ve always highly valued what he thinks. Now my Dad is a grandfather to my two boys. He’s like me in the sense that he’s not a baby person, but as my boys have gotten older, their relationship to their Papa has gotten stronger. My boys are so lucky to have such wonderful examples of christian men around them and I know they will always have a special relationship with their Papa. He will be there for them when they need to get away, or when they need someone to talk to besides their parents. I pray that he will teach them to lead songs and show them how to be godly men.
The most important role model in Max and Jake’s lives is their father. Cale is setting an example before the boys every day of how to be a christian man, a husband, and a father. He will be the one working with them on their first lessons, and he will show them how to be a leader at home. Cale is my soul mate, and while we are very different in some ways, we are perfect for each other. I could not have found a better husband and father to my children. He is selfless and supportive in every way and he is my best friend. We work together well, we are one great team. It takes a great team to raise children and I can honestly say we are almost always on the same page. We are bonded for life by our two beautiful boys, and no one loves them more than we do. Many young fathers have a difficult time dealing with babies and toddlers, it’s a stressful job. Cale is one of the most patient men I know and I could never handle the stress of life without his help. I never have to ask him to help me with the boys or with stuff around the house, we work together to accomplish everything and we try our best to lighten one another’s load. He is firm but fair with our boys and I could not ask for a better father for my children.
I’m very blessed with all of the wonderful people I have in my life. I can’t begin to explain how much I love and appreciate my mom, my sister-in-law and my brother. My boys are lucky to be surrounded with such great Christian examples in their life. Boys need strong men in their life to teach them and show them how to become amazing men and I can’t think of anyone else I would rather have than my husband, my father, and my brother to fulfill that role. It takes a village to raise a child and I thank God that we have that village.
It’s a lousy title. I’m better than that, but when it comes to these “live out loud” moments – things I don’t do often, but sometimes – I don’t often care about headlines. I’m not really looking to grab attention, or make a splash. Usually, no – ALWAYS – I’m really writing to connect with one person in mind. This particular person, more than perhaps all others, is one I’ve connected with via this vehicle – namely, writing!
A week or so ago I released a podcast over at Bula Network, my “professional” hangout. It was titled, “Have You Said It Out Loud?” You can hit PLAY if you want. I don’t much care either way to tell you the truth. But the point today is there are things we all need to say out loud – while we can.
There are other things that repel me about saying it out loud. Like Facebook, for instance. And all the ridiculous cries for attention and “look at me, look at me” behaviors I see every single day. Some people seem determined to make me watch the movie that is their life. No thanks. I have my own life. My own movie. And you’d be shocked at how little interest I sometimes have in my own movie. So pardon me if I don’t care about who your “sweetie” is or who you “can’t wait to see.” Many of us are nauseated by it. The “Can’t Get Enough Attention” Ninnies wear on many of us. I am, after all, TGR. (Ask around. I did NOT give myself that title or position. It was thrust upon me. I do, however, wear it proudly, in my fight against all idiocy. There is much to fight.)
Well, today it’s my turn to post something meaningful to me. About a person meaningful to me. I can tell her privately – and I do – how I feel. But this is admittedly living life out loud just to make certain she has record of the facts. If I did it all the time, every day, over every trivial piece of social media real estate offered by the web…well, it wouldn’t likely mean much. But I don’t. In fact, I can count on one hand the times I’ve done this – written something for public consumption about her. She’s been alive 28 years. I don’t think I’ve over done it. Besides, you can just hit that browser button and get out of here if you want. I’ll understand. I didn’t write this for you anyway.
Okay, I think I’ve sufficiently cleared the decks, expressed a few frustrations and even poured out a bit of rage against the Facebook machine. So, it’s time to wax sentimental.
And that’s not hard for me. By nature I’m quite sentimental. You may not know that. But I suspect some do. Renae knows. And today, that’s all that matters.
Here we are. I’m now 53. In the winter she’ll turn 29. We’ve both come a long way since the day of her birth in 1981. Edmond, Oklahoma seems like a lifetime ago. A lot has changed. Edwin Morris left the planet. Others have joined him. Two little boys now walk the planet. I suspect Edwin would have enjoyed seeing the little girl who sat in front of him for years, mothering two little people all her own.
The place of her birth was among the most difficult places for me to leave. But life moves on. We turn pages. Clinging to memories of good times. Minimizing the hard, tough times. Faster than any hard drive, we can summons up data from our memories banks in vivid details of by gone days. It’s a blessing.
I’m unsure what fathers expect of their children when it comes to parenting ability or styles. My parents always felt Rhonda and I were too hard in our parenting. I quickly realized they simply had a different view. The view of grandparents. It’s different. Their leniency of my children wasn’t doled out during my childhood. And for good reason. Training requires a multi-faceted approach. Sometimes a heavy hand. Sometimes not. Sometimes a stern talk. Sometimes more subtle. Grandparents, I can now attest, have the freedom parents don’t. It’s as God designed it. And it’s a good thing. For children, parents and grandparents.
A new role arrived in my life – just another slash behind my name – when Max was born. Again when Jake was born. The approved title, “Papa.” I wear it proudly. Happily. After all, I’ve been old all my life so growing older suits me just fine.
A subject for which I am utterly unqualified to speak. And you know that’s not about to stop me. Especially when it comes to the motherhood of my own daughter. Admittedly, I can’t really write of it without also addressing fatherhood – and the love I have of my son-in-law, Cale. No, I’ve never written of him before so it’s about time he suffered through it. It’ll not likely become a habit, but I have jokingly told him I’d start my day by posting him a Facebook message calling him, “Sweetie.” We laugh. Quite a lot. And it’s nice. I respect him immeasurably.
I don’t know that it ever crossed my mind, “What kind of mother will Renae be?”
I do know it was never a concern. Never, ever have I worried, or fretted, that perhaps motherhood would not suit her. Her competence has simply never been called into question by me. Renae has never been “daddy’s little princess.” One, she never manipulated me. She couldn’t. I’m smarter than that. And so is she. Two, she never sought attention by feigning weakness or helplessness, as is often the case with “little princesses.” She was strong, determined, capable. I’ve never seen her any other way. At anything.
Motherhood is no different.
I’m around her enough to know. I see her kneel down, get eyeball to eyeball and sternly tell her boys how it’ll have to be. Hello, Pot. Meet Kettle. I know that look. I know that tone. I know that determination to train a child.
I also see the knowledge – in both she and Cale – that when children are small, it’s all about imposing your will so these little people learn proper behavior. Few parents get that. Even fewer seem to love their children enough to follow the Bible pattern of proper discipline and training. I don’t see that missing in the life of my kids. I’m thankful. Souls are the most valuable thing that will ever be entrusted to us. It’s urgent we make the most of it. It’s vital that we not let these souls slip through our hands due to neglect, pride, arrogance or any other poor emotion. Every parent simply must step up to the task and complete it successfully. Or die trying.
Compassion. Disciple. Consistency. I see these necessary components in the parent that is my daughter. Like all parents she has tough days. There are days when tears come easy. There are days when smiles are few. But there are days when laughter is frequent. And peaceful sleep can happen in the middle of a lazy afternoon. Only to be erupted by the chaos of an early evening commotion that feels like it just won’t end.
The up’s and down’s of parenting are best endured by the young. Renae understands that now better than ever. Imagine how exhausted you’d be if you weren’t almost 29? The Lord intended young people to raise up little people. Old people are there to help both of them along. I hope to pull my weight.
So, here I am on my birthday – a few days before Mother’s Day. I want to wish my mother, my wife, but most especially my daughter – happy Mother’s Day. Two of them have pretty much completed the heavy lifting part of their work as moms. Renae is smack dab in the middle of it, just now getting her strength for the long stretch ahead. Some days wondering if she’ll survive it. Most days not even really knowing how – just knowing the task must be done. If it must be done, Renae knows it must be done well.
In about 6 months she’ll turn 29. Before she knows it, Max will be off to school, and that’ll change everything. Jake will be out of diapers. And that’ll change everything. Seemingly small feats will be monumental in how they affect the changes in her home. And in how she’ll have to adapt to fill the needs of a maturing family. The skills she needs today will still be needed, and others she knows nothing about – yet. She’ll keep learning that sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield. She’ll learn to enjoy the windshield days.
I don’t doubt her. I’ve never doubted her. Whatever life throws at her, she’ll find a way through it because she’s got God, Cale and the rest of us who love her. Her support system has never been larger – or stronger! She knows it. I hope it propels her with confidence to keep doing the heavy lifting that all moms do with little children.
The children aren’t the only ones learning, maturing and growing. Moms all over the world are taxed to keep up. Even to forge ahead. I’m proud to say that a little girl who sat on the second pew at Edmond, Oklahoma – the city of her birth – now resides 2 miles from me in Bedford, Texas with two little boys of her own. It seems fitting that the little girl who wrestled her brother’s friends would be blessed with two boys – not girls. God gives us what we need. She needed boys. Her boys need her. We all need her.
And she’s up for it all, because she knows I’m here to help. It’s my job. I’m her dad.
I have finally found the mindset and motivation to change my life, and let me tell you, it feels great. Cale and I sat down a few weeks ago and talked about some major changes that needed to occur in our household. Cale bought a small white board that we put in the kitchen and we update it every Sunday evening.
First, Cale has set up for us to read 30 chapters out of the Bible every week. We can do it together or on our own time, but we have until Sunday evening of the next week to finish. It is great because it has made us accountable to each other and it is so much better than us just reading whenever. It should be a priority to read daily and not just something we do “if we have time.”
Secondly, we pray together every night. We take turns praying out loud and it is so amazing to hear each other pour out our hearts in prayer to our Father. It has definitely made us closer and made our marriage better.
We also make goals every week. I get very overwhelmed sometimes when I think about all the things that need to get done. This list of goals doesn’t involve the day to day tasks of laundry and dishes and things like that, but we have the policy of, if it needs to be done, then do it. I had a busy week last week and Cale ended up doing like 4 loads of laundry because it needed to be done. It was awesome and it helped me out so much. We aren’t “assigned” to do chores, but we just work together and get it done. So the goals are usually simple things like, organize my teaching stuff or go through clothes that Jake has outgrown and box them up.
With getting our home on track, it has really helped me to get my mindset changed which relates to changing my lifestyle. I NEED a stress relief, and exercise has always been a great way for me to do that. So I am going to the gym Monday through Friday. On Monday and Tuesday I go after I teach in the morning while my mom watches my boys. On Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I go in the morning and take the boys to the Kids Club. It is taking some adjustment, but the boys are getting used to it and I think it is good for them too.
The hardest part to me is eating healthy. I don’t have a ton of time and so I usually fall prey to whatever is convenient, and that isn’t usually something healthy. So I made a plan that I would just buy Lean Cuisine or Healthy Choice frozen dinners for lunch/dinner. For breakfast I found 2 cereals that have a lot of protein and fiber and keep me full longer than most cereal. I alternate between the two of them. I also found some protein bars made by Special K that are really yummy and I usually just eat that as a late afternoon snack, or for breakfast on the days I am in a hurry.
All the changes have been great for our family and really great for me. I know it will be better for my spiritual life, but it is also helping my mood and self-esteem. I know that I will eventually attain my weight loss. (I don’t care about weight that much but by weight loss goal I really mean clothes size goal) I’m not going to get discouraged this time and quit. I’m just going to live a healthy life style and be the best example that I can be to my children. I’m working on transforming myself from the inside out, and I know I can do it =)
So I must admit that since my writing class I haven’t really done any free writing. I take that back. I did write Max’s 31st month letter a few days ago. Life just keeps going, whether I want it to or not. Jake is going to be a year old this week. It is very exciting in one way, but kind of sad in another. Jake is my last baby. Seriously. Don’t say, oh you might change your mind, or, you never know. Yes, I do know. He is my LAST child. My feelings are different this time. Max was my first child and my feelings were different when he turned a year old. I wasn’t sad at all. In fact, I was really ready for him to get older and excited for him to be a toddler. While I am excited about all the new things Jake is doing and how much fun it is to watch him grow, I’m a little bit sad that he’ll never be this small again. I won’t have a baby to snuggle with anymore, but then again, I won’t have to deal with the a newborn and all the work that entails. Nevertheless, time passes and life goes on.
I’m blessed beyond measure. I don’t need to be preached at about how I should be happy all the time. Don’t tell me how good my life is, because I know. It doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I feel beaten down by life. I struggle. There’s not one thing that beats me down, it’s nothing and it’s everything. You can’t always overcome, and if you think you can then you are wrong. Sometimes you just have to endure. You just have to stick it out and get through it, and hope it won’t last forever. That’s were I’m at. I’m hoping it won’t last forever.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Today I was thinking about how I thrive on being busy and involved in a lot of different things. In high school I was in AP classes, I played volleyball, I was in speech and debate and participated in mock trial, and I was involved in my church. In college I worked and took a full class load. I remember over the summer I took 19 hours, and then one Fall semester I actually took 21 hours. I look back and wonder how in the world I graduated with 144 hours in 3 years and also worked. As soon as I graduated college I started teaching high school full-time with 2 different preps while coaching 2 sports and planning a wedding. Maybe the reason I had such a difficult time adjusting when I had my first son was because I went from being very busy (and visibly productive) to being at home all day with an infant, and nothing else. For the first 6 months of Max’s life I didn’t do anything but take care of him. When he was 6 months old I started coaching a club volleyball team, which consisted of 1 night a week of practice and 5 weekend tournaments spread out over the course of 4 months. I love being a stay at home mom, but as a person I need something more. Now I find myself teaching 3 hours on Monday and 3 hours on Tuesday. I am coaching a club volleyball team. I am getting my Masters. By the way, I also have a 2.5 year old (that I am about to start trying to potty train) and a 10 month old that is almost walking. I am busy. Why is it that I am more productive when I am the busiest? Am I the only one that is like this? That first 6 months of Max’s life I did NOTHING. Well, okay, not NOTHING. I took care of an infant and kept him fed and bathed and entertained as much as possible. I feel like I barely managed to stay on top of laundry and if I cooked a meal and had the house cleaned my husband wondered what got into me.
This may sound totally crazy, but the reason I am getting my Masters is because I needed something for me. I love school. I love to learn. I’m not getting my masters so that I can start pursuing some “dream job”. Right now, I have my dream job. I am getting to stay at home and raise my boys, and I also am getting to be in school and learn great things that I will use in my day -to -day life. While it is great that once I graduate I will have more job options that is not my motivation. I’m in school because I enjoy it. It’s my outlet. I decided to specifically learn more about teaching kids how to be good readers and writers. Even if I never teach reading or writing in a school setting, I do plan on teaching my boys. Getting my masters will help me know how to help my kids, and that is my main motivation. I love to read and write and I want my boys to love it as much as I do.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
MTV has a new show called, “Teen Mom” which is actually a spinoff on another show they created called, “16 and Pregnant.” At first I was skeptical that this show would glamorize teen pregnancy or at the very least make motherhood seem like it’s all rainbows and puppies. I have been really surprised at how much this show has affected me. I hope that young girls will watch this show and see how difficult it is to be a teen mom. As a high school teacher I had several encounters with pregnant students.
It was the middle of the semester and I got a new student. In walks a pretty young Hispanic girl that had just moved to Texas from California. At first she was really quiet and seemed like she felt out of place. I quickly learned that she spoke Spanish fluently and I started to see her come out of her shell. The class accepted her immediately and she and I developed a good student/teacher relationship. I am a pretty laid back teacher and I am sarcastic by nature, Maria (that’s what we’ll call her) and I joked with each other a lot and I really enjoyed having her in my class. It was very obvious that Maria pretty much knew everything I was teaching. She was one of the few native Spanish speakers that was also literate in Spanish. Maria breezed through my (Spanish 2) class and was a great asset to the other students. The next year, Maria’s junior year, she was in my Pre-AP Spanish 3 class. Maria seemed to really enjoy my class and confided in me with some of the personal stuff she was going through. I tried my best to give her sound advice and show her understanding with the struggles she faced.
The next year, Maria’s senior year, she came by my classroom to see me. She wasn’t taking my class anymore, but we stayed in touch and she always hugged me when she saw me. (Side note: I know that in elementary school kids hug their teachers all the time, but it’s not that way in high school. As a high school teacher I wasn’t all that comfortable with hugging my students, but Maria and I had a special relationship.) It was in the middle of the day and Maria was coming to my class during her lunch period. She came up to my desk (I had a class) and pulled out an ultrasound picture. All I could say was, “Oh, Maria.” She told me that she was due in April and the father was her ex-boyfriend from California. She explained that she had gone to visit her family in California over the summer and she and her ex-boyfriend started hanging out again. She told me that she had told her parents, and they didn’t want her to have the baby. At that time she hadn’t told her ex-boyfriend, and she explained that they weren’t together, she had just made a mistake. I asked her what her “plan” for school was and she assured me that she was still going to graduate. She was planning on taking only a few weeks off after having the baby and then she planned to come back to school to finish out her senior year. I hugged her and told her that if she needed anything she could come to me anytime. I gave her my cell phone number and told her to keep in touch with me. (To be continued…_)
Why is it that every team that participates gets a trophy? I have a real problem with the idea behind “everyone is a winner.” It’s just not true. Not everyone can win. Not every kid can grow up to be a doctor or an NBA basketball player. It’s just not realistic to teach our kids that if they participate then they win. You aren’t going to get the job just because you applied for it. I really think that this “idea” is carried over into education sometimes. We think every kid should get a sticker because they tried. We expect every kid to go to college.
When I was teaching high school the district I taught in had no vocational program at all. I was teaching Pre-AP Spanish 3 and got numerous students that barely passed regular Spanish 2. When I asked these students why they chose to sign up for my class, they told me it was because their counselor told them that they HAD to have 3 years of a foreign language to get accepted into college. SERIOUSLY! What a lie! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for students taking 3 years of a foreign language, but don’t push a kid to take Pre-AP Spanish 3 when they barely made a 70 in regular Spanish 2, because I know what will happen, they will fail. How does failing a class look on a college application? Probably a lot worse than if they had never taken that class at all.
Right now I am teaching grades pre-k through 3rd grade on a part-time basis. The school I work for teaches Spanish, German and French to these grades. Basically each class gets 11-12 weeks of each language. For grades 1-3 I teach for 30 minutes two times a week. For pre-k and kindergarten I teach 30 minutes once a week. My class has no grades except for citizenship and participation. Basically I teach 3-6 hours a week. Yeah, I know, I have it pretty good. Last year was my first year teaching elementary school kids and boy was it a HUGE change from high school kids. One of the main things I noticed was how difficult it was to play games. I don’t know how many times I had students exhibit anger or cry because they did not win. I have even had to remove a student from the class because she got so mad that she didn’t win that she told me it wasn’t fair (but it would have been if she had won) and then proceeded to pitch a fit like a 2 year old. It was shocking and absolutely ridiculous to me. I really think that these students are growing up in a generation that thinks, “Everyone’s a winner” and that everyone should receive a prize, not just the person that actually won. I have had to actually stop playing games in some of my classes because of behavioral issues. What ever happened to teaching our kids to be a good sport? Why do our kids think they should get something just because they participated? I am really bothered by this, especially when I think about how this line of thinking could affect my boys.