Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Meatballs, Lies and Forgiveness

I’m 95% certain my six-year-old lied to me this evening. Honestly, it hurts. Forgiving has come difficult, even though it was a really small and perhaps insignificant lie.

It feels like our relationship developed a little crack, and this saddens me because it reminds me that he’s human, too. We’re all imperfect, I know, but this is a new experience. He’s one of those kids who gets in trouble at school for fidgeting or giggling too much with his friends. When disciplined at school, he offers to tell us – even when it’s hard for him – because he knows we care and won’t further punish him for something he’s already atoned for. It’s usually emotional for him, and it eats him up inside.

“Go away! I don’t deserve nice things!”
“What do you mean?”
“This happened at school, too! I just don’t like myself. I don’t like that Satan is winning. My life is not right. I wish I had a new life. I’m not crying because of video games; it’s because I just want to be good.”

(After this particular situation, we had a long conversation about why God sent Jesus to help us and how we are forgiven for making bad decisions. Big and deep thoughts are more common these days.)

But this, tonight, was different.

I made spaghetti with homemade meatballs for dinner. He likes meatloaf, but for some reason, meatballs aren’t his thing. We still make him eat a little of everything to keep him introduced to more foods than just his standard favorites. Like any 6-year-old, dinner can be tough. Lots of whining and refusal to eat; lots of choking down cold food.

He wanted dessert, but he could only have it if he ate a meatball. You know the drill. I left him to it, and got to working on other things around the house. Taking his time, he nibbled at it until I announced it was nearly bedtime and would have to hurry up if he wanted to eat dessert at all.

Just 10 seconds later, he happily showed me his clean fork, so I pulled out a popsicle from the freezer. And then I saw it – I opened the trash can lid to throw away a wrapper, and a half-eaten meatball was sitting there, mocking me.

“Wesley, do you see that?”
“Yeah, but it’s not mine.”
“Are you sure? I don’t think it’s kind or fair to lie.”
“I’m not lying. It’s not mine.”

Biting your tongue and trying to give your child the benefit of the doubt is hard work. I didn’t do so well; I drilled him a little more and tried to believe it. I thought I could break him to spill the beans, but it didn’t happen, and I guess that’s what makes it all the worse.

“Mama, why do you look so mad?”
“I’m having a hard time believing you. I’m more upset that you might be lying to me than I am about the meatball. We don’t lie to each other in this family.”

He gave me eye contact (while eating his popsicle), but he didn’t get emotional. When we’ve doubted him before, he has become so upset that it was impossible to stay on the fence. Steven and I have tried harder to use his word as truth, and it has given Wesley confidence in more recent situations. I had hoped that the guilt factor might come into play here, but it didn’t this time.

Our bedtime routine was strained on my account; I read books aloud through gritted teeth and didn’t offer a goodnight hug. I realize my behavior could make that small crack larger, so I’m working toward forgiveness. After all, isn’t that what makes relationships stronger? We appreciate those who love us despite our mistakes and failures.

Yes, it’s only a meatball, and I know there will be bigger fish to fry in the future. If I only had an ounce of the grace given to me through Jesus… I pray that we may be merciful parents to these children (who begin to think of us as a safe haven and refuge!).

It still amazes me how much I learn about faith through everyday parenting decisions. And forgiveness is hard.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Posted: May 14th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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An Ode to the Moth Colony

Months ago I started a poem describing our moth infestation. It’s been nearly a year since that dreadful situation, and I never got the verses exactly right enough to publish. Here’s a sample of what you were missing:

moth
Where did you come from, Indian Meal Moth?
From our trunk, you say?
So how many weeks were you lost?
We noticed you first on our daily commute
One, two, three?!
Wes and I thought it was merely a fluke.
Perhaps you flew from outside of our car?
Well wait, no –
Oh my gosh! That’s number four!

It went on to describe how I found hundreds in our trunk, how coworkers found dead ones on my clothes, and how several survived and then escaped into Toronto when we drove through Ontario. I know, super fun.

I ought to start another sub-par series of verses to describe our latest infestation: lice.

Oh, yes. We’ve hit a new parenting low.

We were FaceTiming with Steven two weeks ago, when I looked down at Wes’ head. Four or five pieces of white rice were sitting in his hair. Wait, noooooooooooo. “Uh, Steven, we have to hang up right now and go to the store for lice remover.”

“Mama, will they bite me? I’m scared. What’s going to happen to my hair?!” <-All the way to Target. We found the most expensive kit available, and to get home as soon as possible, we tried to use the self-checkout. I’m pretty sure we broke the machine, and everyone around us knew that we were BUYING A LICE KIT. You could see people back away from us. Oh, the stares!

Thank goodness Steven wasn’t home because he would have made so much fun of us (me) as we followed the box directions. “You mean I have to take TWO showers?!” Wesley’s only other complaint (because he cheerfully sat watching Octonauts) was being cold from his bared belly in the drafty kitchen.

Dinner was gourmet peanut butter & honey sandwiches and pretzels – it was nearly 8 p.m. by the time laundry and showers were complete. I stayed up until midnight bagging up stuffed animals, washing coats and furniture and spraying everything else in my path.

Wes got a clean bill of health from the school nurse the next morning and was cleared to join his classmates for their Valentine’s party. Steven was scheduled to fly in that evening, and he made “secret” arrangements for my parents to babysit while we had Valentine’s dinner together.

It was actually pretty amazing. He took so many photos of me throughout our date night. At the time I felt awkward and in the spotlight, but when I look at those photos now, I see love – captured in the way he portrayed me through his shattered iPhone lens, and captured on my own face. He makes me feel like a million bucks.

So, Wesley wasn’t with us or at our house AT ALL from 7:30 a.m. until about 9 p.m. when my parents brought him home. I thought I saw something in his hair then, but I figured I was being paranoid, and brushed it off. But in the morning, the “something” WAS STILL THERE. Teeny, tiny little white things moved when touched.

I called the school and said he’d be late since we had to do another treatment and re-wash his coat, backpack and EVERYTHING ELSE. Once he got to school, however, the nurse said he looked great. We were both baffled. SURELY he had to be getting lice from school, right?! It’s the only place except my parents’ that he’d been that day, and my parents couldn’t have been the original lice source because he hadn’t seen them in weeks. It didn’t make sense.

No other family – that I knew of – reported lice from his classroom. Uuggghhh. I deep cleaned the entire house AGAIN, and then I checked the dogs, just to make sure…of what? I didn’t know.

Lucy had suspicious flaky skin, and I could have sworn some of the skin flakes hopped. Google doesn’t help when you’re freaking out, and I convinced myself that she had “walking lice.” I called the vet and tried to convince them (“Ma’am, lice aren’t able to cross species.”), and scheduled an emergency appointment for that afternoon.

At the last moment, I decided to bring Jake along, too, because what if he was contaminated? I don’t know where my mind was. Bringing two dogs to a busy veterinarian by yourself is difficult, but it seemed necessary. The appointment was anticlimactic – yep, just dry irritation – and confirmed my paranoia. The doctor was kind through my apologetic, embarrassed commentary.

Now I have a massive jar of gigantic Omega-3 pills to treat Lucy’s itchy skin. Sorry, girl.

And doubts about the whole messy ordeal. Did I see lice at all? Am I making this up?

No, I know what I saw, and it was gross. Thankfully we’re now able to unbag everything and return to normal. We missed our couch pillows.

I guess the perfect closure to this disgusting blog post is the last stanza of my unfinished ode to our (former) moth colony:

It’s been weeks, even months since you first arrived.
Please go away.
It’s our house, and we don’t like your kind.

Posted: February 27th, 2017
Categories: Leah
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2015: A real, raw Resolution

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Christmas Eve 2014

Another year has gone by, and I’m reflecting on the year of 2014 while my son naps on this New Year’s Eve afternoon. It was a good year – many rejoices with friends and family over accomplishments, new life celebrations and new jobs. And it was a good year for our family, too – Wes’ continual learning has been evident, we have less debt and more savings, etc.

I’m not very good at typical New Year resolutions. I’m terrible at keeping a planned commitment together, so weight loss and reading schedules are out the window by week 2. It’s discouraging to set a resolution like that because I get irritated with my “lazy” self and inability to follow through.

Last year, I resolved to be a more attentive mother. I can proudly say that 2014 has been a year of many romps around the house, read-aloud book time, kitchen experiments, day-trips and excursions. We have had a truly fun and fulfilling year with our preschooler. Making that resolution wasn’t just for Wes, it was for all of us. Paying more attention to our family has brought us closer than ever, and there is a sense of joy felt when we’re all 3 together.

So, for 2015, I want to piggyback off that joyful feeling and apply it to the rest of my life, our lives. I know I blog about this topic often, but I so, so desire to be content, and it is a daily struggle that seems to only have gotten more difficult.

A few days ago, a local mother posted in our neighborhood’s “baby mamas” Facebook page. She was desperately looking for other women who were mothers of only children. I commented on this post, offering to talk, and we ended up sharing via Facebook message for the next two days.

Her experiences are very different than mine – after her third miscarriage on Christmas Eve, she was ready to stop trying for a second child completely and wanted to know (and confirm her decision) about the benefits of a 1-child family.

Over the summer I blogged about our trio family, and I still receive comments and questions about that post, even today. What might have been hidden between the lines was my despair. I have worked very hard over the last year to be at peace with our decision, and it has been most difficult. Granted, I haven’t been very consistent with praying about my contentment; many times my prayers have been only to take the pain away or distract me somehow.

I reached out to this mother because I have felt alone. It’s been a very difficult journey because it’s tough to know how and who to open up to. As much as I love Steven, he cannot understand my mourning for a child that doesn’t exist. And I hate to bring it up (as much as it’s on my mind) because it stirs up emotions that could eventually turn into fights disagreements. I don’t want him to feel like he’s “wrong” and I’m “right,” because that’s simply not true. It’s what we have decided, though it was a much more painful pill for me to swallow than for him. My yearning doesn’t do an ounce of good for our relationship.

My mom is sad for me and shares tears, and sometimes that’s helpful, but it’s draining and I can’t see that it will help for healing if it continues forever. My sister is a great listening ear and also shares my sorrow, but again, I feel the need to limit my open vomiting of sadness. My friends are great, but many are expecting or have had new babies, and it just makes for sometimes awkward conversation with a very large elephant residing in the room. And those that ask about our family planning open up a very raw conversation that is very strange – no, I will not sacrifice my marriage for another child. (I will not have an “accidental” pregnancy.)

I wanted her to know that when she feels lonely, there are other women like her and they can mourn with her. I was also truthful: that days can be tough – especially after wonderful, quiet moments with your existing child. While you’re loving that present moment, it’s bittersweet in that it’s the only child with whom you’ll be able to experience it. Every laugh with Wes, every sporadic ice cream trip – nearly all great things about this year have been shadowed with a dreadful black thought – this is it.

All that aside, yes, I’m grateful. I adore my little family and am truly blessed with my boys and dogs. Our life is full of silliness and experiences, and it’s better than anything I ever imagined. This Facebook mother was also grateful to hear these things, even though she very well understood black days…possibly even more than I will ever know. To know a life within you, and then lose it – I don’t know that I could fully recover on this earth.

I’m thankful that she publicly sought help. I guess that’s kinda what I’m doing now, by being real on this silly little family blog. Keeping it bottled inside isn’t allowing for contentment. Life is full of disappointments and sadness. But it’s also what makes JOY so amazing and wonderful. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think joy = happiness. But joy is a different sort of peace. It exists in my heart, but it needs to be more present.

I don’t ever want Steven or Wesley to think that they aren’t enough – they make my heart beat and burst to fulfilling levels. Heck, all we TRULY NEED is Jesus, and I already have him in my life and heart, so honestly, I am complete. Yet, we are fallible humans and my lack of trust in the Lord is a constant struggle.

So, 2015. Here we come. I realize I will fail some days, but overall, I am doing my best to be content with everything I have and need. These verses from Paul will be my yearly reminder:

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)

Posted: December 31st, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Dirty Boy Smell

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Snuggling with a not-so-happy Jake

One of my favorite new scents is the sweet, sticky smell of sweat and dried slobbery boy-just-woken-up. It’s a horrendously pleasant scent that I have come to associate with a whole new dimension of love.

As the new year begins, I’ve been able to inhale that scent many times. The last few weeks have been wonderful – staying home, lounging, snuggling – but these habits in between Christmases and traveling have made Wesley’s sleep patterns completely off-kilter. During these two weeks, some days he’ll nap 3 hours and be super cuddly the rest of the day. Inhale scent. Other days, he’ll fuss and scream and/or talk to himself for an hour in bed. Team no nap! 

This week, in particular, he’s had lots of trouble going to bed at night. Typically he’s exhausted after a full day of school, and he usually is ready for bed shortly after dinner and watching “Brian.” That’s Brian Williams. He loves that guy. And has been very disappointed that he is on vacation over the holidays. “Where’s Brian?!” Anyway. It’s been a week of restlessness and stalling and crying from the bedroom. He actually STAYED UP for New Year’s, which is crazy, and was up nearly that long last night until he finally fell asleep with me in our bed, post-Benadryl.

But, “since we’ve no place to go” (it’s snowing today), I really don’t mind that he’s wanting/needing extra attention so much. Oh, I know next week is going to be rough as we adjust back to normal routine, but I’ve enjoyed spending precious moments rocking and holding my little boy. He is too long for my lap, so we have to get creative these days. My favorite is squeezing in his little crib-sized toddler bed and whispering secrets to each other. Sometimes we recite whole verses of Jingle Bells in a hushed voice. I breathe in the scent of tired kid and it relaxes me enough to dose off right alongside that boy.

It’s been a great winter break. If nothing else, it’s shown me my New Year Resolution. I’m going to be an attentive mom for my son. I will listen and be available. Not that he will be spoiled, but he will know that he can confide in his parents as he continues to grow. It does me well, too. He helps me keep my head on straight. That pleasant dirty scent may not always appeal to me – especially once hormones change! – but right now, it’s delightful.

Posted: January 2nd, 2014
Categories: Leah
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