Lessons in Being a Pillow

Some parts of parenting come to us naturally. For me those parts were a joy of snack and maintaining a regular napping schedule. Food and sleep are two things I can naturally get behind and support. Other things (pretty much every other thing) have come with a learning curve. Sometimes it is more along the lines of a learning punch in the gut.

My five year old is an emotional creature. I keep thinking maybe next  year she will ‘grow out of it’ but I’ve come to accept that she may always be much like a pinball in regards to emotional highs, lows, tears, and exuberant laughter. That’s only covering five minutes of her normal day.

I will be the first to admit that my natural instinct when someone comes at me with an emotional charge is to be like a brick wall. When something is hurled at a brick wall TYPICALLY one of two things happen. The item bounces back, often times with surprising momentum – anger for anger, tears for tears, and excitement for even more excitement. I kind of tend to match and bounce back what is given. For some this is a good thing. They like the feed back, the like the ability to reflect on their actions as a result of mine. This is to true for Karrigan. It sends her reeling. The other thing that can happen when something is thrown at a brick wall is that the object hits it and shatters, breaks, collapses. I think of this as those moments where two minutes of whining all the sudden become a complete and total sobbing melt down and where neither my child or I walk away feeling like things went well. The wall. That’s what I am naturally.

It has become increasingly apparent that is not what my child needs. What my oldest needs (the other two are yet to be determined) is a pillow.

Man how I wish I meant that in a physical sense. Dairy Queen here I come! Just making sacrifices for the kids and trying to be more pillow-like.

No, what I meant is my child needs an emotional pillow. She needs a mom she can yell at and who gives back a whisper. Have you ever yelled into a pillow? That’s essentially the same affect.

She needs a mother who absorbs her tears, and doesn’t do much more than that. She doesn’t want or need to me fix things. She doesn’t need me to explain her feelings. She just needs a mom who wipes her cheeks and absorbs the tears because that makes them go away faster.

She needs a mom who offers a cuddle when she is frustrated and who doesn’t press and pry for a story to fit with every feeling she has. Sometimes my daughter needs me to just –be.

Quiet. Still. Soft.

Those words don’t describe me naturally but you know what will make those words fit me? Love.

Love for my daughter. The desire to be what she needs, even when my original mold wasn’t created that way. It’s not easy. I raise my voice in response to hers. I tell her to “toughen up” more than is logical. I exclaim “Why are you crying AGAIN?” at least twice a day. Still as parents we strive and we try and lately when I’ve been at my wits end I’ve been taking a look at my pillow and thinking…What would you do big fluffy? Then I try to do that.

The funny thing is …it works.

Oh and being a physical pillow as mentioned before? I’ll always be that, any time her little head needs a place to rest. That’s the best kind of pillow to be.

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Karrigan using Baby Sinclaire as a pillow before her arrival a few years ago!
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#76 Realize That Your Life Is Bigger Than The Box You Will Be Buried In

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Hey Girls,

The above picture is what physically remains of my grandpa, your great grandpa. He passed away last month as peacefully as anyone could hope with your Ba (Grandpa) by his side. He was cremated and packed neatly in that box for burial. At the funeral I commented to your father that it was strange to think that all that was left on earth of someone who was just living, now fits in that box. However, I was wrong.

Your Great Grandpa might have had his physical presence with us diminished, but he is still here. He is here in the way that your Grandpa is so extremely generous. The way he values family over money and loves all sorts of sports.

He is still here in the fact that somehow his pet Dachshund still lives with your Nana and Ba. He always owned one of them for as long as I can remember.

He is here in me – in the way I love to take walks on beautiful days and enjoy sitting around a campfire like I did with him when I was much younger.

He is here in you – the blue eyes, the goofy personality.

I hope that as you grow and live your life you will realize that who you are, and your impact here on the earth will reach beyond your life and beyond your death. Your ashes can be packed and put on a shelf or in the ground, but your life and the choices you made, the family you did or didn’t raise, the people you touched with your actions, they will all live on. Your life is bigger – so much bigger – than your physical existence. Don’t be limited by the box, because you certainly don’t have to be.

This post is to you Grandpa and all the living you still have left to do in the hearts of those who love you!

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Meeting Sinclaire 2014
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Meeting Karrigan 2011

#75 On Loving Villians

This isn’t so much a piece of advice, as it is something you (Karrigan) have taught me.

I love Disney movies. The vast array of lovable, hilarious, sometimes inappropriate, and often brutally honest characters that fill their movies leaves me intrigued every time. Karrigan, you love them too – but with a twist.

You, my sweet daughter, are in love with villains. Those of us who love you came to this realization slowly. It started with you quoting villains, singing their songs, and then continues with us having to repeatedly explain that you can’t act out the scene from The Lion King where Scar announces that he killed Mufasa while mock choking another child. Other parents don’t find that funny. For good reason.

You are the only child who watches the movie The Lorax and then proceeds to sing the 10 seconds of villain lines in the final song that go “Let it die, Let it die, Let it shrivel up and die…” in regards to a defenseless Truffula Tree  repeatedly or who sees Gaston parading around in chauvinistic glory and states enthusiastically, “I LIKE that guy!”

To say that this revelation left me a bit disturbed..is an understatement.

Then I began to study the villains in our movies. Some of them are downright hideous. They are sly, have self serving motives, and know how to raise a raucous. However, there is something else I noticed.

These characters are passionate. They are driven. They are focused. They are bold. They are perfectionists. They are emotional. They don’t change who they are because someone simply tells them they should. They are goal driven – and so my dear daughter..are you.

You have a passion that burns in you brighter than almost anyone I have ever met. You throw yourself fully into everything you do. Temper tantrums included.

Despite their off-kilter motives, their ruthless tactics, and their shenanigans..the villains you feel so drawn to have a lot of killer (pun intended) qualities. Things that I want my daughters to have. Skills that will push you ahead in life. Skills I’m proud that you can recognize in someone else, even when they aren’t designed to be the most lovable person in the world.

What I’ve learned is that you have an amazing ability to see past the bad (seeing past murder as in the case of Scar, might be a bit extreme) and into the good. To find the pieces of yourself that are hidden in others and to latch on to it.

You love the villains because you relate to their boldness, their extremes, their passion. Life will give you plenty of time to learn to hate them – and right now I’m just going to enjoy you sharing the love of some the brightest, show stealing characters in film.

Here is to the villains who have shown you what it means to passionately pursue a goal, to express emotions, and to live on the wild side.

(I would like to say that we both agree that Cruella D’Ville is plain crazy.)

Karrigan’s movie crush

#70 Be Present-Be There

At my work lately we have been talking about “being there”, or as some would put it, being present. Daughter, I challenge you to  be consistently present in the moment. In right now. I know that you are young and the future stretches out before you like a rolling green field just waiting for you to run through it. It’s a bright future. One that I want you to get to enjoy–but there isn’t nearly enough that can be said about the power to be happy, present, aware, and appreciative of the exact moment you are in.

I am telling you this because it is something that I personally have always struggled with. As your mother I tend to get caught up in what will be happening tomorrow, next week, next month, and so on. I often get so focused on the things that are coming up I don’t get to enjoy what I have right now. Then the moment is gone.

Thankfully, you and all your toddler awesomeness has begun to help me stay in the moment. At two years old you are so observant of everything. You don’t even have the real ability to worry about the future, only the ability to live for right now. It’s beautiful. It’s eye opening. It is a trait I want you to carry with you as you grow. There will be times where you must plan and think ahead but I want you to guard that section of your heart and mind that has the ability to take the current moment and live in it, to be present and making the best out of the very minute you have. Enjoy now, trust God with the rest.

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#67 Don’t Ask A Question If You Aren’t Ready For The Answer

You aren’t four years old yet — but my experience with four year olds is that they ask a LOT of questions. You know what I like about them though? They ask all those questions and they truly want the real nitty gritty answer. It is often the parents or adults who feel awkward about the question asked, and skirt their way around answers when most four year olds I know could more than handle the truth. I wish I could say the same for adults.

Life is full of questions- tough questions at that. Where do babies come from? Where does my dog go when it dies? Am I proud of the person I am becoming? Why did I not get the job I applied for? Now that I have this job WHY did I apply for it? Does he love me? Do I love him? How are you? No REALLY how are you? Do I go to college? Where? Is it time to put mom in a nursing home? Will I be able to retire one day?

You get the point.

I’m making you a promise right now that as you begin to face life’s questions –simple and complex– I will always do my best to be honest with you. To give you the straight answer, and if I don’t know the answer I’ll help you find it. Please be prepared though, because I do not promise to give you the answer you would like, hope for, or desire to hear — if it would be telling you a lie. Don’t think you want an honest answer? Then don’t ask.

I want you to always inquire, to desire to know more about the world around you and yourself. However, the world doesn’t need any more people asking questions who don’t have a thick enough skin to handle the truth. I’m not saying that the answer to every question is something bad or grotesque or discouraging, I just want you to be prepared incase you find out something you weren’t expecting. Ask questions–learn–be pleased with the good and struggle your way through the bad. Just make sure that when you ask, you have your ears and heart ready for the answer.

#58 Accept That Life Is Messy

Life is messy…literally and figuratively. The sooner you accept the mess the sooner you learn to handle it. I don’t want you to live in a slob like state. Do your dishes, wash your clothes, tidy up your home for sure. However, you need to realize that sometimes in order to truly live you have to get a little messy.

Relationships don’t always make sense and fairy tale endings can happen but not usually in the wonderful linear method our story books tell us about. Jobs can be tense and school can be too! Things will happen that are outside of your control. Things that break your heart like the loss of a loved one, and things that vault you to new highs such as achieving a goal you have been striving towards for a very long time. If you spend all of your time trying to “tidy up” your life and control every element of it, you will be stressed and weary well before your years. I hope you learn at a young age that sometimes things happen, things that we don’t deserve, things that we can’t control–but we can control how we react to them. That’s the key. Accepting the mess and doing our best.

I love the age that you are at right now. When you make a mess, it is as if you are oblivious that the mess even exists. You simply alter what your doing to adapt to it..and any mess you can’t clean up or work around you just ignore. You have no anxiety or OCD regarding the messes you make and it makes you live and play without restraint. I hope you know how fabulous you are when you live without fear of the mess and how easy all the messes are to clean up, even if they take a little time.

Here you are painting at 15 months..you didn’t mind your hands looked like a priceless Picasso…and I would be lying if I said your stomach wasn’t painted to match 🙂

 

#55 Don’t Give Up On Your Favorite Sports Team

Band wagon fans. They drive me crazy. I think if you have a team you like, you support them when they are up AND when they are down. If your favorite team wins the Super Bowl every year..for 20 straight year..then I hate to tell you that you have never learned what it means to be a fan. What it means to be loyal.

Your father and I are Chiefs fans. We know what it means to “love them through the bad years” and some day when they have a great year we will be right along celebrating with them. It doesn’t matter if our team loses five games in a row, we support them because we like them, because we are fans, because we are loyal. Sure, people might eyeball your dad’s bright Chiefs jacket and shake their head –but he doesn’t care. He has a favorite beloved team and he won’t give up on them.

When you pick a sports team stick with them. Honestly, if you can’t stick with something as simple as that–can you really stick with anything at all? What about that friend who has suddenly become the victim of teasing? How about that family member who just can’t seem to figure out where they are heading in life? What about your religious beliefs? I think being loyal to a favorite team should be simple in the light of those other forms of loyalty.

You can be a Chiefs fan with us or you can infiltrate our home with enemy apparel – just pick a team and stick with them!

This Momma Has Been Slacking…Kind Of.

My dearest daughter..it has been a while since I’ve posted and I have not forgotten you. I’ve simply been distracted by work, by you, by life. The thing I thought would keep me motivated in my advice to you rather back fired. Turns out I liked my advice being “original” or as I thought of it. You win some you lose some.

Tomorrow I will be back to my old agenda of giving you the advice as it comes from my heart, to my mind, to my finger tips.

#53 Make Peace With Your Past So It Won’t Screw Up The Present

Basically I take this as–tie up your loose ends, forgive yourself for mistakes, and don’t be afraid to apologize–all wrapped into one.

Little girl your future is so very bright. Along the way you are going to make great decisions and have good days. Unfortunately, you will also probably make bad ones and have some not so amazing times. It is at the times we realize we have strayed from making good choices, whether of ourself, our family, or our friends that we have a vital decision to make. My suggestion in these instances is to pray. Some people doubt the power of prayer–but I don’t know how someone who prays often and with sincerity could, as I truly feel I have seen amazing things come from my quiet times of prayer.

From there you need to take steps to correct your mistakes. Perhaps you need to ask others for forgiveness for unkind actions. Usually though I find, that you need to forgive yourself. You can’t move on past regrettable decisions until you forgive yourself, knowing that you are going to learn from your mistakes and give yourself the present and future times you deserve.

Pray, learn from your mistakes, don’t burn your bridges, follow through on your word even if it’s difficult, ask for forgiveness and give it too — these things will help your past build up your future instead of let it haunt you. Just note, I never said they were easy. Look it’s some random pictures of me as a kid with the best dog a girl could ever know…..

This post is an elaboration on an article containing advice from Regina Brett..the article can be read here.