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.

img_4215
Karrigan using Baby Sinclaire as a pillow before her arrival a few years ago!
Advertisements

#74 Speak Only Words You Wouldn’t Mind Hearing From Someone Else

Our words have a way of getting the best of us. It is easy to say things we don’t mean and even easier to say things we do mean in the wrong way. American’s thrive on gossip – it is part of why celebrities stay so famous. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again..and again..and again. Choose your words carefully.

I’m not telling you that you have to be Miss Positive Statements Only. I just want you to hear the things you are thinking about saying BEFORE you say them. Especially when they are about someone else. Would you want someone saying the same thing about you? If you are about to speak about someone who isn’t present – would you say the words you are about to speak if they were standing right in front of you? If the answer to those things are no, then I highly encourage you to use restraint.

It has been said that your thoughts become your words, and your words become your actions. If you are thinking hurtful or rude things it is only a matter of time before you are saying them. If you are saying hurtful and rude things it is only a matter of time before you are doing them. If you are doing hurtful and rude things – then you aren’t living up to the person your mom knows you are able to be.

Listen to your own words in your head – see how they sound to your ears – revise if necessary – then speak.

Here you are having a chat with dad at the Pumpkin Patch this fall.

Image

#64 Be Thankful MORE Than One Day Per Year

It is Thanksgiving and wow do we have a lot to be thankful for this year! I love that our nation has a day that is designed to remind us to be thankful–for friends, family, and everything else we are so blessed with. With that in mind, I want to remind you to live every day thankfully. Be thankful you are alive, be thankful your parents love you, be thankful you aren’t an NFL referee–wait, I got distracted.

As Thanksgivings come and go I hope you will use them to reflect upon all the wonderful things in your life. I also hope that you will remember there are 364 other days in a year to give thanks for as well.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Here is a Thanksgiving throwback from last year..since I haven’t really taken any this year yet!

Image

#63 When it comes to Children (or children at heart), Painting Your Nails, and Baking–Practice Patience.

I am not a patient person by nature. I crave instant gratification. That’s probably why I enjoyed being a waitress so much–going home cash in hand every day. Enough about me, this blog was designed to be about you.

I have learned that for at LEAST three things in life you must have patience.

1. Doing anything with children. In all reality this should say when doing anything with other people, however it is especially true when you are involved with people younger than yourself. Children think and analyze a lot more than we give them credit for. We shouldn’t be worried about rushing them to meet our point of view, speed of step, or sense of humor. Everything to a young child is new and they will make mistakes. Patience in these situations is critical. if you ever have children of your own or spend time with someone else’s children please be patient with them. Trust me, all of those things that you can do so quick and easily now–like reading this blog–you are only able to do because someone once took TIME and used PATIENCE to teach you when you were a slow beginner.

2. Painting your nails requires patience. Since having you, I have made an effort to be more “girly”. I didn’t want to risk having a daughter who was a girly-girl and having no connection to her simply because I was a tom-boy. It may sound silly but it’s true. One thing I have learned is that when painting your nails you MUST have patience. It might seem like that polish is taking 2 hours to dry (when really it is only 20 minutes) but if you don’t just sit and wait you will find yourself with a smudged goopy mess in no time. Besides, wet nails are a great excuse to just take some deep breaths and enjoy the day. Have patience..they will dry..and your blog will wait ’til they do.

3. Be a patient baker. Karrigan, you are already really good at eating under cooked cookies. My  impatience continually gets the best of me in my baking endeavors. I jump the gun on pulling the pan from the oven EVERY time. Images of burnt edges dance in my mind as I stare into the oven begging the item to finish. Sure enough, I remove the goodies from the oven and proudly call them done–only to find a not so done center. Using a timer doesn’t work, especially when I already know our oven takes longer than average to cook things–but still swear by the time suggestion on the box. When baking sweet one, be patient..let the dough rise, let the oven bake, let the cookies cool or suffer the wrath of a burnt tongue.

Really the point of this post is to remind you that sometimes the best thing you can do is sit back and wait. Let the world slide by, give things time, don’t rush what refuses to move faster anyways. Be patient with your youth, and be patient with me as I grow old and become more like a child once again.

Getting big and playing patty-cake.

Image

 

#62 Go Ahead, Wear White After Labor Day

First things first–summer is drawing to a close which means that I have free time (kind of) again and can update my blogs! Yippee.

Now on to my always so serious (yeah right) advice..and I apologize because today’s is a bit of a rant!

All modesty thrown aside, you look amazing in white. Something to do with your skin tone and that splash of curly red hair makes white look stunning on you. Therefore I give you express permission to wear it well beyond Labor Day. I’m guessing you have already figured out that there is something deeper going on here and as a matter of fact there is. What I want you to know is that sometimes (emphasis on sometimes) it is more than OK to break the “rules”. Life has a lot of rules, both as a child and as an adult. Some of the rules are there to keep you safe. Some are there to help you succeed. Others, much like the “no white after Labor Day” rule can be tossed out a window.

At the end of the day you get to decide what guidelines you will live your life by. Pay attention to whose rules of life you are following. Are they God’s rules? The Laws? Your Parents? Some clothing magazine? Your Friends? Keep an idea of what rules you abide by, and live by those that truly have your best interest at heart. Know the rules, evaluate the rules, and sure (some day I will rue the day I wrote this post) go ahead and test them a little–it may be the only way you ever find out why they exist.Image

You really can rock the white clothing!!

#61 Don’t be Afraid to Throw Things Away

Some things in life you will hold on to forever. You will treasure and cherish them at every age. However, as Americans and as people we tend to fall prey to the urge to hoard things. This is such a big issue that there is a TV show about people who hoard so badly they really can’t live their life. 

Today as you were throwing away your stuffed animals (again) as well as anything else you could get your hands on I got to thinking that maybe your idea wasn’t such a bad thing. I know that there are plenty of physical as well as emotional things that my life would be perfectly content with if I just threw them away. Do I really need those dead batteries that were just too far from the trash can to make it in? Do I really need to hang on to anger at someone I never see or deal with any more? Probably not. 

I want you to cherish things–memories, people, and the things placed close to your heart. Never get rid of those things. Just make sure that from time to time you open your eyes, take a look around, and throw away those things in your life that are just taking up space, building dust, and slowing you down.

 

#60 Say You Are Sorry–Then Back It Up With Actions

I hear it on play grounds everywhere from parents of kids of all ages “Say you’re sorry” and I thoroughly believe that saying you are sorry is a skill everyone needs to practice. I also believe that the words can only take you so far. If you push a child down on the play ground, say you are sorry, then three minutes later purposely do it again–the words you used to apologize aren’t worth the breath they were spoken with.

Sorry is a powerful word when used correctly and you don’t need to feel guilty for your actions for your entire life. However, you do need to know that the more words you speak without actions to back them up–the less value your words and apologies will ever have. If you push a kid on the play ground and he falls, you should say you are are sorry, and then don’t do it again. As a matter of fact, if the kid falls down later you should offer him a hand to get back up with. Your actions just backed up your apology. In short, your actions give meaning to your words.

For the most part, people will forgive you when you say you are sorry–but it doesn’t mean they forget what you did. Sorry means that you realize you made a mistake and you don’t intend to do it again. I’m tired of a world of empty apologies and empty words. Pick your words carefully, admit your mistakes, and use your actions to give your words value and power—it will take you far!

Image

#59 Use People’s Criticism to Build You Up–Not Break You Down

Every where you go there will be people who judge you or critique you. It is simply a fact of life. Some of the people will do it as part of their own job, like your boss for example. They are paid to train, coach, and evaluate you at work. As your parent I’m sure there will be times (whether you like it or not) that I may have a critique or two for you as well. There will also be people who give unwelcome and uncalled for critiques of the things you do. Perhaps it will be a peer, someone you idolize, or even a complete stranger.

I’m giving you a heads up now..so that when the comments or criticism come your way you will be prepared to handle it. It is never fun to have your weaknesses pointed out. However, you can use the words of those who point them out to you as a way to improve yourself.

The first thing you have to do is consider whether what the person is telling you really IS an area you need to work on. When your boss or someone who cares about you points out an area of weakness–they are most likely doing it to give you a chance to improve in a positive way. If we were never told our weaknesses by caring or important people we would have an awful hard time improving upon ourselves. A bully or a peer might have criticism on the way you dress or do your hair–and that is where you need to either be prepared to stand by your personal choices or go seek advice from a more trustworthy source!

The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that when negative words come your way you don’t let them lower your self worth. Use them as a chance to evaluate a decision or your actions and then adjust accordingly. Realize that nobody is perfect and that your weaknesses make you human. The best thing you can do is admit you have areas that you need to work on and then take small steps to get better every day.

People will take lots of opportunities to remind you that you aren’t a perfect person–but I wouldn’t have you any other way.

Image

#44 Just Take The Picture!

I take hundreds of pictures. Without exaggeration. I am not a professional. Nobody is going to be paying your mom to take pictures any day soon–but I do it anyways.

Your father hates being in pictures–but I snap photos of him regardless.

Pictures tell a tale. They can tell it from many view points. Pictures mark history. Pictures keep our history rich and alive. Pictures remind us of what we love and what we value at any point in our lives. Take pictures and store them away. Make crafts from them. Hang them on your wall or share them with friends. Take pictures that you keep only for yourself. Take pictures of things you find beautiful and things you find ugly. Use pictures to mark life in brief moments.

There is a time and a place for professional photos. Thank heavens your father and I know two great photographers or else we might not have many of the beautiful portraits, the pictorial memory of your birth, and a great record of our wedding day like we do. However there are many times where it doesn’t matter what camera you have, what skill level you are, what you are wearing, or if your hair is done. What matters is that you take the picture. You capture the moment and you freeze it. Just like a song you truly love–a good picture is one you can look at over and over again and still have the same feelings you did in that moment of taking it.

I hope that some day you will look at the photos I take of you and your father together. That even though he hates having his picture taken–you two will get to sit together and reminisce about the memories you have created together that I do my best to capture. That you will blow the dust off the ones I printed or load the ancient files onto whatever device is hip at the time and share the moments–the memories–the day to day actions of your parents and yourself with your own children and maybe even grandchildren.

When I snap the photo and your dad ducks or uses you as a human shield from the forces within the camera I laugh and keep going–knowing that one day he will squeeze my hand as we turn the page in our album and say thanks for the memories.

Whatever you do darling, Just Take The Picture.

Your Dad and I playing Piano in 2006 When He Came to Visit me in Florida and I Knew he just might be The One.