Tag Archives: parenting

Cold tea

Everything has taken a back seat—blogging, sleep, the bread making ministry, answering emails and oh yeah did I mention SLEEP. I really miss it. I mean really, really miss it. The freedom to just take a nap or sleep in sounds so heavenly, but I guess that’s just not reality right now. Yeah, my little guy will sleep for fairly long periods at a time, sometimes. Other days not so much.

Some days I feel like I can handle it and other days I don’t handle it well at all. My brain feels like it’s in a constant state of fuzz and it takes everything in me to just perform basic tasks. Is it worth it? Of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I know it’s just a season. Someday, some glorious, blessed day my little guy will sleep through the night and I’ll be so shocked that I’ll probably get up five times anyway just to check on him. Life, what do you do? Seriously what do you do?

You hold on, I guess. Even if it’s just by your pinky finger—you hold on. You remember that even though life doesn’t seem fair at times, and it’s far from easy that this is it. And, when the fog does lift a little and your more normal state of mind returns it really is so wonderful. Those satisfied grins keep you going at 2am. Those little fingers wrapped around yours mean more then words can express. When he does fall asleep after crying, and crying, and crying there’s a beautiful, angelic peace and you ask yourself why were you so overwhelmed two seconds ago. He’s a perfect angel. You learn to be OK with stopping in the middle of projects. You learn not to plan so much. You learn to take five minute showers. You learn to write shorter blogs and drink cold tea. You learn to just hold on. What else can you do? It’s worth it. It’s a season, a season of learning that you’re not as strong as you thought you were and you learn to be ok with that.

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Filed under Contemplations, Parenting

That Not so Innocent Green Eyed Monster

Two blog posts caught my attention this past week, and I can’t seem to get them out of my head. The first post was from a mom with a special needs child writing about how she is unable to like pictures posted on facebook of her friend’s children doing things that her own child will never be able to do. It was a touching, honest piece about the struggles of raising a child with unique challenges. But, while I felt for the author, her conclusions did not sit well with me.

The second piece was an equally honest post also by a mother. This mom wrote about her struggle with feelings of heartbrokenness when she saw her friends’ beautifully decorated nurseries while she raised her two kids in a cramped trailer. Due to a tough financial time, she and her husband were unable to give their kids the space and material comforts that they longed to be able to provide which left this young mom feeling inadequate and unable to rejoice with her friends who were blessed with more spacious accommodations.

I feel for these two ladies. Clearly, they love their kidos and long for them to have as “normal” lives as possible. What I cannot agree with is their conclusions that sometimes your own life is too painful to rejoice in other people’s happiness and that these feelings are some how ok. I just can’t agree. It’s good to be honest about struggles, pain and disappointments in life, but allowing a mindset of, “I can only be happy for you when things are going well for me,” is pure poison. Don’t swallow it.

Last month marks 20 years since my beautiful twin sister Allison passed away. The hurt is still so real that I often find it hard to even talk about her without tearing up. It will probably always be this way, but interestingly enough, I’ve often found healing through allowing myself to be friends with other twins. Yes, there are moments that my heart simply aches when I see twins interacting because I miss that special closeness in my own life, but I’m happy for them. My story also adds a perspective to the lives of twins that I’m privileged to meet because in a way it serves as a reminder for them to be extra thankful for their twin which some have taken for granted.

We are all asked to walk different walks and of course most people would not choose the hard path if given a choice. So many couples passionately declare the vows, “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” but do we really mean it? When financial struggles actually hit or one partner’s health mars the dream of a perfect happy-ever-after, too many times divorce follows. The vows were empty syllables. Someone leaves, seeking their happiness elsewhere, claiming that this wasn’t the life they signed up for even though they had previously vowed to stick it out.

Hard times are a reality. It’s unrealistic to expect a fairytale life in a world that is broken by sin. This is why we need people to walk through life with us and not alienate ourselves when things didn’t turn out as expected. The wisest king in history wrote there is, “a time to weep and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Be there for the tears as well as the celebrations even when it’s not your celebration. We need to stop entertaining the lie that we deserve certain things in life like healthy kids, a picture perfect house, and the perfect marriage.

Each day is a gift. Each life is different from the next, so live yours not someone else’s. Sometimes the best way to work through pain is to take the focus off yourself and be there for someone else. Cry with them in their pain but also be big enough to rejoice with them when something good is happening in their life even if that same thing isn’t happening in yours. Comparison often leads to jealousy and jealousy can lead to hatred of other people’s lives or even your own life. That tenth commandment about not coveting is there for a reason. God doesn’t want us looking around at other people’s things whether that be a well developing child or a perfectly decorated nursery and wish that it was ours. He gives daily grace to handle what life brings and that should be the focus, not alienating people from your life because they have what you wish you could.

Not to say that life is easy or that pain does not cut deeply. It does, so deeply sometimes. But, it’s not healthy to stay too long in that place of pain. Of course, it’s harder for someone who is struggling with infertility to rejoice with a friend who announces her third pregnancy, but what love when the person is able to do so. There aren’t easy answers at times. Of course we all wish for healthy children and financially secure lives, but Jesus said in John 16:33, “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have over come the world.” The first part of the verse says, “I have told you these things so that you may have peace.” Maybe those trouble will come now, or maybe they will come later down the road. The question is how will you handle it—with grace and peace or with bitterness? What will you learn from the painful times? Will your response inspire others up or push them way? The enemy wants us to think that we are in this alone. No one else can possible understand our pain, but that’s not true. When one part of the body of Christ is in pain the whole body feels it even down to the tiniest toe. That’s why we need each other. That’s why it’s important to weep together and also to laugh together.

Each situation is unique. Each special needs child has something to teach the world that only he or she can teach. Every financial struggle is a building block for later in life. Honestly, your children will remember your love and time spent together more then they will a cutely painted nursery decked out in pinterest’s latest.

Be YOU and let your friends be them. Your story, especially those painful parts, is unique. Live your life not someone else’s. Laugh through the fun parts and cry through the hard times. Let people cry with you and be open to rejoicing with them as well. It’s a way to heal your own heart. Don’t let the green eyed monster of jealousy take your eyes off the good things that your life has to offer which includes having the grace to rejoice with those around you.

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Filed under Contemplations, Parenting

Hard Wooden Benches

 

Wooden Benches

I purposely left the house at 2pm—the time that the meeting was supposed to start. Even though I got to the school half an hour late, I was still one of the first parents there. The teachers were crowded around the chalkboard carefully using a ruler and colored chalk to draw out a chart cluttered with numbers. I sat down on one of the wooden benches, lamented the fact that I had forgotten a pen, and tried several times to load facebook’s news feed. Yup, no signal. This was going to be a loooong meeting.

Forty-five minutes after the meeting was supposed to start, the teachers finally called the parents’ meeting to order. I’m sure parents’ meetings in the US aren’t fun, but ones in Kenya seem especially excruciating. All the parents of class seven kids were required to come due to the fact that the class had scored 18/19 in the district on the recent midterm exams. Hard to do worse then that. The teachers spent the majority of the meeting blaming the parents for not properly motivation and providing for their children. How many parents had bought some type of story books for our kids? In a classroom packed with parents only four of us raised our hands. Why weren’t the kids bringing lunches to school? Why weren’t all of the parents present? The kids whose parents hadn’t graced the school with their presence were pulled to one side of the room to serve as an example of what not to do.

Three hours into the meeting my head began to pound. Concentrating so hard on understanding Swahili, seeing kids marched in front of me while their midterm scores were read in front of everyone, heads down staring at their shoes (which were in various stages of disrepair) did a number to my head.

The class teacher with her multi-colored braids and black and white poka-dotted earrings kept saying, “these are good children,” but would then belittle the child for something he or she did in class or for the fact that their parents where absent. The audience chucked at the teacher’s stories of the kids antics, but I couldn’t. One little girl looked like she wished the floor would swallow her—tattered royal blue sweater and all.

Three out of my four kids were in the top 5 of their class with one of my girls scoring the highest score in her section. I was told to buy her a present, and they called her a Muzungu (an English speaking foreigner). My fourth child didn’t fair as well coming in number 14. I was told that he could do better. I nodded and watched him march in line with all the other students who hadn’t quite made the cut.

Each teacher took a turn defending his or her teaching methods. The clock kept ticking. The chief stood up and told a story about how he gives his son money when he scores well on his tests. Then it was the parents’ turn. They mostly blamed the teachers. The teachers turned it back on the parents saying there was only so much that they could do. I saw no end in sight so finally I apologized and ducked out of the dark class room between parental complaints.

The air felt light on my face and my headache slowly started to subside. It seems hopeless at times. Sure, I can do what I can to help the kids who live at the children’s home where I volunteer, but what kind of future do the rest of these kids have? I’ve offered to help out at the school once a week helping with English or composition. The headmaster appreciated my request but has never taken me up on the offer. I’m afraid that he thinks the English teacher would feel threatened by my presence. So I wait. I go to three hour parent meetings, try to show that I do care, and wonder what to do next. How do you help when help is needed but not wanted? How do you help when the teachers care more about defending themselves then they do about educating children?

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Filed under Contemplations, Kenya

Let Me Be

Everyone is an expert, or at least it seems that way sometimes. It doesn’t seem to matter what you’re doing taking a picture, raising a child, running a business someone (often a complete stranger) will have an opinion on how you should go about your task. Of course they mean well, but in my head I’m thinking, “I didn’t ask for your help. You don’t understand what’s involved here. Please just let me be.”

Please don’t get the wrong idea. I’m often very grateful for advice especially from someone in the field who knows what they are talking about or from someone who knows me and understands the situation, but those people who just like to point out mistakes and put in well over their allotted two cents really get on what’s left of my nerves.

I’m sure you’ve meet some doozies. Most of us have like the elderly lady I made the mistake of sitting in front of last weekend while covering a local graduation. Every time I took a picture she looked over my shoulder and told me I needed to get closer. I thanked her for her advice and tried to explain to her that I was happy with the picture and planned on cropping it later on the computer, but that didn’t stop her. She continued to tell me who she thought I should take pictures of and when. The frustrating part was that her prattle made me lose my concentration and almost miss an important shot. Note to self- if there is a beautiful open seat in the front row next to a slightly exocentric looking lady there is probably a good reason no one else chose to sit there. Find a different spot.

Friends of mine who have kids tell me they run into these “experts” all the time. Even through a stranger, or sometimes a well meaning friend, barely knows the situation they think they have the right to give all kinds of advice on pregnancy or how to properly raise a child. My advice, spend at least a month with someone before you start telling giving them advice and even then- do it sparingly.

What happened to the freedom for a little trial and error? Maybe I should have gotten closer to take that picture, I don’t know. Let me figure that out on my own. It will mean more in the long run. It is important to keep in mind that people have varying styles and approaches to life, and that’s a good thing. Just because I’m not doing something the way you would do it doesn’t make my way wrong.

I love photography because you can play with angles and distance to come up with your own style. The same thing is true with writing and even parenting, I think. If you don’t like my style that’s fine write your own book, take your own pictures, but please leave mine alone. I want the freedom to experiment.

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Filed under Contemplations, Humor, Photography