Helping Your Child Through Loss

I’m sure I do not have to tell you that becoming a parent changes a lot of things. Some things are obvious. Some hit you a few months into it. Some you realize after years.

One of the biggest changes I’ve been noticing in recent years is friendships. Yes, its harder to make friends when you’re a mom. Blah blah blah. That’s not what I mean, necessarily. I’m talking about losing friendships.

I don’t know about you, but my friends become integral parts of my children’s lives. Probably because, as a mom of four, there really isn’t a way to “hang out” without at least one of them there.

Some friendships just don’t last forever, thats a natural part of life. You drift apart, go through a busy phase. Sometimes you meet up again later in life; sometimes you do not. I’ve had friendships that have lasted around 7 years just fizzle.

Before I had kids, it was tough, sure. Since having kids, its been heartbreaking! I have not experienced anything as tough as trying to explain why “so and so” doesn’t come by to hang out anymore. I, seriously, would rather have to break the news that someone died, before having to tiptoe around why someone suddenly refuses to say, “Hi,” when they see us in the grocery store.

I have not found a good surefire way to break this kind of news, but I do have some tips.

1. Deal with the loss yourself first. Come to grips with it, accept it, then explain it to your child. This helps you control your wording a bit more. If you haven’t fully processed what happened, do not try dumping all of that confusion on your little one.

2. Don’t be afraid to let them see you cry. This is especially true if they start crying. Cry with them. They need to know that it is okay to be sad and that you are going to miss that friendship just as much as they will.

3. Try to stay away from going negative. Be truthful, but do not go into a diatribe of how worthless and stupid this friend was, no matter how tempting that may be. You never know what the future may hold. That friendship might mend someday, but your child will never forget those terrible things you’ve said. Even if you hold no hope of mending the relationship, don’t go negative. This teaches them that it is okay to talk nasty behind people’s backs.

4. If this was a long relationship or a friendship with a family member, remind them that this friend still loves them and it is okay if they still love that friend. Kids have a tendency to internalize in a way that doesn’t make sense to us as adults. Even though we probably did the same thing when we were young. They need to know that friend doesn’t have a problem with them and not to take it personally.

It is still one of the hardest conversations to have, and I do suggest having it. Unless they are 5 or younger do not just wait until they notice and ask about it. It’s a much easier conversation when you control the atmosphere and timing.

Choose Joy!

Yesterday two of my kids woke up in completely two different attitudes. It was my third baby, Ella’s third birthday. Her big sister, Capri, woke up first and was completely psyched for what we had planned. When Ella came stumbling out of her room wiping sleep from her eyes, Capri bombarded her with a boisterous, “Ella!! IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!!”

Moments later my oldest, Colton, comes marching out with a sheen of tears in his eyes. “Mommy, You woke me up when you shouted, ‘Happy Birthday.'” He was utterly offended that we would do such a thing!

As further information, it was already well past the time we all usually wake up. He was simply being grumpy.

Sometimes we are going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but that makes it so much more important to choose joy.

I had a lot of reasons to be sad and down yesterday. A big one being, my kids are growing up too fast! I mean even my tiny baby is well into eating puréed solids and working his way to crawling!!

I heard an author answer the question of what her favorite phase of parenting was in this way, “Every phase has its ups and downs.” Isn’t that so perfect for all of life?

I’m not saying live in a dream world where you ignore the sad things or bad things. Embrace them, knowing that in the next phase of life you might be able to look back and smile. Maybe those tough things are the building blocks for tomorrows tough things. Not a very uplifting thought when you think about it in a pessimistic attitude. But though times are going to come. What are you doing to prepare your resilience??

Every season has really good things and really nasty things. In every season, choose joy!!!

Life Is Short!

What if I told you life is short? Yeah, I can sense the eye rolls and the exasperated sighs from here.

But guess what? Life is so short!

Yesterday I attended a funeral for an eighteen year old boy. I didn’t know him well, but I knew his parents and had watched his older brother in a lot of high school plays. An auditorium with seating for probably 150 to 200 people and there was only standing room left. Some people even had to be tucked off in hallways where they definitely couldn’t hear what was being said.

At every funeral we’re reminded of a reality we’d rather forget. Death is coming for us all. At least at an old man’s funeral, we can tell ourselves it’s so far away. Standing in the back with my four small children, I couldn’t help but wonder. How long do I really get them? We take it for granted that they will grow up and leave home. That we’ll watch them start a life of their own. I’m not saying spend everyday thinking they could die tomorrow, even though it’s a harsh reality.

What am I saying? Life is short! Don’t just live your life that way, teach your children to do the same. You don’t have to be morbid about it. Sure, my children and I talk about death and how quickly life will pass by often. And people think we’re crazy. I want my kids to see that they don’t have to wait until their adults to truly start living a life that has an impact. I want them to be that person who loves on those around them now. Who prays for that person who is hurting. A person like Cody Scott, who by the age of eighteen had made an incredible impact in his family, church, and school!

Motherhood Changes You

Motherhood changes you. At least it should.

For me, I was only 22 when I took my first pregnancy test. I took it just to rule pregnancy out, not because I actually thought I was pregnant. I’d only been married 3 months! My husband and I were saving up money to go live in India and do missionary work for however long we could get away with. As soon as that strip turned pink all of that got flushed down the toilet. Sure, at first I was upset, but the look on my husbands face changed my mind. He was happy. Pleasantly surprised is another way to describe it.

That day my life changed. Suddenly my body was no longer just mine. I shared it with this tiny human, and every choice I made affected us both. What I ate, when I slept, and the stress I allowed myself to feel.

Now a little over eight years later, I’m a completely different person. My life doesn’t revolve around my kids necessarily, but they definitely impact most decisions right now. Last night I laid in bed wondering if I should go along with the plans I made today or stay home so I could let my youngest lay around half naked to dry out his diaper rash.

What’s my point? Your life should change a bit when you become a mother. I’m not saying stop chasing dreams and goals and just stay home waiting on your kid hand and foot. They need to see you living life so they know how to live life when they’re older. But living like a college student on spring break would be the opposite end of that spectrum. I’m not a person to judge how someone else lives their life, but you don’t have your kids with you for very long, just live a life that’s best for them, too, please.

Let Me Hear You Sing

My almost three year old is in the amazing phase where she makes up songs constantly. Sometimes they’re derived from real songs, like the ABCs or Jesus Loves Me, but more often then not they are completely from her imagination. As a musical person I love love love this stage, and wish they would never outgrow it. Lately, she’s been singing the same nonsense song, “Na ma him a day, na ma him a day.” I have no idea what it means, but it has become so near and dear to my heart! It’s also so very catchy, I find myself singing it like a silly advertising jingle.

My older daughter is 5 now and when she was in that stage she would sing about whatever came into her head, or what she was feeling in the moment. I always found myself hanging on every word, desperate to know more about her and what went through her head.

Not all of us have the talent of writing and composing beautiful songs that worship teams across the US would want to sing, but we all have the ability to string along what’s in our hearts and just sing. It might not rhyme or have a catchy beat, but when we’re singing for our Heavenly Father, I believe He smiles and listens closely, desperately wanting to know more about what’s in our hearts!

A Mother’s Precious Time

How much time do you spend with your children? Recently I flippantly shared a meme on my Facebook page (which I honestly never do) that sparked that question in a group of my mom friends.

The meme’s point was that homeschool moms spend 5 times as much time with their kids than the average American mom. I saw it and I thought it would help explain my occasional need of some space from my kids, but realized afterward it was probably a mean poke to those moms who do not homeschool.

I’m just going to take a moment to say here, that homeschooling is simply one option among many to educate and bring up your children. There is nothing, I emphasize absolutely nothing, wrong with not homeschooling. My belief is that we all homeschool our children, some of us just do it full time. But, just because you send your kids to school does not make you any less interested in what or how they’re learning. Anyway, back to my point…

Sure, I spend every waking, and sometimes non-waking moment with my children. I count this to be a blessing and a privilege most days, but there are days it feels more like a prison sentence. But how much time do I actually SPEND with them? Sure, we’re in the same room breathing the same air. But I know that a whole day can be spent this way without ever having a true connection and without putting any effort into a relationship. In fact, some days are more detrimental to our relationship than helpful. So when those days happen does that 16 hour day I spent with my kid make me a better or worse mom than the mom who only got to see her precious child for 2 or 3 hours and spent most of it talking about their day and intentionally connecting? You tell me!

If anything the pure overflow of time I get to, I repeat “get to!”, spend with my children numbs me to the importance and preciousness of every second.

I firmly believe that every mom is striving to do her absolute best! It’s something that just clicks inside the first time you see the pregnancy test, ultrasound photo, or held your baby close to your chest. Your life is no longer just about you anymore.

No matter how many hours you spend in the same space as your kid, just make it count!

The Recipe for Worry

I am a classic over thinker, but lately I’ve realized that isn’t exactly the same thing as being a worrier. I over think what I’ve said or second guess a decision I’m about to make, but I usually don’t spend a lot of time worrying about things. I’m good about telling myself, “God’s taking care of everything.”

Want to know how to turn a pretty laid back person into a worrier? Give her a child. Now she can worry about whether they’re spending too much time with screens, vaccinations, rattlesnakes, fevers, choking in the middle of the night, etcetera etcetera etcetera…

Recently I was talking to a friend about the fears that come along with motherhood. She wondered if there was something wrong with her, but I assured her that it was very natural to fear for the safety and well being of her child.

This past couple of weeks have been crazy for me. My two and a half year old had a reoccurring fever for 8 days, which she proceeded to pass along to the rest of the family, all during the same week I was scheduled to have a C-Section with my fourth baby. My muddled sleep deprived mind went back and forth between wondering what I could do to help my daughters get better quicker and praying I did not catch whatever they had. Not sure if the doctor would preform my C-section if I came in with some virus caused infection. And I had already waited 40 weeks to find out if this baby was a boy or a girl, I did not want to wait another second.

I dropped my poor sickly babies and their big brother off at their grandmothers house and tried to clear my mind and prepare myself for major surgery.

After my little boy (Asher Kade) was born and we were able to go home, my older three were brought back home as well. I thought we could just focus on settling in as a family of six now. Nope! Now my oldest son and my husband had this mysterious fever/sickness. “OH Lord, Please help me not to get sick, I cannot pass this on to a 3 day old baby!” This last week has been filled with such worry. I’ve begged and pleaded and bargained with God to help me not get sick, or at the very least not pass anything to the baby. I’ve prayed over my milk supply that it would quickly pass the immunity boosters its supposed to. I’ve prayed over my son and my husband that they would feel better soon so they could hold and kiss the new baby. My poor son had been wishing and hoping for a little brother, and now that he finally had one he couldn’t hold him or barely touch him without me screaming out, “When’s the last time you washed your hands?”

My point in all of this? Worry as a mom is a natural thing, but it should become also natural to pass those worries on to our very capable Heavenly Father. Even if you have to “pass it off” to him every few minutes. He doesn’t mind. He wants you to lean on Him. And let’s face it, it would be impossible to be the best parent you can be without leaning on Him, anyway.

Another little help: Read through Psalm 91. There is also a very insightful book that breaks down the psalm in bite size chunks and applies them to our lives today. Its Psalm 91 by Peggy Joyce Ruth. I highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves struggling with worry, but most especially mothers.