Nobody knows how to say goodbye. It seems so easy until you try.
Love is deep as the road is long and moves my feet to carry on. It beats my heart when you are gone. Love is deep as the road is long.
Bravery comes in many different forms. Those who rush into burning buildings are considered brave. Those who fight in wars are considered brave. Those who put their lives on the line every day are considered brave. Sometimes, we forget to look at the smaller acts of bravery that may not affect many, or any, people, but define who one becomes.
I've discussed how brave my son is. How, for years, he was bullied, but he walked into school every day, ready to face whatever was waiting for him. It takes a special person to want to go and try again each day. This, too, is the kind of bravery that people see and recognize.
Sometimes, though, bravery is quiet. I never really realize how very brave Sunshine is because her bravery comes quietly. It hit me the other day when I watched her walk into the empty school building, alone, at 7:20am for art club. We both knew she was a little early. Had that been me at 9 years old, I would have either made my mom go in with me or I would have waited to walk in until more people were there. Sunshine, she walked right in, never hesitating. I found out later that evening that she was the only student there for about 10 minutes. She was almost completely alone in the building other than one teacher, who had her help him set up for bell choir (which she's not in) so that she wouldn't be sitting alone and waiting. It didn't phase her that she was the only student there. It didn't make her want me to go in with her or wait until other people came. The next morning, for choir, she once again, got out of the car and walked right in.
It got me thinking of other quiet ways Sunshine is brave. Sunshine stand up for kids who can't stand up for themselves. Last year, while friends of hers were making fun a little girl in their class with autism behind her back, Sunshine spoke up and told them to stop. She told them that [K] was very nice and they need to stop making fun of her. This, in itself, is brave. Speaking up for what you believe in is always brave, but, the stood up to her friends. It's one thing to stand up to people you don't really know, it's another to stand up to your friends.
Both of my children in brave in ways that I could never be. They both walk into situations where they don't know anyone and aren't sure of what they're doing, and they flourish. That speaks to their character. I worry so much about their futures. I worry if they will succeed. I worry if they will find love. I worry if they will be happy. The one thing that I don't have to worry about is if they will be brave enough to go after what they want. I know they will find that bravery in themselves. I know they will continue to stand up for others, even when it's not the popular thing to do. I know that they will find the strength to get through rough times. I pray the continue to be as brave as they are throughout their lives. I am so lucky to have children who teach me, every day, the meaning of bravery, and inspire to be brave as well.
Doing the right thing is hard. I talk about this with my kids all the time. We talk about doing things because they are right and not for recognition or expecting something in return. Still, it's hard and sometimes tiring. I'm so thankful that I married the most generous, kind, loving man in the world. He keeps me doing the right thing, even when I'm tired of it. I have a short temper and I can't tolerate watching people I love get the short end of the stick. When it comes to doing the right thing with certain people, I have a very hard time. Husband keeps my compass straight.
The thing about doing the right thing is that, while it's important, it's also important to do what's right for you, first. You know that whole fasten your oxygen mask before helping others, that applies here, too. I have learned that I can't do everything for everyone. I refuse to sacrifice some of myself and my family for others, no matter who they are. There are just some people that are in your life that you can't keep doing the right thing for when all it does is hurt you or your family.
But, we always try. Trying to do the right thing is important. When we can do something, we do. It's just as important for my children to see us do the right thing with people who never do a thing for us. I refuse to let it hurt my family, but I also use it as a teachable moment.
So, we'll keep doing the right thing. Our little family, we have the right stuff, even when other people don't.
My husband is a natural born leader. People look to him for leadership and for what to do on a job rather than "bosses" who are bossy. In a Management 101 class that I took nearly 2 decades ago, the professor stated that in order to be a good boss, you needed to respect your employees. Right there is the difference between being bossy and being a boss. When little girls are bossy, you tend to hear that they will make great bosses someday. This is just an excuse that parents make for their child's behavior. Being bossy does not equal being a good boss. When little boys are aggressive to get what they want, or bully people into doing things, the same tends to be said about being a good boss. Good bosses do not use intimidation. To be a good boss, you need to be a leader. Leaders are different than bosses. Leaders do not need to "boss" people around to accomplish a goal.
What got me thinking of all this is that my daughter is applying for the leadership group at her school. When my son was in 4th and 5th grades, he also wanted to join this group. The problem for him was that the kids who bullied him had joined this group and he didn't want to be part of that. It's sad that our society has trouble seeing the difference between leadership and bossiness/bullying. Too often, outsiders see these traits as being good at leading. It's once you have to work with these people that you see that's not true. It's once people start to quit and leave and not want to be around those people that others start to see a problem as well. In order to be a leader, you don't need to be loud and outspoken. You need to stick to your convictions while working with others to obtain a common goal. I'm proud to say that my children excel at that.
Both of my kids have natural leadership skills like their father. However, leadership skills also need to be nurtured. When my children are being bossy with their friends, we nip it in the bud. We remind them to listen to see what their friends are thinking and then compromise. Both of my children are excellent at compromise. Compromising doesn't always mean giving in. Some people believe that in order to lead, you must always get what you want. This just isn't true. In order to lead, you must know when to push and when to ease up. You need to listen to others, not pretend to listen, but actually hear what they are saying, even if they aren't saying it. Sometimes, the best leaders are the quiet ones who listen and take it all in. Listening is critical for being a good leader, and one can't listen if they are too busy bossing others around.
There are moments in life in which you realize how blessed you truly are. Some are little, like everyone, including dogs, sleeping in until 7:30 on the weekends. Some are bigger. Sometimes, the moments hit you out of the blue. The first day of Run Club with my daughter was one of those moments that came out of nowhere. For Run Club, the end event is a Color Run. She can't do it for a couple of reasons. Even though she can't do the run, she still takes part in Run Club. She does this because she enjoys it. She doesn't need praise. She doesn't need recognition. She doesn't need to be the best. She doesn't need everyone to know that she's in Run Club. The thing is, this is how she is with everything in her life. I see so many kids who only do things for praise or some sort of recognition. I see them doing things just for the attention. They may not even enjoy whatever it is they are doing. I see kids who say they don't want to do something because it's boring, but then get recognition for it and decide they want to continue, even though they were just ready to quit. The other thing I see is kids deciding not do something because they aren't the best at it. That is something Sunshine doesn't do. She does things because she is passionate about them, or at, the very least, she thinks they're fun.
Life is not about constant praise and recognition. Life is not about being the best at everything. You need to do things because they are the right thing to do or because you enjoy them. A life lesson is that there is always someone out there that is better than you at something. The opposite is that there is always someone worse, also. There are things you have to do. There are things that are right to do. There are things that are fun to do. The trick is to balance them. At age 9, Sunshine is well ahead of the curve on this one.
There was a point where Sunshine asked what her "thing" was. She listed friends and their "things". She was upset because she felt like she didn't have a "thing". I let her know that passion was her "thing" . She is passionate about everything she does. She puts her heart and soul into everything. She doesn't focus on just one thing and has a huge range of interests. This kid does everything. She is in soccer, softball, dance, science olympiad, girl scouts, safety patrol, glee, and more things I can't think of at the moment. She does these things because she enjoys them. She doesn't expect praise or special recognition. She just does them because she enjoys them.
She also doesn't make excuses when she doesn't want to do something. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard excuse after excuse about why someone isn't doing something. When Sunshine doesn't want to do something, it's because she doesn't enjoy it and she's upfront about it.
It has been hard to see this summer go. It started off with me being upset about things we didn't get to do, but, after writing that post, things turned around. Our summer was incredible.
One of reasons our summer was so great was my father-in-law. I now know what it feels like to have people around who are willing to help out with anything, and it doesn't even have to be an emergency! I have to say, I'm now even more jealous of people with help. It was amazing. There was a lot less stress. I didn't have to worry about how I was going to get kids from place to place. I didn't have to worry about it I had to run to a doctor's appointment. Grandpa was in town and more than willing to do whatever was needed. Even better, there is now such a strong bond with Grandpa and Monster. Monster got to see Grandpa almost every day. It was so wonderful watching their connection grow.
Aside from Grandpa being here, we ended up getting most of the things on our bucket list accomplished. It was just a matter of prioritizing. Sure, there are things we didn't do, but I'm over feeling bad about that (except when I look in my freezer and there are no blueberries, but I'll get over it). Both kids said that this was such an amazing summer. They didn't look at the things we didn't get to do, they looked at all the incredible things we did do. The best part, was that those time included when we just hung out at home and did nothing.
It's funny because even though it is so very hard to say good-bye to summer, having a great summer made the transition to school a little easier. We are all extremely sad to see summer go, but knowing that we "aggressively summered", makes is better.
First week of school was fantastic. Kids like their teachers and are, so far, enjoying learning. Monster and Sunshine are both really enjoying Social Studies thus far this year. It's both of their favorites.
We have one last weekend of summer fun and then it's on to all of our fall favorites. So, Good-Bye Summer. You were amazing. Looking forward to seeing you next year!
I live for summers. I love having time to relax with my kids. I love letting them sleep in and having very little to do. We have a bucket list that we love to do every summer. We fill our summers with laughter and joy. I'm not here to say all of the wonderful things we've been doing this summer and make others feel bad about not doing anything. Instead, I'm here to tell you the truth. This summer has been hard.
I have great expectations when it' comes to summers. Unfortunately, my expectations remain the same even though my children have more and more packed into their schedules. So far, our summer has consisted of two things: karate and softball. There has been very little else that we have done. Monster has karate 5 days a week. The only reason he's not there more is because the studio is only open 5 days. The thing is, he loves it. Karate is his passion. Then there is Sunshine and softball. Sunshine started a new league this year. When we started, I truly thought she wasn't going to like it because it is definitely more hardcore than her previous league. I was incorrect. She loves it! I've watched her, and her entire team, come so far this year. They are out there having fun, which is so very important.
Here is where I have to give a huge thanks to my father-in-law. We honestly could not be doing the things we do this summer without him. In fact, I've been so spoiled with having help that I may not be able to figure out how to get kids places come fall when he leaves! His help has made all of the difference. I don't have to worry about how I'm going to get someone to or from an event. He's there to take whichever kid wherever they need to be! It's also made a huge difference to both of my kids. Sunshine actually has someone other than just me and Husband to watch to her softball games. She gets sad because she's one of the only kids who only has her mom and dad there to cheer her on. This summer, she's also had Grandpa! Monster is loving having Grandpa here because they have time to hang out. For the most part, Grandpa has karate duty. Once a week, they do dinner, just the two of them, and hang out playing chess and other games after karate. It is such an amazing experience for Monster. I honestly don't know how parents with no help do it. If it wasn't for Grandpa, I would have missed so much this summer by having to run kids from place to place
With both of my kids having such a great time and doing things they love, why should I be upset about summer expectations? I put a ton of pressure on myself and our summer. I know that we have very few summers left. I want to make them as special as possible. I can't tell you how much I have cried over the fact that it's mid July and we haven't gone to the zoo yet or that we missed out on picking strawberries this year. I'm upset about it because, very soon, my kids aren't going to want to go to the zoo with me. Soon, they aren't going to want to pick strawberries. They are growing up so fast and they are filling their summers with more and more things that are just for them. In the next few years, they are going to have jobs and girlfriends/boyfriends and hanging out with Mommy is going to be thing of the past. I want to fill their summers with memories so that when they look back on their childhoods, they can recall that every summer, we would all go to the zoo. Every summer, we would pick strawberries (or blueberries or raspberries ...I'm slowly forgiving myself about missing strawberry picking since there are other fruits out there to pick). I want them to look back at their summers and not think of how busy they were, but rather how carefree summer days were and how much we enjoyed being together as a family.
When you look at the big picture, I have only 6 more summers until Monster goes off to college. Six. I don't know how the first 12 have flown by so quickly. And I look at this summer and can't believe we're over halfway through. I want to slow time so that we can fit every last fun thing in. I want them to be able to sleep in until noon, but still have time go places, to swim all day, to laze around the house. I guess what I really want is more time.
With all that being said, we have had an amazing summer so far. It's been busy, but good. We've done soccer camp, Camp Invention, Young Naturalist Camp, art classes, picked raspberries, gotten ice cream, made s'mores, gone to baseball games, gone swimming, and more things from our list, plus lots of karate and softball! There are only 5 weeks left of summer. Almost every day has something scheduled, but I plan on enjoying the moments we have together. And I WILL get a zoo trip in!
Lately, I've been seeing a lot of things for "quick fixes" to anxiety. First, there are no quick fixes. Second, people need to stop throwing the word anxiety around as a synonym for stress. They are different. Everyone gets stressed. Everyone. I get stressed and it's not anxiety. Most people have never felt the panic, the rage, the depression of actual anxiety to know the difference. I have.
Stress and worries are a part of everyday life. Am I going to be late for work because of the traffic? Did I study well enough for this test? Will I have enough money to pay bills this month? Are my kids sick enough to go to the doctor or should I wait it out? Some stressors are far more complicated and difficult than others. The level of the concern does not turn a stress into anxiety. Chemicals in your brain do that. Anxiety is stress on crack. Anxiety takes your stress and then manifests it into something that is so big that you can't control it. Anxiety can be triggered by any number of stressors. Most of the time, those of us with anxiety know our triggers, but sometimes, anxiety can come from the most random thing. Sometimes anxiety doesn't even come from stress. Anxiety attacks can be triggered through fear or anger or sadness.
When people are looking for something to "help with their anxiety", 99.9% of those people are actually talking about stress. If they were really talking about actual anxiety, they'd know that when you are in the middle of an anxiety attack, you're not looking for something to help with the anxiety. You're in full on panic mode and you're actually not thinking. There is something that shuts down all logic and reason in your brain. If you have enough wherewithal to reach for an oil or do some breathing techniques, it's not anxiety, so stop using that word. When you are in the middle of an anxiety attack, you aren't going to remember any of that. There was a technique that I read about when you visualize certain things to help calm you when you feel an attack coming on. I remembered step one and then couldn't remember the rest and it added to my anxiety because then it wasn't just a meltdown about whatever I was melting down about, but it was also about, "Why I'm such a failure and can't even remember something that is supposed to help?".
There are medications out there to help with anxiety. It's important to remember that they all come with their own set of side effects though. Medication helped me a little, but only for a little bit. I will say it again, there is no quick fix. If you have real anxiety, you need to learn how to get through it. You need to learn your triggers. You can do things that will help lower your stress, which could lessen your chance of anxiety attacks, depending on the triggers. You can use oils that help calm you. However, none of these things will stop your anxiety attacks.
So, from those of us out there who actually have anxiety, please stop calling your worries anxiety. You can feel anxious. You can be nervous. You can have worries. You can be stressed. You can be overwhelmed. But, until you actually experience an anxiety attack and feel like you're bat-shit crazy, then you don't have the right to call it anxiety and stop looking for quick fixes to it.
My Sweet Baby Boy,
Twelve years ago today, I didn't realize it would be the day that I would meet you. I went to work, as normal. Then, you decided to come fast and furious. We knew you were going to be special since all of the Cleveland area experienced a blackout that night. It was a warning, "Watch out for this one, World. He's meant to do great things".
This year, I was very scared for you. Last year, you had such a great year. I didn't want that to end. I have only heard horror stories of Middle School. It turns out, I had nothing to worry about. You thrived. This year may have actually been better than last (though I believe you will never have better teachers than you did in 5th grade, this year is very close). You have met more people and become friends with people who are more like minded. You have freedoms this year, and, for the most part, don't abuse them. You leave on your own and I just tell you when to be back. Every morning when you leave for school, I still watch you ride up to the corner and I get teary. This is the first year in your whole life that I didn't take you to school every day. All those years past, it wasn't because you couldn't make it to school on your own, I mean we live close enough, but I walked you because I wanted those few extra moments. I picked you up every day because I wanted to be the first person you saw after your long day of school. That's why I wait outside for you to come home. I am so excited to see you and find out about your day that I just can't wait until you put your bike away and come in the house, I need be outside waiting I can't tell you the feeling of pride that I get when I see you turn down onto our street.
This year has been a big one for allowing you more freedom. As a parent, my job is to help you become a functional adult. For this, a parent can't do everything for their child. So, we've taken a step back. Last summer, we started letting you ride your bike to friends' houses, without me checking in the parents to make sure they were around. Thankfully, you have trustworthy friends who let you know that you guys can't hang out because their parents aren't around. I'm also thankful you have friends that respect our rules of not being here when your Daddy or I aren't around. It made me so happy when your friend just showed up yesterday to hang out. I saw it as a sign of a fun summer to come.
Another area in which you thrived this year was academics. This was also another area that you were left to take responsibility for on your own. Each day, you come home and you immediately tell me if you have homework or not. I never have to ask you do your homework, you always just do it. You also take responsibility for studying for tests. You make sure you do the quizzes and study guides the teachers provide every day. You're also very proactive and have good communication with your teachers. Your grades have been fantastic this (and every) year. You have been putting more effort into your work, and it shows.
You have really matured so much in the past year. I can not tell you how great it is to know I can count on you more for things and give you more responsibility. You have learned to make more meals to help out your family. You have learned to mow the lawn, and do a pretty darn good job. You don't give me too hard of a time about doing random tasks that I need help with.
I am so proud of the person you are and the person you are becoming. I can't wait to see what this next year brings us. I am confident it will be just as good if not better than this past year. As long as we stick together, we can do anything! I love you beyond measure. You are my heart and soul.
Happy Birthday, Little Man. I love you with all of my heart. You are my precious gift from God. It's going to be an amazing year.
Love you always,