Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

The Benefit of Perspective

I passed by some writing on the wall today, not of the figurative kind, but of the literal kind.  One of my youngest daughters, who is just learning to print, had printed her name, one of her sister’s names, and my name, “mommy”, on the wall in pencil and drawn a heart.  Many years ago, when my oldest sons were little boys, this would have upset me.  I probably would have lectured the culprit about writing on paper, not on walls or furniture, and would have made him erase it or wash it off.  Today, it upset me for different reasons.  It upset me because this might be the last time an early printer practices proudly on my wall.

I remember when my oldest sons, who are now teens used to leave me things like this to find; crayon drawings on night tables, army stick men pencilled on my bedroom wall, scribbles in permanent marker on my wedding photo, and brightly coloured stickers on my van windows.  It used to anger and frustrate me, and now, I miss their little fingerprints on the coffee table.

Experience and age bring a perspective I wish I had had when my older kids were little.  My youngest daughters may be our last children and there likely will be no more crudely sketched hearts once these ones are erased.  I took a good look at the markings on the wall and tried to cement them in my memory.  My heart swelled as I thought of the love this little one felt for me when she carefully printed my name and hers next to the heart she drew.  As I continued down the hall, I felt regret for not fully appreciating the tender hearts of young children when my boys were younger.  Now I know that the time goes by so quickly…



Hard Questions

This morning, I was blindsided with some unbelievably hard questions from a distraught Sedaya, who is six years old.  She had asked for a drink of water and I had said yes, but asked her to wait a few minutes while we finished up our history lesson.  I don’t know if this having to wait triggered something for her (in our house the kids obviously can have water whenever they want, but she needed help to reach the cups).

Well after homeschool was done, she came to me and asked if she could talk to me.  She sat down and said, “mommy, the people they don’t have water or food and they die.  Maybe they don’t know Jesus.”  Ugh.  “Normal” kids don’t really think too much about people dying of starvation or from unclean water, but Sedaya knows all too well that it happens.  Here she is, in her little mind, thinking about the salvation of these people and worrying about them.  We talked about that a little bit and then she looked at me and said, “when you little girl, your mommy have food?”  Tears sprung to my eyes immediately and I felt the weight of this precious girl’s early years and the impact hunger will always have for her.  I explained to her that when I was a little girl, my mommy had enough food for us to eat, to which she replied, “and her can eat too?”  More tears.

I cannot imagine as a mother having to choose which of my kids to feed because there wasn’t enough to go around or feeding my kids tiny amounts and trying to hide from them that I was not eating myself to try to save them.  I cannot imagine as a mother knowing that my kids were going to bed with empty tummies and knowing that there was nothing I could do about it.  My heart aches for all the mothers around the world who are faced with this reality today.

Later, we talked a bit about how her first mommy loved Jesus and how I love Jesus and how Sedaya loves Jesus and how someday, she will be with both her mommies in Heaven.  She was happy about that, but it still was weighing heavily on her that other people who have no food don’t know Jesus.  She asked if we could add that into our homeschool prayer every morning.  I feel humbled that my six year old is asking me if we can pray for the people who don’t have food and water to find out about Jesus and to get food and clean water.

She told me some other things about her life back in Ethiopia and I mostly just cried.  She asked me why we have so much food in Canada when there is not enough food in Africa.  She cried about her mom.  She cried about her older brother, who at one point had saved her life.  She said to me, “I forgot to say thank you” and all I could say was, “he knows honey, he knows.”

I am glad that my kids have compassion for others.  I wish these hard questions had easy answers though.  I wish it were as simple as just sending some of our excess from Canada to Africa.  I wish it were as simple as the prayer of a child.  And maybe it is.  Or at least maybe someday it will be.

New Year, New Goals

I just love fresh starts.  I may have mentioned that hundreds of times already in previous posts, but it is so true!  I just love the possibilities that fresh starts bring.  So, of course, I am the sort of person who makes New Year’s Resolutions, though I have gotten better at making them over the years.  I used to write things like “get healthy” or “be better at…”.  Those types of non-specific, non-measurable goals are impossible to attain.  Now, I keep my resolutions more specific and I make a sublist to go along with them to outline how I am going to go about achieving them.  I won’t bore you with all of my goals this year, but there are a few that I will share, including one in which I have put myself “out there” so to speak publicly to increase the chances that I achieve it by being accountable.

One of my goals is to set an alarm on weekdays and wake up before my kids do.  Yuck!!!  I am a night owl.  I have to force myself to go to bed before midnight and mornings are not my friend.  Normally, I drag myself out of bed when the kids get up, which is sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. and more often than not, I lie there wishing I could go back to sleep.  But I know that in order to homeschool the way that I want to, I need to get off to a better start and greet my kids each morning with a cheerful heart so that their days get started in the right way as well.

This morning, I set my alarm for a few minutes before 7 and when it went off, I admit to briefly entertaining thoughts of going back to sleep, but I stuck to my plan and got up, had a shower, and was dressed when the first of my kids started to come into my bathroom.  I was able to greet them with a smile and “good morning” instead of a grumpy, “what time is it?”  Later, while the kids were eating their breakfast at the kitchen table, I brought in our devotions book and read to them while they ate and then we started our day off with a prayer before we went into the homeschool room to start their math and history lesson.  Wow!  What a different way to start the day!!!  Everyone is so much more cheerful than usual today, even still, hours later.  Mornings are generally the time in our house with the most bickering, squabbles over toothpaste and toys, or downright fights between the boys!  This morning, the sounds in the house have been different and that is reward enough for me to be willing to set my alarm again for tomorrow morning.

The public goal I have set is one that I have some trepidation about, both because achieving it overwhelms me and because I am scared that I will fail and also because admitting that I have this problem and being completely real and honest about it is frankly, embarrassing.  I have given myself a Challenge, a De-Cluttering Challenge.  To follow along on my progress and to see the pictures that I so did not want to share, you can check out Day 1 here and Day 2 here.  Now that I have shared those pictures, I want to go and hide, but I can’t because, as you can see, I have work to do!!!

So, what are your goals for 2011?

Learning Things the Hard Way

A few weeks ago, two of my girls went outside in the cold of winter and put their tongues on the metal railing on the deck.  They did this even though I have told them that in winter, when you put your tongue on something metal outside, it will get stuck and hurt like crazy once it comes off.  After they did this, both their tongues were bleeding and they were wishing they had heeded my warning.

A few days ago, I was thinking about this incident and thought, “what is it about kids that they have to learn things the hard way?”  Then I realized that I am the same way.  God gives us a clear set of rules that are set for our own good, our own protection, and yet, I insist on learning things the hard way.  Take the s*x before marriage thing, I decided that I knew better and ended up heartbroken, emotionally raw, pregnant, and alone.  I could use all kinds of excuses to justify my decisions, but the bottom line is, I chose a harder road because I thought I knew better than God.  You would think that now that I am a Christian, am a parent, am presumably more mature, that I would not need to go against what I know is right, but I continue to struggle with other things.  I may not be sinning or going against God in the most obvious overt ways like the previous example I mentioned, but I still have so much to learn and seem to do my learning the hard way instead of trusting God.  The Bible references worrying a lot and tells me that God is in control and my worrying will do me no good, but I continue to worry.  Maybe these sins aren’t as shocking, but what about arguing, bitterness, putting cares of this world before God, complaining, not being content with what I have, gossiping, disobeying man’s law’s (in my case, driving faster than the speed limit), envy, not submitting to God’s plan, and I could go on and on about all the sins I continue to commit such as these and I can tell you that nothing good ever comes of them!  Really, even the things that bring me momentary pleasure such as that speeding gets me where I’m going more quickly….eventually catch up to me, like when I get the photo radar ticket in the mail and have to pay the price!!!  God doesn’t set out these guidelines for me to assert His power or just for fun.  They are there for my own good, and yet, I continue to test them and feel the need to discover for myself how much better my life can be if I just give God the control and stop trying to run everything on my own.  So, I guess I haven’t changed much from when I was a kid and had to learn things the hard way.

You seldom see adults running around putting their tongues on metal in the wintertime, but some of the things you do see us doing are really just as ridiculous!  I have heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  I would have to agree!

Two Mommies

With my husband and oldest son in Ethiopia at the moment, it has brought a lot of emotions to the forefront for our two kids who were adopted from Ethiopia last year.  Elijah, who is 8, has been able to articulate his feelings quite well, thanks in large part to the play therapy he has been attending for the past ten months and all the preparation we did in anticipation of how this trip might dredge up things for him.  He has acted out here and there while Mark and Mackenzie have been away, but as soon as I pull him aside and ask him what is really going on, he is quick to share his true feelings and move on with the day.

Sedaya, however, is only five and has not had the benefit of play therapy or a lot of experience in sharing her feelings.  Last week, there was one day in particular when she was out of sorts.  For a few days, her behaviour had been escalating (which for this normally sweet, compliant, agreeable child is unusual) and on this day, she repeatedly out of the blue would scream at me, things like “I no like you” or “I hate you”.  These comments would be thrown in passing by me, without having had any interaction with me, so they were not in response to me saying she couldn’t do something or giving her a job to do or anything.  They were seemingly random outbursts, after which she would run up to her room and slam the door.  I knew immediately that it was not actually about me and didn’t take it personally.  Thankfully, my wonderful babysitter Mandi was over that day, so I was able to ask her to watch the other kids while I took Sedaya into a room privately to have a talk.

I waited for a time when Sedaya was calm and then sat her on my lap facing me and asked her why she was so upset.  She said it was because Gracey had taken her toy earlier.  I gently told her that I didn’t think that this was all about Gracey.  She was insistent that it was.  I suggested that perhaps she was thinking about Ethiopia or missing Daddy.  She got agitated and said that it was Gracey who made her mad.  I was about to back off, but gave it one last try.  I asked if Daddy being in Ethiopia was making her think about her other mommy.  The floodgates opened.  She buried her head into my chest and sobbed, telling me that she missed her mommy and loved her, that she had been such a nice mommy.  I held her and rocked her and said things that I hoped would be comforting and then the words “I want you to love your mommy” came out of my mouth.  At that, Sedaya stopped crying, pulled back and looked at me like I had lost my mind.  “You want me to love my mommy?”, she asked with complete disbelief in her voice.  “Of course I do.  She is your mommy too and I want you to always love her.”  At this point, she still looked very skeptical and looked like she was trying to process what I had just said.  After a few moments of silence, she finally asked, “I no love you?”

All at once, I realized what the outbursts the past few days had been about.  Sedaya didn’t understand that she was allowed to love BOTH of us, that she could love two mommies.  By loving me, she had been feeling disloyal to the memory of her Ethiopian mother and was conflicted.  In wanting to love her, she thought she would have to denounce her love for me.  Poor, sweet girl!

I was able to reassure her that God had given her two mommies who both had loved her and that she could love both of them and that it was good to love her two mommies.  She was really shocked by this revelation, but embraced it and believed it after questioning it a few times.  Then, the most miraculous thing happened.  She started to open up to me about what she remembered about her Ethiopian mommy.  She has never talked about her before and here she was, sharing with me what she remembered about what she looked like and how nice she was without any prompting on my part.  And when she said the words “she was the best mommy”, I did not feel hurt.  I knew that the word “best” was not a comparative word, but a descriptive one and I knew that it was an incredible blessing for Sedaya and for me that her first mommy had been the “best mommy”, had taken good care of her, had loved her, and had given her the ability to attach to us because she had first attached to her.  What a gift!

Why “Pockets of Change”?

Those who have followed my private blog for the past five years may be wondering about the reason behind this new blog and its unusual name.  The easy answer about why I have started this blog is that I wanted a blog that could be more public.  The name “pockets of change” refers to three types of change.  There is actual pocket change of course.  To this end, I will try to share the tips I have found for saving money.  With such a large family, finding ways to stretch a dollar is always handy.  I will also be trying new budgeting ideas and sharing how they work for us.

The second meaning of the pockets of change idea is that there are changes that I am trying to make and keep myself accountable about.  I know that if I am writing publicly about these attempted changes, it will increase my chances of success.  Some of these changes include cooking healthier and more creative meals for my family, being more structured and scheduled in my homeschooling, living on a set budget, creating time to spend with Mark and each of the kids individually, making fun family theme nights, pursuing my writing, finding time to scrapbook, nurturing friendships, and being open to the life God has planned for me.

The third meaning of pockets of change is looking for opportunities that I can, as an individual, create positive change in the world.  What can I do to help the orphans in the world?  How can I support hurting people in my own community?  How can I promote awareness about the blessing of adoption?  How can I raise money for projects in Africa that I am passionate about?  If all of us are looking for little pockets of opportunities where we can make a difference, together, we can!

So there you have it…a new blog is born!  My plan is to have Fridays be Food Fridays where I share great recipes or warn about not-so-great culinary attempts.  I am also going to participate in Weekly Wrap-Up where on Saturdays, I will do a recap of our homschooling week.  I will also share my successful and less than successful ideas to incorporate more fun into our life while cutting expenses.  So welcome to the new blog!  Have a look around and please be sure to leave a comment as going into a more public format makes me a bit nervous and I’m not used to the silence!

P.S.  my sister-in-law C. actually came up with the name after the three million or so that I thought of were already taken!