Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This is what Mom's do....

I wouldn't call myself a helicopter parent.

In fact, I err more on the side of not wanting to upset the team, the school, the professionals, vs. raising cane on behalf of my sons.

I don't need my children to be the all star athlete (thank goodness, because they can't run without tripping), I don't need them to be straight A students (please don't be smarter than me!) & I don't need them to be the most popular (Actually, please don't be. That's too much unhealthy pressure!)

What do I want for my children then? 

I want to figure out who they are & give them every damn opportunity to be bold, confident and brave in those areas! (And perhaps I want to infuse their lives with a bit of my own selfish passions like love of adventure & a heart for Jesus.)

In the past month my inner mama-bear has been tested.

We walked into a new school system with two months to go in the school year. It was quickly brought to my attention that my son is "behind his peers" and "it's on [me] to catch him up." I was less quickly given options, assistance, & direction. It really was ON me. 

At eight years old, my second grader is scholastically passionate and seemingly statistically average. What do I say to that? BE passionate, son! I don't care what grade you get; I care that you try your hardest, I care that your eyes light up when you imagine seeing the Statue of Liberty in person, I light up when you spew facts you learned in class or ask questions we have to look up answers for together. THAT is success to this mom. 

I have NO problem with my son having a deficit or area of improvement. I don't expect, need, or anticipate perfection, but if there IS an issue, I will do whatever I can to give my children a leg up, to bring their head to the surface, to throw them a life raft, and/or to provide them with opportunity. When my son's teacher told me he was behind I asked: what can I do, where can I go & how can I help? But instead of answers I got: google it.

I started to feel crazy! How far behind is he? How much help does he need? What kind of help does he need?

I've been conflicted. I excused the teacher's distance with "it's the end of the school year....it must be frustrating to get a new student from a different state..." and I began to own what was "on me" to help him with. I began chasing down avenues for myself. I would not raise cane, it's my fault we are the inconvenience...

This is what Mom's do, right? We worry. We love so big our hearts explode and our brains are never off. How can we BE everything our children need while still being our selves and honoring our marriages as the priority?

To make a long story short, I had NO idea where to turn, I had my son assessed at Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes. As a mom, I needed to know how behind was my son? Was the teacher not teaching or was my child drowning (in her one week time with him). What I got was peace of mind. My son wasn't behind at all! He was ahead of his current grade level in his ability to comprehend and every piece that is involved with that. I cried. And then I got angry. I was furious I had spent weeks worried and wondering if I had missed something these last few years of his schooling. I was livid his teacher hadn't given me resources, hadn't offered to teach him what her classrooms processes are, I was angry at her.

When the kids were in bed & my husband was asleep, I sobbed until 2am. I mourned the work of our cross state move, the frustration with the school system, the exhaustion I felt emotionally. I praised God that I had answers, I had gotten help from friends, that I now knew what to do. I unloaded all of my feelings and questions and doubts and thanks that had been stuffed so tightly in but I now had permission to move past.

This is what Mom's do, right? We worry. We love so big our hearts explode and our brains are never off. This is what we do. We lay our hearts down at each morning drop off, pick them back up at each afternoon pick up, question our sanity, practice-practice-practice patience, strive to balance scholastic expectation with normal childhood needs along with sharing our faith, answering their questions, and providing them with a healthy family. This is what we do. And the job never ends, but if we're lucky, we know we aren't alone. I know I'm not alone. I've got a merciful God who reminds me to show that teacher mercy, to forgive, a God who asks me to lay my burdens at His feet even when I think they're mine to cling to, and a God who lets me weep & in the weeping shows me He loves ME just like I love my boys.

This is what Mom's do. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

my sister's gift of grace to me on her wedding day

I am the oldest of three children and while I have siblings,  I was raised like an only child. For many reasons, I grew up alone. 

People always told me that some day my siblings would be friends. I never once had reason to believe them. It always felt like it was me and then them. 

I got married when I was 23. I was a baby. There were wedding choices I made because at 23 I didn't see any other way. I eloped & to this day, I wouldn't change it. 

My baby sister got married this past weekend and for some reason, she chose me as her maid of honor.

There are things her wedding taught me that I had no idea I would learn, grace I received that I had no idea to anticipate. 

To quote my MoH speech, my sister & I are as different as night & day. 
She is Nordstrom while I am Marshall's.
She is fresh fruit while I am a snickers bar. 
She is a bull dog and I am cat. 
But, regardless of who we are, we are sisters. 

No one as been where I have been more than she has. 
No one gets our broken, healing story like she does. 
No one has survived the wreckage with me like she has. 

When I was first married, people loved to indirectly (& directly) give credit to my husband for saving me. He was the good people saw in me. Those who had watched my life from a close distance weren't able to see how far I had had to come to choose him. The courage and strength it took me is also my sister's.  She chose someone who loves her. Ultimately, that comes down to her; she saw her own worth first.  You can't choose what's best for you, what's healthiest, without knowing you yourself are worth it & deserving. For that I am so proud of her

My sister had every freedom, every reason, not to choose me to be her maid of honor; nothing except blood obligated her, yet she picked me. 

Post wedding I can't help but wonder, was she afraid I wouldn't come through on my duties? Did she have any doubts with her choice?  If she had freedom, would she have picked me all over again?

Here's what I learned from watching her navigate HER beautiful wedding day, she picked me on purpose & it was her choice. 

Like I said, my sister is a bulldog in the most loyal and strong of ways. You can't tell her to do something, she does it because she wants to. Why it didn't dawn on me that picking me wasn't excluded from that is beyond me. 

My sister showed strength and determination over her wedding day that I ran from. I have a persistent inability to honor my dreams & worry about others, cater to others, self sacrifice. That all meant that MY wedding day meant I had to run. My sister? She honored her dreams, her husband's wishes, included respect of all of her parents & stayed the course. She stayed. She dealt with whining, fits, expectations, immaturity, generosity, ALL of it. It wasn't easy, and she stayed the course. 

So there came her wedding day after months of planning & navigating problems. My sister stood in the face of anxiety when expectations didn't meet reality and while she asked for space from everyone else, she invited me in.  I was the one with her in the moments leading up to her vows, standing to gather her bouquet, and scooping up her dress for bathroom runs & helping her change for her honeymoon getaway. What right did I have to experience that with my sister? Honestly? None. What my baby sister did was show me grace. She trusted me to love her, serve her, and know how to be the calm she needed. 

I've been her sister for 30 years. I can shamefully assure you May 7th was the first day I had ever served her selflessly & whole heartedly. May 7th was the first time I loved on her the way I love on those nearest & dearest to me in their times of need. 

So, Sister, thank you for showing me grace. Thank you for choosing me, trusting me, inviting me in to your moment to let me love you the way I've always wanted to, to serve you in the way you deserve a sister to serve you, to intimately witness your courage & strength, and above all, to truly be your sister.  I am so deeply proud of you. 

Oh, & just so you know, "I could never love anyone as I love my sister." -Jo March.