Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Puzzle Pieces of Parenting

I was one of a family of six, two parents, two sisters, and a brother. I was number three child so I was in the middle. I liked our big, busy family and as a girl dreaming of what my life would be like, I always saw me in the same type of family. I started babysitting as soon as I was old enough and played house when I was in someone else's house. I remember organizing the dresser drawers of one little boy I watched! Wonder why I didn't carry that desire into my own adult life! I like to have organized closets and drawers but somehow it isn't as fun when it is real! Our closet has a split personality! Jeff's side is perfect with everything exactly where it should be and then there is my side. That is another post by itself! At the age of twenty-six I had my first baby and so the dream became a reality. As much experience as I had with babies somehow it didn't carry over in the beginning of motherhood. With the cradle in our room I would panic at the sound of Rebekah rustling around. I mean what do you do with a newborn that shouldn't be hungry, has had her bath, and doesn't have a dirty diaper! So my journey as a parent began and as much as I thought I was prepared, I had so much to learn! At the time Jeff played guitar and banjo and sang backup for Marty Robbbins. They traveled a portion of every week so I was totally responsible for this baby a lot! He even had to leave the night we brought Rebekah home from the hospital! Thank goodness my mom and dad were with me at the time! But eventually they had to get back to their own lives in Texas. We had no family in Nashville to help me. Jeff's family lived six hours away and mine ten. I had to put on my big girl shoes! I'm so glad Rebekah didn't arrive with the ability to talk. Can you just imagine the tales she could tell about her rookie mom? But somehow we both survived and it must not have been too painful as I repeated the process three more times! Now we are talking about some serious parenting! Somehow the other three didn't come in the exact same package as the first one. Even though I was more confident in my baby skills, I constantly had to adjust and add more skills. And so the title of this post, "Puzzle Pieces of Parenting.". The basic skillset of parenting is the ability to put in place tactics correctly in the lives of our children that fit properly for each personality. And like a puzzle it requires trial and error to get it right. Even though we are frequently wrong with our first attempt, we have the chance to shuffle things around and try again. With patience and persistence the picture can become a beautiful work of living art!
Jeff and I have totally loved being parents even with all the ups and downs that accompany the job! And yes, we have had to confront ups and downs. Our family has been very "normal" in that category! But to give credit where credit is due, our children allowed us to work out the kinks and continue in forward motion. And for that I am very thankful! Several people have asked me to write a parenting book. I'm
certain it is because they think with four kids a person would have experienced the gammit! One afternoon Abby and I were resting on my bed and I began jotting down things I thought were helpful in our parenting journey. When I stopped I had listed fifty-five!
It was like a trip back in time and my life was flashing before me! I was entertaining myself and laughed out loud as I recalled specific scenes of Jeff and I doing our best to figure out how to function in this craziness we call life with children! I don't think I'm organized or disciplined enough to write a book ( you should see my recipe box! ) but I am good at making lists and am glad to share anything we did
that might be useful to those of you who are at any stage of parenting. Please don't assume we thought of every idea ourselves. Remember everything is original only once and then it is up for grabs! Who cares if you thought of it yourself or not, in the parenting business you should take advantage of anything and everything you can get your hands on to ensure success! This list will come in more than one post so hang in there with me! I wish only the best as you diligently place the pieces of your parenting puzzle together to create a breath taking picture you will cherish for a lifetime.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Big Shoes, Little Feet

Don't you love to watch toddlers and little kids attempting to imitate what they see adults do? When I play catch with Hamilton, who is two, he not only has a bit of a windup but he has already developed a cool move of hiking up one foot when he sends the ball back to me! He has picked that up from watching his daddy and uncles throwing the football around. Grandson or not, I'm a sucker for things like that! One " Hey Nan " from my grandsons, "Aunt Nancy " from my nieces and nephews, or "Ms Nancy" from children and teens and I'm all about it! Children bring a true view of what the environment they are surrounded by is teaching them, intentionally or not. In one of my previous posts I referred to ways I had adopted some traits of my mom in jest. But in all seriousness, we are the main classroom in our children's lives! I recall when Rebekah was two she began saying " oh my gosh " with a heavy southern drawl on the " gosh " and she learned it from me! It was a phrase I added in numerous situations of conversation. I know it isn't a terrible thing to say by any means but I didn't like the way it sounded coming from my cherub faced child! So I had to break us both from the habit on my part and the new addition to her vocabulary! On a positive note, when she was sixteen, I overheard her on the phone giving advice to a friend about boys and she was repeating word for word a prior conversation she and I had. In my twenty-nine years of parenting I have had multiple opportunities to observe the positive and negative influences our behavior has had on our children. They are watching and listening to us live our lives and will incorporate what they see and hear into theirs! It is natural to assume they are not tuned in to what is going on, I mean they are little kids, right? I am amazed at the details my children remember, think they remember, and talk about when we are all together. We have some serious laughing sessions, especially when we watch one of the twenty-six VHS tapes of Christmas mornings with Bing Crosby singing in the background, birthday parties, school programs, football and soccer games, dance recitals, jumping in piles of fall leaves, the precious days when we had enough snow to go sledding and have snowball fights, the neighborhood talent shows, and the all time favorite question, " Mom are you sure that was in style?". Believe me, they are taking it all in! It begins when they are babies. Think about it, they learn their first words because we have said "mama" or " dada" a hundred times just waiting for that first sound you have been waiting and longing to hear! This summer before Hamilton was two we found him in our
bathroom in Jeff's deodorant smelling it and putting it on! Cute, right? Of course it is cute but it reinforces how even our little ones are
paying attention. Hudson and Hamilton spent Friday night with us so when Jeff picked them up they went straight to the music store to play
the drums. ( Even though he is four Hudson can really play the drums and has been interested since he was two! I'm not just saying that
because I'm his Nan! ). At dinner Jeff said, " Hudson, you really play the drums good! Do you think you might be a worship leader when you grow up?" Hudson replied, " I'm going to be on your worship team, Papa J! ". Whether he does or not, a seed has been planted by watching Jeff play, going to rehearsals with Jeff, having " band time " with his parents and other family members, and being allowed to build and bang on boxes and bowls when Hamilton wasn't napping! The tricky part is we can never be sure when they are tuned in or tuned out or what their interpretation of our words or actions might be. Quite a bit of pressure, huh? You bet it is because once we decide to be responsible for the life of a child it should become top priority in our life for twenty plus years above everything except out relationship with God and our mate! Whoops! Am I preaching here? Hamilton likes to put on Rebekah's shoes or mine sometimes when we are getting ready for the day and there is makeup and blow dryers going like crazy! It's such a funny sight to see his little feet walking in those big shoes! Just think how much he has to learn, starting with which side of the closet he should be selecting his shoes!