Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Harder Than I Thought

I've come to the realization that parenting doesn't really get any easier just because your kids are adults (and I use that term loosely) and don't live at home full time anymore.

Remember when your kids were little, or maybe they are still young, and they listened to you? OK, maybe they didn't always listen right away, but they knew you were the one in charge, and if they didn't listen to you, there would be consequences. Remember way back when you could dress them in whatever you wanted and they liked it, mostly because they really had no choice. You were in charge. You had a lot of say in what they were doing and the choices they made. Even as they got older, you may have let them make their own choices, but ultimately you had the last say.

I remember those days with fondness. I liked being in charge. I knew that the decision I made, or "helped them make" was in their best interest. Then, these children turned 18, and where we live, that is the age of majority. I think it's a technicality really, but I guess if that is the way the state sees it, I will have to go with the flow. When the boys each turned 18, they declared themselves adults. They were men. Do you think it was wrong that I laughed out-loud when they said that? It probably was, but it is hard to see your babies as men. No, I take that back. I can see their physical changes and maturing, it is hard for me to allow them to be men.

For 18 years, (9 years for Alex and Adam) I have been in charge (well, me and Roger). Now, I have to allow them to be in charge of themselves. The hard part with that is that sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes they make are dumb mistakes. Often those mistakes can be avoided. It is difficult to sit by and watch them make mistakes. I try to remember back to when I was 18 or 19 years old...ugh...My parents probably didn't sleep very well at night. I made a lot...many...quite a few...a plethora of mistakes. Most all of them were dumb. The good news is I learned from my mistakes. Sometimes I learned the hard way, ok, most of the time. The good news is I survived.

I know my kids will survive too. Even if they learn the hard way, it might be how they learn best. The question is will I survive? It is hard to sit back, watch, and say nothing, but I will. I will, because I need to learn to allow them to be adults. I just can't wait until they realize how wise we really are. I'm sure then they will be knocking on my door for some good motherly advice.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We're in this Together

Roger and I were talking about a mutual friend the other day who hasn't been at work lately.  I guess the friend is more a friend of Roger's than mine, but I know him.  As Roger and I spoke about how this person was doing, we were remembering that he just got married not too long ago, and is in a blended family situation. 

In a blended family, I think there are extra added issues for all family members, and it involves compromise and negotiations for everyone. I think sometimes issues that would be small in a traditional family, are magnified in a blended family. I think many blended families struggle with these extra pressures, which is why I write this blog. There is hope, and my mission is to remind you of that hope and perhaps help alleviate some of the extra pressures. They will never go away, but it just feels better knowing others understand.  I understand.  Roger and I have been over some bumpy roads. There were some tough times, but we've worked through things, and have always fought for the good of the family. It took us some time to figure things out, and looking back, there are some things I would do differently, but not giving up isn't one of them.

Often when people have been through a divorce, and things get tough, it seems like divorce is an easy way out, and so they lean towards that route again. However, divorce is not easy, not once, and certainly not twice, and when that road is taken, yet another family is broken.  When, Roger and I spoke about our friend, I realized at that moment how amazing my husband and family are. I mean, I know they are amazing, but it was like I just grasped the magnitude of how blessed our family is. We're doing it.  We're making it work. The world is against us, but we have kids who get along with each other, kids who love us (we're 97% sure), and kids who choose to follow Jesus Christ!  We're not perfect, but we keep persevering.  We have an unwritten rule, which is we are a family that works things out. We play together and we stay together.

In every marriage, whether it's your first, second, third, or more, you have a choice to make that marriage what it is, and what it becomes. When Roger and I got married, we had a choice to do the same old stuff, or to take a good hard look at who we are and make necessary changes for the good of the marriage and our family.  There are a lot of folks who are not willing to make a change. There are many folks who expect their spouse to be the one to change. The truth is, you and only you are the one who controls your destiny, because you are the only one who can change you. (And I believe that can all be done with God's help.)  Making sure this family worked was important to us. For me, that meant taking a good long hard look at me, and deciding who I was going to be in this family.

Who I was heading into this family, is not the same person I am now, and I am so glad for that.  I'm fortunate to have a husband who is patient and laughs at me when I'm being ridiculous, so it makes it easier to laugh at myself.  I'm so lucky that my kids forgive me when I make mistakes, and give me lots of do-overs.  I mean practice makes perfect, right? And frankly, I think my family is pretty lucky too, I mean, heck, they have me!

Happy Anniversary to Roger on Tuesday!  I'm so glad you asked me to marry you; my answer is still YES!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What I Learn from TV

I think you can learn a lot from TV. I mean every day you can learn what the weather is going to be for the week, what is going on in the world, or what is going on in your hometown. I think you can learn a lot about every day life too.

There is a new show on TV this Fall that Roger and I are enjoying. It's called Revolution, and even though it isn't the most realistic, we both agreed that we like the idea of the show and that is what keeps us intrigued. It's not the subject of the show that is important, so much as a scene from last week's episode. In the show there is a young lady, Charlie, in her late teens/early twenties that is trying to find her younger brother, who's 19. Her father was recently killed and her mother is presumed dead. She is accompanied by a friend in their village, her uncle, a woman he knows, and a lady friend of her father's, named Maggie. We don't know what the roll is of Maggie, if she is her step-mother, or what, but Charlie has shown little fondness towards this woman up until this past week. In last week's episode Maggie gets stabbed and is near death. It is at this point when Charlie realizes she will lose this companion, that she allows herself to admit to everyone how much she appreciated all that Maggie did for her. She recognized that Maggie was always there for her even when she pushed her away.

It was at that instant that I wondered if there will be that epiphany for my children. That moment in time, when they will freely admit that Roger and I are always there for them (both step and biological), even when they push us aside.

I also learned that a lot of the shows we watch on TV (OK, 2 of them) also have children who are going off to college. I never thought an episode of Modern Family would make me cry, but it has. Christian and Adam used to tease me because I would cry at an old Folger's Christmas commercial, (Watch Peter comes home Folger's Commercial ), so I would hate to experience the ridicule if they witnessed the tears flowing at a sitcom too. I tried to explain to them, that the commercial reminded me of when my oldest brother was first out of the house. Since he was in the Army, we never new if he was going to be home for the holidays, and if he was, it was a pleasant surprise. Although, I don't ever remember him making any Folger's coffee. In the same way I related to that silly commercial, I also seem to identify with the situations I see on TV, and so it's been a "wet" week.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm crying all the time and/or regret my kids being off at college, because I'm not, and I don't. In fact, I'm really happy for all three of them. I am excited for this next phase of their lives, and I am so excited to see all that God has for them. I just miss them. I miss them, and it seems like little things remind me that I miss them; the shows on TV, the piles of pictures I cleaned up in the spare bedroom; their smiling faces in their pictures on the wall.

I know this will pass; it is just change and will soon be my new normal. I just wonder, do they miss me too? The answer is Yes! (Or at least that is what I tell myself.)

I hope my kids learn a few things from TV too. I hope they learn that it is OK to laugh at yourself, in fact, I recommend it. I hope they learn that not everything you see on TV is true, and it is OK to question and search for the truth. Most importantly, I hope they learn that TV shows, commercials, news and even friends come and go, but you can always rely on family. Your family, whether blended, biological or step, will always be there. Always! Yep, you can learn a lot from TV.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm Not Retired Yet...and a Few Other Things I've Learned

Have you have talked to a recently retired person?  They have just jumped into a world where they have never lived before, or at least not in a really long time. They are no longer required to get up at a certain time or go to work for a certain number of hours. In your mind you think about all the free time they have to do whatever they want, whenever they want, but they proceed to tell you how busy they are. They go on to say how they don't realize how they got anything done when they were in the workforce.  You think yeah, yeah, yeah, sure, you're busy; you have more free time than you ever did before!

I think I'm like a retired person right now.  If you look back, the last time I had a new post was July...JULY!  That is ridiculous!  First, I blame Summer.  We were so busy this summer, travelling here, and travelling there, and I was also up at 5am every morning training for a marathon, so it seemed that every day was just go, go, go.  But then, in August, the kids moved out. They all left for college, and I was left with all this free time on my hands.  It seems as though I wouldn't have an excuse, but in fact, I found myself busier than ever.  It seemed as though we had trips planned, or time with friends planned, we would be running errands after work, and by the time we got home, ate dinner, and sat down to relax, it was 8:30p at night and I was pooped, only to get up and to it all over again.  Frankly, I don't know how I did it when the kids were here.  How did I get it all done and still have time to give to them?  Last month I was invited to speak at a conference in Chicago to talk about work and home life balance.  It was a successful talk, and I hope people got a lot out of it.  I know I did.  I realized I needed to get this thing in check. I needed to get back on my schedule and do it now.

What I realized the most is that the kids kept me in check. When they were home, I had to get dinner ready, help with homework, and talk about the day. Now that they are gone, it's just me and Roger, and he doesn't really need help with his homework.  I also know that I have never been in this position before.  I have never been a grown up and not had a child to take care of every day; to feed, cloth, bathe, talk to, help and parent. They are on their own. Sure, I'm there for them, but they need to figure things out for themselves, I'm just the back-up now.

All three of the kids, Alex, Adam and Christian, are going to college as well as participating in a Christian discipleship program for 18-24 year-olds at our church. So, not only do they have their school work, but they also have ministry programs and bible school throughout the week as well. It's a full schedule.  You can read about it here:  EPIC Commission.  I am so proud of them all. They could have taken the easy way out, and just gone to college, but they took on this too, and will be all the better because of it.  They are all supposed to find part-time jobs too.  I don't think any of them have those yet, so that search goes on, but if you have something for them in the Kalamazoo/Portage area email:, I'll make sure they apply!

I finally figured out that I just need to get it together.  I need a routine, and I need to stop walking around the house pretending like I'm doing something, and not doing anything.  I'm not retired yet - I'm here and I am back in action!  Expect big things, because even though the kids are away at college, we are still learning how to navigate life in this new way as a blended family.  It is still an adventure to read about a day in our lives!

By the way, when the kids first moved out, I cleaned their rooms.  I needed them to look fresh, since I was the one who would have to look at them everyday, not them. They look fantastic by the way - better than ever.  Wouldn't you agree?

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