Perspective, Perception and Point of View

I’ve been stewing on this since somewhere around four this morning. And since it’s dinner time right now, I’ll probably be working on this for the next three hours. Or later…

Have you ever really tried to see something from someone else’s point of view? I mean really get into their shoes. Understand their thoughts and reasonings. To understand their perception of the world around them. It’s not easy to do… to step out of yourself and know someone else.

And it’s even harder to teach a 10 year old. Tonight J was yelling at S about her perception of an event. She thought he took something, and it hurt her feelings. He said took it, and gave it back and then G took it. Now he’s mad because he’s being blamed. Ugh! How do you help someone understand that what they think happened may only be half of the truth?

Then I started going through email. I got an ad from on of those places that searches for people from William Ninis, and it made my heart hurt. William J. Ninis was my big brother from another mother. We spent two years in college together, but it could have been a lifetime. He made me laugh. He protected me. He cheered for me.

I say for me… really it was for several of the girls I ran with… He was our Billy. Our big teddy bear. We loved him. He loved us. Our sophomore year he want pictures made with his “family” (seems to me he won a sitting) and we had our pictures taken with him… four girls and Billy… looking at that picture is bitter sweet.

Billy passed away 5 years ago now. He was 35. Way too young. Cancer. Is. Not. My. Friend.

The bitter part is not just that he’s gone. The bitter part is that we allowed time to pull us apart. He ended up living in the same state as I was, four hours away from me. Dying. And I did not know. I found out through the grapevine that he was sick. It took me a week to work up enough nerve to call a number I found that might be his family’s. He died during that week. I never got to talk to him again. Bitter pill.

Billy had a rough several years since college. I believe he was ashamed of what he had done. I’ll never know. He didn’t tell me. He didn’t tell me he was sick. He just stopped answering my emails. And I didn’t call to ask. And part of me wants to cry every time I think about it. I want to hug his neck and tell him I love him.

And I want my kids to not taste the same bitter pill. I want them to understand they need to take care to understand as much as they want to be understood. That they need to be able to look inside themselves and see the people that really matter to them, and keep them close.

Billy and one of his girls

Yes or No?

Kids ask a lot of questions. Sometimes without words. Sometimes answering those questions comes down to two words. Yes or No. I think, sometimes, parenting can come down to two types… Yes parents or No parents.

The world is new to kids. They are learning so much every day. One of the things they are learning is will you help them learn or will you not. What do I mean? I mean, sometimes, what they want to do or try gets answered by what we 1) want to do with them, 2) are willing to clean up or 3) are willing to go slow on.

I think our goal as parents (and I say OUR because I need to work on this myself) is to say yes WAY more often then we say no.

I have a friend, when her seven year old son wanted to shave like Dad, found a way for him to do it so he wouldn’t cut himself. She was a yes mom! Another, saw a snow cone maker in the store. She brought it home and let her kids make snow cones. In the house. Her son called it the best day ever.

Yesterday, we were yes parents… we even got the ball rolling! My DH thought we needed an Art Day… so I got up, drove to buy some finger paints, paper and breakfast. He and the kids took some mats from the play room to the back yard. One child drew, and three painted.

Then, suddenly, it went from finger painting to body painting. And we let it. And we laughed with them. A lot. All morning.

Yes is such a positive word. I know there are times that call for a no. I just want those to be the only time I use it. I don’t want to us no because I’m “too tired” to mess with it. I want my kids to have lots of fun times to remember. And maybe a cold shower to clean up!

Smelly Friends

This morning I was snuggling with my girls as they were watching “Peep” on the DVR. It’s a very cute show about discovering the world around you. This morning the characters Peep and Chirp were discovering a smell. Or rather that their friend Duck was stinky!

What to do with a stinky friend? Duck talked to a raccoon, who told him that if he carried a box of things from the garbage, he would smell better, because it smelled so bad. At the same time, Peep and Chirp were collecting flowers and grass, because they smelled good and the two friends thought that would help Duck smell better.

While I’m watching this, a thought hit me… our friends are like that. How do you pick your friends? Do you look at people and think, if I hang with this person, they will make me look better because they are messier then I am? Or do you look a people and think, if I hang with this person they will help me become better because they have their act together more then I do?

What about your loved ones? Do you encourage them to pick better friends, or let them hang with people who only make them “look” better?

I’ve watched people who choose to hang out with someone because they are a mess and it makes them feel better about yourself… the thing is, carrying that box of garbage stagnates them. There is no one to challenge them. If you are not challenged, you don’t grow.

I think I want to pick my friends from the rose garden and not the trash can… there might be some thorns to prick me and make me uncomfortable, but there will not be a smelly Grouch to make me stinky!

A Mother’s Broken Heart

I’m sitting here this morning listening to the sounds of a sleeping house and a playing baby… More than slightly amazed that four children and a husband are still sleeping. And I’m thinking about a conversation I had last night… a friend was telling me of someone she knows who just had a miscarriage. And my heart breaks.

I know her pain. Well. I know her loss. Deep. I know her heart break. Personally. Mine heart has shattered. I know the joy of seeing that little stick announce a new life joining the world. I know the extreme disappointment and letdown when your own body says otherwise. I know the feelings of “I may never have a(nother) child. See, I’ve had five miscarriages. Yes, F-I-V-E!

I understand the reality is WE’ve had five, my husband and I. However, I also understand that a child, six or seven weeks in your womb is SO much more real to the woman than the man. The pain he feels is disappointment, a bit deeper than when his team lost the super bowl. The pain she feels is grief. Where there was life, there is no more. There has been a death in the family. And she can’t even call the child’s name. (Though I know of a couple cases of women who have named the children they’ve lost, as a form of closure.)

When I hear of these kinds of things, I wonder how great is the number of women are out there who do not talk about their loss. I’ve learned one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage. That’s a quarter of all pregnancies! I find that to be amazing. I can only account for this in the deeply personal level of the loss. Since the woman is the only one to carry the child, she is the only one to physically connect with the child.

As my case shows, it is possible to have another child after a miscarriage, or two… (Mine came in groups – two between my two boys, and three between my oldest two girls.) However, even having another child does not remove the pain of the loss, much like a new pet doesn’t make you miss the old one less. This is a case of time being the best healer. If you are in the middle of the pain, don’t rush it.

The one thing a miscarriage does, is highlights the gift of life… it is a gift, not a guarantee. If you have children and have not walked this road, hug your kids a little tighter. Try to see them as the gift to you they really are.

Enough Already!

I’m done. Had it. Over it. Want off the ride. You name it, I’m there. Let me catch you up…

Some of you may remember, last August, when we moved into our lovely home, we found a few brown recluses. I say a few, because I think we had 4 or 5 in that first week… I was NOT happy about it… I’ve lived in the Nashville area 17 years, and never actually seen any outside of the zoo. I called the people who are supposed to be good at killing things like that and was told we didn’t have a problem… ummm really? There are bugs in my house who can do DAMAGE to my kids and I don’t have a problem???

I was told that with 5 kids said bugs would not want to be around, and within six months they would move out because there’s too much noise… there’s a reason they are called RECLUSE…

Well, after that first week, we didn’t see any for a while… then my boys would find one or two in their room, or we found on in the baby’s room… I honestly don’t remember them all…

Then there was a weekend I don’t think I’ll ever forget… about two weeks ago… I sent my boys up to bring down their dirty clothes, and they came down telling me they found another spider. They trapped it so Daddy, who was not home right then, could see it. He came home, look at it, then rid our house of the vermin, and we all jumped into the van and drove a good 20 minute drive, ate lunch and were sitting around a couple of tables, kids playing, laughter, and chatter. I don’t even remember what we were talking about. What I remember was feeling like there was a hair… shall we say, in my shirt? I, rather nonchalantly, reached from the top of my shirt down to grab said hair, and pulled out… A SPIDER!!! I, with baby in one hand and spider in the other, jumped up, and threw the offender down. Yes, I had a brown recluse in my BRA!!! My husband came over and rescued me by killing it. Something was said about him being jealous of the spider’s view… MEN!!!

The next day boys found another one in their room. This one was dead. And then I went to change the BABY’S sheets… and yes, as I lifted the mattress to put the sheet on, found yet another UNDER THE BABY’S mattress… UGH.

Tonight the boys found yet another in their room. It is only by God’s grace we have not had anyone bitten. There are spider traps all over this house… and they have picked up a couple. For those counting, we’ve now been the in the house for 10 months… and still they are here…

I’m so ready for them to be gone. And yes, I still feel like I have something crawling on me… so if you see me put my hand in my shirt… please forgive me for being rude, but I’m checking for spiders!

We Are Nashville

It’s become almost a battle cry, “We Are Nashville.” The whole thing was pretty surreal. I mean, really, who expects to get over 17 inches of rain in a 48 hour time frame? Who expects to see local parks transform into lakes over night? Who expects to see interstates you can’t drive? Or buildings floating down said interstates? Those are images you see on TV, not in your back yard.

And yet… there was almost no TV coverage. Well, if you were here, there was nonstop coverage, but outside Middle Tennessee… not so much. I had a friend call from Kansas two days later saying she had just heard…

WHAT? Is this not the age of 24 hour news? How can they go so long without covering what has been called a 500 year flood? How is that not news worthy? People lost their homes, their cars, their lives. Churches were closed because of… rain? Malls were swamped under 10 feet of water. And somewhere someone said there’s no story in Nashville?

Much like a tornado skipping through the land, the flood waters devastated one area, and a mile down the road was not touched. Streets were shut down, restaurants were closed, curfews were enacted. But there was no story?

I wonder if that’s because Nashville did not cry out to the government to save us? Nashville did not blame the President for the water that rush us. Nashville did not wait for buses to clear us out. Nashville did not use this as a chance to steal from someone else. In fact, Nashville‘s churches stepped up, volunteers showed up, neighbors started helping neighbors. People risked their lives for complete strangers.

I am so proud of the place I call home. And I am a bit saddened by the reality of, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Nashville got wet, we didn’t bleed. And somehow that much water was not enough news to most of the media. We didn’t whine about it. We didn’t take our frustrations out on other people. We did what we do best… we dug in, and we took care of the problems, and we took care of each other.

We Are Nashville. Music City Rising. The volunteer state. The way it should be.

Giggles for Moms

It has come to my attention that somehow you may have missed this singer… Oh, she is NOT to be missed…

Anita Renfroe is one of the South’s treasures. This housewife turned comic has been splitting sides and making eyes water for the last ten years, including touring with the Women of Faith Conference, DVDs, CDs and books.

She’s been called this generation’s Erma Bombeck… I would suggest maybe Weird Al

Where are you sleeping?

Sigh… sigh… sigh…  Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out to be a mother… I know, it’s a little late… Sometimes my kids bring me to a place where I think I am not able to handle the title of Mom. The other night, T had a dinner meeting, and I was on my own for about 4 hours with 5 kids. I dealt with fights, a hungry, screaming baby, toilet cleaner in the bath water. Sometimes, in the middle of such chaos, I forget just how blessed we are. Then I read things like this:

My sober friend

Oh, wretched person that I am. How can I even think about complaining? Seriously… My life is beyond blessed. I have five unbelievably wonderful kids. We have a big house that keeps the wind/rain/snow/sun off of them when they want to be still/dry/warm/cool. They each have their own bed (though the boys and older girls do share a room, they sleep in their own beds). They have a big back yard to run and climb and swing in. They do not have to sell themselves for their next meal. They do not beg for money. They do not sleep in a dump.

This is where I realize mothering is not just birthing children and keeping them from killing each other. Mothering is about teaching your children to be grateful for all God has given you, while having compassion on those who are in need. Mothering is about helping your kids understand just because it has been given to you does not mean it was for you. Mothering is about helping your kids see a need and meet it, to not walk away and just feel sorry. Mothering is teaching your kids to feel the pain of others without becoming jaded and hard. Sometimes when you are a mother it’s tough to see past the dirty diapers you are swimming in, and find the real lessons in life.

Mothering is about teaching your kids to trust Jesus to meet their needs and to bless Him by being the hands of Jesus to meet someone else’s needs. This is the circle of life we should be working towards. And this will be our goal, until every child sleeps in their own bed.

What were they thinking?

I’m mad. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. But mostly I’m mad.

I wonder, when the rest of the world see’s a headline like this

Saudi Girl, 12, Wins Divorce From 80-Year-Old Husband

what goes through their minds? Maybe they are happy she’s been freed? Maybe they wonder how that happens in the first place? Maybe they wonder why a 12 year old, who should be playing out back with friends, finds herself married? I wonder those too. I also wonder, where does a 12 year old go to live when she divorces her 80 year old husband? Back to the parents who gave sold her into a marriage she didn’t want? I hope not! To live on her own? Again, I hope not! To live with extended family…

Then I read on and I get to this gem of an item: She was married against her wishes to her father’s elderly cousin last year. SERIOUSLY??? Not only is the man old enough to be her GRANDFATHER, he was actually her Dad’s cousin… as in related to her!!!! What is wrong with these people???? (You know, that’s probably as self answering question…)

As far as the being sold into this “marriage” … yes, she was sold into the marriage… The story says: A dowry of 85,000 riyals (about $23,000) was paid and the marriage consummated. OH, I am all kinds of mad! She was sold to her 2nd cousin for sex at 11 years old. This baby girl has been wronged on so many levels. Her family was supposed to protect her, not abandon her. Her family was supposed to love her, not abuse her. Her family was supposed to cheer her on and tell her she could be and do anything her heart dreamed of, not strap her down in utter sexual slavery. (REALLY, what else would an 80 year old man do with an 11/12 year old little girl? It sure wouldn’t be about the conversations they had, and probably not about how well she cooked, or cleaned the house.)

So now the world is cheering that this will probably change the law and set the minimum age for marriage at 16. I don’t know that that’s much better. I just can’t cheer for that. As a matter of fact, I’m having a hard time just getting past this little girl, and where’s she’s going to sleep tonight.

Makes me that much more grateful to God that we live in the United States, and I know my sweet children are going to sleep in their own beds tonight. And it breaks my heart for the other children of the world. Can we just have one big sleep-over at my house?