Sock Wisdom

21 months–that is when my daughter started her “terrific twos” meltdowns.  Our sweet, good-natured daughter with the angelic smile now has moments, minutes, even halves of an hour of pure loss of control.  They do not happen often but enough to leave my husband, Scott, and I shaking our heads in dismay.  Our daughter will cry, lie down, push away any consolation.  It is heartbreaking, troubling, and absolutely exhausting.

A little secret that I must confess–I have no clue what I am doing some days.  Oh yes, I have read some articles; I’ve studied child development in school.  I have got the knowledge and instincts of a teacher.  But my kids–probably like all children–are not textbook kids.  Distract her from a meltdown?  No way.  Firmly restate directions or choices to a screaming son?  Not having it.  Count 1-2-3?  Heck no!

During a recent meltdown, I found myself lying next to my daughter on her bedroom floor. I had let her be alone for a few minutes, but she was so upset, I needed to put myself near her.  I had to let her know I was nearby and ready to give her any support she needed.

While resting there, trying to find a comfortable way to wait patiently on a hard floor, I looked down at my socks.  “I am a great mom.”  At least that’s what my socks were telling me.  They were a fun gift from my sister on my 40th birthday (from  At that moment, I tried to use those words as a mantra of some sort.

I am a great mom

“I am a great mom.”  Yes, I must believe it.  No, I will not kid myself to think that means I know what I am doing.  I am even willing to admit that I have already made a ton of mistakes and will surely make many more.  I will keep trying, however.  I will seek answers.  I will read fellow blogs or articles, talk to my husband, friends, and family, and definitely pray a lot. Basically, I will just do the best I can.

When in doubt, I will go back to my old standby–love (this is what my parents used too). Scott and I will love our children through the meltdowns, love them through the growing pains, love them through the sleepless nights and the noisy car rides, and (may God help us) love them through the teenage years.  Oh, there are many easy times in parenting too–the giggles, the hugs, the happy routines.  That’s the good thing about love–it is there through it all.  In the meantime, I think I’d better get Scott his own pair of socks.  This is quite a journey we are on!


Mommy’s Note: In case my daughter reads this years from now, I want her to know she really is a happy, sweet girl.  She just likes to save up for some big meltdowns to remind us that she’s human.  We love you!



Parental Truth Telling

Have you ever had that friend that called it like she saw it? Told the truth even if it made you squirm a bit?  Stacey is that friend to me.  I’ve known her since college, and I look forward to the many more years of our friendship.  She’s a quiet, gentle soul, but she’s got spunk.  She’s not afraid to say the truth.  I’m truthful too, but I’m much more guarded in what I say.  I take things in, process them through rose-colored glasses (which I inherited from my mother), and then consider all audiences and their feelings before sharing my thoughts.  Stacey just says it.  I love that about her!

Recently Stacey stayed with my family for a few days.  It was so good to see her.  I always feel like my tank has been filled, my soul has been repaired and restored, after visits with her.  While here, Stacey, my husband, and I enjoyed reconnecting with each other’s children.  Stacey finally got to meet our sweet daughter, and she showered her with snuggles and attention.  She also talked to and played with our loving, energetic four-year old son.  Scott and I marveled at how much her teenage boys have grown, and we smiled as we watched them relate so wonderfully to our children.

Stacey also had the honor of witnessing the multitude of tiny (and sometimes big) meltdowns our son had while she and the boys were here.  Due to the change in routine and extra stimulation of having visitors, E had even more tantrums than usual.  At some point on the last day, hearing me sigh after yet another scream from Mr. Fussy Pants, Stacey put her hand on my shoulder and spoke two words that, after my initial shock, warmed my heart.  “Parenting sucks,” she said.

Now before you get too offended, please know that Stacey loves her children more than anything.  She is an amazing mom (the mom, other than my own dear mother, like whom I constantly hope that I can be), and she is a talented, loving teacher.   I, too, love my children, marvel at them daily, and count being their mother as one of the greatest gifts God has given me. But, full disclosure here, parenting IS hard.  It is exhausting.  To be so invested in these little beings, these special extensions of my heart, and then to have them scream or tantrum or make poor choices—it’s enough to knock down the strongest of parents.  Not to mention the worries and frets they cause you as you watch them now or think about their futures—yikes!  Following Stacey’s bold lead, it just feels good to be honest about this.  For a moment, at least.

This truth telling may seem to run against the themes of my other posts.  I know I’m not alone.  We all post happy pictures of our kids on Facebook or Instagram, gushing with pride and love.  It’s not dishonest.  Those are the parts that we hold onto at the end of the day.  Those are the moments that lift us up and make our buttons burst.  If I am like my mother, I’m pretty sure those will be the ones that I remember when my children are grown.  But maybe we need to hear from each other now and then, so we don’t freak out that we’re doing something wrong.  Let’s just remind each other.  Parenting is hard.  It can even “suck” sometimes.  Totally worth it, wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it isn’t easy.  Thank God we have our spouses, our dear friends, and our families to lean on in the process.

The Joy of Rereading

E Reading

“I’m reading!” my toddler insists.  E will not even look up to listen to my question or comment about the book he’s reading. When he’s into a book, he’s fully engaged.  Though I feel a little sad by this early independence, I also am very happy.

I have been reading to E since he was in the womb.  At 2 1/2, he makes his teacher-mama proud.  He loves books and often wants us to read to him.  He always asks for one more book and then another “one more book” before naps and bedtime.  When things get too quiet in the house and we can’t see E, we often find him in front of the bookshelf or in a corner of the room, surrounded by books, reading them to himself one by one.

E’s bookshelves have gotten a bit overcrowded lately.  I recently tried to hide away some seasonal and simpler books until E’s sister arrives in the fall and we get a new set of shelves for her room.  Tonight, after not seeing them for two weeks, E was asking specifically for some of these hidden books.  Even with newer books and library checkouts at his fingertips, E does not tire of reading the old books.  He simply loves to reread.

This makes me think about the rereading my students do and that I do as an adult. Many students seem to have their “go to” books–trusted books they know will satisfy again and again.  Sure, I want them to stretch their wings and find new titles, new genres.  I can’t deny them, however, that pure joy of a story well told.

I know that satisfaction too.  Like listening to a good song again and again, when I reread I rediscover old friends, uncover new beauty, and gain new understandings and appreciation.  Most times, I do choose to read new books.  So many books, so little time, right?   But what if I do take that break from the new and go back to the old?  What might I gain?  Looking at the joy on my son’s face as he pours over each page of that worn, drool-encrusted book I tried to hide, I think I might gain quite a bit!

My unfinished list of books to reread:

  • Walden, by Henry David Thoreau–Fell in love with it at 16, though I couldn’t fully understand it.  Reread it at 25.  What a different perspective as I reread!  How would it appeal to me at 40?
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott–A childhood favorite–I may make myself wait a bit longer and read this with my children.
  • Any Harry Potter book, by J.K. Rowling–I know what will happen, but I never tire of the characters and the pure imagination behind the series.
  • The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver–This was the first of her novels that I read, and I felt like I had found my author-soul sister.
  • The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx–She’s my other favorite author, and this is the first of hers that I read.  I still can picture and feel the stark, chilly setting.
  • Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini–Such a tragic and beautiful story!

What books would be on your list?

Going to the Blue

Toes in the Water

Is one of the reasons we have children just to remind ourselves of those simple joys of life?  On Friday, we ventured out to Big Creek State Park with Grandma.  Though my two-year old son (“E”) has visited some smaller pools with mixed reviews, this was our first journey onto a beach and into lake water, and I wasn’t sure how it would go.  To my delight, he loved it.

Each part of the experience was new.  We took a slow, tentative walk across a deep beach, feeling every footstep as our toes squished into the sand.  E is still a bit sand-shy.  He wasn’t sure about these “little rocks” and getting dirty, but curiousity and the water ahead pulled him forward.

As we got closer to the water and dumped our supplies, E was quick to head forward, investigating some miniature canals dug by some fellow, older boys and borrowing their toy fishing net to swing around.  Within minutes, E’s toes were in the water, hand held tightly to mine.  He was so observant–quickly discovering the “fishies” (tiny minnows?) that Grandma and I failed to see.  He tested the water first with his toes and legs, feeling the water lap against him.  Then his hands and arms joined in swishing and splashing.  Occasionally he’d go back to shore to walk through the sand and canals and to play with his bucket and shovel, but it was the water that kept drawing him back.  Finally, E completed his exploration by dipping his hair and face into the water, pulling up quickly with a gasp and a giggle.  As we neared the end of our visit to the lake, E kept pulling me deeper and pointing out to the middle of the lake, saying, “I want to go to the blue.”  I think he wanted to go where the blue sky reflected in the lake water.  If possible, he probably would have kept walking further and further, always reaching out for that blue.

Grandma and I enjoyed observing our little guy.  I think we were both filled with memories of summers spent on Lake Delavan in Wisconsin–sun soaked, water logged, and totally content.  Though we no longer have that cottage to visit, it’s heart-warming to pass on that love of the lake.

What are your water memories?