Tag Archives: parenting

Yes, It Matters

My friend and I had a conversation today that I have had numerous times, with various friends, since becoming a parent.

Does it matter?

Sometimes it all seems so trivial.

The bottoms you wipe. The diapers you change. The hours spent awake at night rocking your infant to sleep.

The piles of laundry you clean, fold and put away. The meals you make. The dishes you wash.

The trips to various doctors offices. The car rides to and from sporting events and extra-curricular activities.

The countless number of Cheerios you pick up off the floor. The number of sippy cups you fill.

The appointments you make. The playdates you plan – and those you cancel because your child is now sick.

The coats and boots you put on. The diaper bags you pack. The numerous times you have to run back inside the house to grab just “one more thing.”

The hair you hold back when your child is sick in the middle of the night. The temperatures you take. The trips to the pharmacy – and sometimes the emergency room.

The tears you wipe. The boo-boos you kiss, clean and cover with a band-aid (regardless if a band-aid is really needed or not.)

The homework you help with. The lunches you pack. The field trips you attend.

The stories you read. The Legos you build and toys you play with – even with that pile of laundry that needs folded.

The time you spend picking up and putting away things. Again. And again. And again.

The times you rush home from work to feed the kids a quick meal before heading to the ballpark (for the third time that week.)

The conversations you have about responsibility and making wise choices and what it means to be a good friend, and on and on and on until you are blue in the face.

The times you have to discipline your child. And the time you spend second-guessing whether that was the right form of discipline.

The class parties you help with. The school concerts and carnivals you attend.

The trips to the grocery and Costco and Target.

The time you spend worrying about your teenage child and praying they will make good choices. The time you spend praying they will make it home okay.

The vacations you plan. The bags you pack. And then unpack.

The electronics you monitor. The apps you check. The texts you read. The time you spend wondering when it’s okay to say yes to phones and social media and the internet and whatever new thing popped up this week in the ever expanding and constantly changing world of devices.

The trips to visit colleges. The hours you ride in the passenger seat with knuckles tightly clutching whatever you can grab on to while your teenager is learning to drive.

The list goes on and on.

Sometimes it may feel like you are stuck in the movie Ground Hog Day – doing the same things over and over and over again. Sometimes it may feel like you are doing all of this and nobody really notices. Sometimes you may wonder if anyone really cares.

As you pick up your 30th Cheerio and clean dishes for the third time that day you may wonder; Does it matter?

Yes. Yes, it matters.

Very much.

It matters.

Each tear you wipe. Each boo-boo you clean. Each appointment you schedule. Each of these is a moment spent doing something for someone you love. For someone who depends on you. It is for your child, your spouse, your family – and the value of this is priceless.

Each of these acts, as trivial as they may sometimes seem, are investments of your time and energy to help care for those you love.

These acts say, “I see you and I care about you.” They say, “I am here for you.”

They are acts of love. Some big. Some small.

And they matter.

You may not hear thank yous or receive accolades, but that does not take away from the importance, or the impact, of what you are doing.

What you are doing matters.

Yes, it matters.

Very, very much.

I hope you always know that in your heart to be true. I hope you carry that with you today and the next day and the next.

What you are doing matters.

Yes, it matters.

 

*A version of this originally appeared on the Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer Facebook page

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Silencing the Joy-Stealing Monster Within

Last week, my baby started kindergarten. This means not only has my son started a new chapter in his life, but I have as well.

For the past 12 years, I have had someone at home with me the majority of the time. Suddenly, I find myself living in the land of freedom. In this new space I am experiencing things like: quiet, the ability to run errands with zero mommy-guilt, freedom to choose how I will spend my day and, amazingly, when I pick something up and put it away – it stays there.

It’s all very foreign to me.

At first, I was lamenting that time had flown by and my babies were no longer home with me. My internal dialogue was more my enemy than my friend. Did I play enough? Read enough? Explore enough? Teach enough? Take advantage of our time together enough?

I quickly silenced that joy-stealing monster. Going down that path leads to more questions and a heavy feeling of guilt. Doesn’t sound very beneficial to me.

And I hope if that joy-stealing monster is knocking on your door – that you refuse to answer, too.

For the past 12 years, I have tried. Honestly – that’s what matters. Right? It definitely wasn’t perfect – not even close. There was room for improvement – as there always is. And I’m sure anybody who is in the business of judging others would have found plenty to say about my parenting.

But, as I said, I tried. And I’m still trying. I will continue trying for as long as I am given the gift of breathing in and breathing out.

And above all – God is with me. I have Him. He knows my flaws and weaknesses and He loves me just the same.

And that is more than enough.

As I begin this new chapter in mamahood, I thank God for the blessing of life’s seasons. I thank God for the time I had with my babies and I thank God I am able to now experience this new space.

One of my hopes and dreams for this time in my life is to be more consistent with my writing. I hope this blog becomes a daily source of inspiration, creativity, affirmation and a reminder that we are all humans – destined to make mistakes, dust off and keep trying. I pray God is glorified through my writing and that my readers leave my page feeling like they sat down for a cup of coffee with a friend and left receiving a little hug.

Thanks for supporting me in this journey.

It really means a great deal more than you will know.

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If you enjoy my ramblings or know of someone else who may – please feel free to share this blog. You can also find me on Facebook @Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer  and on Instagram @TrulyYoursJen

 

 

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Someone Wants to Know Why My Child Goes to Preschool – Here’s Why

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about the mixed emotions I’m feeling as my baby – the youngest of four – is finishing his final days of preschool.

In response to this post, someone commented:

“Why is your child in pre-school and not at home being raised, nurtured, and loved by you, the mother?”

Okay. Wow. Deep breaths. Don’t reply. Wait. Wait.

I knew responding right away would not do any good. This person obviously had their opinion on mothering and I have learned getting into an all-out Facebook comment war is like trying to walk up an escalator that’s headed down – it’s exhausting and doesn’t really get you anywhere.

I decided my best course of action was to  let it go.

The next day, I came back to the comments and saw some ladies had come to my defense (Thank you kind mama bears for showing your claws.) There was some back and forth between them, ending with him saying:

“Again….it is a simple question….would love someone to answer it.”

Okay. You asked for it. Twice. So now I feel I must reply. And being a writer, I cannot reply with a  mere sentence or two. Oh no. I am much more wordy than that.

You want to know why my child is in preschool and not at home being raised, nurtured, and loved by me – the mother?

Ironically, I read your question after I had spent the day with my son. We went to lunch and shared some sushi. We talked. We laughed. And after a brief period of time, he decided our proximity wasn’t close enough and came over to my side of the booth so we could be extra snuggly while we ate.

After lunch, we went shopping for a Birthday present. We browsed for awhile – picking up items and placing them back on the shelves and eventually ended up with a gift he helped me choose. Should I go on?

Okay. I will.

After successfully purchasing the gift, we ventured to the zoo. We walked, talked, pointed enthusiastically, made animal sounds and managed to keep the geese from eating our Dippin’ Dots.

And then I read your comment. In the car (but not while driving, I will still in the parking lot – we don’t need any more judgment here.)

I am pretty sure he felt nurtured and loved by me, the mother, all day long.

I could stop now, but I know that won’t suffice – so I will go on.

The next day, we woke up and I packed his lunch, dressed him and sent him on his way – to preschool.

Why?

Because I know myself and I know him and I honestly believe this is what is best for him.

Gasp. The nerve. How dare I?

There was a short period of time when I thought about homeschooling. It didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t for me or my children.

I have many friends who homeschool and they are amazing. They are dedicated, disciplined and do an exceptional job teaching. They have been called and they have  answered. Do I believe God calls us all to the exact same things in life?  No. Not at all.

Some moms work full-time. Some part-time. Some from home. Some from the office. Others while on the road. Some stay-at-home. Some send their kids to daycare. Others to school – some private and some public. Some homeschool.

Isn’t that awesome?

I love that we are able, with our spouse or significant other, to make choices we believe are best for our families.

Personal choices.

When my son is at preschool, he is learning. He has friends he enjoys and teachers he loves. He comes home excited to tell me about his day. They take him to chapel and teach him about God. They go over their letters and learn silly songs.

I can hear you now, “Why don’t you do that at home?”

Who says I don’t?

I do teach him at home, but it’s more of a teaching through life lessons than actual schooling. I have tried to do worksheets and other fun educational activities and, honestly, it’s not something that comes naturally to me. In fact, it’s hard for me.

I am the mom who suffers from constant distraction. Do you know the book  If You Give A Mouse a Cookie? Totally me. I am distracted by laundry, beds that need made, a house that needs cleaning, dishes that need washed, appointments that need made.

I know myself well enough to know if I homeschooled him, he would not learn as much as he learns at school. To some that may sound like rubbish or hogwash or whatever you want to call it.

For me, it sounds completely accurate.

I know myself well enough to know I would not plan properly, I would not give the time or attention it needs. I would get distracted and ultimately would grow frustrated and resentful.

Yikes. I know.

I’m sorry, but it’s true.

Call me lazy. Call me undisciplined. Call me uncaring. Call me what you will.

I’m telling you – it’s true.

I send my son to preschool two days a week because I believe this is the most loving, nurturing thing that I can do for him knowing his personality and knowing my deficiencies.

I love my children with a fierce love. I tell them daily how much I love them. I hug them. I am available for them. I am trying my best. Some days are better than others – the zoo day was a pretty good one. Not all days are that great, but I am trying.

And do you know what else?  I send my kids to school. I get stuff done. I take a deep breaths. I check some things off my list. I meet with friends. I go for a run. And then I pick them up.

And I am refreshed. And they are smiling. And they are learning. And they are happy.

We all are happy.

This is what works for us.

This isn’t what works for everyone, but it works for us. 

I have four children and not one of them is the same as the other. They are unique little people with their own personalities. Just like my husband and I are unique people. Under our roof, we have six different people who think, feel and respond in their own way to different situations.

Knowing this – it’s up to my husband and I, with prayer and careful consideration, to decide what is best for each member of our family.

And do you know what? It’s okay to start in one direction and end up in another. I have friends who have sent their kids to school and ended up homeschooling. Vice a versa – I have friends who homeschooled and then decided to send their kids to school.

I have friends who have stayed home and decided to go back to work. Vice a versa – I have friends who have quit their jobs to stay home.

And it’s okay to go different directions with different children. One of my children went to preschool for one year and another for three. Why? Because they are different people with different needs.

We are constantly growing and changing and just because we set out on one course, that doesn’t mean we aren’t able to change direction.

And the same goes for me. If at some point I feel called to go back to work full-time, or part-time, or even pull my kids out of school and start homeschooling them – that’s up to my husband and I.

If all parents, children and family units were the same – then they would be handing us a Parenting Handbook for All People and Situations that is Sure to Produce the Same Incredible Results when we leave the hospital, but that is impossible because we are all uniquely created and no two people are the same. No two children are the same.

No two families are the same.

And parenting is hard enough without the judgement of others.

Kudos to the moms who work part-time.

Kudos to the moms who work full-time.

Kudos to the moms who stay home.

Kudos to the moms who teach their children at home.

Kudos to the moms who send their kids to school.

Keep on keepin’ on mamas. You are doing a fantastic job. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always pretty. It looks different for everyone. Don’t compare yourselves to other mamas. Trust that God will give you the tools and the wisdom you need and remember, if you start on one course and it isn’t working for you – it’s okay to course correct. Sometimes that’s necessary.

And to anyone who wants to know why my child isn’t being raised, nurtured or loved by me- the mother – I would say that is an unfair question. You don’t know me. You don’t know my children. You don’t know my heart. If you did, I believe you would say they are being raised, nurtured and loved by both me and their father. I don’t doubt for one second my children know how much we love them. I don’t doubt they feel nurtured and cared for. I clean their boo-boos. I snuggle with them. I listen to them. I answer their questions. I attempt to guide them. And more importantly – they know the ultimate love that never fails comes from their Heavenly Father. My husband and I are guaranteed to mess up in this lifetime, but He is not. So we will just keep pointing them to Him.

And in the future, to those who feel compelled to ask the question I was asked, I would be careful. You never know where someone has come from or what they may be struggling with. I know moms who have lost their spouse. I know moms whose husbands have lost their jobs. I know moms whose marriages have fallen apart. I know moms who would like to stay home, but are not able to and that question may be like a dagger to the heart.

To all of you mamas out there, as I said before – keep on keepin’ on. Keep doing your mom thing. Do what is best for you and your family and don’t let the judgement of others weigh you down.

I know I’m not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Lockdown Happens

Last Thursday, I pulled into the pick-up line at the end of the school day – as I always do. And my daughter walked to the car – as she always does. But something was different.

Something was wrong.

She opened the car door as the words came pouring out of her mouth.

“Did you hear what happened? Did they tell you?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“No. I haven’t heard anything. What happened? Are you okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“The school went on lockdown.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“Why? Is everyone okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

The words poured from her mouth as she explained what happened in full detail. It began with an announcement over the PA system. The words spoken over the PA were few, but the reactions the words caused were swift.

“We are on lockdown. This is not a drill. We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

Silence. Movement. Waiting. Silence. Tears.

My daughter went on to describe how the teacher locked the door, turned off the lights and ushered everyone to the corner of the room.

He stood in front of them.

They had been through this before. They knew what to do. Only this time was different. This time it was not a drill.

Kids were crying.

She knew her teacher was scared by the look in his eyes, but he remained calm – as heroes do. Reminding them of the importance of their silence.

My daughter said she knew she had to be quiet, so she let the tears fall from her eyes, down her cheeks, but did not make a peep for fear that someone outside of the room may hear.

Someone accidentally dropped his crutch. More crying. Would this bring someone to their room?

In the middle of her telling me this story, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “Mom. I have never been so afraid in all of my life.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

What do I say? How do I respond?

“I’m so sorry, honey. I can’t imagine how scary that had to have been. Then, what happened?”

After the lockdown was over, she was told there had been a fight close to the school and someone had a gun. As a precaution, the police told the schools in the surrounding areas they had to go on lockdown. She was told the altercation took place in a small, new neighborhood.

She said she spent the rest of the day wondering if that was our neighborhood. Wondering if her brother and I were okay. Wondering if I would be there to pick her up.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

My daughter and I spent the remainder of the car ride home talking about what happened. She vented. I listened.

For a few minutes that day – my daughter, her classmates, the teachers and staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

This is the reality that teachers, administrators, students and countless others who work in the school system face.

These people are heroes.

My daughter’s teacher had no idea what was happening. He didn’t know who was out there. He pushed the kids into the corner and stood in front of them. Ready to give his life for theirs.

These people are heroes.

When I picked up the girls from the elementary school, I found out the same thing had happened there.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Another one of my daughters described how they went into the cubby room and she held the hand of the friend across from her while two friends on each side of her snuggled in. They all grabbed coats and covered their bodies for extra protection.

As she recounted her experience, it took everything for me to not break down.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

For a few minutes that day – my daughters, their classmates, the teachers and the staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

And then, on Sunday, I awoke to the news that not far from our house – four innocent people’s lives were taken at a Waffle House.

The killer was still on the loose.

I contemplated not going to church. Not sending my kids to school. What if that drill becomes a reality? What if?

And then I was reminded of what I am reminded of so often, I cannot live my life in fear. I cannot teach my children to live their lives in fear.

I have to be brave. We have to be brave.

We have to remain positive.

There are so many more good people than bad in the world.

I need to remember that. We need to remember that.

Thank you to all of you heroes out there.

Thank you to the school workers who go through these drills with the knowledge that someday it may not be a drill.

Thank you to the police officers who rush into these situations, ready to save lives – and possibly give their own.

These people are heroes.

Thankfully, there are so many more heroes out there than bad guys. This is what I hope to teach my children. This very possibly may not be the only time they hear the words, “We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

I hope it is, but it may not be.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Thank you, God, for these drills so that if the moment comes, these heroes know what to do. Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many people who are willing to take action. Thank you, God, for those who are willing to surrender their lives to save the lives of others.

Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many heroes.

Thank you to the heroes in both of my children’s schools last Thursday. You did not know what was outside of your doors and you were ready to protect. To possibly give your lives – for my children.

Thank you. From the very bottom of my heart and with all of my being – Thank you.

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