Being Mama · Kids

On Forgiving Your People

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When this sweet little apology note arrived in my mailbox, I was very confused.

At first, I could just decipher the first line – “I am sorry” – and I could not for the life of me figure out why this sweet little boy – the son of a dear friend of mine – was sending me an apology note.

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When I read closer, I realized the words following said, “I am sorry (Nicole) for scraping your car.” (Love that giant circle for the period at the end!)

What?

Why is he apologizing for scraping my car?

What is this about?

It took a minute, but I finally remembered being at their house a few weeks prior, standing in the driveway chatting. This sweet little guy was running around with a stick because, what else do boys do, really, but run around with sticks? His mama told him to be careful with the stick and not put it near my car. And then he did exactly that – put the stick very close to my car.

Now, I don’t remember if the stick actually touched the car or not. What I DO remember is his mama having a heart-to-heart with him about listening and following directions and being careful with other people’s cars, the same as I would. Actually, probably not the same as I would because, truth be told, if it had been my child who had the stick, I would have been MAD. I can be stern with my kids, and I can make small things feel like a VERY BIG DEAL. But my friend remained calm and her words remained kind in a way that I’m not sure mine would have.

When I got the card in the mail and realized I had forgotten this completely, I also realized that if it had been my child, I would NOT have forgotten it completely. I would have stewed about it for days, thinking about WHAT KIND OF CHILD POKES A STICK AT A CAR, FOR GOODNESS SAKES?! IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF MY CHILD’S PATH TO DELINQUENCY AND A LIFE OF CRIME?!

But for me, with it being her child, it was just a moment. A tiny little thing that left almost no impression on my memory whatsoever. Forgiven and forgotten instantly. Because I know this boy – a sweet, funny, inquisitive, curious boy who would never actually scrape a car just because. He was just a kid, being a kid.

And guess what?

So are my children.

What a lesson this was for me, a change in perspective. To take a step back when my kids do something that I don’t approve of, even when they break a rule. Instead of feeling like it’s the end of the world and being unable to let it go, I can ask myself what I would think if it were another child, not one of my own.

Would I think less of that child? No way.

And – maybe more to the point of how I truly feel when my kids misbehave – would I think less of their parents?

Of course not.

We put so much pressure on ourselves as parents to raise these perfect children who navigate every situation in the correct way. We think we must react to every infraction in order to teach “valuable lessons” so these kids do exactly the right thing and turn out okay.

But we are imperfect people, too. I know I DEFINITELY don’t navigate every situation in my life in the most correct way. (And news flash: most of the time, there isn’t ONE correct way.)

I mess up all the time! I need to say sorry freely and often. And I want to teach my children to do the same. I want them to know that when they do mess up, I am a safe place to come, to tell the truth and to receive grace and, yes, sometimes instruction, but always forgiveness.

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Our children are precious little people who are learning to walk in this world and figure things out for themselves. They have been entrusted to us to guide, yes, but also to enjoy, to delight, and to have relationship. They are OUR PEOPLE.

***

This came back to me a few weeks ago when we had friends over for dinner.

The adults were on the back porch while the kids were running around – girls inside playing dress up and reading, boys up in the treehouse. At one point, I look up because I see a solid stream of liquid coming down out of the treehouse and into the yard and over the fence into our neighbor’s backyard.

Of course, if you have boys, you know exactly what is happening. I assume it’s my child and feel myself start to get upset – what will the neighbors think when they see that my kid is PEEING INTO THEIR BACKYARD??? Then I realize that it is just as likely the other child taking aim (both of their backs are to us), and just the thought of him deciding that this is a good idea CRACKS ME UP. The dads, of course, laugh immediately, saying that this is so normal, it’s just a thing boys do, we knew kids growing up who did this all the time. (“I have this ‘friend’….” Ha!) The guys then talk to the boys, telling them, of course, that they shouldn’t pee from the treehouse, especially into the neighbors yard. And all the while, I have to cover my face to hide my chuckles and laughing tears. And this was just seconds after I almost made this into a VERY BIG DEAL.

(Come on, it IS pretty funny!)

Now, obviously I’m not suggesting we let everything go because “kids will be kids”, but I am suggesting that we – that I – take a step back and take in the bigger perspective. I have to guide and teach my kids. But I also have to show them the beauty of grace and of forgiveness and of the freedom that comes with knowing that their parents love them unconditionally and can handle whatever comes their way.

Because not everything is a VERY BIG DEAL. Sometimes it’s just boys peeing from a treehouse.

five things · quotes · Tennessee

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday! Long time no post, eh? When the kids were little, if you had told me that having big kids actually meant LESS free time, I would never have believed you. But somehow, I used to actually have time to write. Right here on this blog. Multiple times a week. (And sometimes, in October, EVERY SINGLE DAY.) Amazing.

Confession: This Five Things was supposed to be last week, but everything just got crazy, plus Husband has been out of town the last two weeks AND school started Wednesday. I ALMOST had this ready last Friday, but it just didn’t happen. So here, for your reading pleasure, are some things that were on my mind last week. Ha!

Smoky Mountains1.Tennessee. At the end of summer, we spent two weeks in and around my hometown in East Tennessee. Family dinners, catching up, a trip to the Smoky Mountains, and even my high school reunion! It was a fun trip that felt long in all the best ways. I love living in California – it is truly home to me now – but being back there always makes me think about what it would be like to live there – the beautiful hills, being so close to family, and the people. They are truly the friendliest of all the places I’ve ever been. Leaving Tennessee is always bittersweet.

(Photo is the view from the deck of the cabin where we stayed in the Smoky Mountains. Breathtaking!)

2. Vacation vs. Trip. I read this while I was on my “trip” to Tennessee. I laughed so hard, I couldn’t breathe.

Greek sandals from Etsy3. I have found the perfect sandals. I realize that many of you do not know the depths of my obsession about things. I have been searching for a perfect pair of sandals for YEARS. Two summers ago, I found a cute, cheap pair at Old Navy that I wore almost every day. Their “leather” (fake, of course) was the perfect shade of tan – not too dark, not too brown, just right. Obviously they got worn out by the end of summer, and I have searched for something similar to replace them, even creating a Pinterest board highlighting the details I wanted (ankle straps, no elastic for the buckle, very light shade of tan, simple design), creating my own “perfect shoe” in my mind. Nothing was ever quite right. I started looking into shoe repair shops to see if they could MAKE what I wanted. I pondered, “Could I become a cobbler and design the perfect shoe?” See? OBSESSED. (At least I was aware of it.)

But then, one late night in June, after scouring Zappos and Amazon and Nordstrom, I found them on Etsy. My perfect sandal.  They are from Greece. They are handmade. They took 6 weeks to arrive. They are absolutely worth it. They were comfortable from the moment I put them on, and I have worn them almost every day since. They go with everything. They are perfect.

And now I don’t have to become a cobbler in my spare time!speak to your children as if4. This quote.

morning coffee5. And also this one. A friend texted me at 6:15 on Tuesday to let me know that she had left a wetsuit on her porch for my son. (She told him about it when we ran into her at karate. Had he ever mentioned wanting a wetsuit? NO! Does he ever swim in the ocean? NO! Did he talk about anything else in the 14 hour span between hearing about said wetsuit and picking it up? NO!!!!) A few texts back and forth in, my friend said, “Wait, why are you awake right now?” This quote is the reason. Now, sometimes I DO wake up and workout before the kids are up, but the REASON I wake up every morning before the kids is so that I wake up every morning BEFORE THE KIDS.

What are you up to this weekend? Husband gets back from his trip today, so we’re planning Family Movie Night for Finger Food Friday. Also planning to FINALLY get a new sewing machine this weekend! Woohoo! Hope your weekend is full of laughter, good coffee, and the little things that bring you joy. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Being Mama · five things · quotes

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday! How’s your summer going? I can’t believe we’re already past the 4th of July, which always feels like the beginning of the end of summer for me. We still have swim lessons and a camp and a family trip, but school will be here before we know it.

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I haven’t been doing any projects since my sewing machine broke, and I haven’t been writing much either. I miss it. There’s something wonderful about writing for me. Just getting words out of my head onto paper or typed on the screen is so cathartic. (I think it has a lot to do with my theory on consuming vs. producing and how good producing is for me.)

Last weekend, as an exercise in a bible study I’m doing this summer, I had a technology-free day. It was hard -but also easy. I had so much extra time, and I found it easy to fill that time with chores around the house that kept me pretty distracted. But when I was quiet for a few minutes – a time I would have grabbed my phone to check Facebook or Instagram – I grabbed my journal to write. And even after my no-tech day was finished, I’ve continued to journal a little each day. It’s a habit I have loved for years, and I’m happy to have picked up again.

So here I am, giving you a quick rundown of things that have been on my mind lately – thoughts I’ve had, stuff I’ve read, things that have hit home.

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1. “Girl Camp”. Husband and BB left for Cub Scout camp this week. While they are living it up in the woods canoeing and building campfires and shooting bows and arrows and sleeping in tents, BG and I are having “Girl Camp”.  What does one do at Girl Camp? Well, so far, we go to IKEA and plan bedroom decorating projects. We organize toys. (SO MUCH PINK. See above.) We have play dates with friends. We go swimming. We buy desserts just because. We do our nails. We go to the movies. This is less a camp of planned activities and more of an attitude. BG summed it up by saying, “You say ‘Yes!’ a lot more during Girl Camp.” TRUE! It’s been a really special time for the two of us – I am so thankful for these days. (And I’m dying to know what’s happening at “Boy Camp” – can’t wait to hear stories and see pictures of their adventures!)

2. Yoga Radio on Pandora. It’s a lovely way to start the day, even if you aren’t actually doing yoga and are just sitting on your couch, sipping coffee.

3. This essay. Beautiful, sad, moving.

4. This movie. Speaking of things that made me cry, I was at the movie theater with BG yesterday to see Despicable Me 3 (her choice because apparently Cars 3 “just sort of feels like a baby movie.” Well, okay then.) They showed the trailer for Wonder, and I cried from the very first second. Wonder, by RJ Palacio, is probably the best book I’ve read this year – and I’ve had a string of good ones lately. I know Husband will not look forward to seeing this film with me as he has an aversion to movies in which there is a high likelihood of me leaving the theater in a red-faced, runny-nosed, sobbing mess. He likes to save those for watching at home. (A selection of movies we’ve seen together in which I walk out of the theater in full-on ugly cry: Titanic, Apollo 13, Romeo + Juliet, Armageddon (I KNOW!), What Dreams May Come, Stepmom, The Green Mile, Big Fish. There are countless others.) Anyway, I’ll be there for Wonder with my box of Kleenex. Can’t wait.

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5. This quote.

What are you up to this week? The boys will get back from camp, and we have little else planned. I’m hoping to FINALLY get started on a house project that’s been percolating in my mind for weeks (years?). I’m also reading this book for a book club I just joined, so I’m hoping to finish it up as well. Hope your weekend is full of connecting with family and friends, peaceful and touching moments, and joy. Thanks for reading!