Striving To Be a Good Mother

Happy-mothers-day-quotes-tumblr-1Mothers. These builders of our society have one of the single most important roles (along with fathers!) in our world. Teaching brand new humans how to be…well good humans!  Good mothers provide the next generation of people who will inhabit this planet a solid foundation upon which to grow and prosper.  Everything a mother does, good and bad; right and wrong; affects the children she is raising.

A mother who is patient, strong, firm, fair, loving, generous, kind, silly, smart, affectionate, supportive and gentle will bring those qualities to the generations that follow her. No mother is perfect, nor should she be. Making mistakes and owning up to them, apologizing, or making it right, are more ways to be a good mother. A good mother knows that she needs to be a mother, not a friend, while her children are young. If she does this and does it well, her adult children will become her best friends for the rest of their lives.  They will know then the why of all that she did for them and love her all the more for it. As adults (and especially as parents themselves) they will be struck by how hard you worked to keep them safe, on the right path, and moving forward.

It is funny how you see your mother differently throughout the various stages of your life. However, it is when you finally become an adult yourself that – if you were blessed with a good mother- you realize all of the hardships and sacrifice that she endured so that you would have a good childhood and grow up well.  It is then that you are humbled.  It is then that you know how truly blessed you really are.

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My own mother is an amazing woman. Yes, she drives me absolutely crazy sometimes but I would not have it any other way.  She makes me laugh and loves me unconditionally.  When I became an adult, a woman, a wife and a mother myself…I began to realize the legacy of love and fortitude and strength and hope that she has given me and in turn to my children.  In her life she had struggles but her love of life and of my father made her choose to not allow anything to affect how she raised my brother and I.  All we knew was a happy, loving home.  We knew we had the support of our parents, a safe home with food on the table, and an abundance of love.

My husband also grew up in a home with an amazing mother. She taught him to be a kind and gentle man. She taught him about love and laughter. So I am doubly blessed to have had the privilege to be able to call her mother as well.  This double blessing has in turn given my husband and I the tools we need to parent well and pass on all that our mothers taught us.

Not all children grow up with that kind of mother. The truth of that makes my heart hurt. I am determined to be that kind of mother to my own children.  I want them to know that I will always be there for them and will always love them. I want to set a good example for them in all things.  I want to show them by my actions the kind of person, spouse, and parent that they should strive to be.

Some days this is not so easy. Some days it feels down right impossible. Deep down however, I know that this task of raising these children was given to me by God. He gave me wonderful guidance in the form of my own mother.  He has put nothing before me that I cannot handle with His help.  Looking into the faces of my four children is all the strength I need to get through the rough spots and the hard days.  Knowing that they are watching to see how I handle a crisis, or a tragedy, or a burden is enough to keep me on track.  Striving to set that example and be the best human being that I can be is my goal. It is the gift that I want them to take and to pass on to their own children.  Do I always succeed? No, of course not, no mother is perfect after all.  But I never ever stop trying.  I do it for my children and to honor the legacy of my mother and mother in law.

 

Skills or Lack Thereof

 

lifeskillWhen did it become the norm to send our young adults out into the cold cruel world without any basic skills with which to survive it? How can we think this is a good plan?  How does this benefit anyone?

I guess no one can truly pinpoint when it happened really. It seems as though this is a new phenomenon doesn’t it? “Back in my day……” being the typical response to what today’s generation is doing wrong.  While I do believe that this slippery slope we are currently on is picking up speed and not headed in a good or safe direction, I also believe that it is nothing new.

In Dorothy Leigh Sayers; essay The Lost Tools Of Learning she writes “To postpone the acceptance of responsibility to a late date brings with it a number of psychological complications which, while they may interest the psychiatrist, are scarcely beneficial either to the individual or to society.” This was written in 1947.

 

The mentality that we are helping our youth by doing everything for them is a myth. It is a lie.  The thought that we are helping them by having them join 100,000,000 clubs, sports, classes, lessons and making them ‘well rounded’ but NOT teaching them basic life skills is a myth as well. It is a big, fat, hairy, gruesome lie.

So I have come up with a list of skills I think every person needs have before they head off on their own to work, college, military or what have you.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, nor is it scientific in any way…I am just a mom of some grown children who so far seem to have a handle on things. Please comment if you have any skills you think should be added…or any you think should not have made my list.

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Kelly’s List of 10 Life Skills for Anyone over age 18

….in no particular order

  1. Develop a self-reliant mentality – A huge part of being a grown up is taking care of yourself and making your own decisions. Take responsibility for your life and for your choices. Own your mistakes and your accomplishments. Be informed and think things through. Face the consequences of your decisions – good or bad.
  2. The ability to speak to strangers – This is an interesting one because as parents we always teach our children to do just the opposite. However, the ability to speak with people we don’t know in an articulate, proper, respectful way with eye contact is vital to independence. Professors, bosses, doctors, mechanics, cab drivers, co-workers, etc are all strangers that one needs to interact with on a daily basis.
  3. The ability to handle finances – This seems like it would be a no brainer. However, kids go out into the world with no idea how to pay a bill, write a check, monitor/balance a checking account, obtain a checking account, how to save, use a debit card, or any basic financial skills. They should also know how to earn their own money and not be dependent on their parents to fund their lives.
  4. The ability to get food and shelter for themselves – I don’t mean fast food here. I mean knowing how to go a grocery store, shop for ingredients, use a coupon, pay, go home and cook something edible. In fact all general housekeeping skills should be a given here. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, and the general upkeep of their living area and their surroundings. This includes some basic repairs (home and auto) and knowing the proper use of tools and appliances.
  5. The ability to handle a schedule – Classwork, projects, a job, sleep, their social life…all of this can spin wildly out of control if you never learned how to manage it all. Time management, reliability, meeting deadlines, prioritizing, managing your workload, and having a balance in your life are all vital to success in life.
  6. The ability to cope with failure, disappointments, conflicts and loneliness – Life is hard. Learning how to process, deal with and overcome those hard or low moments will make them resilient and give them the necessary grit to face life as it comes. It teaches them that while you occasionally get knocked down, you have the ability to get up again.
  7. The ability to take care of their health – How to take care of simple first aid issues and illnesses is very important. Knowing when and if they need to see a doctor, and how to go about doing that, is a skill that everyone should have. Understanding the importance of making healthy choices – food, cleanliness, sleep, exercise, sex, alcohol, smoking, drugs – is especially needed in those early college years.
  8. The ability to get from point A to point B – Can they navigate solo to their destination of choice? No? Unless they plan on being chauffeured in their personal limo for life, this skill is necessary. Using GPS, a map, street signs, a bus or subway schedule, flying….these are skills that everyone should become competent at.
  9. How to handle emergencies – Life is filled with the unexpected. Being prepared, having confidence and abilities to handle the unexpected is a skill that will most definitely be used at some point. Car accidents, medical emergencies, severe weather, getting lost, getting mugged, setting the stove on fire, are all things life might throw at them at any given moment. Why would you not them to be knowledgeable and confident in their abilities and be able to get through it safely?
  10. People Skills – Interpersonal skills and just plan manners are definitely in the top 10 of necessary skills for life. Communication, cooperation and collaboration are integral parts of everyday life. Teamwork, respect, and understanding another’s point of view will play a huge role in how successful a person becomes.

 

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Ask Yourself

twain.jpgWhat is your life’s purpose? What are you supposed to be or do?  Basically we are simply asking ourselves…”what can I do that makes a difference or is important in some way?”

Most of us have no clue to be perfectly honest. It’s a struggle for most people.  The question however is a good one.  Don’t worry so much about your mission or purpose in life as a whole. You don’t need to eat the elephant in one bite.

This is not a contemplative study of your significance in the world…but more a discovery of what feels important to you. It is definitely an individual thing. After all what is important to you will most likely be different than what is important to me.  Is that not how it should be?  Who am I to say what you should do or think or feel?  I am nobody that’s who!

How do you figure this all out though? I have been thinking a lot about that in the last few years. Maybe it is a product of being in my 40s. Who knows?

I think a lot hinges on what provokes a passionate response in you, what truly moves you. I think:

YOUR PASSION+YOUR TALENT+HELPING OTHERS = YOUR PURPOSE

There is no scientific study here. I am certainly no expert. This is simply my thoughts and what has, of late, helped me.

So I came up with a few questions you could ponder. I am sure you could add a few of your own to this list, but hey these will get you thinking.  Maybe you will learn something about yourself in the process or take a few steps on the road to finding your personal passion and thus your purpose.

 

What are you willing to sacrifice for?

Let’s be real for a second. Life is hard. Sometimes it is really hard. Everything in life involves some kind of sacrifice at some point.  Nothing in life is horrible or wonderful 100% of the time.  There are up and downs. Smooth patches and rocky patches.  Things that are worth having and striving for ALL have a cost.  It may be money, or time, or repeated rejections.  It could be lack of sleep, or high stress, or physical/mental pain.  That cost however is a large part of what fuels our passion and our ultimate satisfaction and joy.  The bloody toes of a Prima Ballerina, the all night stress-filled job of an Emergency room nurse, the multiple rejections of an author, the tears, worry and patience of a special education teacher, the time away from home and family of a soldier,  the unconditional love and sacrifice of a parent, the life and death decisions and risk of injury or death a fire fighter or police officer makes, the list goes on and on and on.  Great things are worth working and sacrificing for.

 

What makes your inner child happy?

Think back to when you were a child….for some of us that is quite a ways back isn’t it? Remember how it felt to do things for the sheer pleasure of it.  There was no reward needed.  We did not even have to be good at it. You just enjoyed it for its own sake.

I loved writing all throughout my childhood. I wrote constantly and loved it. Then life took over and I rolled along many, many years without really writing much. I just dabbled here and there. But I was a grown up, I had important things to do and places to go.  Writing was not important or necessary. I also was probably not very good at it and it served no ‘real’ purpose, right?  It took time, it did not pay the bills, and there was no reward.

In the last few years I had an epiphany. Writing made me feel good.  I loved it and THAT was its purpose.  I swear I heard my 10yr old self clapping and giggling when I figured this out!  Do something – anything – for its own sake because it feeds your soul…because it is your passion. Then consider how to use that passion to help others.

 

If you were a poor Batman (aka no cash, no gadgets and no superhuman abilities) how would you choose to save the world?

So, have you seen the news any time in the last few years? Things are messed up out there in the world. There is any number of problems plaguing us humans or our communities or our world at any given moment.   As members of the human race and occupants of this planet we have to do our part to help.  I know, I know….”but I am only one person.”  Okay, that is true. One person can make a difference.  Really! They do it every day. All of those people out there helping others are themselves ‘only one person’.

Pick an issue and do one small thing to help. Every tiny step in the right direction moves us forward. Even something as simple as donating blood, not throwing trash on the ground (or picking up if someone else did), performing a random act of kindness, donating your time or knowledge to a charity, etc all of these acts help in some way.  If you find a need that really moves you – do more.  Maybe you become a foster parent, organize a fundraiser, become a mentor…follow your passion.

Not only does this help others, but it also helps you. Helping others is important to your overall happiness and to your feeling of having a purpose in your life.

 

What do others ask you about all the time?

Have you ever noticed that your friends are always asking you about gardening, baking, organizing, proof reading, child rearing, or decorating? Do you find yourself constantly giving advice on relationships, makeup, or fashion?

Could it be that people consider you a kind of expert in these areas? Probably. People are very good at recognizing your natural talents – usually much better than you are yourself.

Pay attention to that. If you are passionate about writing and literacy and have a talent for organizing maybe volunteering at the library or organizing a book sale is something you could do to help others? A wonderful gardener? Why not help start a community garden, or donate the fruits (and Veggies!) of your labors to a food bank or shelter?

 

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So take some time to think about who you are, what you are passionate about and how you can use your passions and talents to make the world a better place.

Use Your Brain to Use Your Vote

Voting-Quote-7Politics. While national politics is always a loud, name calling, insane state of affairs; during the months leading up to the presidential election it escalates to a fevered pitch.  This post is not about my personal political leanings, instead it is about the process of this political season and what it should mean.

While the candidates and their rhetoric, back stabbing and flip flopping are enough to make my head hurt, it is more the mass of uninformed voters that make me crazy…and frankly a bit fearful for our future.

The privilege of living in a country where all of its citizens have the right to vote is a true blessing and should be taken seriously. Instead, many just don’t bother or they do not make researched, well thought out decisions.  These politicians will not only be representing you and your county but they will have a hand in the laws that we all live under and abide by.  Would it not be in your best interest to study the platforms and policies of each candidate and fully understand what each brings to the position they will be elected to? To do research on other countries or periods in history that had leaders who used similar policies?

This is not to imply in any way that one candidate is innately better than another. That is for the voter to decide.  As a voter, however, your job is to be well informed.  If you back candidate A, it should be a reasonable expectation for you to be able to explain why.  Don’t you think so? If you are so riled up that you need to scream and yell and protest Candidate B, you should be able to explain why when asked.  I am not talking blanket terms here. No, words like ‘Liar’, ‘Bigot’, ‘Radical’, ’Elitist’, ’Crony’, ‘Obstructionist’, ‘Fringe’, ‘Establishment’, ‘Crook’, ‘Bleeding Heart’, and ‘Blowhard’. I mean show that you know what you are talking about.  We all see it every day don’t we?

Why are you protesting Candidate A?

“Because he/she is a _____!!”

What makes you say that? How do you feel about his/her stance on the economy/healthcare/foreign policy?

“He/She is a ______! “

Why are you voting for Candidate B?

“Because Candidate A is a ______!” or “Because he/she is great!”

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Sorry, that does not fly with me. How can you call yourself an American if you do not at least try to learn as much as you can and choose your leaders wisely?  How can you call yourself an American if you try and prevent others from doing the same?  The same goes for those who vote by party lines. It does not matter who the candidate is as long as he/she is a Democrat or Republican.  So ridiculous!

Consider this, during the primaries the candidates of the SAME party debate and bicker and slam each other’s platform and policies. The SAME party! It is the individual who takes office.  Yes, of course the party will have say (or sway) in what actually gets done….but to a large degree it is the individual who puts forth what is considered.

Another point to think about is those who focus solely on one aspect of a candidate’s platform without knowing or caring about the rest. Then they are shocked and dismayed when “their” candidate “betrays” them and does exactly what they said they would during the campaign.

Please people, please…listen, read, learn. Knowledge is a powerful thing. Treat the privilege of being able to vote with the seriousness and thought it deserves.

polyCompare and contrast ALL of the candidates. Learn what the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Socialist, and Green (etc.) parties stand for. What current or past governments have been run under these particular styles of leadership? How did they do? Look at our own history. Educate yourself.  Don’t surrender your voice…vote, but vote with knowledge!  Our future depends on it.

33 Things

33 Things I want my children to know as they navigate through life(in no particular order):

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  1. If you don’t like your situation, CHANGE IT.
  2. Make it your goal to be healthy… not society’s current idea of body perfection.
  3. Don’t look to a man/woman or to me or to any other human to give you a sense of worth. Find your sense of worth within you.
  4. Try new things as often as possible, even if you’re scared.
  5. Be humble but confident.
  6. Never apologize or give excuses for saying NO. Just say it and own it.
  7. Always cheer for the underdog
  8. Trust your gut…it is trying to tell you things. Listen.
  9. Go be you, we will love you whether you are two feet , or 20,000 miles away.
  10. If you choose a man/woman, choose one who treats the people in their life well, who works hard, who is not afraid to show emotions, who makes you laugh, who supports you and finds your ‘crazy’ endearing.
  11. Don’t worry about being popular, just be you
  12. Know that you are always loved and thus never alone.
  13. Believe in yourself, no matter what.
  14. Never settle.
  15. Take care of yourself, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
  16. Choose your friends wisely, you may be judged by their actions.
  17. Save for a rainy day
  18. Never, ever stop learning new things
  19. Find something to be passionate about
  20. Find something you find calming and relaxing
  21. Keep your word…so be sure before you give it
  22. Say what you mean and mean what you say
  23. Positivity always pays off.
  24. Nothing is as bad as it seems. Nothing.
  25. You are capable of handling far more than you think.
  26. The right thing and the easy thing are rarely the same thing.
  27. You can’t love another fully until you love yourself
  28. Own and embrace your imperfections, then they cannot be used against you.
  29. Change is necessary.
  30. Worry is the biggest enemy of the present moment.
  31. In almost every case, nothing is stopping you… nothing is holding you back but your own thoughts about yourself – your perception of the way life is.
  32. The more you give, the more you get.
  33. You are responsible for your own life.

 

Why Prayer?

prayerquotes.gifWe know that Jesus teaches us it is necessary to ask before we receive, seek before we find, knock before the door will be opened.  Basically, God wants us to pray.

Let me tell you what I know about prayer….

Prayer is simply a conversation with God. It’s asking Him to meet your need or someone else’s. It’s praising Him and thanking Him. Prayer doesn’t have to be long, loud, or eloquent. It does not require you to be on your knees or have your hands folded or head bowed. There is no required method of prayer. It is simply spending time with God. Prayer is talking to Him sincerely and honestly.  This is your time with God, yours alone. Prayer, in its purest form is communication with God.  Prayer can come from a joyous, repentant, forlorn, downtrodden, anxious, forgiving, or broken heart. It can be a simple thought, a spoken free form or traditional prayer, a song, or a question.

When we pray, we open the door for God to come into our problems and situations and work on them.

Prayer unleashes within us a deeper communion with God. It strengthens and enriches our faith in Him and that in turn helps motivate us to live our lives in service to Him and others.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you must pray in a particular way. Your relationship with God is between you and Him.  Communicate with and praise Him in any way that brings you closer to Him.pray.jpg

With all of that being said, prayer is something that I continue to work on in my own life. I fully understand and appreciate the significance and importance of prayer in my life. Yet I often struggle with it. I struggle with opening up my heart and my mind and letting my feelings and thoughts flow freely.  I struggle to quiet my thoughts and listen to God’s voice.   I am always working on improving my relationship with God.  I talk to Him often, but for me not often enough.  I get angry at myself when I begin to pray in earnest, but then my mind wanders and life creeps in.  I feel bad that my attention drifted from such an important conversation.  I want to have easy, familiar conversation with God.  He is my Holy Father after all!  I am always, always working on this.  Practice makes perfect.

I feel guilt too.  I know that God isn’t a wish-granting genie, yet I often feel that I beseech Him to intercede way too often. I know that He is okay with this. I know He knows my heart and my intentions. But still….

I will always strive to make prayer a regular and consistent part of my daily life. I will always try to improve my prayer life and my relationship with God.

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PC is not for me

America is a country that prides it’s self on its freedoms. Yet in today’s climate of hypersensitivity and political correctness we are eroding away at that basic right.  While I may or may not agree with what you have to say, I do agree that you have the right to say it.  Political correctness is also making people afraid to speak up, afraid to say what they really think and feel.  You can say what you want, that is your right, but I have the right to walk away, disagree or lawfully protest.  I do not have the right to cause you physical harm, cause vandalism, prevent you from speaking, or in any other way break our laws.quote-i-disapprove-of-what-you-say-but-will-defend-to-the-death-your-right-to-say-it-voltaire-334856.jpg

People need to just stop. Stop looking for reasons to be insulted. Stop looking for intentions that may or may not even be there. Stop being overly sensitive and overly hostile to those who think or speak differently than they do. The term ‘micro-aggression’ makes me crazy. When you use that word you are putting your perceived slight or insult on someone else who has no idea what you are talking about.

Can words hurt? Yes! Of course.  I am by no means saying you should accept someone verbal or emotionally abusing you.  We should, however, try and take into account the intent behind the words.  Think about who is saying it and why.  Age, sex, upbringing as well as regional and cultural differences can significantly alter a person’s choice of words and the intent and meaning of those words.

I also think that part of being a part of a nation known as the “melting pot” means that we all need to just calm down.  We need to be accepting of others and that includes being accepting of thoughts, words and opinions that we don’t agree with or that we find insulting.   I love the term “melting pot” because it is so apt.  All of the different ingredients in a melting pot combine their various flavors (yet maintain some of what makes them unique) to create something amazing, new and better.

Banning words and condemning freedom of speech and expression is a slippery slope. Who decides what is or is not permissible? Barzun-political-correctness.jpg Hilter burned books he thought were unacceptable…was he right?  No?  What makes it any different?

Perhaps we should filter our thoughts and words through a filter of kindness?  Perhaps that would take care of a lot of these problems?