A Letter To Mom

There is a little girl in all of usDear Mom, Now that I have children and grandchildren of my own, I’m beginning to realize what a challenge it is to find the balance between encouraging them to continually strive to do better and instilling confidence in them and letting  them know that I’m happy with their best efforts.

I’d like to know your secret, because you’ve always seemed to know just how to do that with me.In school, of course you wanted me to make straight A’s, but if I’d truly done my best and gotten a B or a C, I didn’t have to be afraid  to tell you. You let me know that you wanted my best, not perfection.

Even though I wasn’t the best athlete, no one in the bleachers looked prouder than you, and knowing that pushed to keep trying and improving. Thank you, Mom for being my inspiration. Love, your child.

Why I’m thankful you were my mom…

 You never tired of practicing words with me the night before the spelling bee.You comforted me when things went wrong.You ran to help me when I fell and told me funny stories to ease my pain.You wiped away my tears, held me close, and loved me. In your arms there was shelter from the storms of life, peace when my heart was troubled; joy when the day was dark.

Your love never failed me.You forgave me when I messed up.You patiently cleaned up the many spilled glasses of milk with only a gently reminder to be more careful the next time.You listened as if I was the only person in the world.You inspired me to do my best.You taught me about God’s love.You made our house a home.You always believed in me.You cheered me on even when no one else thought I stood a chance, you always cheered me on!

Mom,If I had a flower for every time I have thought of you, I could walk in our garden forever.I know other beautiful things in life come in twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds.There are plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters,aunts and cousins, comrades and friends. . . but I only had one mother in the whole world.

 

“Two Special Women In One Man’s Life”

Since the beginning of time loving brides and grooms have had the privilege of picking out their life partners. However, it’s a different story for the groom’s mother when she becomes partners fused together with her daughter in law after the “I Do’s.”  Mother in-laws have shared that at first they find their new role was a daunting challenge especially if she wasn’t consulted or didn’t give her consent. But it’s a challenge that can be overcome the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is without question is like a complicated dance.

Yet, by the very nature of the relationship, the two are expected to immediately move freely and beautifully in synchronized harmony. Rarely is this connectedness and closeness realized overnight. He does, She does but what about you, the mother of the groom can you take her? The candles are lit, the room grows with a soft yellow hue, the groom, the pastor, and the wedding party are in place at the altar.  As all eyes eagerly watch the closed-door at the chapel’s entrance, suddenly the air is changed from the sweet stillness of anticipation to the first notes of the beautiful music chosen for the wedding processional. As the doors swing open, the bride’s heart races at the sound of the melodic cue to make that long-awaited, slow walk down the aisle of matrimony.

But as the song plays, the lovely bride does not realize that she is not the only lady in the room who has been cued by the music. Her mother-in-law to-be is also called to respond to the melody! While the young woman in white moves gracefully with the music toward her chosen one, the song calls the mother of the groom to graciously step to the side. In reality, the wedding processional is not just for the bride, it is also a cue for a lifelong dance to begin for two special women in one man’s life.

How true it is that so much changes for a family when the adult children fall in love and marry. Suddenly that are new members who, by decree of law and circumstance, are expected to be embraced and included into the fold. By all means, the challenge is a daunting one, especially for mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. The daughter-in-law who may have chosen to join with her husband in holy matrimony has to face the challenge of being joined in holy matrimony has to face the challenge of being joined in a holy alliance with the rest of his family. By the sheer nature of the relationship she is expected to melt into a household of family members that are often unfamiliar and at times very different from her family of origin.

The reality is that every holiday, every special occasion, even the continuance for the coming generations pivot on the choice to unite families through marriage. Whether the parents-in-law or the adult children realize it or not, the choices that are made are life-altering for the entire family. For most parents, the grace to love and enfold those new family members by law is a mere continuum of the parental love they enjoy with own kids. However, there are those situations that may require an attitude adjustment. What does a parent do when their child’s preference of a mate is contrary to their personality or taste?  Or what if the offspring ventures outside of their culture, social class, or religion? Is is possible to accept and even cherish the chosen one when they are an unnatural fit? And what about the daughter-in-law? What is she supposed to do when she’s thrust into a new family that may already established traditions, modes of interactions, and common activities that perhaps she doesn’t readily accept or enjoy? She, along with her mother-in-law, can find comfort in knowing that they are not the first to venture out on that sometimes slippery dance floor.

My friend Jane had always dreamed of the day when she would fully embrace a daughter-in-law with the same energy and vitality  with which she loved her own daughter. The two of them always had best of times, they could shop-till-they-dropped with the best of them. Their home was full of the two of them laughter and talking throughout the house when they were together. To Jane’s thinking, adding a daughter-in-law simply ment one more girl with whom to chum around. However Jane’s daughter-in-law was not like Jane’s daughter. She didn’t readily laugh a lot, and she seemed to always isolate herself from the rest of the family. For instance, when the other women were in the kitchen preparing the meal for a family gathering Jane’s daughter in law would sit all alone in the living room quietly leafing through a magazine.

I asked, Jane if she encouraged her to join them and her answer demonstrated the patient wisdom she possessed. Jane replied,  “No.”  As much as I would love for her to feel comfortable being with me and the rest of my  family, I’ve decided to give her space enough to choose whether she stays in the living room or comes into the kitchen. For too long, she’s had someone telling her what to do, and when she didn’t do it fast enough, she was punished. Jane didn’t want to be another person demanding to have their way.

Jane went on to say, I love her and I believe in time she will feel that love. Until then, I will continue to be patient and understanding. “She’s a wonderful wife to my son and that’s all she owes me.” My friend Jane might have selected a different life-partner  for her son when Jane found out that her son was marrying a woman who had a bad life and had been previously married to a man who beat her and her child but instead she decided to love, respect and except her daughter in law the results were amazing.

 Jane learned valuable lessons over the past few years as she has invested into her daughter-in-law. The two women have since grown amazingly close and continue to do so. Jane’s  understanding and kindness has been instrumental in healing hurts of a lovely young women. Jane did it right, and she has reaped the joyous benefits of her choices.  As you establish a rhythm of love and grace, you’ll find that you and your daughter-in-law/ mother-in-law can dance a loving and joyful dance too!

Tips For Guiltless Grandparenting

Guiltless grandparenting starts with self-acceptance that most grandparents are trying to instill in their grandchildren.

So if you really want them to value themselves, you have to show them how by valuing yourself.

Here are ten grandparenting tips

1.  Break the guilt habit and stop should-ing yourself. Replace thoughts of “this is who I should be” with thoughts of “this is who I am.” Take the grandparenting journey with less stress and more fun. You don’t expect your grandchildren to be perfect. Why should you have to be?

2.  Practice saying ” No” sometimes. Grandkids actually appreciate the extra TV time, special snacks, and new toys when grandparents are not so predictable and dole out a little less often. And grandparents see that they are still loved when they are not a push over. Plus it causes less conflict between parents and grandparents that is a plus.

3. Don’t try to keep the grandkids entertained every minute.  Downtime is an opportunity for imagination so  don’t feel guilty if you take them with you to run errands or just leave them alone for a while to read and relax.

4. Play with the grandkids, don’t just supervise. Grandkids will remember all the laundry you did for them while they sat in front of the TV but they’ll never forget the time you went down the slide with them and neither will you.

5. Expect the best from life. Remember anticipatory anxiety does not help grandparents to be prepared for the big and small problems that come with grandparenting. It can add stress even before anything negative happens. Remember to say, positive prophecies instead of negative ones because the words we speak are self-fulfilling!

6. Stop over scheduling your time. Grandparents tend to forget to budget their time and energy and they can wear themselves out. If an emergency or another essential task arises it’s okay to cross something off your-to-do list before you add the new item.

7.  Don’t wait for permission to take care of yourself. Grandparents don’t have to make themselves so exhausted with al their chores and responsibilities that your children have to beg you to rest. That sets a bad example. Show them that you value yourself  and your time putting your feet up or taking time off to read a book. And if you can’t give yourself permission, then your kids do!

8. Treat your family the way you would treat your friends. Grandparents know who their friends are and they know what they are like. They don’t expect them to change overnight and they don’t take everything they say or do personally. They ask them questions, listen to their answers, and give them the benefit of doubt. Do the same with your family and you’ll be a great role model for your grandkids.

9. Be your own best friend. Be on your own side. Listen to yourself. Pat yourself on the back when you do well. Forgive yourself when you don’t. Grandparents teach this to their kids and grandkids now is the time to apply it to themselves.

10. Put yourself on your list of loved ones. Grandparents need to make themselves number one on their lists, they need to take care of themselves at least as well as they take care of their grandkids and everyone else. Watch your sleep, nutrition, and exercise and make sure you’re having fun too!

Grandparents make mistakes but that doesn’t mean they have to punish themselves, or think that everyone else is grandparenting so much better. They’re usually not! Some moments are memorable, some are forgettable, but remember grandparents are all on this journey together. It’s time for grandparents to let go of the guilt.

Ready Set Grow

Every grandparent enjoys a unique position in their grandchildren‘s lives. You don’t have to strive to be special. You’re special by definition. You can come into your own as a grandparent, if you put your own distinctive stamp on your role by being inimitably who you are. If you do, you’ll find you have a devoted fan in your grandchildren. Start sharing an activity that you enjoy (gardening) or a hobby  (bird watching) or you may have a particular skill (perhaps drawing, knotting, needlework, or playing tennis), which you can share with your grandchildren. This can provide an opportunity for them to go with you into a world all of your own, one that only you can introduce them to.

The great thing is that you will have boundless enthusiasm for the activity. That’s infectious, and your enthusiasm will rub off on to your grandchildren.You will communicate that energy to your grandchildren so that it becomes a thrilling journey you take together, with you as benevolent teacher and your grandchildren as willing students.

If you enjoy activities together when your grandchildren are very young, they’ll grow up thinking of you as an exciting companion, someone special who shares special pleasures with them. Children are very sensitive to this act of joyful discovery and, as soon as they’re able, they start to bring little gifts of that same kind to you.

 You form your own virtuous circle, where you respect what each can teach the other, and it will probably last for life. In my experiences I’m constantly surprised and delighted by the way my grandchildren push my interests further than I could have taken them on my own. Right now it’s The Cat In The Hat… Go Go Go on an adventure with my grandson’s Jeremy and Jesse!

And of course you open up your grandchildren’s world in a way that’s special to you. It can be anything, from finding out about insects to stamp collecting or jewelry making. The possibilities are endless. Aren’t they?

Encourage your grandchildren in all sorts of different activities. It’ the doing it together that counts.Grandchildren enjoy putting a plant seed in a used yogurt container, or a small plastic tray is fine for planting seeds together. You can teach your grandchildren what plants need to grow.

They can help you water them and you can show them where the perfect place is for the seeds to get the right amount of sun, soil, and you can track the seeds’ growth at each visit. Choose seeds that grow quickly and dramatically, like purple flowering morning glory’s.

 Even better collect the seeds from seed heads in your garden and plant them. Then your grandchildren can get the idea of the circle of life in a very simple way. When the seeds turn into flowers you can let the flowers dry out and use a flower press and turn them into a dry flower collage for the whole family to admire.

 Grandchildren also enjoy looking at things under a microscope. Dead insects and spiders that they find are a particular favorite. But so are plants.The underside of the leaf of a fern with all the rows of seeds is very exciting when seen in up close. Even newsprint looks thrilling through a microscope. The things grandparents do out of love! There is no one else except my grandson’s that could get me to look at dead insects much less spiders under a microscope. Oh! That’s just gross isn’t it?

Grandpa’s Fishing Buddies

The perfect gift is not always a material one. Our grandchildren do not need nor do they want what we can buy them; they need and want us. The best gift you can give them is you. Your faith, wisdom, stories, morals, life lessons, and philosophy,not to mention your time and presence.

I am most impressed with the many grandmothers whom I know who do special things and make special gifts for their grandchildren. Made by their own hands, these gifts of love are attached to forever memories.

My friend Jane hand-made matching outfits with matching hats for her grandchildren and their grandpa to wear when they went fishing together. They out grew the out fits years ago but when they go fishing with their grandpa they make sure that they all wear the hats that went to their matching out fits. They enjoy talking about the all the times they went fishing with their grandpa and are in awe of their grandmothers sewing skills.

Their fishing hats have become a physical reminder of the love and care she feels for them. Recently for their grandpa’s birthday they made a scrapbook for each family member. They included their memories and lots of photos of them fishing with him. Each photo told a story. What a treasure for them to have! They surprised their grandparents with a throw pillow made of the same print that their childhood fishing out fits were made of. Their grandparents were just thrilled in fact they seemed more impressed with the throw pillow that the scrapbook.

Many invisible gifts were given to Jane’s grandchildren while they were fishing with their grandpa. He introduced them nature, lakes, ponds, the ocean, sea creatures. He shared with them stories about fishing with his father and brother and all the antics that took place between them as he was growing up. He was able to enjoy sharing his past with his grandchildren and they got to learn things about him that if they hadn’t spent the time fishing with him they might not of ever learned about him. Those moments were the invisible gifts from one generation to the next.

Grandparents are in the perfect position to give gifts that unlock life. These gifts may be invisible to others, but they are always visible to their grandchildren. What a perfect opportunity to breathe life upon a grandchild. The invisible gift. I’ll take it. Wrap up lots of them for me and make that to go! The joy will be priceless.

Find A Mentor

A mentor is a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Some professions have “mentoring programs” in which newcomers are paired with more experienced people, who advise them and serve as examples as they advance.

Schools sometimes offer mentoring programs to new students having difficulties. Today’s mentors provide expertise to less experienced individuals to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks. In many different arenas people have benefited from being part of a mentoring relationship, including: Athletes Eddy Merckx (five-time Tour de France winner) mentored Lance Armstrong (seven-time Tour de France winner). Bobby Chariton mentored David Beckman.

Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The person in receipt of mentorship may be referred to as a protegé’ (male), a  protegée (female), an apprentice or, in recent years, a mentee. “Mentoring” is a process that always involves communication and is relationship based, but its precise definition is elusive.

Think about the things you have learned over the course of your life. Many of those skills and bits of wisdom have stuck with you because of how you felt about the person you learned them from. When a coworker, friend, parent or even a casual acquaintance asks you if you can help them succeed.

 If you are a parent or a grandparent you are a mentor and its an honor; however, if you are feeling a little wary, here is a good reason to cast off your fear, its to experience the joy and satisfaction that comes from teaching your children, grandchildren and others in its purest form.  If you want a life that is larger than life be a mentor or find one.