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.

 

“When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!”

Many couples are putting their children at the center of the family. This doesn’t sound like a bad thing, after all, aren’t your grandchildren the apple of your eye too? But when parents put their children ahead of  their own needs, ahead of their marriage, it may seem child friendly, but it can lead to complications.

When children are the absolute center of the family, they can grow up without boundaries. This can lead to demanding, entitled kids. Who become demanding, entitled adults. You might have a friend or two who are demanding and they can be difficult to get along with. Can’t they? 

 No one wants their children or grandchildren to turn out to be demanding. Do they? Some acting out might be all right for a child, but future bosses, spouses and friends will probably not be so tolerant. Will they? Furthermore, being the center of the family is too much pressure for most childrenChildren cannot fulfill all their parents‘ emotional needs and it’s not fair to expect them to. Children in this position often feel they need to parent their parents and that’s not their job. Actually, it’s your job to be there for your children when they are parents.

Remind them to make time for themselves, their spouses and friends if you want to be helpful offer to babysit so they can have a date night or weekend getaway, and you’ll get to spend extra time with your grandchildren.  Bob and Jane being the wise parents and grandparents that they are, offered to babysit their grandchildren while Jim and  Lynn went out on the town.  As Lynn was leaving, she told her children to listen to Nana and Pops and then gave them a kiss on the cheek and thanked her parents.

Well, Bob winked at Lynn while reminding her of this old saying,”When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Bob’s point was that couples need to spend time together just the two of  them and keep the romance going.  Now Jim plans romantic surprise date nights at least twice a month and all Lynn has to do is show up . Jim and Lynn are feeling reconnected and Nana and Pops are “Happy Grands.” Jim agrees with Bob “When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!

Do You Have A Grandparent Rival

Grandparents love indulging  grandchildren, love surprising them, love giving them presents, and love seeing the smiles on their fabulous faces when they walk in the door. It’s so much fun! Isn’t it?

A recent grandparent poll asked grandparents this question:  Do you have a grandparent rival?  62% said, Yes I can’t help it and 38% said, No we’re fine. The response to the 62% group was don’t be surprised or embarrassed it’s natural, if you feel a bit competitive with the other set of grandparents and want to be the favorite… or at least on your grandchildren’s favorite list.

But of course, being the favorite grandparent every minute of every day isn’t always possible. First of all, no grandparent can always give their grandchildren everything they want and never say no. Grandparenting may be more fun than parenting, but it’s not a free-for-all. As my grandmother use to say when she had to say No,”anybody can be your friend but my job is to be your grandmother.”

The truth is you probably can’t out do all the other sets of grandparents all the time even if you wanted to. But thank goodness grandparents don’t have to. Just like grandparents, grandchildren have enough love to go around. We can love all our grandchildren and they can love all their grandparents! You may not be your grandchildren’s only favorite, or favorite every day, but if you treat them with love and respect, you will always be a winner in the end. And so will they!

And finally, if you feel like you’re losing the “favorite” race from time to time because you’re the grandmother-in-law and your daughter-in-law prefers her own parents’ brand of grandparenting to yours, you’re probably right! The same Grandparenting poll found 57 percent of paternal grandmothers (that’s the husband’s mother) often felt left out.

It went on to say, After all, your daughter-in-law is parenting the way she was parented by her own mother and in some circumstances it may have been a grandmother, aunt, older sister, or a father who did the parenting but try to remember they did their best.

After all it’s familiar to her and seems “right”. And besides, you were the first woman in her husband’s life, know him longer and better than she does, she’s probably compared to you too often, and if you have a daughter of your own, you may play favorites yourself without even realizing it.

Grandparents who live far away worry that grandparents who live closer will be preferred, and the grandparents with less money worry that wealthier grandparents will gift their way to first place. And if there’s only one child, the stakes are even higher.

So, being “the favorite” may be only a grandparent’s fun fantasy, but there are lots of fun things you can to do that can help you make your dream of being on your grandchildren’s “favorite” Grandparent list.

Here a four Secrets of Favorite Grandparents out of many

  1. Don’t buy love. Reassure yourself that your grandkids will love you even without the nonstop presents and then prove it. Set a one-month gift or candy moratorium, and just play with the kids when they come over, or read to them, or teach them something special, like a funny dance or a goofy kids song, instead of taking them shopping. Let yourself see that you are valued and loved even if you don’t dispense gifts.
  2. Don’t load them up with contraband. Gifts of toys and candy are a problem in another way too. If we take our grandchildren to the candy store, and they stuff bags full of candies and carry them back home, we’ve put their parents in the position of saying yes to junk or no to the special treats. The kids should not bring home varieties of toys and candy that are not allowed in their house, because then you won’t be given many chances to become a favorite!
  3. Do Listen. Ask questions about their likes and dislikes, their games and friends, real and imaginary, their TV programs, books, and their electronic games… and then really listen to their answers. Listen when they talk spontaneously, when they talk repetitively, when they talk endlessly. Listen when they are silly and serious. It’s been said before, their parents just can’t listen to them on a daily basis the way you can when they are with you on a visit. Be the grandparent who understands, the one who is patient, the grandparent who accepts what they say without a lot of lectures and criticism.
  4. Do find Similarities. Become one of your grandchildren’s soul mates and they will feel a bond that will never be broken. Start by going throughfavorites” lists and compare notes. They are called the “Top-Three Lists”. Try top-three favorite… vegetables, meats, fruit, candy, snacks, colors, activities, holidays then do the “Bottom Three” you get the idea. Then go through secret wishes, hardest school subjects, least favorite chores, funny movies and so forth. Every time you find a match, make a big deal out of it. Shout, “Match!” Write it down but mainly remember it. When you talk to your grandchildren, even by phone, Skype, chat, text, e-mail, try to bring up one of those similarities. Like “Our favorite holiday is only three weeks away,” or, “I had to eat our least favorite vegetable today because it was in the salad already.”
  5. Make your home their home away from home. If you have the space, set aside the basement, a room, or even a corner of the living room as your grandkids’ very own space. Let them keep their toys and games there. You’re not only telling them they’re welcome, your backing up with actions. This keeps them wanting to come back again and again. And after all, that’s the plan!

Being a grandparent in today’s world isn’t what it use to be, it’s better! Lets embrace our exciting new role and create wonderful relationships with our children and grandchildren. Remember being a grandparent today isn’t just about babysitting and boasting and it is different from our predecessors.

Top Model or Cowboy

The nursery rhyme “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief ” is a great reminder that we don’t know what the future holds for our grandchildren. We don’t know in what directions our grandchildren will choose to walk.

What we do know is that we are privileged to walk with them along their paths and share in their journey. Who knows, maybe someday one will say, ” I became a famous wardrobe designer because of my Nana cut out swathes of pink for me, and mixed and matched outfits.”

Elizabeth has always been fascinated with fashion. Now her younger sister Amy has become her top model she tries on all of Elizabeth latest creations especially the outfits made in the color pink. My friend Jane who Elizabeth and Amy call Nana always says, Who knows Elizabeth just might become a famous wardrobe designer or the next Coco Channel and Amy might become the next top model pretty in pink.

Jane sees Elizabeth and Amy’s fascination as an opportunity to interact on a most personal level, with them. She buys them books about colors, fabrics, hats, the other day she bought a book about buttons.

They love spending hours pouring over magazines and pictures in book about fashions for girls. It may turn into a career, or it may not; but in the mean time Jane is enjoying the journey. The other day the girls started taking ballet lessons so they just might become famous ballerina who knows. Jane is off to the book store to stock up on books about ballerinas it’s good that Jane has a lot of book cases isn’t it?

Ask any group of children these days what they want to be when they grow up. and their answers will likely range anywhere from astronaut to zookeeper, with lots of layers in between. In these answers, children are expressing their personalities, experiences, and dreams.

This past Sunday my grandson Jeremy wore his coast guard air flight jumper (that is just like his dads) with his black knee-high cow-boy boots to church. When I picked him up he had added a king’s crown and he was carrying my heart-shaped plastic basket with parts of his Lego building set in it. We went out to lunch after church with his good buddy Mr. Joel and Jeremy was the center of attention all eyes where on him. Jeremy was expressing his personality and we had a blast.

Doctor, Lawyer. Indian Chief, Model, Wardrobe Designer, Coast Guard Man, Cowboy or a King what will our grandchildren grow up to be?

A Relationship Isn’t Like Grandma’s Silver

A relationship isn’t like Grandma’s silver that you can take out of its box once a year to polish. It’s something that needs constant spiffying up.

How you and your partner cope with these statements: I had a hard day or I have bad news to tell you can set the stage for how the two of you spend the rest of your evening together. Depending on how and when the two of you talk about the hard day you had or the bad news it can rob you of your joy. Learning relationship skills can help you and your partner return to joy faster and that is better than remaining angry and up set for the rest of the evening isn’t it?

Your home is your castle but sometimes coming home after a hard day at the office or a hard day traveling or it’s just a hard commute. The kids may have acted up, the washing machine may have broken down or the loneliness was too much.

Up or down, down or up, what ever the cause, sometimes opening the front door, the tensions can be cut with a knife. Coming home should be a time of relief. A man or woman’s home is his or her castle. When that front door close behind you, there’s an expectation of calm and getting off the rat’s treadmill for a little while.

So when that open door presents you with an out-of- control maelström of anger, crying or tension, you’re left with no place to go and the bell sounds “round one” the moment one partner enters the house, then no one should be surprised if he or she comes in swinging with words.

There’s no question that the problems at home must be dealt with, but there needs to be a moment or two of transition before they are handed over on a red-hot cookie sheet. So let the person coming home take a deep breath, change out of their work clothes, and maybe have a snack. Then give him or her the bad news or whatever else it is and they will be better equipped to help deal with it.

Here is a suggestion while you may want to give partners coming home a few minutes to gather themselves, you also might want to let them know there’s’ a storm on the horizon. Set up some sort of signal it can be a verbal or a little sign such as an actual red flag so that they’ll know to expect something. Remember a relationship isn’t like Grandma’s silver that you take out of its box once a year to polish it’s something that needs constant spiffying up with red flags and snacks.

A Lot Of Otters

Every now and then a children’s book comes along that sparks our imaginations and puts a smile on our faces and A Lot Of Otters is one of those books.

The other day my sister called me to tell me how much she enjoys swimming with her grandson who has autism.

She went on to tell me how much he enjoys watching the Otters in the Aquarium of the Pacific (it’s in Long Beach, California our home town) and she wondered if when she is swimming with him in their family pool was he pretending they were otters swimming and playing freely in the water like Otters do? As she was talking to me I started to  image the two of them laughing and playing in their pool together like otters do.

Later that day while I was shopping in Books A Million I came across a book called A Lot Of Otters. After browsing through it I decided to buy it because it reminded me of the story that my sister told about of Milo liking otters. It turns out that Milo swims like a fish and swimming is one of his favorite things to do and we are hoping that one day he will be able to tell us all about swimming like an Otter.

It’s called A Lot of Otters isn’t that a great name? It’s written by author Barbara Helen Berger and in 1997 this book was selected as best children’s book by The School Library Journal. It was also selected for The Prestigious Exhibition The Original Art 1997, Celebrating the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustrations, sponged by Society of Illustrations, New York.

The Author’s Comments: When the toddler climbs into the cardboard box, the blue shadow under the box turns into water, and as he reads his book he sails away. From then on, everything takes place in this fantasy water, made with washes of blue to flow from page to page.

The sea otters are based on her careful observations (in two Aquariums, videos and books). So their activities show what sea otters actually do. The way they dive, the way they carry their food, the way they eat, groom, play. However they are playing with stars, and one otter is reading the toddler’s book from the moment he drops it (Oops) to the end.

She always likes to have some element in art which is never actually mentioned in the words. That is one of the things about a picture book that can be most magical and fun. In this case the toddler’s cardboard box and his book with its red cover are never mentioned, nor is the otter who keeps on reading the book whiles everything goes on around him.

 Take a look at the photo of the cover jacket for “A Lot of Otters.” After looking at it. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with otters? This photo sparks my imagination, and before I know it. I’m pretending that I’m reading a book, while sitting in a card box surrounded by friendly otters. Then I feel carefree like a child again. Honesty what could be more fun than children than pretending they are playing with Otters?  Stop reading this for a minute and pretend that you are swimming with a group of fun-loving otters like the ones in this book. Did you really stop?  Wasn’t that fun?

There is nothing more delightful than watching children while they are swimming except for swimming with them. I wonder if while children are frolicking in the water are they pretending to behave like otters too? They move so carefree the way Otters do? Don’t they?

This article is for Trish and Milo because they love to read and look at books about otters and swim together. It seems that Nana’s, Otters, and Swimming are a good combination for some children with autism at least it seems that way for Milo.

 Some children can tell their parents when they are pretending to be like otters while others can’t because they have autism regardless if a child can speak or not, books can be a powerful influence in a child’s life.

It feels good when our imaginations are sparked doesn’t it? Children and books about animals as their friends is magical regardless of what their challenges are. Just ask a grandparent and they’ll tell you all about their favorite childhood books that were full of friendly animal characters.

Children’s picture books date back to the seventeenth century, but they really came into their own in the nineteen-twenties. Children’s picture story books like “The Little Red Hen” and “Little Black Sambo ( which would not be considered politically correct today) but were popular in the good old days.

Call Her Sweetheart

Your loves name is more than a word. When you say his or her name aloud or in your head, it evokes everything, all your memories, all the time you’ve spent together, all the trips you’ve made, the children you’ve had, and the obstacles you’ve overcome. Some people only say their partner’s name when they’re angry, they want something, or they’re yelling or complaining.

The  name loses its valuable identity and becomes associated with negative feelings. So make sure you use your loves name with tenderness, caring and emotion as often as you can. Each time you say it that way, you’ll be filled with love. Dear… Honey…Snookums…Baby…Lover…Kid… Sweetheart… They show you care, especially when your love saves them just for you. But they’re not the same as saying someone’s name. Give what you say, meaning; speak and act with care when you call their name out.

Some parents call each other Mom and Dad, imitating their children. This may sound cute, but it removes your individuality and replaces it with a role. So it’s better to reserve those titles for your children’s use. Sweetheart it’s best to use an enduring name for each other.