Category Archives: Motherhood

How to parent my daughter who's just like me

Haley Beach

Her emotions wear a cape, soaring her high out of reach where I can’t bring her back close to me. From far away she looks at me with helplessness, “Mom, help me. I don’t know what to do! I feel out of control! I am losing my mind!” We both wait for the wind of exhaustion to gently bring her down into sleep.  Rest restores her body and mind back into control.

She’s just like me. Except she’s only six-years-old and hasn’t figured out how to control her HaleyandMeemotional power. I’ve had 34 years of experience and seven years of therapy to help me reign in my emotional squalls, and even still it’s hard work to maneuver the stormy winds of anxiety, panic, and fear. My daughter, Haley, and I are two highly-anxious, perfectionist-peas in a pod.

Lately I’ve been at a complete loss as to how to parent a child like me. I spend a lot of energy either trying to soothe Haley’s emotional tirades or reacting with my own rants out of sheer frustration. I’ve taken her to the doctor to rule out physical ailments and am currently researching behavioral health support. Nothing feels right. I have been praying for guidance as to how to get my daughter the coping tools she needs now so she doesn’t end up like me later–feeling out of control and coping through disorder.

My friend Andee recently wrote a post called Just Like You–A Post for Mother’s Day, and she describes the curse-turned-to-blessing of having a daughter just like her. It was Andee’s insight into her daughter that has given me insight into mine. She describes her daughter, Annika, as one who “not only wears her emotions on her sleeve, but all the way down her maxi dress. She has no poker face and tells you exactly what she’s thinking. Early on, Annika’s tranquil mood turned to tantrum within seconds and rage would strike out of the blue.”

I can literally insert Haley’s name in for Annika’s. But rather than trying to “fix” her daughter’s emotional outbursts to avoid future demise, Andee offers a listening ear and reassuring love.

I realized I have spent so much energy on trying to fix Haley to avoid future angst, that I have lost a grip on who Haley is and what she needs right now. My daughter doesn’t need fixing. She needs love, understanding, and reassurance (just like I do). That’s how to parent a child like me. Hello, answer to prayer.

Yesterday, Haley was depressed, unfocused and exhausted. She was getting sassy in her tone with me and tipping into the rage-red zone. Taking my cue from Andee’s insight, I asked, “Did something happen at school today? What’s wrong?” Turns out she got stuck on top of the jungle gym at recess. She was scared to fall; her classmates were encouraging her, but it was embarrassing; she was worried she wouldn’t get down before the bell rang for class; and she was confused because she’d never been scared up there before.

Well, no wonder she was upset! For a six-year-old, getting stuck on top of the jungle gym makes for a rough day. I hugged her and affirmed her feelings and told her I loved her. What a scary and stressful experience! I wish I could say she magically felt better and we lived happily ever after the rest of the night. Her mood didn’t improve, and actually it got worse, but I kept my cool and just let her be how she needed to be. IN accepting her emotions toward her situation, I was better able to love on her despite her coldness toward me. I trust in time she’ll learn to trust me as I parent in love rather than “fixing.”

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I see, now, Haley is just like me– creative, generous, compassionate, funny, intelligent, and intuitive. She’s a thinker and a creator and an achiever. This week she’s written two books, crafted three songs, made me multiple presents and cards for Mother’s Day, encouraged her older brother, and has given her best in everything she’s done. Her future looks much brighter from this angle!

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Dear Peanut

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My boy: lover of sports, SpongeBob Squarepants, Oregon Ducks, quesadillas, math, friendship, family, and the occasional princess movie–especially if there is a really cool bad guy.

Dear Peanut,

I know I am biased because I am your mother, but I have to say you are one amazing kiddo. You move around so much playing sports, playing with friends, riding your bike, and pestering your little sister that I don’t often get to stop and reflect on who you are and who I see you becoming to be.

When I think about you on this very special day, the first words I think of are happy, energetic, hands-on, quick, smart, and bright. You are caring and sensitive–which is sometimes hard to see because you are always on the move, but in your quieter moments, the soft and aware side of your heart shines. It is so beautiful, Peanut.

You have a sharp and inquisitive mind–always keep a wondering and seeking mind, Sean. You trend toward math and science (though you claim to “hate” math); I love how you ask a million questions about how the world operates and throw impossible math questions to Dad and me, like “What’s 1,567,654 divided by 75,000, 563 times the square root of 56?”  You are so gracious when we simply answer, “Probably some sort of decimal number.”  I think you are fascinated that with math you can pour out a string a of numbers in any sort of equation, and with a proper solving process, get a legitimate answer. You are keenly aware that numbers never end–infinite possibilities are intriguing and fun to chase.

You are a great big brother and confidently hold your status as older and Bigbrotherwiser. Though you are a bit impatient (that isn’t your fault, you get that from me), you enjoy teaching, leading, and loving your sister. You get annoyed when Haley hangs around too much, yet you miss her when she is gone. You claim to hate playing and/or watching anything with princesses, yet you oblige her wishes when you desire time with Haley. You fight and compete with each other to the point where  sometimes I wonder if you actually like each other, yet you two always amaze (and perplex me) when you find the space of acceptance and peace with one another.  She loves being around you because in her eyes, you are the coolest, safest, and most fun kid to hang around. I pray you two always remain close to one another.

This week, I became aware that you are moving into an age (8 years old today!) where you begin to decide who you want to be. You opened up to your dad the other day that you are being bullied on the baseball field. It broke our hearts and, of course, we wanted to oblige your request to skip camp practice to avoid the pain. Yet, our greater desire is to teach you how to be your best in the face of pain–because that is how you grow stronger and wiser and how you develop compassion for others who struggle.

You and I had the most wonderful conversation in the hallway–me in my pajamas and you bare down to your undershorts. With tears streaming down your face I told you to look at me–“Baseball is your passion. These guys who taunt you are trying to chase you away from what you love. If you don’t go today, those guys win. Mission accomplished for them. What’s our top rule in Taekwondo? Always believe in yourself. You go out on that field and show them you can’t be chased away–you’re there to play ball. When they are too busy poking fun at you, you are on the ball field getting better at your craft. Believe in yourself and don’t worry about these other guys. We are never to give up… if you don’t go today, you give up. And you aren’t a quitter–you are competitive and you want to win. You can’t win if you stay home today.”

“But I am only one person and there are like 10 of them. It’s really hard.”

“You’re darn straight it’s hard! And scary!” I told you the story of David and Goliath. Tiny little David stood up to a giant and knocked him down with nothing but a single stone square between the eyes. “With God you get superhuman power. It’s already inside of you; you have the power within you stand strong, even when you are scared, against one giant, 10 bullies, an army of 1000 men. Say a prayer when you step on to the field, God is standing at the plate with you.” This story stopped your tears and put a smile on your face. You decided to go to baseball camp that day. And you rocked it!

20140531_131534You’re 8 years old today, and I love being your mom. What I always hold the closest to my heart is somehow in your swirl of daily movement and activity, you manage to find random and countless moments to tell me that you love me. Please know how much that means to me; a mother can never hear that too many times from her kidlets.

Happy birthday, Peanut!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You were six today

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I woke up and you were six years old today. Thinking back to the day you were born, I knew I was getting a gift, but I could never have imagined exactly how special you would be.

You are sweet and sassy and smart– clever with your words and emotions according to your audience and your need for expression.

You are intellectual, imaginative, and inquisitive–indulgent in your desires to learn; reading, writing, and reflecting back upon what you need to know.

You have an artist’s spirit– creative and spiritual and intuitive. Singing and dancing, creating and writing–through music and paint (and lots of glitter), pencil and paper you discover and express and wonder about life and all the lovely (and not so lovely) things it has to offer.

You have a heart for the Lord, a flowering relationship with Jesus, a trusting instinct for the Holy Spirit. You have sincere prayers, thoughtful insight to our loved ones lost, and a child-like understanding of God’s love I wish I had.

You are an observer, soaking in the thoughts and actions happening around you. (A ruminator like your mother.) Thinking, learning, contemplating, and threading life into the depths of your spirit, letting it simmer and rest until parts of it bubble up–ready for exploration and explanation.

You are bold and outspoken when you need to be–expressing injustice, advocacy, and love (oh, how much you love to love!), for the sake of others’ hearts.

Like any young girl, you desire to be older and more mature–taking pride in the moments you handle things on your own; acknowledging and indulging your growing independence.

Yet, you  are six years old. My heart swells because you still seek mommy. You desire the comfort and snuggles that comes with crawling into my lap; peace of mind that you are loved and adored; validation of who you are when I tell you my favorite things about you are your heart and your mind.

You’re my little girl, my Haleybugger–my love bug–my gift whom I love and honor and admire. Happy birthday to you!

 

Lying her way OUT of a sick day

“Mom. I am not sick. I’m just tired and cold. I’m fine,” insists my five-year old daughter.

“Let me take your temperature just to be sure. If you’re fine, this will confirm it for me. Your face feels warm.”

“Okaaay. Fine.”

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“Sugar bear, you feel cold because you have a fever.”

Tears welled up in Haley’s eyes and flowed down her cheeks. “But mom, I am good. I am not sick. Do I have to miss school tomorrow?”

“Not sure. We’ll have to see. Just lie down and rest.”

Haley’s fever crept up to 102.2 over the course of the afternoon. She clearly wasn’t feeling well despite her insistence that she felt good. I put her to bed early knowing school was unlikely.

Haley rose at 6:30 a.m. and bounded down the stairs. She found me lying on the sofa where I had spent the night battling my own illness. “Hi mom! I feel good today. I think I can go to school.”

“You certainly are up and at ’em today.” Something didn’t seem right to me. A mother knows when her child isn’t well.

“Yep. I am all better.”

“Let’s take your temp.”

99.6. Definitely lower yet warm enough to tell me something is invading her immune system.

“Can I go to school? Please?”

Can I just say, I’ve never in my life experienced a child (including myself) trying to get OUT of a sick day? Her brother was home just last week with strep throat, practically bragging about how many days of school he got to miss.

I narrowed my eyes on her. “You sure you are feeling okay?”

Then it happened. That curl in her grin that tells me she’s lying. “I promise, mom. I’m good.”

“Haley. Does your throat hurt?”

She casts her eyes down. “Um. No.”

“Haley. Are you telling me the truth? Does your throat hurt?”

“Only when I swallow,” she confessed quietly.

“How about your neck? Does the back of your neck hurt?” I gave her neck a gentle rub.

“No. Only when I look down.”

“Honey. I think you need to stay home today. Your body is trying really hard not to be sick. If I send you to school you are going to feel much worse later, and maybe miss even more days of school.”

Her shoulders slumped and her tears spilled over her flushed little cheeks. “Mom, please. I will miss music and library. I’m good, I promise.”

“I know how much you love school, Sugar Bear, but it isn’t fair for your friends to be around you if you aren’t well. You can accidentally spread your sick germs. Sick days at home aren’t so bad. You get to watch any movies you want as much as you want. And I’ll snuggle with you and make you soup. We’ll have a fun lazy day.”

I had to chuckle listening to myself “sell” my daughter on a sick day. It just seems hilariously absurd to me, yet I adore her heart for learning. Yesterday she finished her entire week’s homework in one 1-hour sitting. I pray she keeps this love for school and the eagerness to learn.

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My view from the couch.

I will have to teach her to take care of herself though; that we cannot risk our health or anyone else’s to engage our passions. I will have to teach her that in order to pour ourselves fully into what we love, we have to take time to rest our body when it is tired and unwell …

Which means I will have to practice what I preach.

As I type, I realize she takes completely after me. I fought my symptoms for three days, chalking them up to “allergies” before finally admitting illness yesterday. Oye.

So today, we are both learning, resting, and enjoying each other’s company with popcorn, movies, and blankets.

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If You Give a Mom a Minute (Blog Hop Story)

Below is my contribution to last week’s photo prompt. Enjoy!

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If you give a mom a minute, she’ll warm up her coffee in the microwave.

While her coffee is heating, she’ll look out the window and see her son’s socks in the back yard. Wondering how  his socks got outside, she’ll go out and grab them.

When she brings the socks inside, she’ll remember the load of clothes in the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdryer from last night. She’ll unload them into a basket and carry them upstairs.

When she dumps the clothes in the pile of clean laundry in her bedroom, she’ll become annoyed with having to fold and put away all the laundry. So she’ll resolve to do it later.

When she leaves her bedroom, she’ll notice her daughter’s room across the hall. It looks dark, so she’ll want to open the blinds. Picking her way through the messy floor, she’ll step on a bouncy ball, trip over a set of pajamas, and accidentally squish a paper-cup craft project.

When she opens the blinds, the sunshine on her daughter’s bedspread reminds her that she needs to wash her son’s sheets because they smell like feet. So she’ll go into her son’s room and strip his bed.

When she carries the sheets down stairs, her eye will catch the overflowing garbage in the bathroom. Carrying the sheets in one arm, she has a spare hand to grab the trash with the other.

Walking to the laundry room, her phone will ring and she’ll answer. While she’s verifying her doctor appointment with the caller, she’ll toss her son’s sheets into the washer and turn it on.

When the call ends and she drops the trash in the outside garbage can,  a text will come through from her girlfriend asking for link to the article about the paleo diet. So she’ll head to the living room to find her computer.

When she logs on, she remembers she hasn’t responded to her daughter’s teacher and sends an email. When she hits “SEND” her eye will notice the Facebook icon, and she’ll click on it.

She’ll see she has 8 new notifications. After “liking” a cat video, an article about the Oxford comma, and a clever quote about wine, she’ll see the friend who had texted earlier “liked” the picture of her chicken salad. This will remind her of the link to the paleo article, and she’ll post it to her friend’s wall.

When her eye catches an ad for Safeway, she’ll remember she needs to thaw something for dinner. She’ll go into the kitchen and rummage through freezer. She’ll decide on ground turkey.

Coffee and grinderUncertain of what dinner will be, she’ll grab the Weekday Meals Cookbook. As she pages through recipes, she sees a cappuccino cake that looks divine. The picture makes her think of how good a cup of coffee would be right now.

Thinking about coffee will remind her of the coffee she’d heated in the microwave earlier. So she’ll check the coffee in the microwave and decide it needs another minute.