home by another way…

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

When I was in high school, I had the privilege of attending a week long camp in the mountains of North Carolina with my youth group each summer. There was a different theme each year and it was a moving experience every time. One of the years, the theme was “home by another way”. It made for a cool logo and a neat t-shirt that I wore for decades. I got a lot from that week but I have to admit that the deeper meanings of that theme were not apparent to me until many years later.

I lived in the same house until I was a senior in high school. My father had the same job my whole life. I went to the same church. My parents did a great job of exposing me to diverse people – different skin colors, varying religious and cultural beliefs, political opinion, socio-economic background, etc…, but my home routine was static. No complaint, just fact.

I assumed that my adult life would be the same.

I can hear you all laughing…..

Robert and I have been married 21 years. We have moved 10 times across 5 states. Ten doesn’t sound like a big number. Trust me when I tell you that it is. Keep in mind that 7 of those moves were with 3 children in tow. By the 6th time I relaxed a little and knew that things would fall into place but it is still an incredible amount of work. Every. Single. Time.

Each move was with reason and purpose. We weren’t flitting about the countryside in a van singing and planting wildflowers along the way or anything. Every move was a deliberate and thoughtful step in the right direction. I knew this but I also had this nagging feeling that we were scarring our children for life.

During all of our adventures, our girls were exposed to many different life situations. Sub zero winters with feet upon feet of snow on the ground for months. Communities with great wealth where many parents didn’t have to work at all. Traffic. Beach life with sand on your toes all year. A town with one stop light. Blue collar communities where all members of the family worked to make ends meet. We were at the top of the socio-economic ladder in some places and much closer to the floor in others. We moved during the summer, in the middle of spring, over winter break, in the middle of fall…we have done every possible combination. I just knew that my children would require years of therapy for being hauled around on a journey they didn’t ask to go on.

What I discovered instead is that I am the mother of some awesome children. Our daughters told their “new kid” stories and eased into place. Granted it wasn’t always seamless. There were a few stumbles but that’s life, isn’t it? Life isn’t about always getting your way. Life isn’t always fair. It just isn’t. (If your life has always been easy and fair, I don’t know if we can be friends.) Our girls learned from all of that. They walk into rooms full of new people with confidence. They know how to find a friend in a room of strangers. They are happy just being themselves. It makes me weak with pride. I chalk it all up to the fact that the bond among our family of 5 is as strong as an ox. When you are new in town, you have to find strength and courage in the one place where it is a guarantee…at home. Being that strength for your sisters and even for your parents makes you stronger. Somehow my girls became fearless, appreciative and empathetic. Most of the time anyway…

We moved back home 3 1/2 years ago. It was time and we were ready. We were greeted by family and friends with open arms of love and gratitude. It was a wonderful thing to experience.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change much at all. I certainly wouldn’t take back any of our moves. We have at least one friend-for-life from each place we have lived. Treasures.

If you have never been on an adventure with your family – and I’m not talking about a week out of town – I’m talking about a real departure from your comfort zone…a place where you can only rely on each other…the kind of adventure that brings inside jokes and laughter through tears…you should try it. You can always come home, you just might come home by another way.


who’s in charge here?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

That’s an excellent question.  I’m beginning to think that it’s not me.

I came to this realization a few moments ago when I was rocking the 2 (almost 3) year old to sleep for her nap.  That’s right – I said it – rocking her…to sleep….for her nap.  What exactly is going on here?

When Abigail and Hattie were little I made sure they fell asleep on their own and I turned up the music and ran the vacuum when they were napping so that they would learn to sleep through anything.  Guess what?  They can sleep through anything.  Thunder, lightning, nuclear holocaust…anything.  With Laura, we have quiet time during her nap.  There is a rational explanation….if she doesn’t have a nap, the latter part of the day is almost unbearable.  One half of my brain wholeheartedly agrees with that logic.  The other side is laughing at me.

When Abigail was a baby, I rocked her to sleep every night until she was 15 months old.  She was my first child and I cherished those moments with her.  When she got too big to put her in her bed easily after she fell asleep, we suffered for a few nights while she learned to self-sooth and fall asleep alone.  I had learned my lesson.  When Hattie came along we put her in her bed with her blankie and left the room.  She’s never had a problem.  You would think that I would be a master at this for the third child, right?  I don’t know what happened!!!  Maybe it’s because she’s my baby…my last baby.  Maybe it’s guilt.  Laura has a congenital heart defect that she got from me.  It requires a pacemaker that was installed when she was 13 months old.  Even though I know it’s not my fault there is still some subliminal mom guilt in there somewhere. There’s always been a reason for her (my?) need to be soothed to sleep.  Skinned knees, moving, stomach bugs, surgery, ear infections, bumping her head on the coffee table…the list goes on and on.  Now, I put Laura in her big girl bed, fix her blankie and leave the room.  She waits about 15 seconds then moves out into the hallway with all of her paraphernalia.  She proceeds to lie down, talk, read books, ask us to fix her blankie, etc…until finally falling asleep.  Before going to bed, I pick her up and put her in her bed where she stays for a while before climbing into bed with us.  I’ll ask again…what exactly is going on here?

On other issues, we are better parents.  She goes to time out for hitting or yelling and even goes to her room on her own if she knows she’s been bad.  But still she gets a lot more slack than the other 2 girls.  It seems a lot worse when I put this all in writing….

I guess it’s time for a shift in the balance of power.  I’ll start when we’re out of potty purgatory…or tomorrow…..

potty purgatory

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

I am in potty purgatory.  Trapped somewhere between diapers and big girl underwear.  This, of course, applies to my youngest daughter Laura.  She will be 3 in a few months.  My first 2 successful potty training journeys were almost identical.  There were constant accidents the first day followed by fewer and fewer accidents until the girls were completely trained.  We talked about the potty, used all the right words, sang and danced over every little “accomplishment”.  It took less than a week.  No problem.

This third little girl, however, is different.  She does all things according to her own personal calendar despite what her father and I think.  Week before last, I decided that it was time to potty train.  Laura had shown all the signs of being ready.  Plus, I had a block of 4 days during which I didn’t have to leave the house.  So, last Friday we pulled out the potty seat, put on the panties (I am not in favor of Pull-Up type undies so we went straight for the big girl variety) and started happily down the trail to full potty awareness!  I am the first to admit that the first day was not going well.  I had washed sheets on every bed by 2:30.  Then Robert had one of those genius moments of parenting and said “Hey, don’t we still have that little potty somewhere in the garage?”  Within 2 hours of cleaning off the little potty and setting it up in the bathroom, Laura had not only tee-tee’d (sic?) in it half a dozen times, she had also pooped.  We had hit solid gold!!  She went accident free for FIVE WHOLE DAYS!!  She went at home, at summer camp and at our next door neighbors.  Of course I got cocky.  I told everyone.  We sang and danced about our big girl and it was fabulous.  Until….

Day 6:  Laura decides she likes diapers again.  For 4 days now, we have had tantrums about sitting on the potty.  She needs to go but doesn’t want to use her potty…or the big potty.  She doesn’t want to use it in the bathroom, hallway, kitchen, living room, outside patio or van.  She says that going on the floor is gross…but she does it anyway.  We are stymied.

Robert and I continue to cheerlead and sing and dance and we are beginning to see small glipmses of our once perfectly potty trained little girl. I have been a mom long enough to know that with time, this too shall pass.  Again I am reminded that I am lacking about a fourth of the patience that this job requires. But like all tunnels in my life, I know that there is light at the end….