In case that last post sounded sanctimonious

I’m not sanctimonious or holier-than-thou even if my last post sounded that way. My children may have survived thus far, but that is more of a reflection of God’s grace than my parenting skills.

Maybe I’m sensitive to the harsh criticism dished out by M. McGraw because I’ve been the subject of other parent’s judgment before. During their teen years my daughters were always able to find a sympathetic ear and welcoming arms in the form of “replacement moms”. D#3 moved in with a family whose mother actually told my mother she (the replacement mom) would never treat her children the way I’ve treated mine. Nice, eh? And all of the judgment passed over me by those replacement moms without benefit of Twitter.
And with Twitter? It definitely gives me something to think about. One of my daughters follows me on Twitter (although I don’t think she actively follows me, she could). One of my co-workers is also a “follower”. But it’s more than that that makes me think before I Tweet. It’s about the understanding that once Tweeted, the whole world is privvy to the thought I captured in 140 characters or less.
Do my Tweets make the world a better place? Do they spread light? Or darkness? As Christians we’re tasked with trying to spread light so that filter should apply to everything we do or say.
I won’t claim that before every Tweet I consider that it could be my last but I do try to apply a reasonable filter and use good judgment. Maybe it’s something along the lines of “What Would Jesus Tweet” (although not that well thought through).
Even with that in mind, after I tweeted this “Co-piloting while 15 YO drives the most dangerous stretch of I35. Praying! Oh, Lord be with us!it occurred to me – if we were in an accident (traffic was really nutty with all of the holiday shoppers) someone might correctly assume I wasn’t paying enough attention to my child who was in a potentially dangerous situation. As the co-pilot I was supposed to be paying attention, responsible and accountable for the safety of others.
My sisters and I often communicate via Twitter and in a way I was reaching out to them. It seemed better to focus on framing my next Tweet than to stress out. Maybe not. Fortunately we weren’t in an accident and my decision to send a Tweet wasn’t hotly debated by those who might choose to judge me. Or if it was, none of that was shared with me.
My musing this week weren’t meant to imply that I’ve got it all figured out. Far from it. I’m still trying to figure it out. Although I could post stories about what a horrible parent I’ve been and what tragic mistakes I’ve made to the detriment of my children, I choose to focus on how I think things *should* work.
Our social networks should work for good, not evil. And when we Tweet, we should Tweet responsibly.
That’s all. Oh, and…. Merry Christmas!
{From today’s reading in The One Year Bible: “Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.” (Zechariah 7:8)}

It’s a Banner Day!

In the beginning there was a standard template bearing the title of this blog “A Mother’s Angst. Soon after that I jazzed it up with the emo weeping eye. I’ve wept so many times over my children it seemed appropriate.
I’ve been open about my angst, my sorrows, and sometimes my joy. The banner evolved to reflect my evolution from pervasive sorrow to the overriding joy given to us through God’s grace.
Today the banner takes another step forward. I may tweak it a bit but this is closer to what I’ve imagined for a while now. I’m reading the book of Jeremiah and I’m overwhelmed by the example God sets for us. I can relate to God’s frustration with His children, the people of Israel & Judah. Jeremiah 31 is all about restoration. I pray for the restoration of my relationships with my grown children. Meanwhile, I thank God for all that I’ve learned and am able to share with others.

Deuteronomy – and my kids think I’m tough!?!

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is the “recap of the law.” When you hear reference to the laws and prophets, know that “the laws” are pretty well spelled out in Deuteronomy.

I recently mentioned the shocking revelation that “sacrificing your children as a burnt offering” was a common enough practice that it had to be called out as a “no can do” for the Israelites entering the promised land. However, “if a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

Laws run the gamut from: “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together” to “A woman must not wear men’s clothing and vice versa” to “if a man is guilty of a capital offense, and hung from a tree, you must leave leave his body on the tree overnight” to “how to handle unsolved murders” to “if a man’s testicles are crushed or his penis cut off, he may not be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.” There are some very detailed and prescriptive rules for handling lots of situations. There are rules about poop and rules about nocturnal emissions. Lots of rules governing sex and relationships. Rules about child-rearing issues: rights of the first born, handling of favorites. . . . Stoning rebellious ones.

The power, mercy and grace of the New Testament is becoming clearer.

Children of God

1John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

I have come to see the Old and New Testaments as the ultimate testimonial of parent/child relationships. In the Old Testament, mankind is wayward to say the least. Willful, disobedient, prone to mischief, guilty of every kind of sin and wrongdoing imaginable.

We surely tried God’s patience, occasionally warranting a spanking or other stern discipline. In reading through the OT laws, I am reminded of the time that my husband & I explicitly spelled out every expectation and consequence for transgressions. In reading through some of the stories, I can easily imagine God’s frustration with us. I can picture my own frustration as a parent. It seems that no matter how much we love our children, or how much we desperately want to protect them from their imprudence, eventually we have to stand back and watch them screw up.

In between the Old and New Testaments there is a long period of silence. God had apparently left us to our own devices. Or maybe just to our vices.

The New Testament establishes a new relationship, with simplified rules. Love God, love each other. If we can master this, the rest will follow. With these guidelines we enter into Christian adulthood. As young adults, we are offered the freedom of choice. There are still consequences for our actions, but our loving Father will stand back and let us screw up. He will patiently wait for us to turn to him. Should we wander away, He will always be there waiting for our return.

Similarly, I remain steadfast in my love for my own children. I remind myself to wait patiently and have faith. I trust our Father to hear my prayers of intercession.


Family Night! And another chores discussion.

Alternative title: “Expectations”

No one took me up on my offer to clean poopie bottoms (1000!!!), so we suffered through another chores discussion. Here’s what we came up with.

Expectations for Saturday:
Breakfast together (How fun is that? T wants to have breakfast together!)
1 reminder (no more) no later than end of breakfast. If none given by the end of breakfast, no reminder. (No nagging!)
Chores are to be completed by noon on Saturday. If not, and no prior agreement, the list gets longer.
If chores not done by noon, T will be told “list is getting longer”. When chores are complete, then told what new items have been added. (Parental discretion required here. If it’s 5pm before we say “Hey!” then so be it. Regardless, we get to decide what’s on the penalty list.) If chores are not done by the end of the weekend, DRILL SERGEANT kicks in. This means 6a.m. call to duty every day of the week until chores are done.

Chores (What it’s all about):
Both bathrooms clean: all surfaces sparkle (in the event additional chemicals are needed, notify Mom), towels hung neatly, sink, tub, toilet, floor (There was some discussion about Jim cleaning the “downstairs” aka “common” or “shared” bathroom at least once a month, but I don’t think this was settled.)
Vacuum upstairs: gameroom
Vacuum downstairs: Living room, dining room, family room. Dust and clean up in family room.
Laundry done (washed, dried, folded, put away) by 10pm Sunday CST
1 meal per week (assuming Dad gets the ingredients) (This is the only new item, and T volunteered!)

For housecleaning chores, T must let us know when chores are completed. (This prevents me from chiming in with *helpful* feedback prior to chore completion.)

For extra $: Vacuum and dust offices (upstairs/downstairs)
Dust front rooms, clean leather, wood polish
Kitchen counter and/or floors (sweep/mop)
Cook 2nd meal during week
Wash vehicle

No lecturing during family night.

Tonight’s conversation went well. We worked this list out together (minus hubby’s 15 minute distraction phone call during negotiations). T thinks typing it up is weird and begged me not to a) print it and post it on refrigerator or b) put it in his “mail”. I told him it was going on the blog. I’m not sure if he believed me.

From 1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before They Leave Home (Or Else They’ll Come Back): 9) They should know to persevere in the face of disappointment. 13) They should know life isn’t fair. And be grateful for that. 14) They should know things are rarely as good or as bad as they seem. 16) They should know life isn’t about avoiding struggles, but overcoming them. 20) They should know the world is filled with unreasonable people. And they may work for one of them.

Or … one of them may be a parent. 😉

and then we played on the Wii for an hour….

Too much? Let me know your thoughts.

Where do I begin?

I am a mother of 4, married 23 years. I started working when I was 12, delivering newspapers. Since then I’ve worked in fast food, in 2 different grocery stores as a checker or in the deli/bakery. I traveled with Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. I’ve been a lifeguard for neighborhood pools. I spent 3 years as a clerk/typist/data entry/stenographer for government entities. This last motivated me to complete my engineering degree. With the higher education I filled various roles in product development, including Simulation Engineer providing analysis of transmission lines and electromagnetics for electronic products. Currently, I am an Engineering Manager responsible for developing notebook computers for a large company in central Texas. Raising children has proven to be a lot more difficult than any job I’ve ever had. Although it is the easiest job to land (no experience required), it comes without training or adequate preparation.

With the birth of our first child, I was disappointed to discover the absence of a training manual or owner’s handbook. Upon the arrival of our second I realized none of what I’d learned with Child #1 was directly applicable to Child #2. By the time our 3rd child was born, I thought I knew what I was doing. Shortly after we adopted our 4th child (who chronologically lands between #2 and #3) I realized I was wrong about most of what I thought I knew.

Now that our children are mostly grown and gone (all but our youngest), I’ve just about gotten a handle on parenthood. Our youngest, at 14, has a different set of parents than the oldest had at that age. Much of the transformation can be attributed to a few books that I wish I’d read 20 years ago, listed here:

The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, by Gary Chapman
Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Cline & Fay
Boundaries with Kids, by Henry Cloud

Chapman and Cloud have additional books that apply to relationships – also highly recommended reading. By the time I started reading these books, my 2 oldest children had already moved out. During the year that followed #2’s departure, I started making significant changes in my parenting style. The most important change was to allow our children to accept the consequences of their actions. There’s an element of “tough love” baked in to this parenting style. Although it is difficult to change the family dynamics, ultimately, it is a much less stressful style. The down side is the lack of support from the parents of the teen’s peers. Child #2 and Child #3 each moved out when they turned 18, and moved in with one of their friend’s family – where they were not fettered with accountability or responsibility. At least 2 of the oldest 3 found homes where they could drink, smoke and have sex freely. The 3rd moved out to live with her girlfriend’s family. In response to our concern about the sexual nature of their relationship, the girl’s parents reassured us that they slept in separate rooms. Our youngest seems to be doing fine, so hopefully we can get through high school without too much heartache.

I must also list the best reference book of all – the Holy Bible. In the last few years I have come to appreciate that my children are God’s children that He has entrusted to my husband and me. We have done our best, and we will continue to do our best. I have to believe that they will return like the prodigal son, eventually awakening with a maturity that allows them to return to relationship with earthly and heavenly parents.

I am called to share our learnings in hopes that our experiences might benefit other parents. The Bible has a lot to say about parenthood, as well as life choices. The guidelines provided there are not for the fainthearted. It takes a good amount of fortitude to live as God wants us to live, and to raise our children to do the same. I know that we are never challenged beyond what we can handle, and I believe that suffering is not without purpose. Although we may not gain insight from our trials until they are long behind us, we can be assured that without trials we are less likely to grow closer to and maintain a relationship with God.

I pray that I hear back from anyone who benefits from what I publish here. I am stepping out in faith to share experiences that have brought me great pain and heartache. I know that I am not alone, and neither are you.