Posts Tagged 'motherhood'

What Race Are You Running?

tortoise wallpapers hd (3).jpgThe headlines seem to be littered with people and groups pointing fingers at each other for telling a truth, telling a lie, or not telling enough. So I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and air my own grievances with the phrase,

“Slow and steady wins the race”

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. It’s a story I tell my children and my students in order to model the character traits of persistence, humility, and yes – hard work .

We’ve all known our share of “hares”. Those people at the office or play group that seem to effortlessly live life and are so “quick” with their wit, money, looks, or talents that they make everyone else feel like they’re poking along, struggling to make it.

We’ve also known our share of folks who act like a tortoise. They take their time and think before they speak. They see the big picture and are okay waiting for their reward.

Which one are you?

Both have fantastic traits and they have their downfalls.

So here’s my problem with this “tail” (haha, see what I did there? Homophones anyone!? No? Just me – the English nerd? Okay, moving on)…

The truth is – the hares of this world usually win the races. At least the short ones. They win because they are sometimes loud, pushy, and confident. But do they win every race?

No.

I’ve learned to appreciate the tortoise in my life – my husband. Do NOT for a single minute think that he is weak, slow, or clueless. He is my rock, my guide, and I am in awe of who he is as a man and father.

If you haven’t guessed already, I tend to be more like the Hare in this story. And I have to be very careful not to dismiss or overlook the tortoises in my life because they have figured something out that I am still pondering.

They know what race they are running.

I tend to run, all the time, with everything I do. I go all the way. If I’m not careful I won’t stop, look back, or even consider who I might be blowing past and leaving behind. As age as set in my “speed” has slowed and I am so very thankful.

I still love to be challenged, I love feeling the wind from the energy of a team working on a project or the way my intellectual muscles are stretched when I learn a new skill – I LOVE the race of “new”. But here’s the problem – It’s tough for me to feel like I’ve crossed the finish line.

I finish one race and I’m on to the next. I remember it had been a week since my second book had been published and we were driving in the car. I started talking about an idea I had for a center that would serve immigrant families and students while working with local school districts and Universities. He literally pulled the car over, put it in park and with love in his eyes but exhaustion in his voice he said, “I love you, but sometimes it is exhausting being married to you! When will enough be enough?”

He wasn’t scolding me. He was really asking…because he is a tortoise. He sees what really matters and what I’ve accomplished and he appreciates every minute of it. He supports me 100% but he is my compass and my guide when it comes to knowing what I should and shouldn’t put my energy toward.

You see, in my opinion, the “hares” in our society typically DO win the race (and that’s the real rub with this story line). They get the attention and influence decisions, but sometimes I wonder if they are running the RIGHT race.

I guess I’m just coming to a place where I not only appreciate, but I have started to look for the Tortoise on my team, the Tortoise of the group that will help everyone be steady – and MAYBE slow. But sometimes slow is okay.

Do we need to appreciate and think more like the Tortoise in this story, instead of always rewarding the Hares of this world? Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE a kid who wants to just jump in and pour their energy into every idea that comes into their mind. That kind of energy keeps the Tortoise from falling asleep and being left behind.

So can we agree that this story is great, but there might be a bigger lesson waiting for us within it’s plot line?

No matter how we run the race – fast or slow, consistent or scattered – we need to first ask, are we running the right race?

If we are – it becomes a little less important to emphasize who wins. It’s more about how we help each other finish.

So if you’re a hare and your child is a tortoise – slow down and soak in their wisdom and perspective – it’s quite refreshing.

If you’re a tortoise and you’re being driven to the edge of your sanity by a hare in your life – I would challenge you to let them energize you. They have a drive and imagination that will cause you to find color in even the most grey days.

We need each other. This race can be EXHAUSTING! Instead of comparing how the other is running the race, maybe we should just shout a word of encouragement or sit and listen to each other’s journey.

To the tortoises out there: Be patient with the hare in your life. They mean well and they need your still, constant presence to bring them back to earth when their heads are in the clouds. You need their energy and they need your calm.

To the hares out there: Take time to recognize and appreciate the tortoise in your world. They are not trying to hold you back or slow you down. You need their perspective and they need your energy.

Now let’s get out there and run the race the best way we know how. Keep your head up and keep going because if you’re raising the next generation, you’re already in the most important race of all – you’re shaping the future. I’m here for you and I appreciate you. Slow and steady might not win all the races, but maybe we can all start to ensure we are running the RIGHT race.

On your mark, get set….GO!

 

The ABCs of Grades

medalsThroughout my years of working with mothers, one topic continues to come up in conversations – when to pay and when not to pay children.

So here are my thoughts, take what works for you and trash the rest – but please know this is not a quick, nor is it an easy, answer.

Here’s the thing about money. It causes an item to have a defined value (or lack thereof). In 2008, Dan Ariely wrote the book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.  It’s a fascinating look at why we do what we do and how we make decisions. He talks about two forms of currency or value. The first is a social norm, where money isn’t the issue. Instead, it’s about relationships and the value or benefit our decision brings to our fellow man. The second is a market norm. This norm focuses on money and the fiscal results of a decision.

Quick example: A plate of cookies are in the office break room. Sign says, “help yourself”. People only took one cookie and the cookies lasted for a while so everyone had an opportunity to enjoy one. Another time a plate of cookies was labeled, “.25 each”. Guess what happened? People put in a dollar and took 4 cookies. The cookies were gone in a short time period and people took more cookies than they did before.

According to Ariely, here’s what happened. A market norm was assigned to an object and therefore the social  norm went away. No one thought about others, they just did the math. I put in a dollar, I get 4 cookies.

It makes sense doesn’t it? But here’s the thing. Ariely (and a bunch of really smart psych people) figured out that once a market norm is assigned, the social norm not only goes away, it can never return. He has so many examples about a daycare charging for watching kids late, lawyers helping the elderly with legal advice, and on it goes. It’s a fascinating book and I think it bears some weight with kids, grades, chores, and a household.

Is it wrong to pay kids for responsibilities or positive marks? I don’t think so.

Is it necessary? I don’t think so.

Before you get upset – hear me out.

Each of my children are unique. Their learning styles and abilities are very different. My oldest can work for 4 hours on math and still only earn a B. My middle child can do the same assignment in 1 hour and earn an A.

Did my middle child work harder? Nope. Is my oldest not giving his best? Nope.

So why would I assign a market norm to their learning and their abilities?

What if my kid has a teacher that is just one of those royal, pain in the rear end, jerks who never gives an A on a test or paper? What if my kid has a learning disability or the unit they are studying in school just doesn’t make sense to them? There are so many variables involved in the learning process and school objectives.

Carol Dweck writes and speaks about how important the PROCESS is and not just the PRODUCT of learning. (CLICK HERE to watch her Ted Talk) She did an experiment with groups of children who were given projects and puzzles to complete. One group was told they were “smart” when they finished and the other group was praised with the words, “you worked so hard” at completion.

Each group was then offered a more difficult puzzle or one at the same level. Wanna guess which group went up a level and invited more challenge?

Yep – the group that was focused on the process. The ones who were told they were smart really were smart kids. In fact, they figured that if this level of doing things constitutes “smart”, why should I push myself?

I’m not suggesting we lose “smart” from our vocabulary, but the minute I add market norms to grades and the learning process, I take away the social norm of enjoying the process of thinking, struggling with answers, and in the end having a result that reflects my efforts – no matter the grading scale being used.

As mothers we are tasked with creating global citizens. People who aren’t afraid to work hard. People who immerse themselves in the process and create a product that is an authentic reflection of our children’s thoughts, dreams, feelings, and abilities.

We can tackle the topic of chores another time. For now, start thinking about what events or tasks need to remain focused on process and social norms instead of focusing so much on the market. The “market” of this world can sometimes limit our kids or misrepresent them.

I truly believe our children are looking to US to provide a market that values them beyond their grades or scores. But instead, values what they bring to our family and our society.

So here’s your mneumonic device for the day concerning grades and performance in children:

Accept each child as unique and wonderful.

Be focused on the process more than the product.

Continue to encourage children to try, even if a “prize” or “medal” doesn’t come in the end.

I value you.

Thank you for caring about the little things and the big things.

You stay up late, wash clothes, clean floors, wipe away tears, and YOU are making this world better. Don’t limit your actions according to the market norm. Your value FAR exceeds such measurements. You and I have a social norm that will come to light as our children grow and treat others as we have treated them – with respect.

Thank you for sharing, liking, and commenting – Spring is coming – hang in there!

Kasey

 

 

Momma Bears Part 1

mom bearOne of our family’s favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, does this bit about bears and camping. He talks about how campers are told to “play dead” if a bear attacks. The way he spins this strategy really does make you stop and think about the absurdity of such an idea – even if it does work. Gaffigan even suggests the bears came up with this approach and he truly questions the idea of relying on our acting skills in order to survive – so funny!

Here’s what I do know about bears. They aren’t fans of surprises. If you come in their space they’ll do anything in their power to get you OUT! That’s why when I watch the nature shows the host walks through thick woods making lots of noise. I’m more of a hotel/beach girl, but if I was in the woods and I knew bears were around I’d prefer to NOT surprise them and in turn cause them to retaliate.

As a mom I like to be prepared, to have all the information and leave the surprises to a minimum.

However, my children are CONSTANTLY surprising me.

Their understanding of technology, their abilities and interests…right when I think I know them they surprise me and usually it’s a good thing.

As a momma bear I want to be ready for the surprises that are sure to come and my prayer is that I will respond in the right way.

My kids have lied, stolen trinkets from a store, been irresponsible, selfish and downright difficult.

Does that surprise you?

It’s easy to think someone else’s kids are perfect or don’t have issues but that little lie needs to be silenced. We’re dealing with human beings here – they are full of every carnal impulse that comes with living in a fallen and sinful world. Our job is to help our kids identify these potentially harmful and negative aspects of their humanity and keep them from being a surprise.

I’m not suggesting we set our kids up for failure, but how often are we really honest with our family about our own struggles and/or areas of growth?

The other day I looked at my 6th grader and actually said, “I’m so frustrated right now I can’t even think straight! I’m so overwhelmed with this whole thing I don’t want to talk to you because I’m afraid of what I’ll say! I love you. You are MY boy, but right now I can’t be near you. Stay here – I’ll be back in a minute.”

I left him standing (a bit dumbfounded) in the living room – went upstairs and paced in my room. My thoughts were racing, my cheeks were hot and my nerves were fried! How in the world could he have done this!? I was shocked.

So I worked through the shock, the surprise of it all and took 10 deep breaths – literally slowing my heart rate down with each one.

I returned to the living room and I never apologized for needing time, but I thanked him for waiting. We had a discussion – a tough one. We worked through his choices, the consequences and how to NEVER let this happen again.

We didn’t end with a hug (even though we should have) – I was still too hurt by the whole thing.

Later that night I went to his room and reaffirmed that I was not angry with him, I wasn’t even disappointed, I was just baffled by how this could have happened. We agreed to keep the surprises to a minimum and I agreed to try and get to my “calm place” a little faster. We actually laughed with each other. We hugged and I could honestly say “I love you” to my boy and he said the same.

I don’t want my kids to fear me. I know more surprises are in store. Will my kids know that no matter what happens I will be there for them? I won’t prevent the consequence but I’ll try my best to prevent any added drama on my part.

Proverbs 14:1 says “The wise woman builds her home

but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Ouch. My intentions might be fantastic and my love real – but if I’m not careful, I can bring division and resentment into my home because I’m not prepared for the surprises that are sure to come. We can keep our “claws” from coming out if we are wise and take the time to breathe, pray and think before we respond.

See your family members as investments. People who truly matter. No matter what happens we can be the safe place they land and the secure voice they hear.

Lord, I really don’t need any more surprises in my life but I also acknowledge the reality that I can’t control my children. They have a free will and with that comes the freedom to choose. Help me focus my eyes on you SO MUCH that I see the problem for what it is and I separate that problem form the person standing in front of me. Please help me see them the way YOU see them. Help me extend grace just like You’ve freely given to me.

Your surprise-ready Momma Bear,

Kasey

Stop Talking, Start Walking!

kid yelling at momPlease excuse me while I vent.

I don’t mean to offend…but folks, this is getting ridiculous.

I am tired of watching children yell at their mothers.

I don’t care if they are 2, 12 or 21.

When did we decide that our children’s feelings are more important than our dignity?

When did it become okay for children to yell, scream, hit and throw a complete tantrum while their mother sits in front of them asking 101 questions, enduring the abuse!?

We would never allow an adult, another child, or our spouse to treat us that way, so why is it okay for our children?!?!

 

One of the best, most empowering and invigorating things I can do when my kid is losing his mind is to keep mine clear and calm.

The best way to kill drama is with the a quiver full of quiet and calm arrows, ready to be released at just the right time in order to regain control.

 

There’s a difference between refusing to be insulted and refusing to join the chaos. I’m not saying it’s easy – but I think it’s easy to forget why the difference matters so much.

Drama only grows when it is successful in dominating the situation and our attention.

I’ve talked to so many moms who say they “talked” with their child for hours – they just couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Maybe NOTHING was wrong – maybe that child is very intelligient and has figured out they can keep their parents devoted to their irrational and sometimes imaginary issues by inviting them to join the chaos.

If something really is wrong we should be patient and listen. But I hope we’d know the difference between a child in distress and a child in drama mode. My kids can feel any emotion they’d like but they don’t get to insult me with their actions in the process.

 

We live in a noisy world, but if our phone makes a slight ding – we give it our full attention.  Oh the power we give to technology.

I don’t believe yelling and screaming shows power.

That’s why we work hard to not yell at our children and I would hope we hold our children to the same standard.

What do our children have to do to get our attention? Do they make a slight “ding” or have they learned to yell, scream and throw a fit so we will pay attention?

 

Don’t let your children make you a slave to their emotional outbursts.

Teach them how to manage their emotions without draining your energy.

Model how to express emotions without dominating everyone’s attention.

Allow them to have emotions without allowing them to punish you with their feelings.

Hold them accountable. Even if it takes a while, REFUSE to become a slave to your children’s emotional outbursts and above all things…

REMAIN CALM!!!

 

You’ve got this. Stay strong and think about the future. Let’s walk away from the drama and teach our children how to manage their emotions NOW. If we don’t our kids could grow into young adults who lash out at a world that simply doesn’t care to listen to or respond to their drama. Take the following Bible verse to heart. It was meant to encourage the Jews during battle. I think it also works for moms who are battling the drama that tries to sneak into their home. Whether on the battle field or in our home, we are not alone. God will never forsake us or leave us – AMEN!

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

When Their Brains Turn Off

onoff2It happens more than I’d like to admit.

First my boys will do something truly stupid or completely against how we raised them (like licking the table, shooting each other with rubber bands, etc…).

Next, I will look at them and say, “I think your brain turned off for a minute – let’s think about this for a minute.”

I only use this line because if I didn’t I would say something like, “Quit that!”, “What were you thinking!?” or “Stop it now!”

{side note: asking a boy WHY he did something is like asking a dog why it peed on the rug – they don’ t know, they really don’t}

Tonight was one of those nights.

Matt took the older two boys to football and I dragged our youngest through his older brother’s Open House. It’s our first year with a middle-schooler and I was anxious to hear from all his teachers and make sure I was in the know.

I stopped by the counselor’s office and as we were talking I noticed the counselor’s eyes kept drifting past mine to look behind me. When I finally turned around I saw my 2nd grader jumping up and down on the chair sitting in her office.

I was mortified.

We don’t jump on furniture! I don’t even let them jump on their beds! What. Was. Happening!?!?!

I apologized, he got down and we went to the next class.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was embarrassed and amazed all at the same time. Where did he get the idea that jumping on the furniture of a workplace was okay?

As the science teacher walked us through his power point I started to think about why I was so bothered.

Then I figured it out…His brain turned off and even though I had stopped the behavior I wasn’t certain it wouldn’t happen again.

As we left science he asked what room we now needed (his job was to locate room numbers throughout the night).

I pulled him aside and said we were going to skip the next class. Here’s our conversation:

M: Buddy, do you remember a little while ago when you were jumping on the chair in that lady’s office?

J: Yeah (as he picks his nose and tries to wipe it on the wall behind him)

M: Do you think that was a good or bad choice?

J: (lengthy pause) Bad.

M: I’m wondering if your brain just kind of turned off for a little bit.

J: Yeah, maybe.

M: Do we jump on furniture? Especially other people’s furniture!?

J: No.

M: So, how are we gonna remind your brain not to that again?

J: I don’t know.

M: We’re gonna need to go back into her office and apologize for jumping on her furniture.

{his face reflects the sentiment, “things just got real”}

J: I really don’t want to do that.

M: I know, but when we make choices that go against what we KNOW is right, we have to apologize – it’s not easy.

J: I REALLY don’t want to do that. {tears are beginning to form}

M: Well, we’re going to do it and I’ll be with you. Let’s not make a big deal about it. Just walk in and say, “I’m sorry for jumping on your furniture” and I know she’ll say it’s okay.

As we walk to the office his fists are clenched and he’s moving from sadness to pure anger.

M: Hi Mrs. Smith, it’s just again. James had a quick thing he wanted to say to you.

J: I’m sorry I jumped on your furniture.

She was very forgiving and it was over in 30 seconds. But as we left her office the tears truly began to flow. At the end of the night I told him I was SO PROUD of him. He owned his choice and he made it right.

I asked him if he thought he’d ever jump on furniture again.

His response?

“No way mom! My brain isn’t gonna turn off about this again!”

I am fairly certain I’ll have to pull him off another piece of furniture very soon – but I’m hoping the act of apologizing will influence his desire to keep his brain turned ON, not OFF.

What are some of your kids’ “off” moments?

How do you help their brains turn back on?

Leave a comment – we want to hear from you!

Kasey

Double Digits

kid with binocularsWhat is it about the double digits that seems so daunting? When our oldest turned 10 it felt like he was turning 20!

A decade had passed and I could see such growth and remember so many precious moments – I had to wonder what the next 10 years will be like.

Then I REALLY started to think about it and well…that wasn’t a good idea.

Ya see, in the next 10 years (we’re already 2 years into that season) my son will go to middle school and high school. He’ll graduate, hopefully go to college and that means he’ll leave our home {gulp}

This morning I took my boy to the church to leave for camp. He’ll be gone until Friday and this is the first time I’ve been away from him for this long.

I know he’s going to have a blast but it’s just not the same around the house and it’s only been 1 day!

Our kids are constantly growing and changing – that’s part of life.

But I wonder how many of us are truly ready for the next transition while still being able to enjoy the one we’re in – that’s a tough balance to keep!

Along with our children’s transitions, we too are growing and changing and that’s important. Sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to have all the answers or be a more “relaxed” parent because I have a kid in double digits – but that’s just not possible.

Today will bring as many “firsts” and “new” issues as I encountered the day I brought him home from the hospital.

When I look forward I find hope in the knowledge that God is already there. He’s preparing my son and ME to accept what is coming.

You see, I can be aware of our future but I need to resist the temptation to worry about it.

I need to put all my energy into TODAY. What my kids need right now, in THIS season.

I’m aware of the future because as I’m teaching them and caring for them I’ll keep in the back of my mind that everything I’m doing and saying is working toward their next transition and mine. Today will impact our future relationship, their choices and my hopes and dreams for them. But still, I don’t have to worry – even if I mess up. I can be certain that God is bigger than my flaws or mistakes.

Joshua 1:9… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

God is with your children, God is with you. You are not alone and you can be strong and courageous no matter what transition or unknown you are facing!

Hang in there Momma – you’re doing great!

Kasey

Tour Time with Alexandra Kuykendall

mom essentialsOne of the essentials we study is the essential of IDENTITY.

No one knows more about finding and defining your identity more than Alexandra Kuykendall.

She is a talented author, speaker, blogger and mom.

I had the privilege of meeting Alexandra when she spoke at MomCon  when it was held here in Kansas City.

Her book, The Artist’s Daughter, is a fantastic example of what it means to continually grow as a woman and a child of God.

Alexandra knows what it means to have questions and to trust God for the answers.

You’ll love getting to know her and I’m so thrilled she’s part of our tour and our Smarter Moms community –

CLICK HERE to read more!


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