family, parenting, small town living

Mama Bear

I never really understood the term Mama Bear until this week. To me Mama Bear was protective while also letting the “cubs” explore and learn. “Going Mama Bear” didn’t occur to me, until this week. But I did not, I kept Mama in her den glaring out, ready to strike.

A fellow player and friend on Rudi’s team referred to him as “a little kid”. He was not talking about Rudi’s smaller statue, but his soccer abilities. Now these two are within a few months apart, with Rudi being the older one. Hmm, Mama Bear thought.

The teammate went on to say that he’s better than Rudi and the other “little kids”. Wow, okay. Mama Bear pondered. He was saying this to me, an adult, not just saying this to his teammates or friends.

This attitude comes from us, the adults. We are the ones who shape and develop our youth athletic programs. Whether coaching, parenting, or our sideline demeanors; we are perpetuating these “better than thou” spirit and it’s killing team spirit, player development, and the longevity of an age group’s ability to grow together.

We have lost the perspective of growing teammates, raising youth who collaborate towards a common goal, and developing well rounded athletes. “A team is only as strong as its weakest player. ”

Our children love soccer and each have his and her own abilities and interests within the sport. We may be loud occasionally on the sidelines, but our parental aspirations isn’t necessarily the score board, but to have them to attend every practice and game with a positive attitude that will contribute to the overall success of the team and themselves.

Mama Bear will stay in her den for awhile, hibernating until Spring soccer. Our small town has had some amazing athletic team successes this fall. Boys soccer reaching new peaks and a tennis team’s first state championship. A football team who dug its way out of a hole, learning and developing together to reach some successes this year. The emphasis, team. We’re in this together.

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family, parenting, small town living

We’re Village People

Moms and dads, let’s talk.

Raising kids is soul searching, boundless lovely, work. And Exhausting. I want, need help along the way. As I get older, the less I want to worry about how this looks and sounds and the more I want to rely on others to support in “raising” our kids. No I’m not asking for handouts or free babysitting, just good ole support from my village.

I’d like to know if my kid is being a jerk or my daughter, a mean girl. Similarly I’d be ecstatic to learn that one sat with the lonely, talked with the new kid, or helped the aging. I have one entering preteen female drama years and another less than a year from teenagehood! The girl already sees and experiences the drama; you’re my friend but now not, I’m too good for you, I only talk to older girls now, yada yada yada crap. If we’re hanging out and my son is ignoring your kid, let me know. As our children grow and explore functions, events without us, you might encounter them while with friends or perhaps teammates, I hope and pray that they remember to speak to you, our village. I’d appreciate knowing either way, it’s what generations of villagers did, looked out for others small and big. As friends, I’ll lend a hand, an ear, or friendly face to you and yours. If our kids had been friends but suddenly not, I might ask. When your daughter blows off my daughter, perhaps I’ll inquire. Hopefully you, my parental posse of support, would do the same. Parenting means a village scaffolding of sorts. I’ll get your back, if you’ll support mine.

I’m not talking helicoptering, I’m talking the village, our village. I remember growing up and being acutely aware that most places I went, someone was watching. Not as in the boogie man, but the “village”. My parents people, extensions of our family. Did I mess up sometimes? Yep. Did my parents occasionally get insider information? Yep. Once, when I was 16 and out driving who knows where with a friend, I was driving a bit fast and perhaps a bit reckless. They found out, I’m not sure from whom, but I have my suspicions. And you know what, it was good. My village, the one surrounding me as I traversed my teenage years, let me grow and stumble.

We, my husband and I, are village people. We’re in it with you and we’d like you to be along for the journey. Happily we’ll be a part of your village too. Let’s together support each other’s offspring as they stumble and soar and wind their way. Villagers, friends, let’s be in it together.

family, parenting

Follow the Yellow Brick..,er Your Own Road

Dang this parenting gig is hard. Emotionally draining for kids and parents.

As parents we want to nurture and protect while also assuring independence and assertiveness are taught. Hovering and rolling out red carpet is not our style. Both kids and parents can expect some bumps, heartaches, and lessons learned when trying to “successfully” get kids to 18.

Successfully, that’s the key word. We could easily layer all the foundational work for our kids to avoid such bumps, trials, and aches. But truthfully is that what’s best? Will he or she be successful if I hand pick this and ensure they get that (sports, teachers, connections, friends – you pick)?

It seems that in recent years more parents are living through their kids; injecting into child relationships, hand picking friendships, teams, classes, etc. can our kids still fail? Yes. Will kids still make poor choices sometimes? Yep. Can I line kid A’s childhood with yellow bricks hoping that he makes it to the wizard successfully? Yes, but even Dorothy stumbled along the way and strayed from that mighty golden path. Hopefully like Auntie Em taught her, our children will follow Dorothy’s path. Brush things off, regain strength, and continue on to our destination.

Teaching children to have strength when left out, confidence when being overlooked, kindness when frustration settles in, and to love when you just don’t understand why something is the way that it is, that is the true yellow brick road.

Sometimes I long to make things easier for the three Z offspring. If I invite kid X over, will my kid suddenly be “in” that group? No. If only I was friends with that set of parents, then maybe my kid would be invited over. Nope. Oh that girl no longer wants to be friends after several years of friendship and now only wants to hang with the older crowd…should I smooth things over and force a relationship for my child? No. My kid didn’t make the cut and now his friend will not even say hi or play with him. It hurts, all of it, but we build them up and hope that they stay steady.

In the red rover of life, they may not be picked first or second, or even in the middle, but they will know how to hold steadfast and continue on their own path, even if clotheslined along the way.

family, parenting

It’s Hard

Marriage is hard. There I said it.

Forget the movies of all happy moments, cheery smiles, and love music. Sure there are bits of that, most would agree. But there are also times of no talking, uncertainty, hurt feelings, and distrust. Why?

Because, marriage is a continuous learning curve! If it’s not, hmm, seems boring.

Sure, we might argue over who loaded the dishwasher wrong. Or why one didn’t follow me the loosely knit, not written in stone, parenting agreement. Or perhaps, why did you do that? I cannot believe you said this.

If we didn’t have these moments, how would we continue to go as a couple? How could we learn more deeply about each other? How would I discover more reasons why I love him?

Is it hard? Hell yeah! Is it stressful? Of course! Then why?!?!

Simply put, because without this marriage and hurdles, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am today. Those rough patches, the stress, the tears, are what bring us closer and help us dig deeper. Together.

Remember that the next time you see someone on social media talking about Mr Fabulous or amazing Mrs Perfect or kissy kissy face blah blah blah.

That’s not reality, that’s a false faced love bug. Don’t get envious, don’t follow. Stay your course. Because real love is the arguing over who left the van windows open when rain was forecast, wondering why you let the kids eat stew for breakfast, or whose fault it was that one missed an appointment. And if you throw kids into the mix. A new set of marriage pressures, responsibilities, and a new kind of love to share.

It’s how you get through these moments, that’s where the love is. The real heart of marriage.

Dig your heels in and hold on, that is marriage.

parenting, Uncategorized

An Almost Missed Moment

Driving to the youngest’s field trip to the zoo, I envisioned a day spent with his friends and a time for me to connect with other parents. Upon getting off the bus, my son shared his plans; a solo day, a day alone, no friends, no moms. I longfully glanced over at the moms and dads and kids venturing off together, envious of their shared time together.

But then something magical happened. My son wrapped me his arms around me and announced that I smelled good. Afterwards he stared up at me, then announced it was the best mama date ever. And we hadn’t even looked at any animals yet!

What happened next sealed the deal. He grabbed my hand. Yep in public. With classmates around.

We ventured off on our own path, own adventure, occasionally seeing friends, but it was his time. His agenda.

Our plan was to have an early dinner afterwards. When I heard of others heading to a nearby Mexican restaurant, I attempted to tag along. He asked to think about it. Later he said no, I want hibachi, sushi, and only you.

What did we do? We ended our time with a hibachi table and chef to ourselves, many laughs, and lots of moments that would have been missed if I didn’t stop and listen.

family, parenting

Slowing Life Down

Pick up. Drop off. Dinner. Homework. Bedtime routine.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Leaving parents to crash into the engulfing couch for an hour or two of meaningless tube time.

Over Christmas break, we found ourselves relaxed, hunched over the dining table perplexed with an old past time, a puzzle.  Now after seeing each little one nestled in for dreamy visions, we pounce at the chance to twist and turn pieces until alignment is made.  Life has slowed and calm hearts are seeping back in.  The mister now steals away moments to gaze at the puzzle, hoping for a piece to float into place.    I love seeing his contentment and hear the calm in his spirit.  #slowinglifedown

education, family, parenting

I’m Okay with Average

Recently I had someone tell me that my child was not the “best” _________.  This was not a news flash as I don’t expect my children to be the best.  No feelings were hurt.  Best is a word that I try to tip toe around.

What I expect is that our children never give up, that they follow through on whatever task, sport, or group that they commit to.  He or she should be the best him or her; an individual best, not an overall best.  If our children excel at striving for personal perfection while rarely seeing #1 ranking, I’m okay with that.  If he goes through life pushing his skills beyond individualized best, but falls in the middle of the pack, I’m okay with that.  If our middle E, wins some games and loses some opportunities, yet gains insight on learning life lessons on loss, I’m okay with that.

Yes, I am okay with average.  No I am not accepting mediocrity, instead I  am challenging our children to continue to strive.  Being the best at a task means he or she has solidly beat out all others in that select task.  Is that possible?  Yes.  Will it happen for our children? Perhaps.  Most likely and existing in reality is the fact that our children may spend their lifetime striving for that elite status.  Falling flat may and will happen.  They could be destined for middle of the pack and again, that’s okay.

I am not celebrating the ordinary or the unexceptional.  Rather I am teaching and embracing the road to extraordinary if that’s where life heads.

I’m average; build, hearing loss, mother, teacher, friend. It’s okay, really it is. This garden variety, mainstream life is what drives me to try new things, push personal limits, and aim high. My best has not been achieved, I’ll keep striving for the allusive best. It’s there somewhere.


education, family, hearing impairment, parenting, special education

Me – a quick write

Recently my seniors were tasked with writing about who and what influenced them to be who they are today. To model this 10 minute quick write, I also wrote and then shared out my draft. It is not perfect and is still a work in progress, but that’s me and why I’m sharing my draft. My hope is that I can show students that the writing process is as much about the words as it is about the interactions and conversations that come from opening our words to others.

I’m from blue collar parents who worked for every dime and saved each nickle.
I’m from a large family of older brothers who were my protectors and not much of friends,
until now.
I’m from a small town, my roots go deep and my branches wide.
I’m from an illness that nearly took me, but instead gave me a gift.
I’m from a life lived in a hearing world where I was often left behind.
I’m from experiences; of hope, love, and learning.
I’m from a place where I get to share and develop young minds, molding the next generation.

I’m from a loving relationship that inspired me to find one of my own.
I’m in a caring marriage of laughter and support.
I’m from years of infertility that grew the desire for parenthood and a family of my own.
I’m from a home of pitter pattering feet, silly sons, and a caring daughter.
I’m from love.

Where I’ll go is unknown.  Where I’ve been is everything, it is me.

family, parenting, Uncategorized

What is a friend?

Do you know the value in a close friend? One there through life’s ups and downs, heart aches and triumphs, and sets a side ones life and time to care for another. That’s my definition, I watched it define itself.

Over the last few years it has been honor to watch such an amazing friendship, one that someday I hope to find. My mom and my “Aunt” June had this incredible, inspiring friendship. I cannot recall the history of their friendship or even when I started calling her Aunt, in the end it does not matter. She was always a part of my growing up years, the title fit.

Aunt June fought multiple cancers in her life time, a Muhammad Ali of sorts. The last few years as age and health compacted with the cancer, my mom’s friendship evolved. Caretaker, nightly “life alert” caller”, chauffeur…most importantly true friend. Countless trips to doctors, treatments, chemotherapy. In any weather, distress, or time. Her calendar reflected two lives, hers and Aunt June’s. During these times, almost nightly phone calls. It didn’t matter that just a few short hours ago they were sitting at radiation or chemo together, mom called to check in and they talked. And talked. If I called in the evening and the line rang endlessly, I knew the two were catching up. Mere hours since their last conversation and still they shared.

What my mom did the last few years is amazing. Her friend needed her beyond trips to the mall or the latest movie. She needed time; precious, endless time. Perhaps and ideally, my mom did too. Their friendship is an inspirational mix of gratitude and unselfishness. Laughter and tears. Heartache and joy. And deep love.

This time, their time together, has come to an end.

Their testament of devotion carries on in each who watched these two giggle through the good days and support through the tough days. Someday, should life grant me such an honorable friend, I’ll never let go, never give up. I know how to, because I watched the true definition of friendship grow and write itself.

family, parenting

That Scary Moment

Parenting is an abundance of moments that take your breath away. Cry. Scream. Jump for joy. But some moments just slam your chest so hard, you gasp for a breath. Struggle and gasp again.

Monday was my moment to feel my heart sputter and ache that it still brings tears to my eyes.

Our 8 year old was at a program sponsored by a neighborhood school. When the program ended, he waited. And waited. Not knowing if I was coming, being the last one, and to see if someone was waiting outside, he left the safety of the school. Once outside, he was locked out. No one answered his knocks. His next decision, against his normal worry mindset, led him to walk home. With darkness settling in, 18 degree air, and without the experience of ever taking this 1 mile trek, he set off.

Driving to the school to pick him up and still 1/2 way to go, my headlights found a terrified, cold, familiar face walking in the road. With the sidewalks still not cleared, he ventured to road. What I cannot erase from my retinas, his frightened, tear stained face. He didn’t know what happened to us. Were we coming? Did we forget him? Once inside the warmth and safely in the van, he shut down and just wanted to go home to the security of his bed.

After many hugs, reassurance, and heart to hearts, his face and body relaxed, a bit. How did this happen?? It turns out we were given the incorrect end time, instead given the previous years time. With no one around, unable to return into the building, he searched deep and found his brave, big boy pants. And walked.

My anxiety is the what if…. He passed a poorly lit parking lot, across from a large equally dark cemetery, dressed in dark colored clothing, and in the road. This mommy mind filled with the unmentionables. The headlines. But none of them happened. I know someone was watching over him. Someone calmed his fears and led him towards home. I am thankful.

After a family meeting about safety, emergencies, and lots of cuddles, I swept him in my arms and said, “you are so brave”. Inside I said, thank you.

My M is stronger than I.