parenting

A Quest for Peace

2018 is here but I’ll be writing 2017 until June as per the usual. If you stumbled upon my blog in 2017, you know it was a hell of a year for me. Most of it I was in the dreaded “fake it till you make it phase.” I made it. Sometimes barely but I’m here and standing.
There are good people that unfortunately got the worst of me. I owe apologies to some of you. I think life has finally leveled out for me. I was blessed enough to wrap up the year with a life changing trip to Africa over Thanksgiving. And boy, did it ever change my life. But now what?
I want peace. 
But what does that mean exactly? It likely has a different definition for each of us. Having peace from struggles and bondage we manage to walk through life with will be different. We’re all human. We all fail. I think failing forward is something to celebrate though.
Why do I want peace?
I came out of the womb struggling. Literally. The cord was wrapped around my neck. I’m stubborn so I managed to wedge my foot in between the cord and my neck. That likely saved my life. That same perseverance has saved my life both physically and emotionally time and time again.
I want peace so badly because I finally felt it in Africa. I’ve never felt it so powerful and obvious. I vividly remember a moment where I stood at the top of a hill at a school. With my back turned to instruments being played, singing and laughter, I took in the greenest rolling hills I’d ever seen.  I was finally alone. Tears filled my eyes because I was so overwhelmed with the feeling of peace. Excluding the absence of my son, I could have taken a one way ticket and stayed until my welcome was worn out.
Let me paint a more clear picture. This is day four of our journey. At this point I had spent days feeling guilty for where I was blessed enough to rest my head each night. I had a clean pillow and a mattress. I had windows. A lock on my door. And an actual toilet. I had just gifted a child I connected with a mosquito net. When she realized what was happening she gave me the most fierce hug I had ever felt.
How do I get that peace? Here. In America. In Dallas.
What I’m finding is in our busy lives here, it’s more about evaluating what is in our lives first. Personally, I can’t possibly add in something else to my life without removing some things. Ask yourself a few questions. Is this bringing me joy? Peace? How is it enriching my life? If you don’t have a valid response, opting out of it may not be a bad option. Let’s take social media as an example. (Ironic I know since I’m writing a blog that is shared via social media… stay with me though.) If you removed yourself from all social media, do you think you would be as connected to your current group of loved ones or friends? What percentage of the relationship is part of the “fakebook” world? I’m not dissing social media as much as it may seem.  It’s more of a personal inventory. Am I pouring my energy into what I should in my life? If I answer honestly, no. No I’m not.
What’s the plan?
My plan is simple. Delete my social media for one month. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. After one month I’ll write about what I’ve learned, what I miss about it, and how it’s affected my life mentally, physically and spiritually. I plan to spend more time taking care of myself. More time in prayer and reflecting on where I am. Sitting in silence and taking in life isn’t a bad thing. It’s often quite difficult to do for this small town girl in a big city. I’m always on the go as I juggle being a single mom, employee, friend, and my sometimes nonexistent love life. However, I think if I just slow down and take in what’s actually happening in my life, I’ll find more of what brings peace to the world around us that so many of us miss daily.

Dear Landon

Dear Landon,

This morning you woke up likely not any taller than when you fell asleep last night. This didn’t stop me from humoring you when you stood as tall as you could next to the wooden ruler that adorns the wall in the hallway. It did however cause me to pause and I thank you for that. I also thank you for the last eight years and for every single day ahead of us.

I love the tradition of writing you a letter every year for your birthday. They are stored neatly inside of your time capsule along with other “mom-like” mementos I’ve saved from that year of your life. We have certainly had a year to remember. We’ve had so many incredible moments and we’ve weathered a storm that you certainly have not deserved. From day one, I knew I was getting paid back for being such a strong willed child but how that trait has come to serve us both well.

I think many of us as parents think about the epic list of things we do for our children. And of course there are times I’m tired of picking up after you and simply don’t understand how jelly ended up on the bottom of your night stand. However, this time I’m in such awe of what you have done for me this year. You may be small but the heart and grace you possess is truly inspiring. Yes, you at just eight years old have inspired me countless times.

The major event that rocked us this year was when your stepdad left us. I’m finally at a point where I know it was for the best and you deserve so much more than what that situation offered you. I dreaded having to tell you our lives were being turned upside down. I expected you to cry and be hurt but what I wasn’t prepared for was what you said to me.  I think it’s important that I record how you reacted in that moment because it speaks to the heart you have and how caring of a soul you truly are. When I delivered the news, you looked stunned and your eyes filled with tears. You sat in front of me with your legs crossed and your head fell into your lap like you had just folded in half. I couldn’t hear your cries because you simply couldn’t get anything out. I held you apologizing for our situation. I reassured you that your feelings were okay. I rocked you and told you I loved you more than anything followed by another round of tear filled apologies. At that moment, you stiffened your upper lip and grabbed my hands. You looked me dead in my eyes and said, “Mommy, stop apologizing to me. You should not be sorry. You don’t want this. He broke his promise, you didn’t. You will find a good man.” And you hugged me. That’s all that it took for me to turn a corner and have the perspective we needed to find our bright spot again.

This years birthday letter is much different than in previous years. However, I don’t want to lose out on all the moments of you just being a silly seven year old boy. You say the cutest and silliest things. We love telling each other the jokes on the popsicle sticks. I love every night that you beg me to sing the sunshine song. I love waking up on the nights you’ve crawled into my bed just because you wanted to cuddle. I’m savoring every one of those moments because before too long, you won’t think I’m this cool. Just last night you stepped out of line and I jokingly said I’d “give you away or just sell you.” You laughed and asked how much I’d get for you. I responded by saying you were so special maybe a trillion dollars. In true Landon fashion, you said I should sell you for $2 because $2 bills are so rare as you smirked.

You often rush through your homework because you’re ready to play. You tend to your friends that fall and scrape their knee. You love everything Starwars. You love watching documentaries about marine life and dinosaurs. We love going to Goldrush Cafe on Skillman for our weekly breakfast date before school. You love finding details that I’m wrong about and calling me out. You love waking up early on Saturday morning and sneaking gummy packages into your room thinking I wont actually find those wrappers. You have little interest in organized sports but love swimming, math, and all things science related. You have a heart for Jesus that is so incredibly beautiful.

Landon,  I hope you always know how truly special you are. Not only to me but to everyone around you. Your laugh is contagious. Your witt is entertaining. And your spirit is 100% boy. I will always love sharing chicken nuggets with you and a fort is as good of a place to sleep as any.

Love,

“Your little mommy”

Thoughtful Thursday: 26 Days

It’s been 26 days.

photo226 days since I closed my front door and fell apart because I wouldn’t see the better part of myself for 30 days. I’ve almost made it. Only 3 more days to go! I’ll be back to complaining because he didn’t really brush his teeth and nagging him to put his dishes in the dishwasher. I can’t wait for him to ask me to read just one more story or have that stinky boy smell back in my house. I have a feeling it’ll smell a little sweeter.

As I reflect on what I’ve done with myself this month, I realize how busy I’ve purposely made myself. If you judge my life during the month of July solely by my social media you will be deceived. I know I used a lot of my free time for good. I volunteered, worked towards goals personally and professionally, had a lot of meetings, and spent more time with friends than I probably will the rest of the year combined. My social media profiles look like I’ve had the time of my life in July! Another reason why many people call it “Fakebook.”

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Don’t get me wrong, my friends are amazing. I’m so grateful! I have a lot of really amazing things happening in my life right now. But there hasn’t been a second go by that I didn’t know how long he’s been gone and how many days until he comes home.I’ve had to stay busier than ever to keep myself from being so sad that I bury my face in tacos and ice cream. (Not that there’s a single thing wrong with that!) I’ve had to keep his bedroom door shut. I waited until this past weekend to do all of his laundry. I wonder if I will ever get used to this?
If I hear one more parent tell me, “Oh that sounds amazing! How nice to have a break!” I will scream. You have no idea. It’s not amazing to not know if your child is okay. It’s awful. It’s pretty helpless and exhausting to go a month without a hug from your little. This isn’t a situation where they are off to camp for a week.
I can’t wait to get back to eating popsicles and building pillow forts. Perhaps the silver lining of my lonely July is that I have a reminder every year that I’m truly so fortunate to have a child as magical as mine.


Don’t forget to submit your thoughts to info@adventureswithalley.com 
to be featured on Thoughtful Thursday!
-XOXO

Thoughtful Thursday: Guest Blogger- Shelby Hill

Our guest blogger this week, Shelby Hill, shares a story that would make any parent proud. As parents we often lose sleep hoping our children grow to become adults with integrity and generous hearts. Shelby is one parent who can rest easy tonight. Her story is authentic and is an incredible example of the mother I know her to be.

“Working in Dallas has unknowingly hardened me to the many homeless people living on the streets. As usual, it took the love and kindness of a child to reopen my eyes. This time it was my very own child.

I’m the proud mom of two amazing children. My son, Brock, is 14 and sweet Katie is 10. Recently the three of us spent an extended weekend in San Antonio and Austin to support Brock in a baseball tournament. Although our time in San Antonio was short, was it ever so sweet! What free time we had was spent at The River Walk, dining, and The Alamo. Brock and Katie were itching to spend the money my parents had sent them to “buy anything they wanted!” 

Walking towards the Alamo there are carriage rides, ice cream trucks line the streets, and copious amounts of candy and games. Their eyes lit up. I encouraged them to hang on to their money and “don’t spend it all in one place!” Brock didn’t listen. 

As we approached the Alamo, Brock noticed a man who was dirty and his clothes looked like they hadn’t been washed for weeks. The three of us couldn’t help but notice him digging food out of a trash can. The kids whispered to me, “Is he homeless?” My confirmation provoked an even more concerned tone as they asked, “Mama, is he going to eat that food out of the trash can?” Again, the answer was yes. A couple of steps later Brock stopped me and said, “Mama, wait just a minute.” Before I could question him, his plan was in action. As soon as I realized what he was doing I told my daughter to come look at a monument to give Brock a moment. I was overcome with emotion and so proud of my son. I stood in front of The Alamo with tears streaming down my face. I pulled myself together enough to let him know how proud I was to be his mom! I asked him what he did, although I knew what I had witnessed. He said, “Nana gave me this money to do what I wanted with it. I wanted to give it to him. He looks like he needs it more than I do.” I gave him a hug and told him how proud I was.

I’m blessed that my children are kind, generous, loving and grateful. I will never forget the time my child reminded me that sometimes people just need a little help. ”

Want your thoughts to be featured on a future Thursday? Email your story to info@adventureswithalley.com

Dear Son, I am not your friend.

I don’t feel compelled to be my son’s friend. 

I have a desire to act lovingly towards him. Nurture. Protect. Guide. Provide him with tough life lessons. All of those lame parental terms. He’s literally the only person I’d actually lay in the street for. Does it make me lame? Boring? Maybe to some. #idontcare.

I recently filled out documents that had this question: “Describe how you define the role of a parent. Additionally, list your strengths and weaknesses.” How would you answer this? It was much more difficult than I thought it would be.

What a double edged sword!  Strengths and weaknesses?!? That list could vary depending on the status of how the morning went at drop off. Or what color my son was on that day. (The dreaded color coded behavior chart!!!!) Did I have to threaten to give away all of his toys to get him to tie his shoes? I can’t be the only one who has those types of mornings.

The truth is that I have strengths and weaknesses. Both as a parent and a person. Sometimes I’m a crappy friend who becomes very caught up in my own day to day life. Thankfully, I have very forgiving people in my world.

It took a long time to really absorb the question. My reflex was just to answer in genetic bullet point responses. But the question really got to me. I did make the list. I had more strengths written down than I thought I would. My biggest weakness is stress management. I have some stressors that I simply cannot control. I have to be committed to letting those go. At the end of the day, all it does is steal my joy. It robs my son and me of moments. I own that and it’s getting better everyday. Remember the bachelor season where that diva had the anthem, “Don’t let anyone steal your sparkle!” Her mama was right, guys! 

My biggest strength by far is acknowledging that I don’t know it all. I will never have this parenting thing down. I will never stop growing, evolving as a person, or know everything about the world. It doesn’t mean that I’m always chasing the next thing or that I’m unsatisfied. It doesn’t mean I don’t have confidence. It means I’m always growing. I feel that is the best thing I can show my son. My heart strings pull when I see that our shoes are almost the same size. But I don’t ever want him to stop growing.

What I’m reading: “Parenting the QBQ Way”

Staying in the moment isn’t always easy for me. Loving my son is. I often feel pulled in 10 different ways. This often leads me to feel I’m halfway good enough at anything. I feel an enormous sense of responsibility to equip myself as best I can for not only his betterment, but my own as well. 

This book… you need it. 

Not only for parenting. But for the relationships in all aspect of your life. The questions behind the questions is really an accurate title for this book. It’s far more than a “How can I stop my kid from being a jerk sometimes?!” or “Teach me how to not screw my kid up!” kind of book.  It encourages each of us to slow down and dig a little deeper. 

Our children learn from us. They hear us. They see the world through us. Especially when we don’t think they are tuned in. This book instills family values and the power of personal accountability. 

When we as parents hold ourselves to a higher standard and remain accountable first, our children directly benefit.

We won’t get it right many times. (And relax, it’s okay!) But how we handle ourselves in those moments may have a bigger impact on their development than the good times. Children are resilient and amazing little people. We should help them preserve that for as long as possible. I’m thinking we would all learn something really beautiful along the way.