parenting

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

Thoughtful Thursday

 Have you ever considered the way your children view your commitment to your community? I do now more than ever. Let’s be honest, kids can be very egocentric developmentally. This isn’t a product of poor parenting or being spoiled. It’s life. 
I’m feeling a bigger sense of responsibility the more involved I become in community service projects. I’m not sure if it’s coming from volunteering just being in my life all of the time or my true self awareness to the world around me. Would the feeling go away if I stopped leading projects to better our community? The truth is that I don’t know. 

A Letter to Myself: July Sucks

I know July will be a mixture of feelings you don’t quite understand. You may feel like you should be prepared. After all, you have 11 months to prepare and it’s been happening for the last 6 years. 

When his dad arrives to pick him up, you’ll be engulfed with a feeling of panic. That lump in your throat and pit in your stomach you seldom feel, it’ll be larger than life. 

You will feel sad. Hurt. Maybe angry at times. You’ll walk around his room just looking for tiny messes to pick up. The granola bar wrapper you find under his bed won’t upset you this time. You’ll wish he were around to exclaim, “Don’t pull the cats tail!” or “Go back and actually brush your teeth this time.”

You’ll have all the time in the world to sleep. That’s something you often dream of! Yet, it’ll be a struggle to shut your mind off because you’re wondering if he’s okay. Is he safe? Is he feeling loved? Where is he? Does he need you? Does he miss you? Save yourself the sleepless nights and know he loves you, he misses you, he’s having fun yet he needs you. Forever.

You may feel a little more free than usual. It will be fleeting, but you are allowed to feel that way. Don’t feel guilty. Isn’t it you that has always described being a parent as, “The hardest job you will ever love.” This also sounds familiar, “You never know what it means to say you’d literally die for someone until you’re a parent.” You deserve the break. After all, there’s only one of you and he is coming back. 

You know there are pros to this time of the year. He gets to spend uninterrupted time with his dad and your son deserves that. All children deserve to feel that their daddy sports a red cape just like their favorite superhero. You’ve done all you can to preserve that image for as long as he will believe it. You will have hit that reset button you reference. You’ll be the best version of yourself when you see him again and you both deserve that. 

Enjoy July. It’s not sad. It’s a time for both of you to renew the love of your everyday simple life together. 

Thoughtful Thursday

Summer is here and I love it! More than anything I enjoy being more relaxed in the evenings with my son. I’m not stressed out with the hustle from work to pick him up only to rush home to realize I have nothing to cook for dinner. On a school night, this is when I realize we’re now an hour behind schedule if we expect to get homework done, play, shower, prepare for tomorrow and read a book all before waking up to do the same thing all over again.

Our evenings during the summer leave me feeling much more like the mom I dream of being. A mom who always lives in the moment. A mom who seems to exude joy while picking the few weeds in her immaculate yard and waving lovingly to each passerby.

I seem to hear his giggles more clearly and the hugs are a bit sweeter. There are games on the patio, hanging out with neighbors, swimming, biking, ice cream and staying up too late. Summer is filled with all of the moments we hope our children will replay in their minds as they remember their childhood.

I’m guilty of filling my plate too full more often than I’d probably like to admit. And I’m certain I’ve missed an extra hug here and there with my son. However, others in our lives that are incredibly important need us to slow down for them too. It may be a friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker who is stressed out from the daily happenings that can wear us down. You never know when slowing down for someone and simply asking how they are could really change the momentum in their life.

XO
Don’t forget to submit your warm thoughts and questions to info@adventureswithalley.com to be featured on Thoughtful Thursday!

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.

Did you hear about the HEARD?!

My son and I had a roaring good time this weekend! We’re talking fort building, pizza party, mountains of legos kind of time. One of the highlights was THE HEARD MUSEUM, located in McKinney. 

I haven’t heard many people mention it so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ll admit, I usually gasp at the thought of going north of 635. So the questions is… Is it worth it?  Here’s my take on it…

  • Cost:   Very reasonable Adults: $10, Seniors 60+ & Children 3-12: $7, Heard Museum Member & Children 2 and Under: FREE
  • Parking: #Winning. Parking is limited. However, this was not an issue and I magically found a front row spot. It didn’t seem like a packed place. And I didn’t see any jerks inventing parking spots. 
  • Staff: Very nice! A young girl provided tickets and pointed us in the right direction.
  • Play area: Humble & Historic. As you begin and end the trail outside, there is a small play area, Pioneer Village. This is primarily 50 million pounds of wood mulch with numerous wooden old houses. 
  • The Main Event: Dinosaur Live!            My son LOVED this! The first Dino on the trail was a life sized T-Rex that actually startled him. It moves in ways that makes it pretty entertaining for anyone. The small details, like the eyes scanning visitors, make it so much fun!                   

          My son enjoyed the ease of the map and it made him feel like he was really leading us to the next big find. Each dinosaur moved, made realistic noises, and one even spit! There’s even a spot for a photo op with a Triceratops. 

         We made it through the main event in about 30 minutes. It’s a casual, not congested stroll through the trail. 

  • Animals of the World Exhibit:              This was unexpected! Just off from the front desk, is a great exhibit! I think I may have enjoyed this more! They have lemurs, an iguana missing a claw, owls, Texas sized snakes, and giant shells collected by Miss Heard herself! 

My favorite find had to be the Mosasaurs! This giant sea reptile was excavated in 2008 from Duck Creek in Garland. It is sure to impress anyone AND IT’S LOCAL!

In all, the price is fair and the kids will love it. As a parent, the highlight was just getting outdoors and feeling like we checked out of city life for a minute. There’s something about being on a trail outdoors and experiencing life through your child’s eyes that is magical. 

Check ’em out!

http://www.heardmuseum.org/

Normal Is a Setting On Your Washer.

Life is tough sometimes, y’all. 

Other times…I can’t even handle the indescribable beauty I’m graced with. What is difficult for me, could be easy for you. Having grace for one when they fall short is showing what you are capable of. 

At the end of each day a political race doesn’t matter. Your really shitty work day doesn’t matter. That jerk who cut you off in traffic….that also doesn’t matter. 

Comparing ourselves to the next family or the mom in the carpool lane who just seems to freaking have it all…. stop. I can assure you, it’s hurting you more than you think. 

Can you think about a time you thought you had it all? Perhaps it’s a wedding proposal, a pregnancy, a graduation, a career move. Whatever it is, I can imagine you felt thankful. Beautiful. Happy. Optimistic. Anything positive. 

Fast forward a few years. Do you still feel the same passion? I don’t mean “Oh yeah, I’m lucky… I know.” I mean real passion. 

When you thought you had it all, your passion became your normal. That is incredible. 

What humbles me the most is remembering that normal is a cycle on your washing machine. Life is a cycle. It can be delicate, heavy, normal. No matter what cycle you run it on, it must be handled with care. If we’re being real, life will give you the light load and the dark load. It’s even going to yield that ridiculous load you wash and then dry 3 times only to want to just start it over again in the washer 5 days later. 

And that is normal. Learn to love your normal. 

I’ll Accept That You Think I’m a Princess.

My son keeps cutting out Princess Leia tattoos and laying them on the bathroom counter for me to find. It’s day three. The first one I was so excited about I immediately applied it. 

That’s so cool and a GIANT ego boost. 

I don’t know how much longer he will think I’m this awesome. Today when we rushed out the door and I hurried him off to school, he still managed to steal my heart.

We did our normal exchange of hugs and kisses and “Please be on a good color. Be respectful, okay?!” As I walked away I heard “Mommmmy!” I turned around to find him racing to me. Typically this would be a “Crap. I forgot FILL IN THE BLANK.”

It wasn’t. I got it right today. He was running to me for one last hug. One last kiss. One last smile. He said, “Our hug wasn’t tight enough!” I looked him in the eyes and told him how right he was. How he has the most special hugs I’ve ever felt. And how I knew he would have the best day ever. It was such a moment that a dad even stopped me to tell me how sweet it was. 

Our days are busy. Sometimes they just don’t go right. I’m learning how a “good day” is more about your perspective. I enjoy my job. I think we are doing amazing things for a lot of people. I’m proud to be a part of it everyday. No matter what, if I’m having a bad day at work and I think about that little boy…. work always fades.

When I play back that first grade boy with glasses, obsessively combed hair and a love of all clothing with a collar…. nothing else matters but that moment. Living life with him is always a good day. 

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.