Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the category “Parenting”

Almost doesn’t Count – College Edition

Gone to College.

It’s that time of year,  primary school starting, college students leaving and families grappling with big changes in the household.

We’ve got one son in the final semester of his senior year (graduating early, oh yes he is!) our middle boy leaving for his freshman year at PLNU and our third son entering his sophomore year of high school.

The third child, is the main reason for this post. I’ve already reminded you well meaning folk of what not to say to parents of college students in my post “Five Thing Not To say To College Parents.”

Turns out we’ve got more “don’t say its” regarding only having one child left at home. I thought we covered this in bullet number two in my 5 Things post. Go ahead and click the link above, I’ll wait.

Apparently now, people have taken it to the other extreme.

I cannot tell you the numbers of people that comment on how the empty nest is in sight. People encouraging us to” just hold on, the end is near!” Telling us we’ve “almost made it”, that we “only have one more to get behind us!” “So you’re not quite empty nesters, but pretty much!”

And sadly they say it in front of our son.

See here’s the thing, we have 3 1/2 more years to enjoy him while he’s under our roof.

Three-and-a-half.

I know of no scenario where 3 1/2 years is “almost”. Almost refers to situations of immediacy like “I’m almost over this cold, the chicken is almost done”, and the ever popular “I almost hit the target with the grenade.”

I guess we’re just different, but we are grateful for the gift of the next years to focus on our third child. Due to birth order, he’s been last to do everything. We certainly don’t plan to short change him now.

In the 5 things post I suggest if you don’t know what to say, that it might be best not say anything at all. I further suggest that you simply ask yourself what it would feel like if someone referred to you as “something to endure or get through” and then again, don’t say anything at all.

Go easy on us college parents, separation is one of the most challenging things we as humans endure.

 

How To Know if You’re A Bully

Photo Courtesy @iStockphoto

Photo Courtesy @iStockphoto

Bullying is a pervasive problem which I believe stems from abandonment issues. It’s defined in multiple ways and some countries have no legal definition of bullying while the US has state laws against it. Bullying is a form of abuse which covers a gamut of emotional, verbal and physical scenarios. It is abuse, harassment, mobbing,threats and assault. Bullying by any other name, stinks just as bad.

While the definition and recognition of what exactly bullying is, is growing rapidly, our culture houses bullies of all ages and stages, who do not not know that they are abusive. Even people who are viewed as good and upright are bullying their peers and family members. Instead of jumping to judge others, we would do well to look inward and make sure that we are not contributing to the bully culture.

The following may be extremely difficult to consider.

Eight ways you might be a bully:

1. When you don’t get your way, you intentionally make others feel uncomfortable.

2. You put people’s dreams on a leash and then parade them about and mock them in front of others.

3. You hold people’s past against them and threaten to expose your knowledge.

4. You threaten harm verbally and in your actions, even though you believe you will never act on your threats.

5. You subtly and constantly try to coerce others to do anything and everything you want.

6. You try to isolate others from social circles at church, work, school or any gathering place.

7. You indirectly bully your loved ones and others by refusing to speak to them.

8. You verbally abuse people in front of others even though you  follow with “I’m kidding,” or “I’m just sayin”.

Bullying includes name calling, verbal or written abuse (Cyber bullying), exclusion, physical abuse and coercion to name a few. We all fall down. But if after reading this you realize that you have a pattern of harming people by repeatedly doing one, some, or all of these, I encourage you to seek help. Learning about your behavior can lead to positive change and a healed soul who isn’t looking to others to fill a God-shaped hole.

Crying in My Cruffins

Photo courtesy @Istockphoto

I emotionally “hung in there” until he walked thru the door with two chocolate chip pumpkin cookies. If you know me at all, you know I’m crazy for everything pumpkin. This blog should be called Pumpkin Lover’s Anonymous. But then it wouldn’t be anonymous I guess. Anyway. . .

Yesterday was Keegan’s last day at work; as he left for his sophomore year of college today. His boss brought in food to celebrate a great summer and to wish him well at school. So he stole TWO cookies, just for me. What 19-year-old does that? Keegan, that’s who. I ate my cruffins (cross between a cookie and a muffin) and choked back a flood of tears.

It’s moments like these that literally bring me to my knees. All the thoughtful consideration, the respect and love symbolized in two little nuggets of pumpkiny goodness. I’m so thankful and grateful to God for all that Keegan is. And being honest, I really don’t want anything to change.

I’m reminded though, of the words of the great British theologian John Henry Newman.

“To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

I believe that Newman means “to have lived well” when he writes of being perfect in this sentence. As a recovering perfectionist, any chance to legally be perfect is one I’ll always attempt.

So in the spirit of a new school year, new dreams and the possibility of the ever elusive perfection, I’ll throw my arms around change.  Which brings us to our final quote from an unknown author.

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

 I wish you cruffins, butterflies and every blessing as you all begin again.

I’m My Own Trapper Keeper

Photo Courtesy @Google Images

I wanted the Trapper Keeper so bad. But even with three jobs, for three kids, my mom’s budget didn’t contain coin for a Trapper Keeper. I needed it because well, it was just so fresh. And the matching folders, those were totally awesome. I felt like such a Joanie without the blue rainbow Trapper Keeper. Of course everyone had one, but me.

The other reason I needed one is because Carry Murphey had one. The most popular girl in school who always had the best of everything. Finest boyfriend, greatest smile, silkiest hair, and like the best school supplies ever. Hello Kitty pencils, Bionic Woman book covers and her own subscription to Tiger Beat. It came right to her mailbox every month. That was major awesomeness, Major. Carry’s TK also seemed like a golden ticket. The girl never did any work,she just sat in class organizing the mother of all binders. My inner organizer called at a very young age as well. I just knew if I could arrange all my papers in color coded folders, I could avoid doing classwork too.

But it was not to be and I went all my formative years without one. Frankly, I’m not sure how I survived. Even when my parents got divorced, the Trapper Keeper was not a parting gift I could weasel out of my father. Believe me I tried. I ended up with a Pretty Changes Barbie though, and while there was nothing pretty about the changes in my life, it was somewhat of a consolation prize.

Then I grew up and had my own kids. Did the “my kids will have everything I didn’t” thing. When it came time for serious school supply shopping, I proudly led our 3rd grade son over to the Trapper Keeper section. Waving my hand across the shiny rows of TK’s, I encouraged him to pick whichever one he wanted. He simply stared. No stars in his eyes, no excitement, nothing.

“Our teacher said we’re not allowed to have those.”

What? I mentally shook my fist at the man. I mean what teacher in their right mind would shun the beautiful organization of the best notebook ever made? And then my son. Did he not want to be most popular? Most likely to succeed due to his organizational skills? Did he not want the silkiest hair ever?

“She didn’t mean it. Pick one out.” I did another large flourish with both hands this time. “You love yellow, get that one.”

“They said it takes us too long to get things out and they can’t stand the sound of 30 zippers zipping and unzipping all day.”

“What about the sound of 30 losers who can’t find their papers and are unable to get jobs someday?”

Now it was his turn to be incredulous. “What mommy?”

“Nothing,” I grumbled. I couldn’t believe it, my chance to live vicariously through my son was being slowly snuffed.

I turned to our 4 year old, hope brimming in my eyes once again. “What about you? You need a Trapper Keeper. Pick any one you want.” He just giggled and jammed his hand inside a bin of glue sticks, displacing several onto the floor.

We didn’t buy any TK’s that day or ever.

Admittedly our boys don’t have the silkiest hair, but they’ve got good heads on their shoulders. Maybe they’re not the most popular but they are surrounded by faithful friends and family. Organizational skills are on the rise and they’ve enjoyed many successes at early ages. And all without a Trapper Keeper.

And me? Well obviously I can be the Trapper Keeper of Bitterness. Through this writing however, I’ve realized that by the grace of God, we’re all going to be more than okay.

One year later I’m not sure I’m ready for him to go again.

Audra Krell

That’s my “I’ve got 85 more days with my boy and I’m wearing a foam finger” smile. That was May 24.

Today I more resemble the boy behind me, sort of a dumbfounded look saying “what’s going on here?” combined with Keegan’s look of “is this really happening?”

Alas, it really is happening. He’s leaving a week from today.

I’ve found, that breakdowns can really occur anywhere. I have no shame.

No one is immune. Even the pediatrician, as we are discussing one of my other sons, might be the unsuspecting victim of the ugly cry.

Even in church, as they honored Keegan in front of thousands of people on Sunday, I bawled. A friend thought of calling 911, as I was almost prone in the vicinity of pew 10. Woman down.

What about the customer service rep at Bed, Bath and Beyond when I lost one of my coupons…

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ICU

Our last day in the Centro Medico San Lucas hospital was the most difficult. We had few patients in post- op for hours and then the unit exploded. Suddenly there were several discharges, four new patients and an emergency trauma sitting in the waiting room. I’d heard about him all day. His injuries were extensive and he only spoke Mayan. Not a bit of Spanish.

The boy was 18, one year younger than our oldest son. He’d been in a horrible fight; someone hit him in the face repeatedly with a broken beer bottle. A local alley war changed the young man’s life forever. A split second decision left him with vision in only one eye and deep cuts which will certainly scar. He’s the victim of a drama with eternal consequences for all involved.

When he came to the PACU, his face bore the tracks of a hundred stitches. Some curved in the shape of a bottle, some random and jagged, the way angry glass carelessly claims it’s real estate. Surgical bandages covered his eye, his expression passive.

I expected terror and even rage, but the boy was somewhere deep inside himself, far away. My momma heart broke, for him and for everything that would be different now.

But it was his father who took my breath away. His father’s eyes that made me want to cry out in pain. His father spoke a little Spanish, but there aren’t enough words in the world, in any language, that I could speak to comfort him. As a parent, I grieved with him, worried over his internal heart injuries and wished I could literally infuse him with hope.

All I could do was use my eyes. We took gentle care of the boy and heaped grace and mercy on him in the form of blankets, water and pain meds. I smiled at his father at every turn, praying he could “hear” me.

I still pray he can hear me.

I see you brother. I’m standing with you. There is something much bigger than us here. God is with us and has plans for your son, plans to prosper and never fail him. Amen.

The Stranger in Your House

Finally a book that addresses the very issues I face with 3 teen boys. I highly recommend this book. My favorite quote is this: “Blame is something bestowed upon you by other people; responsibility is something you take upon yourself.” The author goes on to say that when you take something on, you have a better chance of improving, blame is a dead end. Oh that more parents would heed the charge. While it’s important we teach our teens the difference between blame and responsibility, it has to begin with the parents. We must understand that our actions have an equal and usually opposite reaction in our teenagers. When we react poorly, we make them solely responsible for their difficulties. Every relationship is two ways and we must take more responsibility as parents, so we can model and define what responsibility looks like for our children. If you want to make healthy changes in your family by the weekend, get this book ASAP.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

(When Your Teenager Becomes…) The Stranger in Your House

David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Gregg Jantz is the best-selling author of numerous books, including Hope, Help, and Healing for Eating Disorders. He is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, a leading healthcare facility near Seattle that specializes in whole-person care. Jantz has appeared on numerous shows, including CNN’s Headline News and the 700 Club. He has been interviewed for CNN.com, as well as the New York Post, the Associated Press, Family Circle, Women’s Day, Yahoo.com and MSNBC.com.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

He’s in his room for days at a time and barely responds when I talk to him. She’s teary every day, one minute demanding I tend to her needs and the next minute demanding I leave her alone. What’s going on with your teenager? Is it just the ups and downs of adolescence, or is it something more? In Dr. Gregg Jantz’s new book, The Stranger in Your House, parents will learn to distinguish between normal adolescent behavior and clinical depression.

Few things strike fear into the hearts of parents more than the approaching adolescence of their children. They have heard horror stories from family and friends about what it was like with their kids and dread the unknown. Will their happy-go-lucky child turn into some sort of a sullen monster? Will the childhood skirmishes of yesterday turn into open teenage warfare?

The roller coaster of adolescence is so prevalent, so stereotypical in some ways, that it has developed into a sort of cultural shorthand. Just say the words “teen angst” to a group of parents of adolescents and heads will nod. It’s a universal catch-phrase for anything from explosive anger to all-is-lost despair. Even kids who weather their teenage years with relative calm still undergo their seasons of adolescent squalls. With all of that swirling around in our heads, how can we know if our teen’s season of discontent is just that or something more?

Depression has the ability to derail a teenager’s progress toward healthy adulthood while confusing and frustrating parents. With years of experience, Dr. Jantz will answer the hard questions about the most critical season of your child’s life:

Is this “just a phase,” or is it clinical depression?
How do hormones affect my teen’s behavior—and what can I do about it?
How can I get help when I see the warning signs of suicidal thoughts?
Why does my teenager seem to need me some days and hate me other days?
How can I be a source of peace in my child’s life, especially when I feel stormy too?

The Stranger in Your House will help parents to push beyond the closed door that is adolescence and open the door to hope.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766225
ISBN-13: 978-1434766229

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Who Are You, and What Have You Done with My Child?

He’s in his room for what seems like days, emerging periodically and answering questions with sullen, monosyllabic responses.

She’s moody, teary, and irritable, one minute demanding you drop everything to tend to her needs and the next minute demanding you just leave her alone!
He’s not going out for tennis this year, even though he did well last year. When you ask him why, he can’t really give you an answer, other than he’s not interested anymore. As you think about it, there are a lot of

things he just doesn’t seem that interested in anymore. He seems to fill up his time somehow, but you’re not sure with what. When he was younger, his life was an open book; now, he’s closed the cover and locked you out.
She’s constantly negative—about everything. Nothing ever goes right; she never looks right; you never act right. She used to be a fairly happy kid, but now she’s just difficult to be around, which kind of works

out because you hardly ever see her anyway.

He complains about headaches and not feeling well. It’s hard to get him up in the morning to go to school. If he could sleep until noon every day, you think he would, and suspect he does when you need to leave early for work.
She’s rarely at the dinner table anymore. Instead, she says she’s already eaten, grabs a bag of chips and a soda, and goes to her room. When you ask her about it, she says she’s too busy to spend time with the family and prefers to work in her room, but you’re not exactly sure what she’s doing in there.

He used to spend hours chattering away about all sorts of things; you used to spend time together. Now, having a root canal seems higher on his priority list than spending any time with you.

As sure as she is that she’d really rather not spend time with the family anymore, that seems to be all she’s sure about. It takes her what seems like hours to get dressed in the morning, her chair piled high with discarded outfits. She doesn’t know what she wants to do or what she wants to eat, and getting her to sit down to do her homework is almost unbearable.
You know he’s got clean clothes because you do the laundry, but he seems to constantly wear the same clothes you could swear he went to bed in. His hair is never combed, and you’re worried about how often he’s doing things like brushing his teeth and wearing deodorant. He never seems to stand still long enough for you to really tell. Instead, you see more of his backside leaving than anything else about him.
You’re living on pins and needles, wanting to maintain family rules and responsibilities for the sake of the younger kids, but it’s sheer torture to get any sort of commitment from her to do her chores. She always

promises to do them later, but, somehow, that later never seems to happen. It’s often more tiring to keep asking her to do her chores, so you end up just doing them yourself.

Sunday mornings are even worse than weekday mornings. Getting him up and ready for church hardly seems worth it. He used to go willingly, but now there’s always a reason why not. Just getting him in the car is a thirty-minute argument.
All of this wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t get that sense in your gut that your teen is unhappy. It’s as if he or she walks around in a swirling cloud of discontent, frustration, and irritation. Sometimes it’s so thick you have trouble making out the person inside. It hurts because that person is still your child, no matter the age.
Rough Ride
Few things strike fear into the heart of parents more than the approaching adolescence of their children. They’ve heard horror stories from family and friends, and they dread the fear of the unknown and how

it’s going to go with their own kids. Will that happy-go-lucky child turn into some sort of a sullen monster? Will the childhood skirmishes of yesterday turn into open warfare? Will the days of having

their friends over all the time turn into years of going out to be with friends somewhere else?
Most of us can remember feeling awkward, unattractive, anxious, and overwhelmed as teenagers. We remember living under our own swirling cloud of discontent, especially with our parents and with our own bodies. Sometimes it seemed like we lived in a box, with all four sides pressing inward, squeezing us. Other times, we just wanted to explode out of that box. For several years, our lives were a roller coaster: It was a wild ride, terrifying and exhilarating. As parents, it’s not something we necessarily look forward to repeating with our own kids.

The roller coaster of adolescence is so prevalent, so stereotypical in some ways, it’s developed into a sort of cultural shorthand. Just say the words teen angst to a group of parents of adolescents, and heads will nod. It’s a universal catchphrase for anything from explosive anger to all-is-lost despair. Even kids who weather their teenage years with relative calm still undergo times of double loops with gut-wrenching climbs and terrifying falls because no one is totally immune to adolescence—or life, for that matter.
You knew this ride was coming. Most of you willingly got in line years ago, when you took that sweet, beautiful baby home from the hospital. It’s been years in the making, but now you’re once again in the midst of that tumultuous phase of life known as adolescence. But this time it’s not you in the driver’s seat; you’re along for the ride, but how high you climb and how far you fall are no longer merely

dependent upon you. Just when you thought you were supposed to be carefully “letting go,” your child’s behavior does nothing but make you want to hang on tighter—or sometimes it makes you seriously

consider letting go altogether from sheer exasperation. It was hard enough, frankly, to survive your own teenage years; how are you supposed to help your child survive his or hers?

It’s a weird time of life for a parent. You’re still responsible for your teenager physically, morally, and certainly financially; but your teen is taking on, trying on, and experimenting with more and more of his or her own responsibility. How far should that experimentation go? How far is far enough, and when it is too far?

But what if your teen is experiencing more than just the normal ups and downs of adolescence? How can you tell? More than likely, all you’ve got to go on is what you experienced yourself as a teen, but is that really the baseline you should use with your own teen? What if there are fewer and fewer ups and more and more downs? Is your teenager in a “phase,” or has that “phase” spiraled into something more serious? As a parent, you’re expected to know the difference—without any training and while you’re in the midst of the moment yourself. You’re supposed to be able to diagnose a teenager who makes it his or her life mission to give you as little personal information as possible. This doesn’t appear to be a recipe for success.

None of us want our kids to be miserable as they’re transitioning from child to adult. And none of us, frankly, want to be miserable ourselves, weathering an incessant barrage of teenage moods and behaviors. Navigating this time of life can be complicated, and it’s perfectly reasonable to reach out for some answers and some help. That’s what this book is designed to do. It’s written to provide you with information so you can better understand
• what your teenager’s behavior means;

• when to relax and ride the wave of a teenage phase without pushing the panic button yourself;
• how teenagers get off track and how to help them get back on the right track;
• how to know if behavior reflects “just being a teen” or if it’s something more serious like clinical

depression;
• what behaviors you can work with and which ones you can’t;

• how to help your teen understand the Goddesigned future and promise waiting at his or her cusp of adulthood;

• when it’s time to get your teen professional help and how to choose the option best for your family

and situation.
As a professional counselor for well over twenty-five years, I’ve devoted a good portion of my practice to working with teenagers. I’ve found them to be amazingly forthright and courageous, while at the same time vulnerable and confused. Often, they are doing what seems best to them to address their situation. Unfortunately, they often turn to risky and destructive behaviors as coping strategies through this turbulent time. When these coping behaviors end up taking on an ugly life of their own, the roller-coaster ride turns very dangerous. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Teenagers are on the cusp of their future. They’re still grounded in childhood but can easily see adulthood just off in the distance. They’re chomping at the bit to grow up and dragging their feet at the same time. Teenagers are on a mission toward that adulthood in the distance; they just need help navigating the path. You can’t take the steps for them, but you can help make the way clearer. It’s important to their development that they navigate this journey well and on their own, supported by you.
Detours at this age have long-range consequences. Closing the bedroom door—either as the teen or as the parent—on the problem isn’t going to make it go away. As a parent, you need to be ready to assist, even if your teen insists he or she absolutely does not want your help. This isn’t meddling; it’s parenting.

Because teenagers see themselves differently and consequently see parents differently, your commitment to your teen’s future is more complicated. When he stubbed his toe on the sidewalk curb at four and a half, a kiss, a hug, and a cartoon Band-Aid did the trick. When he stubs his heart on his first romantic rejection, it’s a little more complicated. When she refused to like the outfit you picked out for her at five, you had others to choose from. When she refuses to like herself at thirteen, it’s a little more complicated.

When it became a contest of wills with him at eight, you could win and still get a hug at the end of the evening. When it’s a contest of wills at fifteen and there’s no way he’s prepared to give in to you at

all, it’s a little more complicated. When she was ten and you wanted to spend time together, there was nothing she wanted to do more. When she’s sixteen and you want to spend time together and she just

looks at you with shocked disbelief and adopts a when-hell-freezesover expression, it’s a little more complicated.

Each phase of life has its own challenges. Parenting has never been for the weak-stomached (especially during the early years), the fainthearted, or the halfway committed. It can be tempting to take a backseat when your kid hits the teen years, figuring you’ve done the bulk of your work and you can just coast into his or her adulthood on all your previous parenting momentum. You’re older, more tired, and your less-than-active participation in their lives pretty much seems what teenagers want anyway. It’s tempting, yes, but don’t give in. You’re still the parent; you’re still the adult, and you still have work to do. Even if it doesn’t seem that way, your teenager desperately longs to be connected to you. He or she needs (notice I didn’t say wants) your acceptance, acknowledgment, and approval. No matter how much they argue to the contrary, teenagers—including yours—do not have life figured out yet. They don’t need you to live their lives for them, but they do need your guidance and your support, even when that’s the furthest thing from their minds and hearts.
And when that roller coaster goes off track, teenagers need someone to notice and take immediate steps to get things on the right path. Partnering together with your teenager to successfully navigate adolescence is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It also has the outrageous potential to be the most rewarding.

Bringing It Home
When you think about your child becoming or being a teenager, what three words or phrases come mostly quickly to mind?

1.
2.
3.

For each one, identify a specific incident or event that gives this feeling such validity in your mind. Please keep in mind that this could be something from your own adolescence that you’re

projecting onto your teenager.

If the attitude of parents of teenagers could be culled down to a single word, it could be concerned. Do any of the three words you’ve written above fall into a concerned or fear category? If they do, what are you concerned or fearful about?

In order to help remind you that all of this work and effort is worth it, I’d like you to create a photomontage of the teen in question, using at least five photographs of your child, ranging from infancy to the present. How you create the montage and where you put it is up to you, as long as it’s easily accessible. Here are some ideas, or you can come up with your own: a framed collection on your nightstand, a rotating screen saver on your computer, downloads on your cell phone, or simply individual photos in your purse or wallet. How you access them isn’t as important as looking at them regularly. You need to remember and remind yourself that all of this is worth it and that you love your adolescent, even when his or her behavior seems specifically designed to call that love into serious question.

5 Things Not to Say to College Parents

This is from last year. Update: Our son is heading out in two days for his sophomore year of college. It simply doesn’t feel that much easier this year. So proud of him, but I don’t look forward to saying goodbye again.
The end of August brings the last lazy days of summer, a temperature drop and the bittersweet start of school. For college parents, it can be an especially trying time. Having just moved our oldest into the dorm at a University, I can say that the process couldn’t have gone any better and yet it was one of the worst days of my life.
I’m so happy for and proud of our son and yet I wake up every morning, with a hollow place in my gut. Something just isn’t right around the homestead. Somebody is missing.
Over the summer, strangers and other college parents were full of unsolicited advice. Kind of like a pregnancy, people touch your stomach if they want to and offer home grown advice at will. After talking with countless parents, I know exactly what I won’t be saying to parents whose children are going to college.
Five things not to say to college parents:
  • “You’ve done all you can.”  Right away the parental mind starts listing shortcomings and things you wish you had taught your child. It also implies the parenting process is over. Instead, verbally applaud the parent for all they’ve done to help prepare their child for higher learning and this next adventure in family life.
  • “At least you have more children at home.” This implies that the children are interchangeable and as long as you’ve got someone at home, you’ll be fine. Not true. Every family dynamic changes when a child leaves. Instead, inquire as to how the children at home are coping with the changes in their family.
  • “You shouldn’t be sad, you should be celebrating!” No one wants to be told how to feel or be reprimanded for feeling sad. After working through your grief, and it is a grieving process, you’ll be ready to celebrate the great things your child is doing. Expecting an all out family celebration to occur from day one can come across as inappropriate to the child who moved out. Instead, offer understanding that you’re certain they are proud of their child’s accomplishments but acknowledge that it must be sad as well.
  • “They are only 1, or 2 or 3 or (insert number) hours away.” Maybe this a little dramatic but it’s true; if your child moves next door, they still aren’t living with you and the dynamic in your home changes. This feels like a loss and can still require a grieving process. Location does not make everything okay. Instead, ask when the next visit with their child will be, encouraging the parent to look forward to that.
  • “You need to let them go.” Feeling sad doesn’t mean you aren’t letting them go. It means you simply love your child deeply and are sad that things are changing. Instead, acknowledge how are hard change can be.
As with any situation, if you don’t know what to say, it might be best not to say anything at all. Offer a smile of understanding and maybe a hug, just don’t rub the belly!
 
It’s important to note that my friends have been glorious and supportive and wonderful. They have held me up in prayer and cried and rejoiced with me. In short, they have been a rock and I don’t know what I would do without them. The above advice is predominantly from strangers. 

Bed, Bath & Beyond Breakdown

Photo Courtesy @Andrew Bender

That’s my “I’ve got 85 more days with my boy and I’m wearing a foam finger” smile. That was May 24.

Today I more resemble the boy behind me, sort of a dumbfounded look saying “what’s going on here?” combined with Keegan’s look of “is this really happening?”

Alas, it really is happening. He’s leaving a week from today.

I’ve found, that breakdowns can really occur anywhere. I have no shame.

No one is immune. Even the pediatrician, as we are discussing one of my other sons, might be the unsuspecting victim of the ugly cry.

Even in church, as they honored Keegan in front of thousands of people on Sunday, I bawled. A friend thought of calling 911, as I was almost prone in the vicinity of pew 10. Woman down.

What about the customer service rep at Bed, Bath and Beyond when I lost one of my coupons yesterday? Is that really something to get choked up about?

Because she was so gracious about the coupon though, I wanted to ask her, what exactly is the “beyond” your sign so eloquently speaks of?

What will happen to me next week as all the bed and bath supplies are purchased and hanging in his new home? How will I feel when one less place is set at dinner? Or the first time he calls and says “Mom, I’m sick.”  Or the Saturday morning I wake up and just want to have breakfast with him? Or at midnight when I wake up frantic because he hasn’t told me he’s home yet? Or the countless hugs and merciless teasing which will be absent from every day?

They should just call it Bed and Bath. Adding Beyond makes it sound exciting and I for one think it’s cruel. It implies there is something in that store to fill the hole in our home.

I searched the whole place yesterday, there isn’t a thing.

The Pitcher Whisperer

Baby keeg baseball
Today is Keegan's golden birthday. He said he doesn't feel any different, but I do! It's like a rite of passage or something….I. have. an. 18. year. old. I cannot get it through my head. If he's 18, how old does that make the rest of us? You can do the math, perhaps you'll be as shocked as I am.

This picture was taken when he was a few days old. Born 10 weeks premature, he weighs 3 lbs. 9 ou if you include the weight of the ball. 

One day while visiting the NICU, I distinctly heard him ask for a baseball. I called my husband and he brought his from when he was a child. Keegan's breathing slowed and became even. He was at peace.

Thanks to my ability to hear and interpret the chatter of a week old baseball player, Keeg grew up to be a 6'1 pitcher. We kicked that preemie stuff to the curb and never looked back.

He's also a darn fine person. We are blessed beyond reason by the man he has become.

Happy Birthday Googs! You'll always be our baby.

"Pitchers Like Poets Are Born Not Made" – Cy Young

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