Monday Mantra #34

It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too.

As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.

I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.  

-Joyce Maynard

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image via Calvin, age 5

Something to Love

At a recent birthday party, my husband and I crossed paths with another mom and dad of three boys. And when I say crossed paths, I mean, literally, crossed paths as we darted around them chasing after our hooligans.

While our boys were wobbling aimlessly, digging through drawers and pulling down every single expensive decorative item within eyesight and arms’ length, we struck up a “we have three boys too” conversation with this couple.

They were about twelve parenting years ahead of us (in real years, that’s eighty-four) and their boys, of course, weren’t within miles of that party. They were off doing teenage boy things with other teenage boys and would return home, as teenage boys must, at some point before curfew.

This patient couple stood while we made figure eights around them, and the four of us exchanged words of admiration: “Wow, it must be nice to be able to go to a party with your kids!” (them) and “Wow, it must be nice to be able to go to a party without your kids!” (us) and glances of nostalgia (them) and longing (us).

When the twins stumbled, again, literally, upon a random box of jellybeans, we knew their discovery bought us a few minutes to exchange complete sentences without interruption.

The mom told us about her boys. Her eldest was headed to college in San Francisco next month. Her youngest just returned from a fun vacation in Mexico. But the good stuff came when we asked about her other (middle) son.

She told us that he was a skateboarder and, in fact, the reason why he wasn’t at this party was because he was out skateboarding with some friends. I was almost ready to dismiss it and go back to San Francisco, but this mom continued on, telling us all about the skateboarding—where he likes to go, when he likes to go, how much he loves it, etc. She described his favorite parks with such detail that it was almost as if he was standing right there telling us himself. But what was even more remarkable than what she said was how she said it. She was all smiles, bursting with pride, enthusiastically describing her son’s skateboarding passion.

For someone watching us across the room, she could have been describing her son: the gold medal Olympian or her son: the Academy Award nominated actor or her son: the Nobel Peace Prize winning scientist. That’s how brightly she beamed.

It was impressive.

Here her son had found something he truly loved. And because he loved it, she loved it, too. Because he was passionate about it, she was passionate about it, too. Because he found it so interesting, she found it interesting, too.

It didn’t really matter that it was skateboarding; it could have been anything. She was proud and excited to tell us about it because her son had found something he was proud of and excited to do.

It was a good lesson for me. She taught me how important it is that a child finds his or her something. And how lucky we, as parents, are when that happens and how obligated we are to encourage and foster that passion, whatever it is.

That is my hope for my boys. I hope they find their something. Whatever it is.

Be it a sport or dance or music or art or chess, it doesn’t matter to me. It just has to be something.

And when they find it, I promise I will stand on the sidelines, or in the audience, or in the background, and I will cheer. I will encourage. I will be proud of their something.

Whatever it is, I hope my kids find something to love with their whole hearts.

And because I love them with mine, I promise I will love it, too.

Just as long as they wear helmets.

KID

Monday Mantra #33

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Rocket Man

My son is a builder. He loves forts, he loves Legos, he loves construction sites and he loves the game Jenga.

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The other day he built this rocket in our kitchen. He carefully hauled in items from other rooms and assembled them into this missile. Although at first glance it may appear to be just a pile of blankets and balls, upon further review true artistry is revealed.

Two words: paper towel.

Genius!

He worked on this masterpiece with the kind of precision, patience and thoughtfulness sure to impress both his Mom and Michelangelo. Every article was delicately placed, considered and confirmed with angst and a furrowed brow. And the working conditions were less than ideal with distractions including a meandering pug and some bulldozer twins.

Not only did my little rocket scientist construct this impressive warhead but he also overcame the important hurdle of “How to Protect the Rocket from The Brothers.” He wisely included a semicircle of chairs to prevent entry and the hope that entry would not be attempted on the unprotected side (unprotected due to (a) a lack of chairs and (b) a lack of faith in The Brothers’ aptitudes).

Genius!

He was so proud.

And I was so proud to see him so proud and to see him delight in his own imagination and dedication to seeing something to completion.

It was a really sweet moment in which all of those wonderful characteristics that one yearns to see in a child—creativity, independence, diligence, pride, spirit—all converge together in one invaluable memory.

It was a really sweet moment in which I had a tiny window to his future and a little assurance that he’ll carry those same tools with him for the more important building opportunities down the road.

What a gift.

Genius.

KID

Monday Mantra #32

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

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image via Patrick Hajzler

Monday Mantra #31

A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.
 -James N. Watkins

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image via Dave Dyet

Because You Gotta Have Faith

On a recent morning, I was engaged in my usual mom rigmarole involving a series of kid-centric activities. I piled my boys into and out of the car on an hourly basis (swim team practice, day camp, park, et cetera and blah blah blah).

In the span of about 3 hours, I covered much ground and variable terrain, including cement, asphalt, grass, tree, tree house, rock piles, park wood chips and water (ankle deep in a plastic pool, but water nevertheless). While the kids explored at warp speed, I gracefully followed close behind in heeled flip-flops.

I was feeling pretty accomplished and proud until I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. I noticed that one of my diamond earrings was missing.

Cue the pit in the stomach.

Those earrings hold a great deal of sentimental value. They represent a composite of a big anniversary, a big birthday, and a very big two-for-one birth.

I was really, really sad.

Especially when I recounted my morning and all of the places the earring could have dropped. The only thing that would have made this haystack a little bigger would have been a stop by the beach.

I called a friend who was still up at the pool and asked her to let the lifeguards know just in case anyone happened to find it.

As I hung up the phone, I knew the likelihood of it turning up was slim. And because I wear these earrings almost every single day, I had to admit that the chances of this happening weren’t outside the realm of reason.

But I told myself to hang on and keep my eyes open. And maybe, just maybe, it would turn up. I repeated this mantra as I searched the nooks and crannies of my car and walked back and forth in my backyard.

A few minutes later, my friend called me back and told me that someone had found the earring and turned it in.

A nine-year-old girl found it stuck in the grout on the pool deck. A nine-year-old girl had the appreciation and compassion to realize someone might miss it.

A nine-year-old girl whose name is Faith.

Maybe it was all of those times I paid it forward in the Starbucks drive-though line that earned me some good karma.

Maybe it was a lesson in being patient.

Maybe it was a reminder of those important markers in my life and, more importantly, that I will always have those memories even if I lose the reminders.

Maybe it helped me realize I need to take good care of my valuables. And even better care of my invaluables.

Maybe it was just crazy good luck.

Or maybe it was just a little Faith.

Turns out a little Faith can go an awfully long way. And a little Faith can make an awfully big difference.

This week I’ve had to call on Faith to navigate the toughest of all terrains. But Faith came through once again, answered our prayers and gave a much needed break to someone I love.

Life has a spectacular knack of surprising us in the most extraordinary ways, sometimes when we least expect it and sometimes just when we need it most. Miracles really do abound. Every day. Some that matter and some that matter a thousand times more.

There’s always a chance that good news might come right at the moment when you’re ready to accept the bad news. You never know when things might turn around, and you never know what you might find when you’re stuck in a rut. Or in the grout.

Sometimes we just need a little Faith to remind us that all is never, ever lost.

KID

Monday Mantra #30

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow.” -Mary Anne Radmacher

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image via Gavin Fordham

Monday Mantra #29

Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one. -Glennon Melton

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image via Kuba Rola

Monday Mantra #28

Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.

If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.  -Catherine Wallace

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image via Suada Isaki