My Public Confession and Declaration (about parenting)

I’m sitting here feeling (a little) sorry for myself. At least I’m woman enough to admit it. For that past seventeen years my life has been bereft of my mother and my dad, who tried beautifully to fill both shoes left me almost 5 months ago. So, yeah.

Then there’s the fact that motherhood represents the great cataclysmic change in my life that has brought out my absolute worst and but sometimes best sides. So, I decided I’d turn flip the script a bit. Instead of my kids giving me some schmaltzy accolades (which they did ‘cause they’re awesome), I’d write a public declarations and confessions post.

First, the confessions:

#1 I didn’t love being a mother at first. In fact, I think it took me a number of months to even like it. Thanks to post-partum depression that assailed me like a ton of bricks after each birth, I was in the doldrums while everyone told me I should be flying over the moon.

#2 I yelled too much. I dug in mentally, said I was going to win every argument and shouted to prove it. Ugly, harsh words that if I had the breaths of a lifetime, could not suck it all back in. Also, I still lost a lot of arguments.

#3 We actually thought spanking was the best way to discipline. How absurd! I am indelibly sorry for spanking you- ever. If we still had it, I would personally build the bon fire in which to burn that stupid “whacker” we used to administer corporal punishment.

#4 I diluted your juice waaayyy beyond when I should have  and I made you go to bed too early for too long (which I said was because of science proving kids need good sleep, but was really because I was just “done” by 8 pm).

#5 I was a mediocre teacher who fumbled around trying to pretend I knew what I was doing, too hard-nosed and demanding. But kudos to me, you can all read, write and think relatively well.

#6 I listened to other people’s opinions too much and played the great “how-do-my-kids-stack-up-against-yours-academically-physically-spiritually” game, instead of looking at each of you as unique individuals, gifts perfectly designed to be raised by me (and your dad). (By the way, we came in at 44,786th place. Not bad.)

And lastly, #7 For too long I was afraid, very afraid that I would mess up and you’d turn out horrible, so I tried to create a bubble world I thought would protect you. Then the bubble burst and guess what? It’s okay because I am outside the bubble with you and more than that, so is God.

There’s that. Now on to part two: the declarations.

#1 I love you- NO MATTER WHAT! My mama heart is yours through the tears and rages of young adulthood, through the bad and good decisions you make, through the experimentation years and ignoring me years and the years of trying to figure out just who the heck you are.

#2 I admire you in innumerable ways and I need to get better at reminding you of that everyday: your courage, your intelligence, your creativity, your strength, your determination, your tenacity, your sensitivity, your humor, your beauty, to name a few.

#3 I will give you a good verbal whoop up every now and then because if mom can’t get in your face time to time, you need to toughen up.

#4 I will continue to annoy you, no I will in fact seek to annoy you at times, just to make sure you know who is boss and not take life too seriously.

#5 I will keep telling you to swim against the tide, to be yourself, to go after something if you want it, to not follow the crowd in doing wrong, to get a grip, to do unto others as you’d want done to you, to go to college, to look for beauty everyday and you’ll find it, to remember that God is writing your story, etc.

#6 I will keep listening- always- about your hurts and hopes, about your crazy and brilliant ideas, about your loves and lost loves, about your fears and struggles (Even if it’s the middle of the night.)

#7 I will always make the best chocolate chip cookies. You can count on that.

#8 I will always pray for you.

Happy Mother’s Day 2016

throw down the trophy

3445f_Starlet_TrophyThe faux golden bauble stood admiringly on the shelf. The pride swelled in my heart and I gave myself a little proverbial pat on the shoulder. I had worked so hard for that thing! In fact it had been pretty much a relentless 24/7 job earning it. Thankless, tiring and consuming as it seemed, I now had this symbol displayed for all to see. And why not? It represented the blood, sweat and tears, my personal achievement monument…

I picked it up, took one last prideful gaze and threw it on the concrete with every ounce of force I could muster. It shattered and splintered into bits, unrecognizable as anything it was before.

Man, that felt good! A wave of awareness washed over me- it felt strangely like relief; like the sigh that comes at the end of a hard work out session. My striving was over, the expectation to live up to what that trophy represented was gone now. I was liberated from the pressure of my prize and pride!

   ~~~~~~~~~

Our children can become our trophies: set up as an enduring symbol of our hard work, our push for achievements, our endless hours of driving all over for classes or lessons, our relentless and tireless pursuit of the right education, our sacrifice for the “right stuff”, etc.

We want them to shine like stars (and of course they do in our universe), but that isn’t quite good enough. We gotta have some recognition, some “Ooo’s and Ahh’s” from people, especially other parents.

Here’s the lie : IT IS NOT EVEN ABOUT THEM IN THE END, IT’S ABOUT US. It is a self-seeking venture to garner attention for our own achievement. I mean, everyone knows that a kid like THAT HAD to come from great parents!

And here’s the antithesis of that lie: another lie, that if they don’t turn out as a crowning achievement, amazing student, upstanding citizen, destined for fame or fortune, WE ARE THE FAILURES. We are at fault. We did something terribly wrong. Our trophy never arrived.

This is the most damaging, beguiling lie of all.

So, dear reader, maybe you have that bauble already set on a shelf (because, dang, your kids turned out alright) or perhaps you are already eyeing the wall for a display case you know you’ll need soon. Conversely, you may have anger, resentment, profound disappointment or dashed hopes because well, frankly, your prize is tarnished, damaged, misshapen. You have nothing to show for all your labors.

Throw down the mentality that your kids are yours to behold. Give them wholeheartedly to One who created them. Yes, work with all your might to teach them right from wrong, shape their thinking. And love them no matter what. Then remember that God is molding them and they may look very different from what you’d imagined.

My Heart Belongs To…

Identity.

As I watch my teenaged kids grapple and claw at this concept, I am reminded of my own struggle: ten steps behind the popular chick, never quite the 4.0 dork nerd, not even close to the jock girl, always wishing I could embody the dark, emo girl, but sadly, I was none of those.

Everywhere I searched, I was rejected: never quite “bad” enough or “good” enough or “pretty” enough or “weird” enough (although some would argue with that last one).

The quest is tangible yet elusive. It starts somewhere around the age of self-awareness and resides within us (although less so- hopefully) until we draw our last breath. We want to belong somewhere with people who understand us. In 80’s speak, we want homies.

Whether we do it intentionally or not, we seek out others who are like us and there we find it- identity. Once found, we smile a little more. It’s like an inner sigh of relief that, finally, we can be totally accepted, at home, at peace, ourselves.

But it doesn’t last long- ever. Life emerges beyond high school and lo and behold, we become collegiates or spouses or parents or party animals. One set of groups is left behind and whole new set of them appears. Funny enough, our identity morphs like the changing vibrant colors of a fall leaf- again and again and again.

With all this hullabaloo about Valentines Day and the focus on love, romance, sex, etc, I recognize the very human desire to “belong” to a significant other and in an earthly sense, that’s a good thing because belonging also carries with it commitment, loyalty, and an “I got your back” mentality. We don’t say, “BE MINE” for nothing.

Trust me, I’ve tried adhering my identity to lots of things and people- spouse, children, hobbies, groups, religiosity. None of it works, for long. My heart has been broken by everyone just a little- even myself. With each fracture, my identity crumbles and the search begins anew- to find that entity who will love and accept – NO MATTER WHAT.

I am certain of this: the ONE PERSON our heart can be given to in completeness, totality and surrender is Jesus. He will not abandon us: leave us when lose our coolness factor, ignore us when we become vulnerable, discard us when we are “used up”. He is the one safe place where our identity can be trusted unequivocally, irrevocably, eternally.

My life (identity) is hidden with God through Jesus Christ. No one, no change in circumstance or station in life can ever take that away. He is mine and I am His, much better than any Valentine.

Proverbs Poetry

 

Here is a piece I wrote after reading Proverbs 7, which cautions a young man about the temptations of the seductress. Drugs, alcohol and sex lure and tantalize. The young are being more and more barraged with promises that these vices bring pleasure, fulfillment and escape from life’s problems or insecurities. God and His wisdom are being touted as boring, restrictive, narrow-minded. May we pray harder than ever for the next generation. Love them intensely and teach them truth.

 

I looked through the window of my house, just between the shades.

Evening was coming on, the dusky darkness becoming heavier with each moment.

I saw an idle throng of people, loitering about.

Among them was a senseless young man- inexperienced and shortsighted.

He was ambling down the shady street, the street of hallucinations.

Around one corner came a dazed looking man.

He had been waiting for the youth, undetectable in the inky shadows.

First came the laugh then the hushed tones, “Come in here and see my stash.”

Brazenly and without waiting for an answer, he grabbed the young man’s arm.

 

In, he pulled him.

The stench of smoke filled the air.

So thick, it was hard to see and made his stomach recoil.

He coughed. His lungs weren’t used to this.

Although, he’d never been there, the kids were from his high school.

He said hello to an acquaintance and got a nod in return.

The room was disheveled and fetid, so starkly in contrast to his home.

Yet, the mellow vibe appealed to him.

“Try some of this.” A tall thin guy handed him a pipe.

This was uncharted territory for the youth.

Gazing up, he remembered the statistics of drug addiction from class.

But the ambiguous smile and his reassuring words, assuaged any fear.

All around were glazed over looks, bleary eyes and relaxed bodies.

 

Soon, the youth was slumped over in a chair.

His body felt numb, but his mind was racing.

The things his mind conceived were incomprehensible.

It seemed like he was catapulting through a kaleidoscope.

Before he knew it, he craved more.

Day after day, he longed for that escape.

Little did he know, this house was on the street called Destruction.

At the end stood a precipice with vacuous blackness below.

Like a net hidden for the prey, was this habit-

A snare meant to entrap.

Like a calf being led toward slaughter,

The rope now around his neck doubled as a noose.

He was bewitched.

 

So, son, listen to me, take these words of mine most seriously.

Don’t fool around with friends like that;

Don’t even stroll through that neighborhood.

Never go into the house.

Countless victims have come under the spell.

Many have fallen prey to its clutches; their minds forever changed.

That path that appeared pleasing will lead you straight over the precipice and into hell.

Proverbs 7:1-4

“My son, obey my words.
    Store up my commands inside you.

 Obey my commands and you will live.
    Guard my teachings as you would your own eyes.

 Tie them on your fingers.
    Write them on the tablet of your heart.

 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister.”
    Call understanding a member of your family.”

 

Dear Me

My heart’s been aching for my teenagers recently because frankly, it’s a crazy place out there and when you are 15 and 17, it can be straight up crazy on the inside too.

Inspired by the question, “What would you say to your 16 year-old self?”, I wrote this letter. After all, it is with the same blue eyes (albeit with wrinkles and bags around them), that now look with concern on my own dear children who are right smack dab in the middle of this thing…But it wasn’t so very long ago that I was there too.

 

Dear 16 year-old Rebekah Jane ~

First, I am just gonna say that if you think this letter might be a good old-fashioned dose of whoop up, you are right. Get ready because I am going to give it to you straight.

OK, like, what are you thinking? (Oh wait, that’s right- somewhere around the age of 13-14, aliens from the planet DUH come abduct the logic part of your brain and they are holding it hostage until around the age of 18.) So, since you are not thinking much, I’ll help you out with that.

YOU ARE DROP DEAD BEAUTIFUL. YEAH, YOU- the one with long blond hair and sky blue eyes. Why the heck are you starving yourself? Today all you ate was a McDonalds salad (without dressing) and a piece of toast. Then you went and cheered for an hour and half long football game, didn’t you? No wonder you feel like you might die. My guess is you weighed yourself this morning and the scale said 111lbs. instead of 110, isn’t it? Do me a favor. Go home. Grab your scale and throw it away. Then pick up a fork and eat your favorite dessert. Now take that same fork and poke it into next person who insinuates that either they or you are FAT.  Oh, and make sure you go poke your brother with it since he helped start this insanity by calling you “the Good Year Blimp” when you were 12.

STOP TRYING TO ACT THE PART OF A DUMB BLOND! You know those boys who tease you day after day with the blond jokes? I know you don’t want to hear, much less believe this, but they are seriously crushing on you and besides that, they are enamored by your smarts and wish they had straight A’s too. (Sadly, they are just too lazy to work for them.) Stop trying to hide that you are a bit of a book nerd and really actually enjoy school. Aim high and start planning for college now. Just because no one in your family went beyond 12th grade, doesn’t mean you can’t.

Buckle up, girl. This one might hurt.

STOP DATING THAT JERK YOU ARE WITH- THE GUY WHO BELITTLES YOU AND MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE BENEATH HIM. (Yes, the one with the unibrow.) Next time he tries pushing himself on you and then comes crawling back with a lame excuse of why he just can’t help himself, remember these are: lies. All lies. (I will refrain from calling him what I would like to right now, but maybe you could just slap him for me, huh?!) AND I know you want to be like “everyone” around you and have a BF (so as they say now, you won’t be “forever alone”), but first you have to know WHO YOU ARE and be CONFIDENT in that.  Only then, can you have the common sense to know a snake in the grass when you see one. There are true gems out there. Just wait, you’ll discover one soon enough. I promise ;).

Lastly, STOP BACKING DOWN FROM YOUR CONVICTIONS. Trust me when I say that all the kids out there partying it up are likely to walk a difficult path and some of them may not even make it out alive. Getting high and drinking may seem wildly fun for a season, but it leaves ugly scars and bears consequences- sometimes in the form of addictions. STAND UP FOR WHAT’S TRUE AND RIGHT. Someone awesome once said, “If you don’t stand for something; you’ll fall for anything.” It takes more moxie than you think you have, but trust me when I say, if you learn this principle now, it will save you from much future heartache. (I’m sorry but that totally sounded like a fortune cookie paper.)

Well, I know you probably won’t FOLLOW all this great, wise life advice because I know how stubborn and hard-headed you can be- uh-hum. But try, pretty please, for me?!

Oh and one last thing. Your mom, I know she annoys you- laughs too loud, wears her “I LOVE Jesus” pin everywhere and wouldn’t let you go to the Depeche Mode concert last year. Love her. Hug her. Listen to her. Soak up every moment with her and let the little things roll off your back. You only have 8 more short years with her.

Bunches of love from this wise old sage,

Your 39 year-old self

PS. Ditch the MC Hammer pants and paisley vest. You will thank me later!

PSS. Learn to enjoy life more fully. The drama you deal with now, is nothing compared with stuff of adulthood!

 

16 year old Rebekah Jane
16 year old Rebekah Jane