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On being a “TERRIBLY” supportive mother


I’m a terrible mother. Horrible. There, now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you why I am a terrific one.

Our  Project Semicolon tattoos

Our Project Semicolon tattoos

Today I took my daughters over to the local tattoo shop and we got matching tattoos. Yes, yes, TERRIBLE mother. I thought we established that already? Sheesh.

Listen, I know this place, I know the owner. It’s a clean, decent, reputable establishment that is not in some dark alleyway. Give me some credit will you? Listen to the reason and you will agree with the terrific part, (or not) but it’s what you SHOULD have done if you were me, living my life.

If you haven’t heard of Project Semicolon, then let me educate you. It is quite literally a full out movement of hope, all begun by one woman who was simply intending to honor her dad. It is a tattoo or even just a sharpie marker tattoo of a semicolon on a wrist or other area. Simple, small, and yet crazy powerful. We’ve done the sharpie version. We are ready to commit to a permanent version.

The website www.projectsemicolon.com says it this way… “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” They are a faith based movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who struggle daily with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury.  Their sole existence is to bring awareness to mental illness and to encourage, love and inspire those who live with it or even just love someone who does.

The semicolon is a conversation starter. You see a tattoo of a semicolon on a wrist and you say, “what’s that about.” The door is now open to discuss what our lives here are filled with. It’s filled with hard things, messy things, scary things, but more than anything else, it’s filled with choices that include getting up each new day, moving forward, pushing on, and knowing that each new day is not a day done alone, but surrounded by a supportive and loving family who “gets it.”

Linds watches as she has her tattoo done. She wanted to be the first to go, since today was for her.

Linds watches as she has her tattoo done. She wanted to be the first to go, since today was for her.

My daughter, Lindsey, struggles and battles Bipolar Disorder and OCD along with some anxiety and a personality disorder. Each day is a hard day. photo 2That’s just a fact. But she is still choosing to get up each day and face it. Her sister and I both love her in ways that only a sis and mom can. It’s a girl thing. We have a wicked tight bond, the three of us, and when I introduced this website to Lindsey her whole face lit up. Her sister was indignant that she was left out and she demanded to be a part of it. I told her I never intended her to be anything but included. I just hadn’t shown her the website yet!

For warriors, support is critical. It’s for important to know someone has their back. Lindsey will never wonder if her sister and I have her back. She will look at her hand and she will see her tattoo and know that the three of us are connected in a special way, remember our day of bonding, needing only to trace it to gain some needed strength.

photo 3Along with the semicolon tattoo, I am gifting each girl with a little heart, about the size of a pinky finger. It is to be placed anywhere they want it, but in a place they can readily see  I used to use a sharpie and pit one on their hand or arm when they were scared about a test, school, or when they just needed a “mom hug” to take with them as they went off on their day. This time we are making it washable and forever. It’s a personal reminder that they ARE my heart; that they carry with them my unconditional love everywhere they go. I love them forever, always, and that there is NOTHING they can ever do that will make me stop loving them. Simply NOTHING.

Alli distracts herself with her phone while she is inked. Nothing compares to broken bones and the pain of soccer injuries and physical therapy. This was nuthin.

Alli distracts herself with her phone while she is inked. Nothing compares to broken bones and the pain of soccer injuries and physical therapy. This was nuthin.

It’s a visual reminder that they can come home, no matter what choices or mistakes they might have made in life, and to know that I’ll have their backs. Life is messy. Choices are hard to make. Sometimes we make the wrong ones. Come home, anyway. I’m always gonna be there. I don’t care if they are 18, 28, or 58. That tattoo won’t wear off and neither will my love for them. If at some point they need me, and I am no longer here residing on this green earth, then they only need look at it to know I’m still only a heartbeat away, loving them from above, still supporting them.

Yes, I took my two daughters, who are 15 and 16, to the tattoo shop and we got tattoos, but the question wasn’t ever, “how could I,” but instead, “how could I NOT?”  My beautiful girls are here and this is not in “memory” of anyone. This is to strengthen us and to empower us to do hard things, because we are still alive to do them.

There is a beautiful song I will play them. An amazing friend sent me the link the other day and I have been in love with it ever since.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUzqbAZq3E

The refrain goes like this:

This is not the end of me.

This is the beginning.

Hold on.

I am still alive…

 As long as we are alive, we are going to live like it. We are going to remember that this is just the beginning, choose to not end our sentences, to just hold on tight, get through the night, and believe that this is not the end. No one has to get it all perfect, or get it all right, we just have to get up each day and try. Put one foot in front of the other, hold on tight, ride the ride, let the day have it’s way, and best of all…come home again.

I love you girls. We can do this. We’ve got this!

First World Probs


First World ProbsI found myself with a couple of days that were not slammed with a bunch of Mama To-Do’s, errands, or work. Before life could come and snatch them up for the mistake, I quickly penciled in some massive time blocks for ME time. I declared a good choice simply because it was good for my mental health.

To be fair, this time was not to be used frivolously, but instead carefully for planning and actual writing of assignments and articles, and to work on upcoming projects and even that book that I’ve had on the back burner for months… that stretched into a full year now. Two days with five hour time blocks. It felt like a retreat while never leaving town. All I had to do was to get up and manage to get out of the house.

Ah! There’s the kicker usually. That’s usually my hang up, even though my kids are teens, not toddlers. So when I got away scott-free? I was lulled into the assumption that I was home free! It was THEN that the chaos began. It followed me. It nipped at my heels, attempting to throw me off my mission. But I am not easily tossed, my foul and trip-happy friend. I will fight for my writing days at every turn. They just don’t come around often enough to let them go so easily.

I had headed out to my favorite local coffee hub and after circling the parking lot twice, longingly looking into the windows like a reverse pet shop puppy. I told myself unconvincingly that I didn’t really want to be there anyway. It was busy and crowded and would be full of glorious chatter, I mean distracting chatter, and I was better off somewhere quiet. Yes. I would find the quiet.

I turned into traffic and thought of the next closest place I still loved. I mentally crossed off a spot I had already passed that was packed with tot totting mommas and their sanity dates. It was pouring down rain and the sunny spots outdoors that I could use other days would be off limits this day.

I went past a tiny Starbucks, knowing that the few seats it had would be more than filled with the people in the parking lot and in line. A sudden thought of inspiration hit. The bookstore! I swung around, parked, and dashed into the wonderful aroma of new books and music swirling overhead. Yes. This would do.

With my pick of the entire seating area in the coffee nook, I choose a little table out of the way. I set up shop and congratulated myself. This was gonna be a great day! I got started and began the planning. I wanted all the assignments on a calendar. I have a habit of not noticing them when left to my phone’s list. I was feeling proud of my organizational awesomeness when I was rudely disrupted by two men talking loudly. They decided to plant themselves at the table next to me.

I am not sure how I manage to be a magnet, but seriously, I could have chosen any seat in that place and they would’ve sat next to me sure as anything. I’m sorry, sir, but you and your conversations are not interesting to me nor do I want to nod your direction in camaraderie. Sorry to disappoint.

They proceeded to make business calls loudly, clear their throats as with an annoying vocal tic vs cold need. I wasn’t sure I had the ability to be boldly rude and move to the other side of the cafe. I dreamed of doing so, since I’d forgotten my headphones. I sat with my fingers quite literally in my ears, hair draped over my face like a curtain, attempting to block it all out.

I was set to move, to actually do it after a long, slow, steamy burn when a frazzled mom and three kids plopped down in the middle of the cafe and took up residence. She’d had her limit; they’d reached theirs an hour ago from the look, but by God, they’d come for story time and they were gonna stay and do it, or else Mama would be joining her kids for a hearty meltdown.

Listen, I get it. Okay? I got three kids who used to drive me to frazzle daily, and while I wanted to send sweet smiles of understanding her way, well, for once this patient and usually understanding woman had had her own personal limit and needed her alone time, alright? So NO. I ignored them and did not send her sweet “I get you” looks; instead letting my burn become a blaze.

The screaming, quite simply, broke me. It fueled my ability to pack up my crap and reprimand myself for such an early celebration, and make my exit. I gunned it over to the target across the street and entered the empty Starbucks outlet; planting myself again. There I made it a whole ten blissful minutes before being found by the retail-therapy shopping moms. An ankle-biter sized foot race path was apparently plotted along my table side, unbeknownst to me, and again, I packed it up after trying to outlast them. Once a third mom joined an already crowded table, I realized this was not going to be a quick stop for mom’s caffeinated cleanser.

I plopped down across this latest parking lot in an Arby’s, bought a drink so I could use the booth without guilt, and finished the last piece I was trying to get out of my head before heading home. Instead of refreshed, I felt like I’d just run a half marathon in an attempt to get my 500 words out.

Truth be told, I accomplished a lot, I actually slugged out three of those, but I wanted more. I had so much more in me to do. But hey, tomorrow was another day and I’d have another try at this. Take heart, girl.

So, seriously, if you’re still ready my rant, you’ll laugh at this …

On the advice of a friend about their past favorite writing spot, I decided to begin today there. “Oh there’s never anyone there, so it’s really quiet.” Here’s the thing about quiet spots no one is ever at…they go out of business. I sat in the parking lot and was forced to laugh at the stupidity of it all.

I am now sitting in the McDonald’s across the street from the would be wonderful place and writing a rant.

Next up? The library. I know, I know. Why not just START there? Well because I love coffee houses, and out of the way spots. I love to sip on a beverage and think while looking out a window at the world passing by. If you are local, and you love coffee houses, tell me your favorite, because I plan to look up a lot of new ones this summer and fall. Hopefully my old favorites are not overloaded every free day I have, but in case they are, I’ll have some back up plans!

I know, I know… first world problems.

Never, EVER, give up. EVER.


I spent most of this week in utter despair. I felt lost and confused and as close as I’ve ever been to hopeless in my life. The parenting gauntlet was brutal and I was not sure I was really capable of standing up to the oncoming onslaught that was coming in wave after wave.

My assumption in having a child was that, no matter WHAT issues, challenges, or problems that arose, I would somehow be the perfect match for them. I assumed that kids were matched up to parents somewhere in the sky so that the parents were equipped to handle and help each child perfectly.  Yeah, I know, wake up kid, that isn’t how it works.

Successful parents have one very distinct difference from ones who aren’t… they simply refuse to give up on their kid. Period. They learn what they have to know, go where they must go, do what needs done, but they NEVER, EVER, GIVE UP.

LindsMy daughter, now 16, battles a daily war against her genes and physical chemical make up. She has been blessed/cursed with genes from both sides of the family which give her the level of Bipolar Disorder she deals with. She has OCD issues and struggles with Avoidant Personality Disorder. She has a host of anxiety disorders and she finds it a struggle to just leave home. While all of this is hard, the thing I’ve found the hardest is her way of venting it, releasing the pressure valve, her way of punishing herself for being who she is… self harm.

Of all the things that I do, correctly responding to self harm is the hardest. I must say I didn’t do a great job one recent past weekend. I am ashamed to say I kinda lost it. Maybe it’s what needed to happen, I don’t know, but regardless, it’s harder than hell to do it without guilt in the end. It’s an obvious cry for help, but I find it makes me intensely angry. I want to just say, “TELL me whats going on.  ASK for help.  DONT mutilate your beautiful self!  PLEASE!!”

I found the word “HORRIBLE” carved into the flesh on her arm. She’s carved HELP before. The words are even more upsetting than the act. You are NOT horrible, my beautiful child. I am RIGHT HERE; just come to me for the help you are asking for by carving into your flesh. I am not a parent who is distant, who is absent, who is unreachable. I am here at every single turn.

The Avoidant Personality Disorder is the only clue I have as to why she continues to avoid the one person who is most plugged into her every mood and cares most deeply about them. Per PsychologyToday.com, “In avoidant personality disorder, the person is persistently tense because he or she believes that he or she is socially inept, unappealing, or inferior, and as a result fears being embarrassed, criticised, or rejected. He or she avoids meeting people unless he or she is certain of being liked, is restrained even in his or her intimate relationships, and avoids taking risks. Avoidant personality disorder is strongly associated with anxiety disorders, and may also be associated with actual or perceived rejection by parents or peers during childhood.”  

Reality isn’t the focus here. Her version of it is. All I can do is love her and show her that I’m here and loving her, and consistently do this till she believes it, I guess.

This last weekend, over Father’s Day, we went to a RibFest downtown because the thing my husband loves most is Ribs. Then we went to a movie at a theater the kids had yet to enjoy, one with recliners for every seat. She wanted to do this. She wanted the family outing. She is very much trying to be a part of the family and wants to be with us.

The stress of the bajillion people who attended RibFest heaped a layer of anxiety upon her that she wore like a 120 lb rucksack on a trek through the desert, uphill. By the time we were seated in the theater, 30 minutes into our movie, her body gave into the stress fully. It didn’t matter the stress of the RibFest was over and we were in a dark theater, essentially alone. Stress works itself out whenever it chooses, and it doesn’t choose perfect timing as a rule.

“Mom, Sis is crying and she’s having trouble breathing.” My middle daughter had come over to my seat and interrupted my movie viewing. We were seeing the new Jurassic Movie. It was LOUD, and therefore I heard none of my daughter’s distress three large, reclined seats over. I traded seats with my son.

“Breathe baby, breathe…be calm. It’s gonna be okay. Tell me what’s going on. No, breathe in slowly, tiny breaths. Now relax your muscles.” I put my hands on her stiff limbs and tried to make them still. Her arms were stretched out hard as boards and her legs were moving on their own in spasms. It wasn’t a seizure. It was a mass panic attack. Her body was attacking her and it was without a trigger this time around. Well, the trigger was not present anyway; it was long gone.

She was flushed hot inside but clammy to the touch, she had a headache, felt like her body was shivering/shaking, and as if millions of ants were crawling through her veins. She was more scared by her body’s reaction by the minute. She was breathing in bursts and not being able to breathe made her able to breathe even less. The panic rolled like a snowball downhill, gaining size and speed. Calming her was critical or we’d escalate and need emergency care right here and now.

Slowly I was able to calm her and as I rubbed her arm we sat together and let the movie end and the guests leave. We dropped the kids off at home, a friend, who may as well be family, came and stayed with them while my husband and I took her to the ER for rounds of tests to rule out anything physical. In my heart I knew it was the last draw.

This has been building for weeks. Over little or nothing my daughter would stress out and panic, be unable to make simple choices, and just getting dressed would take her eons, in a completely different way than the normal teen, “I don’t know what to wear,” way. It was more. A kind of more that I can’t give you words for. You’ll just have to trust me. She has a 15 year old sister and I get the differences, okay?

My daughter’s body had been having medicine issues and reactions, and she’d been mucking around with not taking them because she hated how they made her feel; then not eating and taking meds on an empty stomach if I forced the issue… it all landed us where we were right then.

It was time to deal with it. It was past time. And if we truly loved this kid, we’d do what was right and say enough was enough and we’d not only figure out the ER visit issue, but deal with the meds and deal with the core issues and the reasons behind needing the meds.

So we admitted our daughter to the Behavioral Health Hospital that night, against her will, and walked away. We loved her enough to make her stay. We love her enough to insist on her working through the tough things she needs to address in order to get well. We know she CAN do it if she decides she wants to. The key is to WANT to. Sometimes if you love your kid enough, you will do what is best, not what feels good.

And I’ve never been more broken in my entire life. Day after day I lay fractured, in pieces, trying to put myself back together and be a parent to my other two kids. An amazing set of friends stepped in and took our kids, so we didn’t have to be parents at all. We could just fall apart. And so we did. A lot.

And now? Now we are getting stronger. A little more each day. And with God’s help, the love of our friends and family, and supportive staff and doctors, our kid is gonna come home and we are gonna try this again, and this time we are gonna make it work.

Why am I so sure? Because I refuse to FAIL.

I will never, ever give up.

Ever.

Love looks like walking away


moms.fortwayne.comIt was 3:30 a.m. and we walked out the front doors of an empty hospital. The halls had echoed with each step we took, leading us farther and farther away from our crying daughter. In the past, the way I showed her I loved her most was to sit by her bedside, stroke her hair, whisper calming meditation techniques to back her down from a cliff she was perched upon, and to simply stay.

Tonight? Tonight I showed my 16-year-old how much I loved her by the way I walked away. Far away. So far away the echoes of my steps could not be heard by her and my ears no longer heard her cries. My heart, however, heard them long into the night, all the way from home, and I slept fitfully.

I want to put words to this hellish heartbreak I have, but I am ruined. I can find nothing to explain what it is like to admit your child to a psychiatric hospital. I can’t believe I have to, that I did, that this is real. There are no words. None work.

I am raw, broken and wounded to the bone. Flesh has been torn from my frame as my child was ripped from my heart muscles with each step I took, me telling myself it was for her good that I did it. Her spot in my heart is now a hole; one that is a warning to me to get this right so that the hole is not permanent. Get this right or that hole will get larger, be edged with grief, guilt and shame. Get this right or suffer the knowledge that I had the chance to get things right and I chose the easy way out and let her convince me to do what felt better than to do the hard thing of what’s best.

My husband drove us home and he melted beside me as he turned the corner toward our house. It was like watching a steel rod turn to liquid. Slowly he leaked, seeped, bent and slumped. One thought of what he’d driven away from and he became a shimmering pool of hot mess.

I begrudged him nothing. He was strong when he needed to be. We were alone. Melt away, honey.

I, however, couldn’t fully give into the reality of it. I had too much to do. I didn’t have time to feel, dammit. If I began, I’d never stop, and I would fall apart into pieces that could never be put back together again. Instead I chose to go dead inside. I stopped up the tears and built up the dam, plugging the holes. I’d never get through this with all the tears that were threatening to spill over.

I had her things to pack, papers to gather, my kids to explain all this to, and a morning of foggy headed to-do’s of phone calls to clients to explain that I’d need time to reschedule them, I wouldn’t know my schedule for a while.

I sat with my kids in front of me; I continually had to squeeze my arm that was locked around my middle to force my self to be calm and controlled, answering my kid’s questions, trying to seem like I was a mom who had a clue. They needed to believe that what I was doing was for sure the right thing. They also needed to know when we all went into the family therapy session it would be hard for their sister and I explained some things they should understand ahead of time about the situation.

Then I left and went outside for a while. I let myself completely go. I ugly cried till my gut hurt and matched my heart. I let my pain have its way. The acid in my stomach churned until I nearly collapsed under the stress of its boil.

I looked at the clock on my phone. I had no time left for this. My mini moment of honesty had to be over. Time to go back to neutral and find a way to function through the next four hours of visitation, doctor meetings and family therapy.

My stomach sank to my feet. Walking back into that place meant I’d have to leave again. I felt myself begin to retch at the thought. How could I do that again? Didn’t I prove my love by doing it once already? Then it dawned on me, I not only had to, I WOULD do it over and over and over, each time I went, proving to her just how much I am committed to loving her.

Sometimes love looks like saying you’ll stay, other times it looks like walking away.

 

This blog first appeared over at my blog Will Settle for Chocolate. 

PREDICTED not to “pass” but BORN to “succeed!”


It was rainy and kinda yucky outside as I ran from the van to the school. I curled my nose up as the scent of old fish hung in the air, strange since I was running up the walk to an inner-city school and not a lakeshore. It was one of those days that makes you want to turn over and ignore the alarm.

image1In about a month, my middle daughter will graduate from the school she’s attended since she was about six. It’s been a wild ride, one I am insanely proud of. She’s fought back from much. Overcoming shyness and bullying to learning challenges with dyslexia and ADHD, she proved that the little girl who had bounced down my sidewalk with tenacity and spunk never left her. She once was desperate to be like the athletic girls she looked up to who let nothing stand in their way…now SHE is the example of sportsmanship and team spirit with her big heart and encouragement to the girls on her soccer team, on and off the field.

I push the buzzer at the front doors. They’re a large set of glass doors in a nondescript brick building. It’s a public school in reality, though the nature of it is far from the standard. Based in a Montessori style and accredited as such, the school strives to maintain the principles of reaching each student as they need reached while still adhering to all the mandated public school curriculum and state standards. It’s a hard balance to achieve, yet in the eight years we’ve been here (which includes seeing her brother start from age 3 in the accompanying school, which houses two years of preschool and kindergarden) we’ve come to know that each student truly is cared for individually in a way that has been a blessing to our family. Each of our kids have had challenges that are out of the mainstream norms. I couldn’t ask for better.

That said, I always have a tendency to bristle when attending the type of meeting I was headed in for. While today was just a routine follow-up and year-end assessment, it would be attended by the counselor for the high school Alli is entering in the fall. With an IEP, things are planned out a bit different than a typical entering freshman.

The buzzer rang beneath my finger and I waited for the click of the lock to let me into the school. I made my way up the stairs to the offices and was rushed, as the bell rang, by students coming and going from their first class. For the changing of classes it was unusually quiet and except for the occasional conversation, a hurried few “Hi, Alli’s MOM,” and the slamming of lockers, it was far from what you’d expect from teens if standing in the middle of a hallway in any school you’d find yourself in.

With one more kid left to graduate up the stairs before graduating out of here, there wasn’t a reason to be wistful as the year was winding down. I’d be back for a long time yet.

The meeting was normal and predictable. I knew her grades already and she even updated me on her laptop as we waited prior to coming in. This kid who used to cry as we used goldfish crackers as “counters” to learn adding and subtracting was flooring me with her math grades. She hated math entering sixth grade. She struggled so much. Now? She proudly showed me a 103 percent grade in math today. Her science was a B, but she’s closing in on an A. She struggles with reading, but she still has a B- in subjects requiring lots of reading. She has to work ten times harder than she maybe would have if she didn’t struggle, but I always told her that her diagnosis of dyslexia and ADHD just meant she’d have to work harder, but those diagnoses were NEVER an excuse to not be able to do or achieve. I refused to hear them as an excuse. They were a reason, and it was stupid hard for us both at times, with nightly tears in the struggle, but they were never a reason she couldn’t do anything she set her heart on.

“Alli’s scores on the test were blah-blah-blah and XYZ, meaning she is not predicted to pass the ISTEPs.”

My brain jerked awake. We had just finished going over scores, grades, her willingness to work, her attitude, her skill and her classroom disposition, and then we got to the bare bones of what the state reduces my child to. The numbers she will or will not score on an aptitude test that does not test her ability, her true knowledge, nor her gumption and moxie.

More numbers and figures were given, and again, stated, “Alli is not predicted to pass.” I felt my daughter stiffen. I felt her shame. I felt her dejection. The test that TESTS her as to whether or not she will pass the ACTUAL test was telling us bad news. Ummmmm… guess what? I stopped caring. Completely. I know, I know. Somewhere it probably matters. To me? Not a bit.

I put my hand up and halted the meeting.

“I understand you have to say all this. Understand I have to say this too: I know this should make me care, but it doesn’t. See, I don’t care about what some test says my daughter will or won’t pass. It’s not even THE TEST, but a test for a test. No part of that test shows that my daughter has an A+ in math. It says she will fail math. It’s wrong. It doesn’t show how good her overall grades are, or her newfound knowledge she clearly knows. When my daughter steps outside into the real world, she is NOT going to fail. She is gonna fly. She is gonna soar. She is gonna make it. All of this is important, I get that, but frankly, that test doesn’t tell me a thing. This is not a kid who is failing. This is a kid who is flying. And I am proud of her. Period.”

There were glances and it was quiet. Carefully, the IEP director, flanked by a teacher, a counselor and the new high school guidance counselor, looked around and said, “I have to say these things, as it’s my job to report the findings, and I cannot comment on what you have said or agree with it,” she stated while nodding her full approval, knowing my daughter intimately and being as proud of her as I am, and the others following suit with their nods in my direction.

What a shame that we can’t build kids up, but must report the findings, so those kids feel about an inch high, like a failure, to hurry back to class and do more of the same. My kid? She will never be held to a grade or a score in order for me to know if she is doing what it’s “going to take” for her to get somewhere in the world when she leaves home. As long as she is doing her 100 percent best, that is all I require.

I refused to let her walk back into her day without my two cents added, knowing full well that it was going into her record, as they typed away as I spoke my mind. Go for it.

Let the record show that I am always my kid’s #1 supporter. I’ve got her back and have been on her side from the day and moment they laid her at mine.

As I pushed open the doors, I let the rain fall on my forehead and drench my curls. I just stood there and let that fishy rain run off my nose. I realized that truly, though I may not have a glorious job title, I may not make more than a few bucks, and I will never have awards presented in my honor for the job I do on a daily basis, but seeing how tall and straight my daughter walked out of the room today headed back to class, I couldn’t be doing a more important job than I was doing. Heck, I’ll take it a step further. You couldn’t pay me to do a job that would make me sacrifice this one.

Being her MOM is enough payment.

One day that girl will walk into a room and she will command attention. She will fulfill her dreams. She will make a difference in the lives of the people she plans to serve and help. I have no doubt my reward will be richer than gold just seeing her get that first job, that first paycheck, with confidence to believe that she is worth more than what a test predicts she will be.

She already IS more. And darlin, your mamma is poppin’ proud.

Hard things are ALWAYS worth doing


We sat in the car at a stop light and my daughter let out a nervous, “UUUGH!” I smiled at her and said, “Hey, you can do this. It’s gonna be okay.” She was headed in to the orthodontist, about to be fitted with braces for the first time.

Ortho appointments are nothing new for me, as we’ve just gotten kid No. 1 out of braces just a few short months ago. Finances dictate we do kids one at a time. Kid No. 2 had to wait a while longer for hers to begin than her sister did. Long before senior pictures are taken they will be off, and that is all that matters. At least in her book. It’s gonna be a long and painful road till then.

I must be a cool mom. My kid wants to take a selfie with ME! Whoa...

I must be a cool mom. My kid wants to take a selfie with ME! Whoa…

We park and I look over at her. She’s this tough, defensive soccer player. One who just plowed her way through some intensive physical therapy to recover from a soft tissue injury, so she could get back on the field and be the immovable force at the goal. Yet she looks like my little Alli-girl all of a sudden, scared and nervous, unsure of what’s to come. I reassure her. She can do this. Really.

I drop her off and run errands. I can’t wait to see her flash her winning smile that will now be lit with bling. (She’s worth every single penny of that bling too.)

I come in and she shyly waits for me and it’s impossible for her not to smile. There it is. Bright blue bands that match her eyes. She’s a beautiful mess of feisty fire and blue bling. I’m so proud of her I could pop. I could see the pain in her eyes. It wasn’t an easy appointment. I know not just from her sister’s years in braces, but from my own five years of orthodontics. It’s a tough road.

Our kids have so much to do in order to grow up. They have to learn, to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; then they have to mix it all together and figure out who they are, what they want to be, and begin to walk toward that goal, all while doing hard things like braces. It’s easy to blow it off. As an adult we forget how hard the day-to-day growing up years are. We can say, “been there, done that.” But hey, they are here now, doing that. It’s hard work. And I want to remember each day that it’s not easy to be a kid, choosing to do the right thing is hard, and doing so while having added things that just plain hurt can make a hard day more like brutal.

IMG_3443I tell my kids, weekly, this one simple fact: “Hard things are worth doing.” I don’t want them to shy away from things because they are hard. In fact, if it’s hard to do, it’s a good bet it is probably worth it. Easy things are exactly that. Easy, and everyday. Hard things? Only the ones who really want it go after it and achieve it. Those are the people that do great things. That’s who I want them to NOT be afraid of being. Don’t be afraid of failing, getting back up, and continuing to run hard after a goal. It’s worth the finish line.

At the end of the years in braces, this hard thing will have been worth doing too. In the meantime, flash that blue bling and let the world know you are going after your goal. There ain’t nothin stopping you, baby! You go girl!

This blog first appeared on my parenting blog over at http://moms.fortwayne.com/?q=blogs/post/hard-things-are-worth-doing