Friday, December 16, 2016

Millennials...and the Parents Who Trained Them

I am a mom of two Millennials. There are lots of jokes about the Millennials these days. How they are coddled, spoiled, tech dependent, how they have it SO easy. You know the spill, "When I was a kid we didn't have Google, we had to look it up in an encyclopedia! And not just one book but a set of 36-That my parents couldn't even afford to purchase, so we had to go to a real a building, called a Library."

If you think this blog post is about the Millennial generation and bashing them, then you are wrong! It's about the Millennials' PARENTS that made them how they are. Trained them!

I am guilty as sin! I come from a time like most of my peers where our parents born in the 1950 era struggled through the 70's as young parents, worked hard to give us just enough and maybe a little extra, but we kids worked hard too. We had chores. We had to earn scholarships. We had to use encyclopedias! I got my first Motorolla flip phone at TWENTY-ONE and paid for the phone and the bill myself. Yes, I had the luxury of going through high school with NO cell phone, NO social media, and NO internet. And I find that to be a blessing. I can't imagine dealing with on an hourly basis what my kids, my Millennials, go through with the pressure of social media, live streaming, Instagram, Snap chat, email from teachers. If you think, Well I don't let my millennial do any of that. They are exempt from those problems.... they're not. Their friends have it, use it, and they are a part of it through association.

As a mom of Millennials I wanted better for my kids than what I had. How many times have you heard that parenting philosophy? I am guilty and don't disagree with it; I just think they need to appreciate things and not rely on the world always being a magical place. I also feel if I don't train my millennials to do hard work-work they do not want to do then I am failing. Fast forward to today-Smack dab in the middle of Christmas Holidays. At our house that means lights, trees, decorations everywhere. My husband lights up our yard like winter wonderland. I move the elf to fun and entertaining places. Cookie the elf had a zip line that lead to an empty box of candy canes and before school the kids had to search for them. I have run around like a chicken with it's head cut off or better yet partially severed profusely bleeding buying friend gifts for 12 other lucky millennial girls, teacher gifts, dirty Santa party gifts. I hear the stories about how in middle school other Millennial girls buy tiered gifts-a simple gift if your an average friend a nicer gift if you mean a little more. Just nicer enough to make the ones that didn't get it feel like crap, or feel like oh we are friends but not close enough friends. It's craziness. After all the shopping I was running from one millennial mom duty to the next, and I stopped in the mall parking lot looked at my sweet Millennial girl and confessed, "I'm over the holiday season for this year." See, what we Millennial PARENTS do is make it so magical, so exciting, so special that not only does EVERY kid get a trophy, a tiered present, an elf, a magical time that we also in the process suck the life out of ourselves, our marriages, our homes, our wallets.

So today after I delivered the teacher gifts, the cookies, and waters I signed up on Sign Up Genius to send, after I chauffeured, after I made the day super special I started to drive home. We stopped to pick up dog food, and I waited around about an hour while the kids played with the caged kittens at Petco. Millennial parents, guess what? After all the stressful, costly things today....THAT will be what my kids remember most fondly about today. Not the Parents of Millennials orchestrated hot chocolate and cookie bar. Not the brunch the parents supplied. An unplanned, FREE, moment when it was just my millennial kids and ME...buying dog food.

And you know why it happened? I took my daughter's phone away in the car because she was talking back and sounded too big for her britches. If she had that phone in her hand in Petco I guarantee she would not have noticed the cutest yet allergenic cats.

On the way home I assigned chores-not the average M puts away dishes W takes out the trash. I assigned REAL chores. Heavy duty this is what I (the mom of Millennials) do every.single. day chores.

Turns out while I was running around, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, buying, tucking in, blowing out long hair for an hour I got sick-sore throat, stuffy nose, headache. So I figured two preteen and teen Millennials are able to do what I do. Yes, at first they weren't happy. But before long my daughter was singing while vacuuming. My son was offering to do things on the list for his sister. Pretty soon they were competent, capable, giving, helpful Millennials that I am raising them to be. W wants to listen to music while cleaning his room. The house is spotless. I am blogging. The holiday is here!

See if a child is unappreciative, ill mannered, unprepared for real life, incapable of hard work like cleaning or chores I do NOT blame the millennium the child was born in nor do I blame the child one bit! I blame the parents. Millennials are the result of our parenting. We raised them to be exactly as they are. I think mine are pretty smart, resourceful, obedient, helpful, tech savvy. I'm proud of them. If and when there is a moment I'm not, that means I need to correct or refine my parenting! So good luck parents of Millennials, and remember it's our job to give their generation a GOOD connotation to their names!

After my kids checked every chore off the list my oldest daughter asked my son if he wanted hot chocolate then asked me if she could make me some. Then they had an actual conversation-not argument- where W asked M if she was excited about her birthday. That's the thing; spoiling our kids really tarnishes their spirit. Hard work makes them good people, kinder people. Don't tarnish your kids by giving too much and not demanding enough!

Happy Holidays from this Millennial Training mom to you!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Hardest Thing...

This blog post was supposed to be something else. It was supposed to be titled A Magical Morning or something like that. My intentions were to write about how much of a SAHM (stay at home mom) gift this morning turned out to be surprising to me. The Blog Post turned out to be titled The Hardest Thing, and I'll get to why. Here's the short version-that's what God wanted it to be.

I was exhausted this morning, and as I was laying in bed with my eyes closed I was thanking myself for buying frozen ego waffles yesterday at the grocery store so I didn't have to get up 15 minutes earlier to cook eggs. I got up at 6:30 with full intention of leaving our house at 6:45 which to my astonishment-we did. Or at least around there.

As I drove to school traffic was unusually light and the interstate was interestingly moving along at an adequate pace.

As I turned off where I am usually in a long line of traffic stuck at a red light I began to wonder where are all the cars, traffic jams, Is it Saturday? Was I supposed to fall back an hour? And then I remembered to thank God for his favor. It's a silly thing I do when I cruise through a green light and time seems to stand still on a busy morning. I say in my head, "Thank you God for your Favor." Yes I know God is not a magician in the sky poofing the green lights just for me. It just keeps me grateful for the little things that honestly to every stay at home mom or any parent shuttling kids around is a BIG thing-green lights, being on time, light traffic!

SO I got home thinking after a smooth school drop off where even the dog stayed on his blanket quietly in the car all morning only whining as we pulled up to the schools because he cries as the kids get out of the car (I get it Sonny I do), that THIS was a magical morning. As I scooted around the house in my pjs I realized how wise I was to block off this day to do exactly what I was doing. I was asked to work but said I could not which I couldn't because I had this day set aside for me. This lead me to ask myself as I was enjoying my morning, Why don't more parents push pause on the busyness and grant themselves the serenity of time?

As I pulled in the drive I noticed the grass was getting tall, and the weather is so nice I thought I should mow the grass. But I didn't want my day off to be about that so I resisted the urge to start my usual long to do list. I came inside, and as I was filled with calm and a grateful heart, I looked down and followed a horrible smell which turned out to be my sweet little (smelly) dog. So I said come on Sonny you're getting a bath. I had nothing else planned for this morning. And I actually did feel like spending some time taking care of sweet Sonny. I wasn't in a rush, I scrubbed him and massaged the soap into his little tiny easy to bathe body. I rinsed and re rinsed. I blew out his soft furry hair. And then looked around to see what else I needed to do next. Surprisingly the house was fairly clean! I put some laundry in (there was only a load or two to be washed-very surprising) I opened the kids' doors to their rooms which were pretty clean and what? they made their beds?! It truly is a magical morning-this kind of thing is rare-far and few moments between. So I went in and straightened their already made beds and arranged their stuffed animals that never quite make it on to the made beds. I found myself oddly cheek to the carpet rescuing stuffed animals that had been hiding under the bed for a few weeks now. I started appreciating the very fact that I had enough time to arrange stuffed animals! As I did this I was thinking about each one, when we bought it, where we were, how happy my kids were to get it. So emotionally grateful my kids are still young enough to love their stuffed friends.

I wandered around their rooms tidying the corners and taking in all that was my children. I noticed their little doodads and books they were reading and ones they had stacked ready to read next. Their art, the things that makes them....them.

I realize how much I enjoy my kids when they are not around. Thinking about who they are when I am not stressed out about having to feed, cloth, tend to them. Someone gave me advice in a parent talk to go into your kids' rooms and pray for them when they are at school. Lay down on their beds, stand in their doorways, kneel face down on the floor in their rooms and pray fervently for them. I loved that advice and intend on doing it whenever I get the chance in my home all alone.

So I scurried around arranging stuffed animals, breathing in the surprisingly cleanliness of the house, loving on my dog and it hit me-I must blog about how magical and rare this morning is so I can remember it.

I go downstairs and make coffee and admire the little remnants of what stage of life we are in. I'm making mental notes of the left out science projects, the left over mess from homework at the dinner table with my son before we sat together and ate at it. I am feeling sentimental that one day these artifacts of this stage of life with my school aged kids won't be laying around my house.

I go outside with a full heart. So glad I gave myself this gift of time today and fully appreciating it when I decided to sit down with my coffee on the porch and enjoy the fall weather. I was sitting with my journal and had no idea what I was going to write as the breeze was blowing.

I thought of how nice this invisible breeze was. I couldn't see it, but it was amazing! I could hear it in the trees as loud as the birds. I could feel it on my arms and through my warm blue and white polka dot pajama pants. I watched it knock loose the yellow lifeless leaves and toss them around. I just thought about God. How we can't see Him but the evidence of Him is so overwhelming that there is no way I can deny Him. Like this breeze. This wonderful October blue sky day He gifted me with. Then I thought on that gift. Can you imagine if you made the perfect gift for someone, handed it over to them, and they were too busy to acknowledge it, admire it, say thank you for it? That is what most days are like for me. The gift is all around me but in my busyness I don't say thank you.

That's when I heard God speak to my heart. That's when the title of my blog changed and its direction. First I had a message to send someone. God whispered to me-Forgive. I knew what he was saying.

God was answering a question I had not even asked Him this week but wanted to many times. Maybe I was too hurt to ask. Or too angry. Maybe all month I wasn't ready to hear what I knew would be His answer. But today, this magical morning-the traffic, the kids' made beds, the clean soft cuddly dog, the fall October breeze. God set the stage and sat me down some how to speak to me where I would hear and accept His words-forgive. God even told me what my response would be to Him before I said it and he answered each one-

But what if they don't deserve it? Forgive!

What if they continue to hurt me? Forgive...

What if they aren't sorry? Forgive.

What if they are wrong?

SO I heard it. I got it. I understand. I looked up the verse God had put on my heart out on my porch coffee in hand after he had set the stage this morning this magical morning for me to hear it.

Matthew 18:21-23 I read it.

I looked it up and read something else related that interested me. It said 70 times 7 was not meant to be 490 times as the answer but instead it represented-Grace upon grace (as God gives selflessly to us despite our continued imperfection and mistakes). It meant that even with all the questions I asked God as He knew I would, the answer is still the same. It's not even about the person you need to forgive-it's about ourselves. Our own heart, spirit, soul. It's about our own spiritual growth. It's about trying although we will never achieve it to become more and more like God in spirit. Grace upon Grace. It said in a devotion I read that 70 times 7 is about our own hearts and learning to forgive the thousandth time with the same grace as the very first time. Man that's hard. That to me as a Christian is the hardest thing.

It made me think about marriage. How in our day and age we say the vows like when we become Christian, but that doesn't mean the fairy tale is set in stone. It doesn't mean we become perfect or won't fail over and over again. We tend to live out those marriage vows for better or ok maybe mediocre. But not worse! Why would I live out worse? My husband has seen me surely at my worse-sides of me that no one else has seen-sides that are like the exorcist-but continues to love me still.

Sometimes when we feel we can't do something it gives us a chance to sit back and watch as God does what we cannot. Like the ability to forgive.

So that's it. My magical day, my easy comfortable morning was God setting the stage to ask me to do the hardest thing, an uncomfortable thing. An ongoing thing. Forgive

My blog posts are sparse, they're not catchy, they're often wordy. And I only sit down to type them when I feel God pushing me to. So here it is. It was for me. I'm sure I will need to come back and read it as a reminder as early as this evening or tomorrow afternoon! But I hope it was for you too. I hope it brought you answers and peace.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Make Space

This time of year-the Autumnal-time of year where everything is yellowish golden outside I relish the fact that I live in the state of Tennessee. As I was writing my grandmother today I was trying to find the right words to describe fall in Tennessee to her. The only thing I could think of was when the weather is as nice as today in the low 70s and the sky has a golden hue and the leaves are amber, red, brown, and floating down from trees it feels I am surrounded by the Holy Spirit.

This is the time of year I cling to my family in the walls of my home. This is the time of year I cook and bake and feel creative. As I was writing my letter in my craft room I couldn't help but appreciate that that space used to be a useless 20 foot long 5 1/2 foot wide closet! It was filled with old wire closet racks and clothes that honestly should be donated and were hanging in the useless closet attached to a fabulous bonus room that was the kids play room and family movie room. I sometimes have this weird thought that "if" I lived house would have a craft room or my bedroom would look a certain way. Why do we as moms and wives do that? Why do we convince ourselves we have to sacrifice to be a spouse or mother the things we would really love. Something clicked that it wasn't fair to myself or my husband for me to think like this because I am not just the housekeeper, cook, nurse, pet caretaker. I live here too! So I began to design in my journal my craft room in the shape of this long 20 ft closet with a slanted ceiling. Then one day on a whim I stopped by Home Depot (in my pajamas) after dropping the kids off at school and decided to just "browse" to see what kind of things they had for my craft closet that in my head was bright lime green, with a white desk the entire length of the 20 feet wall propped on bookshelves for all my books and scrapbook supplies, with more floating shelves on each end for my collection of books, and with blank walls filled with my and my children and family's art.

Truthfully I thought this venture would cost a fortune, but... I saw these finished white plywood desk tops 10 feet long for 19 bucks each! I realized OMG I could build this desk in a few minutes for under a hundred bucks?! Then I scrambled and found the perfect lime green paint and the rest is history. In 5 hours flat the closet was turned into what is now a safe haven for me and my kids. I even had to add another chair because they insisted on being in there with me at all times. Turns out what I needed they needed as well. A place to just be creative.

The other night I was cleaning and cooking and my husband was coming home from a business trip and I said to the kids, "Go make your dad a welcome home sign." They went to the craft room and came back with masterpieces! There was a place for everything in one spot-markers, sharpies, pens, pencils, scissors, posters. And the space made them feel creative. It serves the purpose of creativity so well.

What is it you need more of in your life? Make a space for it and you will receive it! Is it rest?

Is it relaxation even in front of the TV or behind a book?

Take spaces in your home and ask is it functional or does it bring me joy? If not get rid of it, or change it. Do with your space what is good for you and your family. Do you need a place of solitude?

Do you need seating somewhere so you can sit and have coffee together or enjoy a view?

Is there a corner that you may not realize it but when you see it, it causes you stress? De-clutter, add a memento that you like looking at. Make it a space that exudes joy.

Make a dining room that you actually will use and take the time to sit at the family table and eat dinner. We were sitting at the small breakfast table for dinner but I realized we never used the dining room. It just feels better to use that space in the evenings now and save the breakfast table for breakfast! Plus I don't have to windex the glass three times a day now which was driving me crazy!

Do you have a million pictures on your hard drive but none on your walls? Print them out and display your favorite vacations or moments.

Make a scripture board for the month or year and put it where you will see it going in and out of your house. Put your beliefs and faith on your walls for you and anyone in your home to see. It subconsciously, I think, brings you peace.

Utilize the parks, biking trails, recreational areas that are in walking distance to improve your physical health. The physical is deeply tied to the mental and spiritual. Make space in your head to reflect on something in nature or art in your home.

Start small like a drawer or a closet. Reorganize or refurbish one small space a day. After my craft closet was done I redecorated my laundry room the very next day. It was horrendous but now is a happy place where I love making everyone's clothes smell fresh and clean and organized!

Don't think you can't do it yourself or that you have to pay a fortune. Start small. Make your house your home. A safe haven. A place of rest. A functional source of joy! You won't regret it. You may find in the end you save money by cleaning and organizing. You have more time to enjoy your life, and things may start running smoother!