Monday, May 11, 2015

Things I've learned in the last month

We must be doing something right.
In the past month or so, we've had a family pet die (RIP Baxter bunny), a close family friend die, and one of my best friend's mom die. And while we have talked with our kids about death and Heaven and that it's okay to feel sad, we haven't really talked much about what you do when someone passes away. But clearly amid all the cooking and baking and cards and phone calls and prayers and hugs and tears, Bailey has been soaking it up.
Someone dies and people are sad. 
Our job as their friend is to be their friend.

So for every death recently, Bailey has set to work - without any prompting or encouragement - coloring pictures for our grieving friends. 

For our lifelong family friend Linda, who lost her husband a month ago, Bailey drew a picture of Eddie with as many hearts as she had time to draw before the visitation started. 

For my friend Holly, whose mom's funeral was a few weeks ago, she drew a rainbow house in the sky with Holly's mom inside. Because that is what Heaven looks like to a 5 year-old. That little girl's kind heart and sweet spirit can only make the world a better place.

Too tired to wipe off the table? Do it anyway.
It's always worth it to take the time to do a quick house pick-up every night.
You never know who is gonna show up early the next morning and make you really regret your late night laziness.

I've changed my parenting ideal.
I've always said that a goal of mine in raising children is to raise kids that are tolerant and accepting of other people's differences. Racism and homophobia are character flaws that I can't condone. We haven't had specific talks about race or sexual orientation with our kids yet because of the simple fact that it hasn't come up. Our kids have friends of other races at school, and I have a close friend that is gay, but our kids don't see these differences yet - and that is one true beauty of childhood. 

But for the past two months I've been part of a Bible study at a friend's house. I'd never been to one before so I didn't know what to expect. But honestly - I love it. And here's the thing - it's about the Bible (obviously) but it's not just about the Bible in the way you might think. The particular study we are doing applies to everything in life - just like the Bible does as I am coming to realize. But it's in a way I never saw before. It's basically great - and many times specific - life advice, and quite often it has come exactly when I have needed it. 

And as I was doing the "homework" one day, I realized something was pretty flawed in my parenting philosophy. 
I don't want to raise children who tolerate; I want to raise children who love.
Jesus doesn't just tolerate us, He loves us no matter what.
In fact it's the Bible's biggest message.
It's that simple. 
Tolerance and acceptance is great.
But love's so much better.

I've got no shame.
Come the month of May you can basically find me trespassing in the yard of anyone who owns a lilac bush. 
My life needs a little lilac-y scent to perk it up a little.
My house needs them.
I don't have a lilac bush of my very own!
People, the struggle is real.

This year I found a very nice yard at a house that is for sale and the owners moved out months ago. Come on, no one is going to miss those 19 vases worth of lilacs, are they???
Yep, I don't feel sorry about it.

Taking the high road didn't kill me
Maybe it is completely contrary to the above "don't tolerate, love!" segment of this post, but some people are much, much harder to love than others. And there's one specific person in my life that I just don't like. In the past I used the term hate, but mehhh, I don't care that much anymore. 
There's that phrase "You can't fix stupid" - well there's also lots of other things you can't fix. And I'm finding that included on that list are egotistic, selfish, negative, and arrogant. 

"Old Vanessa" - the one who punched a bully in the face in 5th grade and received her first detention - she felt vindicated in standing up for what she believed in no matter whether it would make a difference or not.
"New and Improved Vanessa" (ie: just older and less hot-headed) has started to realize that some people just simply aren't worth it. 

It's not that I'm not standing up for myself or others, but I'm just not gonna argue with stupid/egotistical/crazy. I stated what needed to be said and left it there. Not allowing myself to be drawn into a fight goes against my nature, but the high road actually felt pretty good. So while I'm a long, lonnnnng way from loving this person, the fact that I didn't say out loud all the harsh things in my brain was a good start for me.

Parents want to recreate the good stuff from their childhoods.
I've written before about family traditions Jared and I are creating with our kids, but I've come to realize how much we really want to hold on to the old stuff too.
Jared has already booked a cabin at a state park this year - in fact we're doing it this upcoming weekend before the summer rush (and higher prices). He grew up taking yearly camping trips in Colorado with his mom and close family friends. And while this is Iowa and summers here are vastly different than those in the Rockies, we are embracing what Jared loved about his childhood. There will be no tent-sleeping or roughing-it of any kind this time around, but in future years I know Jared will be working hard to convince our kids that fishing is cool and sleeping on the ground is fun. 

Growing up, my favorite part of summer was my family's trips to Okoboji to stay in my grandparents' cabin. We took our kids there for the first time last summer and it brought back memories of how much I loved those days spent away from home. Just this past week my parents bought a house in Okoboji. Maybe accompanying us on our trip last summer reminded them too of how much fun it was all those years ago. 

It goes without saying how excited I am to now have a place to go with our kids during the summers. I'm excited to explore different beaches and parks, eat at new places, watch our kids light sparklers in the yard, and spend a few days here and there away from the routine of our everyday lives. It's something special we can all do together that won't break the bank. (Well, at least not my bank... Love you Mom and Dad!)

1 comment:

  1. There is serioulsy too many things about this post that I love -- perfections!! <3


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