Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Halloween My Teenager Broke Up With Me

If you are a mom of small children, and do not yet have a teenager walking around your house, consider this post a warning:

Last year, I cried on my front porch steps, while I waited to hand out candy to the neighborhood kids. There was barely a trickle of them as the evening became later, cooler, quieter.

I had, quite unexpectedly, gotten left behind.

My husband had taken my two sons ahead, while I planned to hunt for candy with my daughter and her friends. 

Except, my daughter, who was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, but was actually a teenager in disguise, suddenly requested that I stay back.


She wanted to skip down the deep, dark sidewalks ALONE (with her friends)- clearly embarrassed by my presence. In her defense, she was trying to be kind.

But I was completely taken off guard. I. Didn't. Know. What. To. Do.

*Insert broken heart emoji*

Apparently, this is a real thing.  I've talked to other moms who've had the same experience.  
Apparently, middleschoolers break up with their parents on Halloween night.
Apparently, they forget who purchases their costumes and lets them eat candy before bedtime.

*Insert shocked/mad/teary face emoji*
If you haven't reached this motherhood milestone yet, you have time to make preparations. Get ready. The times, they are a changin'.

But it doesn't mean the fun has to end! It's just going to start looking a little differently.

As I was NOT prepared for this emotional parenting downturn last year, I made plans to face Halloween 2017 with a new perspective.

We hosted an early dinner party at my house, so that my daughter and her friends could get dressed up together. I conjured up a giant pot of chili, with a side of nachos, apple cider, and butterbeer. I invested in more decorations than usual (Harry Potter-inspired). And I made said teenager promise to pose for pictures before they left. 

"Memories," I warned. She complied.

Of course, it helped that the moms of her girlfriends were suffering from ghosts of Halloweens past as well. Missing their coordinated family costumes and little swinging pumpkin buckets heavy with loot, I made sure they felt as much a part of the night as I could.

Because we're all in this together, mom friends- trying to be cool and simultaneously saying sad goodbyes inside from all of this growing up stuff. *sniff*

But onward we bravely proceeded. Into this new world of Teenagerdom. Where they still need you, but not as much. Where they want you, but when no one else is around. 
Where. This. Is. Their. Last. Year. Of. Trick-or-treating.

So 2017 was both beautiful and bittersweet at our home. I canvased the neighborhood with my boys and their friends (no crying on the steps), while my daughter got her precious time away from her humiliating parents. All of the kids loved the extra festivities that happened to land on an otherwise typical Tuesday (as did I). And it turned out to be, possibly, our favorite October 31st ever.

Bonus: My unicorn onesie made the children just uncomfortable enough to be funny..and extremely rewarding. Bwahahaha.

*insert laughing hysterically emoji*

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Watching to See a Twinkle of Joy

He wants me to see him do a flip on our backyard trampoline, but he doesn't stick the landing on the first try.

"Wait, Mom! That's wasn't it," he quickly shouts (He knows me). "Watch!"

Look up from your phone. Stop the hamster wheel in your brain that's telling you to rotate the laundry, sign up for flag football, and organize the library...again.

It's hot. The trampoline springs squeak, and my son attempts another acrobatic stunt while I force myself to keep my feet planted on the concrete patio. To command my attention on this new physical feat. 

Stand still. Keep watching. You can do this.

He finishes his amazing trick and immediately jerks his face up to observe my reaction.

"Did you see it, Mom?"

Okay. Phew. Yes.

I clap. I smile, relieved and genuinely happy for him, but edgy to get onto the next thing. 

"Nice one!" I offer. He turns away to keep jumping. Proud. Accomplished. Satisfied. 

I spin around and head towards the house. A little proud as well (I didn't miss it), but not feeling as accomplished. There's still more to do.

Finally free to answer the call of the hamster wheel, I'm obsessed, like a woman grabbing at a cupcake to feed a sugar craving (I probably skipped lunch). 

This will make me feel better, I believe. 

And I irrationally convince myself that if I hurry, today will be the day that it all gets done and the lists will be completely crossed off.  

THEN, I will feel accomplished. 
And THEN I will give myself permission to enjoy more. 
But only then.

I think, Just let me finish this. 
Hold on. I'll be right there. 
Can that wait until later? 
After this is done, I will be able to do that.

But it's NEVER all done, is it? A finished project, maybe, that takes longer than you think. And later? When will THAT be?

It only takes five (however excruciating) minutes to pause from the compulsion to be busy and watch the trampoline show.  But it's such a struggle to discern the important from the urgent- to balance the meaningful and the mundane.  

Work HAS to be done, but so does life. So does love. 

Sometimes, it's true that you can love the work too.  It can bring contentment too. But it can also drain more energy than you were expecting, steal more time before you realize what's happening.

The occasions for spotting joy trickle in at the most random times. They don't call and set up appointments. They don't glare. They twinkle.  

The  windows of opportunity- to snap a mental Polaroid- open up intermittently in the hours you work and play. While you're making the bed or buckling a kids' seat belt. While you're answering emails or filling up the grocery cart.
To catch sight of a shooting star, you have to keep your eyes peeled. And you have to be aware of the full sky at the same time, because you don't know in what direction it will come from. Blink and you'll miss it. But wait, there's probably another one.  This could be a meteor shower. Or not.

Oh!  But when you see it! 
That open window. 
That back flip.
That star. 

Not the list. Not the hamster wheel.  Not some kind of perfect timing.  

Just a soul expectant and a heart observant.

Let everyone else race around in circles. You can stop. Just for a minute. Look up and keep watching. That's your life.

Isn't it lovely?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Summer Book One

Find the book here.
Read Jo's blog here.
Find me on Instagram here
#themomseason #justforfunsummer

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Summer's Resolution

The edge between the school year and summer break feels a bit like New Year's Eve.  My brain is just about dead from the demands celebrations require of me, but I still sense a nudge to give myself some kind of new goal.  A personal purpose. A thing to look forward to before the next few months roll over me like an avalanche of everyone's else's plans.

We moms are professional activity planners for our kids and our families because:
A.) We want to make memorable moments.
B.) We realize the importance of connection.
C.) We know that kids require some direction.
D). We will lose our minds trying to do all of the entertaining ourselves!

But do we make space on the calendar for our own kinds of fun?

My Summer's Resolution is to do things just for fun.  Why should the kids have all of the adventures and play dates and camps? Let's take these next few months to check off some bucket lists of our own!

Go paddle boarding.
Play an instrument.
Paint something.
Go to a non-kid movie with friends.
Sit by the pool alone.
Decorate a room.
Go on a date.
Put together a huge puzzle.
Take a class.
Go for a run.
Do yoga.

This summer could be one for the books!  Because we reminded ourselves that's it's okay to take the kids to the library and then drop them off with Grandma while we sip iced coffee and window shop for a spell. Or we closed the bedroom door to read in peace and quiet. Honestly, taking fun breaks are a win for the whole family!

Share your #justforfunsummer on instagram: @dbyham.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Just for the Fun of It?

What if we did more things just for the fun of it?  Not for recognition.  Not for a paycheck. And not because it was included in a list of obligations.

What if we just followed our leanings and didn't care what so-and-so thought about it?  Our outfit choices, our decorating decisions, or our book selections? Or even how we organize our schedules?

What if we painted a unicorn just because we wanted to? Or wrote because we just liked the way the words fit together? Or made plans with a friend just because we liked their company?

Not for what we could get.
Not for a higher step on the social ladder.
Not for any reason whatsoever.


Maybe we'd laugh more.  Maybe we'd be a little more chill.  Maybe we'd be a lot more comfortable in our own flip flops/sneakers/heels/boots. Maybe we'd be happier moms.

Maybe we'd make people smile. Make them want some of that freedom, some of that spunk, some of that confidence.

Maybe we'd remember when we thought dandelions were flowers to wish upon and not weeds messing up our manicured yards of unrealistic expectations. That silly, not-so-serious, side of us might bloom right where it's planted. We wouldn't hide or wait for permission anymore.

I wonder if we'd finally capture that ever elusive creature we named JOY. I wonder if it would nuzzle right up to our souls like an old friend we'd been missing.  And I wonder if it would stay.

Because this one-time life is a gift for enjoying (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20).

#justforfunsummer #themomseason

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Are you underestimating your mom super powers?

Forget the cape.  Forget the ability to fly, to move things with your mind, to see through solid walls. When I became a mom, I unexpectedly acquired some real super powers.

You probably did too- even if you haven't yet discovered them.

I don't know when it happened for me exactly. It was less instantaneous than a reaction to a spider bite. Though I've been told that I produce a natural glow, the mysterious gene went largely unnoticed for years... until people started frequently asking me, Where is my hairbrush? Has anyone seen my sunglasses? Can you find the remote?

Then it happened. My senses intensified and I could see my newfound strength. 

When someone in my family cannot locate a missing item, they call meI. Am. The. Finder. of. Things. Lost library books, shoes, costume pieces, homework, permission slips, favorite stuffed animals, water bottles, broken pieces to things...You name it. I recover it.

Not to puff out my chest, put my hands confidently on my hips and brag, but I've gradually come to realize that this is a very uniquely special talent. God blessed with me kids and then simultaneously bestowed on me the necessary skills that would be required to save the planet from certain destruction. Because Heaven knows, that somebody needs to keep track of the stuff!

Also, I'm your woman if you need a human lie detector or last minute art project idea. You can call me Wonderful Woman, Magnificent Mother, Fantastic Female. Any will do. But lately, my kids like to shorten it to Mom-do-you-know-where-my-Pokemon-cards-are?

Tell me, what is your parental super power?