Of ponies and parenting

My sweet T just loves horses. I don’t know where she gets it, but she has that true devotion–passion–and innate ability that just floors me. She’s been fascinated with them since she turned 2. And it has only grown stronger and more fervent. I knew I was in for the long haul as a horseback mama when she wanted me to take her to work at the barn one Saturday. No ride. Just mucking stalls. This is Taylor with her riding instructor, Erin. Erin has been such a blessing to our family. She is a Godly woman who motivates and inspires Taylor. I love that they both have on pink shirts (Moms Panel pink, I call it-my Disney friends will get this one)! And did you read my girl’s shirt? It says “Yes, I was raised in a barn.” Yes, she is horse crazy. Which makes it even harder as a parent when inevitably, your wonderful, loving, kind child temporarily becomes the spawn of Satan in her attitude and you MUST take away the thing she loves the most. (I feel as if I’m letting you glimpse into our evening last night with that last statement). But certain situations call for tough parenting, and a crackdown was already brewing for the past few days. I absolutely know that punishing her by taking horseback away is the most effective tool I have–but I can’t help but feel it undermines the commitment/dedication character I’m trying to instill in the kids. You know what this sounds like: “we have committed to this activity for the year and we’re going to follow through.” But what their behavior trumps that, all bets are off. Game changer. Ah, parenting, why does it have to throw so many curveballs? (shakes hand at the sky)

Any sage advice you can offer on what works for you? Or reassurance would be welcome, too…I could sure use it! (sigh)

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Milestones

Walking around Target, I was blindsided. “Mom, can I buy a bra?” An innocent enough request. After all, she is ten, though she hardly NEEDS to wear one. And yet I am dumbfounded and rendered speechless (no small feat, I assure you). I SHOULD have seen this coming. But it’s like I’m living in Denial-land. And of course she decides to go for the one-two punch a few days later, asking to have her ears pierced. Yes, I know as parents we can say NO. And I often do. But with Taylor, I know these requests are more about confidence and self-assurance, and she is saying, “I’m ready, Mom.” Ready to bridge the gap between little girl and young woman. Moving on from kid to tween.

So I am now the mom of a bra-wearing, ear pierced ten year old (but keep it on the down-low because she would FLIP if she knew I had shared this). I just have to sigh and stifle the tears a bit. Because it’s not about me. She is testing those wings. And this is all part of the process where I learn to let my babies go. Thankfully, it’s a long progression and I have many years left. But here in Denial-land, the warning bells are going off.

Over a month ago, I discovered a bird’s nest in our garage. The mama bird had built it in my party decorations box stored on a top shelf. From that moment, we had to leave our garage door open-all the time. Even while we were gone to the beach for vacation (thankfully we have awesome neighbors). And we watched for weeks. And waited. Until finally, we heard little chirps. Saw the 3 babies. Even after I was convinced that they babies were dead (in my defense, there was no chirping and I hadn’t seen mama bird), they made it. Our garage-bound baby birds lived. And we witnessed their takeoff. Actually, we had to help them escape our messy garage, to the backyard where mama bird waited to begin flying lessons. (Because they might have gotten lost in the maze of all our crap and never gotten out.) Out of habit, we left the garage open that night-just in case-but they didn’t return to the nest. They were out in the world. And who knows how long with their mama until they flew off for good. I marvel at that when I think about my baby birds. Nope, I’m not ready. But I better get there. Like it or not, flying lessons have already begun.

In the Bleak Midwinter

Here it is Day 2 of Snowmageddon 2011 (aka lots of snow/ice in SC). And school has been wisely cancelled for tomorrow, too. Our days have been filled with snowball fights, sledding, hot chocolate, fires, movies, games, and snowcream. And now I’m gettin’ a bit antsy. A little cranky. Wondering how many more days of this are to come. In other words, cabin fever is setting in. And we are not crazy enough to go out driving in it because most roads are sheets of ice right now. And yeah, there’s that thing called 4 wheel drive-don’t have that! Did I mention we may get sleet tonight? So our winter exile continues.

I HAD a week chock full of activities, lunches, and closings, darn it! Things to DO. And yet I feel conflicted, too. Why is it that I run myself ragged with a packed schedules and a to-do list longer than my arm? Remember a few years ago when we were freaking out about the idea of avian flu and the concept that we would have to hunker down in our homes for 3 weeks (GASP!) WTH? I can’t even handle 3 DAYS! And what would I be saying if the power went out? Then again, it makes me wonder-would slowing down really be so bad?Maybe that’s exactly what I need…time away from the iPhone and calendar and email. Huddling around candles and telling stories. Snuggled up under blankets to keep warm. OK so I don’t like the concept of no HEAT but I will say the thought of allowing myself to just chill out might also change my outlook.

Sometimes when I blog, a title is hard to come by. In this case, I thought of the title first and couldn’t get it out of my head. Where exactly did the phrase “bleak midwinter” come from anyway? The answer lies in a poem penned by Christina Rossetti in 1872 that was turned into a Christmas carol:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Puts it all in perspective doesn’t it? Suddenly the midwinter doesn’t seem so bleak.

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