5 Things To Remember While Raising a Strong-Willed Child.

There are a handful of topics that I consider myself to be an expert on. One of those are strong-willed children. I have had exactly 9 years, 7 months, and 3 days of intense training in this area. My training doubled approximately 5 years, 7 months, and 14 days ago when my second strong willed child screamed her way into my house. So if that doesn’t make me an expert, I don’t know what does.

I haven’t written any books on the subject yet because those types of books have to be written once the child moves out. One can’t possibly accomplish writing a book until they leave. But in the meantime, here are 5 things to remember while raising a strong willed child…or two if you are as blessed as I am.

  1. The desire behind nearly everything they do is control. Good behavior, bad behavior…it doesn’t matter. They want to control all of the things. And I say, just let them when it’s reasonable to let them. Be selective about the hills you allow them to slay you on.
  2. Their love is every bit as fierce as their hate. But the two cannot exist at the same time. It really is in your personal best interest for them to love you more often than not.
  3. * You can’t break their spirits. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve read that you must be cautious not to break the spirit of a strong willed child. That makes me laugh. The spirits of truly strong willed children can’t be broken. Their spirits can be wounded temporarily, not broken.
  4. Prison is a real place. Sometimes this thought alone is the only thing that keeps me somewhat in line.
  5. They will eventually move out. Unless they refuse to move out. I’m already aware that I may have to sell my house and move and not tell them where I have moved to.

And if this stuff makes you roll your eyes or think for one moment that I am a pushover, congratulations…you don’t have a strong-willed child. If you think you *might* have a strong-willed child, you don’t have a strong willed child. When you have one, you know it. There isn’t a shred of doubt in your mind. And when you have two or more, may God have mercy on your soul.

*And regarding #3, it probably is possible to break their spirits, but not with acceptable and legal parenting practices. Obviously if a child is abused, their spirits can be shattered into a million pieces. I’m not talking about that.

 

Dear Public Breastfeeding Mom,

I noticed you tonight in a packed restaurant. I glanced at you a few times. And I smiled. You caught me glancing at you. I think I made you feel self-conscious. I’m sorry.

I wasn’t looking at you for pervy or judgmental reasons. Not at all. I glanced at you because I was a breastfeeding mom a long time ago. Because I still mourn that I just had the one child that I *could* breastfeed. Because I saw a beautiful mommy loving her baby. Because you are brave. I wish I had been more brave like you. Any time I see a parent being an amazing parent, I kind of want to sneak a peek. I want to cheer them on. I wanted to tell you these things, but that might have been awkward. So instead, I made you feel uncomfortable and then I left without you knowing why.

When I see a Grandpa tickle his grandkid, when I see a Daddy carefully put his little girl’s hair behind her ear, when I see an older sister grab the hand of a little brother to walk across the street before her mother tells her to, and yes, when I see a mommy breastfeeding her baby… those are just some of the beautiful moments in life that I want to actually notice.

You shouldn’t have to be brave to openly feed your child in public. But you are brave. May you continue to be brave no matter how many glances you get.❤

Maybe not so insignificant after all.

It’s funny how little things can completely change the trajectory of a life.

A year ago, I found my HBU diploma while cleaning and laughed to myself how crazy it is that I’ll be paying for that piece of paper forever, but would never actually use it. Now I have a super cool job that I wouldn’t have without it, and am scheduled to start on my Master’s in two weeks. If someone had told me a year ago I would be working toward a Master’s, I would have belly laughed. No. Way.

When I started at HBU, I was actually a music major. I had been playing tenor saxophone for lots of years at that point. I was decent, but no shining star. And since music theory is basically math, I struggled in a huge way. That along with the fact that my saxophone instructor, who has since passed away God rest his soul, reeked of cigarette smoke, coffee, and Dentyne gum and had no appreciating for personal space, I decided to change my major after completing my first quarter.

I had no idea what to do that that point. My mom offered for me to just come back home. Leave HBU while you figure it out. No rush. But I knew that if I left, I’d never return. I’d never get a degree in anything. My roommate was majoring in business. “Major in business,” she said, “We can share books,” she said. And so that was how the decision was made. Without ever even giving a thought to majoring in business, I changed my major to Business Administration with an emphasis in Management. I had never managed anything, not even really my own life.

And I did well. Again, no shining star, but I graduated with a decent GPA. One of my professors was always trying to nail me down on my “goals” or whatever. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “What career path do you see yourself on?” I only ever wanted to be a mom. The degree was jut a back up plan. A just in case it all fell apart parachute to have. It wasn’t the answer she wanted, but it’s the answer I always gave her. I guess that’s why I didn’t give much thought to what I would major in. I never really had a plan to use it anyway. All I ever wanted to be was a mom.

And thankfully, God granted me that huge desire. Four fold. And I became the manager of lots of things. We intentionally set up our lives in a way that didn’t require two incomes. Eight years ago, in an effort to bring in money without having to get a “real job,” I began photography. No training. I just had a knack for it and the knack grew. Having my own business allowed me to stay home with the kids I so desperately wanted. It allowed us to make improvements to our home we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. And every now and then, little nuggets of info from my days at HBU would make their way into my business and make it better.

My photography business, combined with that degree I thought I’d never use, provided the education and experience I needed to finally begin a “real” career at the age of 37. I’ll graduate with an MS in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at the age of 41. And then who knows…

And it’s really all because of a series of seemingly insignificant, and even some irresponsible, decisions along the way. It’s because I was somewhat directionless. It’s because he smelled like cigarettes and Dentyne. It’s because of the potluck roommate. It’s because we splurged on a semi decent camera that we probably couldn’t afford. It’s because my husband thinks I can do anything. It’s because the person who is now my boss took a chance on me.

But mostly, it’s because God has directed my steps when I had no idea where I was going.

He paid it forward.

Every now and then, something is too long for Facebook, but still something worth sharing.🙂

I took the kids to the park after school. After Katie asked if she could pee in the grass and before a stranger pointed out that Katie had on mismatched shoes, I noticed a little boy who wanted to be pushed on a swing. He looked a little younger than Brittany.

He yelled and asked his mom several times to push him. She was on her phone. So was I so I’m not being judgy about that. After all, my girl child had just asked to pee in the grass. Anyway, he was sitting on the swing, pouting. He sat there for a while. He looked like he was about to cry. I couldn’t go push him myself because I didn’t really want to any more than his mom did, to tell you the truth.

I called Britt over. She’s always looking for people to help. I told her that she should go ask that little boy if he wanted her to push him on the swing. She gladly ran over to him. I couldn’t hear her, but after she spoke to him, his entire face just lit up. He nodded with his whole little body. She pushed him for several minutes and he just smiled the whole time. Like the lay your head back and look at the sky kind of smile.

Now this is the cool part… After he got off of the swing and Brittany ran off to play, he stood by the swing and I watched that little boy push several other kids who needed help swinging. For the rest of the time that we were at the park, he pushed other kids on the swing. And smiled.

 

 

 

 

I decided to cook eggs.

I don’t normally do any kind of cooking in the morning before school. In fact, 3 out of 5 days, my kids typically eat breakfast at school. I shoo them out to the car by 7:20 and then my job is done. But this morning, I decided to cook eggs.

Shouldn’t be a huge deal. It’s not that hard to cook eggs, but when you’re already at the maximum capacity of things to do, cooking eggs just doesn’t really fit in. I was stressed out. More than normal.

So when Mikey is doing his Mikey things… saying “chicken nugget” or “soy sauce” or “ice cream” or any combination of those plus any other words he wants, tapping on his glass incessantly, and asking all of the questions in the world, I snapped a little.

“Mikey!!! You are making me want to say EVERY bad word that I know….and I know a lot!!”

It’s really the eggs’ fault.

And later, because of the eggs, we were running late. They were all just standing there, waiting for me to bark commands as if they don’t know the things they need to do. So I said, “You guys are all just standing around with your thumbs up your butts. I don’t know how any of you get anything done.” I know, classy. Whatever.

Jackson…”Awkward…”

Mikey…”If we were doing that, we would all need to go wash our hands.”

And then we all died laughing.

I decided to cook eggs, which led to a super stressful morning that ended with us all laughing. I don’t need to cook eggs, or anything really, before taking my kids to school. Not ever again.

 

Because 4 kids, 1 dog, and 1 cat wasn’t already chaotic enough…

The story of Hatch.

Confession: After we got Chuy and he was 97%…okay, maybe 86% perfect in every way, I wanted to duplicate him. I kind of wanted ten of him. And so in my weak moments, I would occasionally look online for available piebald dachshund puppies. Shame. On. Me.

And then on Saturday, I accidentally found one. I found one that wasn’t too far of a drive that looked so much like Chuy. And my sweet husband is as much of a sucker for me as I am for cream cheese. I really don’t know why, but he gave in. I may or may not have bribed him with another guitar in the near(ish) future. I really can’t say.

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So I made arrangements with the breeder to pick him up Sunday evening. The kids didn’t know. Jackson was in the know when we got Chuy so I decided he would be surprised this time around. About 15 minutes before we needed to leave for the 2 1/2 hour drive, I told Jack to get dressed and that he was coming with me. I wouldn’t tell him where we were going. I wouldn’t answer any questions. He was not pleased. When he wasn’t sleeping in the van on the way to Goliad, he was complaining and telling me this was possibly the worst day of his life. I smiled.

And then we drove up to a house in the middle of nowhere land. I secretly hoped this wasn’t just a trap to kill us. I wished that I was a gun person just for a moment. I wished at the very least that I had thought to give Phillip the address of where we were going.

Jack still had absolutely no idea why we were there. None. We walked in their very nice, but slightly doggy smelling house. They didn’t kill us at all, but instead, showed us to a pen with two sweet little puppies. Jack’s eyes got big and he said, “Are we…?” I nodded. And he sat down in the kitchen of the people who didn’t kill us and held this sweet puppy. He said it was worth the drive.

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And so far, it hasn’t been the worst decision of my life. Not by a long shot. Chuy and Hatch, both named after Chuy’s, our favorite restaurant, are getting along so great! They have both played a little too rough. Chuy doesn’t quite understand how little Hatch is or how big he is. Chuy is over 20 pounds now! Hatch is 5.5. Chuy is being a good big brother. Chuy even allows the puppy to eat out his bowl while he’s eating out of it. Hatch is doing unbelievably well with house training. I’m shocked! And right now, they are both curled up together in one kennel sleeping.

Yeah, I think this might just work out just fine. And I promised never to look online for puppies again. The end.

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Lost teeth and other things.

We’ve had many tears shed over lost teeth in this house. I don’t know how many teeth have already been pulled, and our girls haven’t even lost a single one yet. Many more lost teeth are yet to come.

We blew it so big on the very first loose tooth we had to deal with as parents. Jack had a pretty loose tooth. It wasn’t ready to be pulled, but because we were total newbies, we absolutely thought that it was. Because we didn’t know enough to know what we didn’t know. And so we fought and we pulled and we tugged and we pushed and we begged and he cried and it was stupid stupid stupid. There may have even been pliers involved. We traumatized all of us with that first loose tooth.

I don’t know if I’ve even tried to pull a tooth since then. We just let them stay there until they come out on their own. Phillip’s dad has pulled plenty and bless him for it. Even our friend Dedee pulled one of Mikey’s teeth a few months back. I won’t do it. I learned my lesson. That was definitely one of our firsts of many parenting fails.

Mikey lost a tooth this evening. It’s been loose for a while. He came in and begged me to pull it. I told him nope and sent him on his way. He came in two minutes later bleeding from the mouth and grinning. I continued to sit on the couch and eat my pizza. With child one, I agonized about that stupid first lost tooth for hours. This tooth didn’t even cause a blip in my day.

When I think about this whole tooth experience, it reminds me of so many other things we’ve learned so far. So many unnecessary battles we have fought. Food battles, sleeping battles, clothes battles, homework battles…the list goes on and on. And believe me, we still continue to fight and pull and tug and push and beg and sometimes they cry and at times it’s stupid stupid stupid.

But I think that maybe with each lost temper and lost battle and even lost tooth, we just become more at ease with all of this. Raising kids is hard enough. Let’s not make it harder than it has to be. Just let the teeth fall where they may.😉

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Lightning speed

Our life is speeding past me. Every day when I drop the kids off at school, I swear I just did it 2 hours ago, not 24. Every time I help kids with baths, I know it surely hasn’t been two days (or three) since the last one. Can’t be. And I say “help with bath” because I don’t actually have to do it anymore! Mikey needs no help at all…with bathing that is. The child needs help in other ways.🙂  And Brittany actually washes her own hair and Katie’s hair. I no longer have to bathe children. And I swear, I had to wash three little nekkid bodies all at the same time like 2 weeks ago. It couldn’t have been years. Impossible.

We are so crazy busy.

But we are also just in a really peaceful place…somehow. I’m not exactly sure how we can be this busy and still have peace. I’m not sure, but I’ll take it.

I started a new job in August. It’s part time. There is NO WAY on earth I could work full time. I have no idea how other parents do it. No clue how they do it. I guess I could do it if I had to. We do what we have to do. This job is a really great opportunity and I feel very fortunate. But it is seriously interfering with my 1-2 load of laundry a day requirement. Staying on top of things has become next to impossible. BUT the world will not stop spinning if I get behind on laundry.

The kids are all doing relatively well in school, considering their parents provide very little assistance or support. Brittany and Mikey are very good about doing their homework without me hounding them. And Brittany, my most helpful child, helps Katie with her homework. Jackson could do better in school, but I’m afraid he inherited more from me than just his cute face.

Phillip cooks basically all of the meals these days. My kids don’t even ask me what’s for dinner anymore. The other day, Brittany said, “Has dad cooked dinner yet?” And I knew that I had arrived.

So we are good. We really are seriously good. And I’m feeling like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop less and less. In fact, I’m not sure a shoe has dropped in a good while now. Shoes certainly get lost regularly, left outside in the rain, and chewed up by the most precious dog ever. But one hasn’t dropped in a while.

I’m thankful. But I kind of wish things would slow down just a little. I cannot wake up tomorrow and have them in college. We’ve got to save first.

Day in Kemah with these two
Day in Kemah with these two
Halloween 2015
Halloween 2015
Chuy's 7th birthday in dog years.
Chuy’s 7th birthday in dog years.
Super Brain Yoga
Super Brain Yoga

10 random things I love other than my husband and kids.

In no particular order…

1. Cream Cheese. It goes all on all of the things. You can put it on almost all things and it makes it instantly better.

2. Bacon. I’m a vegetarian. Sort of. But I eat bacon. Because without bacon, what is the point of life? And like cream cheese, it makes almost all things better.

3. Books. I love getting lost in books. I used to read scary, horrible gruesome stuff, but not so much anymore. I like to read peaceful stuff. I need peace.

4. Coffee.

5. My bed.

6. Slow pace. There are times when everything is on high speed. I need slow as often as I can find it.

7. Easy. Easy food. Easy driving. Easy friendships. Easy conversation. Easy cleanup. Easy hairstyles. Easy makeup. Easy bill pay. Easy shoes. Easy yard work. There are enough hard things in life. Some things just need to be easy.

8. Jesus. I’m no Bible thumper. Not at all. And I’ll be honest, there are MANY things that I’m unsure about, but I feel pretty good about Jesus.

9. Learning. I LOVE knowing next to nothing about something and delving into it hours and hours and hours until I know as much as I care to know. Want some medical research done? Just ask me. I’ll lose lots of sleep over it.

10. My dog. He completes me. The end.❤