Gift of Parenting Advice
It's official. I am now the parent of three "adults." I use the term loosely, because turning eighteen doesn't magically make you a grown-up, but it certainly is a milestone.
Today is our youngest daughter's 18th birthday. It feels surreal. Didn't we just bring her home from the hospital as a newborn? Her special day has me feeling nostalgic, flipping through scrapbooks and old photo albums.
I stumbled across the snapshot on the left from the day we brought our middle daughter home from the hospital. The snow was piled high, and record flooding would follow. It was a spring to remember. The picture on the right is today. Some things change, some things remain the same.
To be honest, I find it all unnerving, this process of the kids growing up and building lives of their own.
I've been a mother for nearly half my life now. For twenty-five years, I've been doing the whole mom gig, and I love it. Now the dynamics are changing. Am I past the hard part? Will the rest be smooth sailing? Time will tell.
I thought it would be fun to try to remember some of the things I often said to my kids as they were growing up. I suspect they got sick of hearing some of these:
I’m sure if you asked my kids, they'd come up with lots more to add to this list. They can never claim I failed to offer sage advice!
Through the years, I like to think I've gained some empathy for other parents. It's the whole "been there, done that" deal. If I see a kid throwing a tantrum out in public, I think back to the epic meltdown one of mine had on the sidewalk at the street fair. As long as a parent is trying to calm them down, I sympathize.
If you've ever spent much time with little ones, whether as a parent, friend, teacher or relative, you've probably lived through your fair share of public outbursts and embarrassments. Kids sometimes don't know what to do with all the emotions they're feeling. It's up to us to try to help them learn.
As I sit here today, thinking back through my first twenty-five years of parenting, I consider whether I have any regrets. Of course, there will always be those parenting "fails" were we wish we'd have handled something differently, but in general, if we've approached this important job with the best of intentions and gave it our best, hopefully our list of true regrets is short.
I've tried, I've sometimes failed, but they've grown into compassionate, kind young adults and my list of regrets is short.
I do regret not writing more things down. You think you'll remember all the cute things they say or do. Trust me— you won't. At least that's been my experience.
There are things I miss from when they were all little. I miss the pile of little tennis shoes by the back door, even though the mess used to drive me crazy. I miss someone bringing me a dandelion to proudly display in a juice glass on the window sill. Like so many things in life, it's the little things we miss when we no longer have them. Perhaps the thing I miss the most is having all five of us under one roof when I go to sleep at night.
While I'm still learning what it means to be a mom, because my role continues to evolve as they grow, I hope they'll always know what a privilege it's been to be "that person" for them. The one that loves them more than life itself.
I hope we've been able to teach them a few valuable life lessons. Things like:
As a parent, we try to do our best every day. Some days will go better than others. You'll forget many of the details on your long journey together. You will forget the good, the bad, and even the ugly, but there will be special moments you'll never forget.
As my grandmother Onie always used to say—enjoy every single stage of life. I'm working hard to do just that. Because while I'm sad that their tiny shoes are no longer piled by the back door, sometimes their big boots and tennis shoes still pile up there. We must be doing something right if the two that no longer live here still come back to visit.
Life is good. I am blessed to be the mother of three awesome kids. And now I need to go bake a birthday cake for our youngest (or go buy an ice cream cake, she's always liked those best).
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend to a child, be sure to tell them how proud you are of them today. The world will be a better place when all children feel love. Kim
Gifts of Inspiration
We always need to be on the lookout for people, stories, and things that inspire us because real life can be tough.
How tough will be different for every single person on this earth. But even if you feel truly blessed in many areas of your life, there are bound to be rough spots and tough days. You'll feel bombarded and lose traction in areas where you were feeling good just yesterday. An unexpected illness, a day filled with nothing but bad news, or maybe even something as simple as hours of mundane tasks that suck you dry instead of making you smile. Too much drag and you can start to lose focus on things that are important to you.
If you missed last week's blog post, please take a few minutes to check it out. I talked about how delightful it is to have a place in our home that's all my own, a place where I can find the quiet and solitude I need when I want to create. I suspect most everyone craves a place where they can escape to, for just a little while, to pursue that which inspires them.
Throughout this past week, I also enjoyed sharing pictures of some of my favorite items in my little home office on my Facebook page. My goal was to show how easy it can be to pull together a room that can bring you joy, even when life makes you sigh.
Only a few of the items in my special room were purchased specifically for it. Most were things I already had, and I repurposed.
At this stage in life, I feel much like many of my favorite pieces. I started out with what I thought my purpose would be. But just like the old cabinet that currently holds center stage in my office has served many purposes, I also continue to evolve.
Looking back, I can't even remember my cabinet's original color or how I came to own it. Fresh out of college and furnishing my very first solo apartment, I painted it a pale blue and used it to display pretty dishes I picked up at rummage sales and auctions. I was broke but optimistic, poised at the starting line of my future career.
Later, I'd paint the cabinet a bright red, drill a few holes in the backside, and use it to display my ever-growing Christmas village collection. When my collection grew too large, my cabinet was relegated to the storage room to hold junk I no longer used but couldn't quite bear to part with yet. The cabinet still served a purpose, but I missed having its cute quirkiness out where I could see it.
I decided my cabinet needed to be a focal point in my new office. I emptied out the junk, wrestled it out of the storage room, and prepped it for yet another makeover. The doors and hardware were getting sticky from multiple layers of paint, but her current shade of red didn't fit my new vision. Sandpaper helped to remove some of the excesses. Now she gleams bright white, and her new gold hardware is like pretty jewelry on a mature woman, lending a bit of shine. She holds some of my most precious pieces, including a priceless little painting from my mom, treasures made by my kids, and more.
It’s interesting how the old cabinet's transformations have allowed her to serve so many useful functions. She likely began life as a cheap tool cabinet in some guy's garage. There's always a new way I can polish her up and find a use for her. Is this so very different from our own path through life? Can't we always transform and change, too, no matter how long we've been around or what we've done in our past? History doesn't have to dictate our future.
If we are blessed to live a life that spans multiple decades, we inevitably evolve. Some of these transformations we enjoy, we even seek them out, while other conversions happen whether we want them to or not. A key to an inspired life is to make the most of every stage.
And just like the doors on my old cabinet, things can build up and get sticky, not working as well as they used to. I mean this both metaphorically and physically! Even though it'll take work, we can banish the stickiness.
I'll share how I see this playing out for me these days. I have worked at the same company for twenty-eight years and in the same industry for thirty. I purposefully avoid specifically naming where I work because that really doesn't matter for the points I'm trying to convey. I've worked hard for them, and they've treated me well.
Companies change over time, just like we do. They must evolve to survive. We hear of different companies shutting down nearly every day now because they've failed to stay relevant. The skill sets businesses need out of the employees change, too. I work hard to learn and stay current in my roll. This is what they pay me to do. Change means uncertainty, and uncertainty can be disconcerting. You can either find a way to adapt and perhaps even thrive in that environment or let it upset you, bring you down.
Here is the thing it took me longer than it should have to figure out: your day job doesn't have to define you. I would go so far as to warn you not to let it define you. Give it your best, excel at what they pay you to do, but give yourself permission to also create and live your very best life outside of work.
This is the stage I find myself in right now, and I'm giving myself permission to pursue big dreams.
Is it always easy? Honestly, no. The days are never long enough. I have an awesome family and a small circle of incredible friends. Time with them is a priority. I've also found I truly love writing and all the different things that come along with writing and publishing books and a weekly blog.
I could pretend juggling it all is nothing but sunshine and roses, but if I really want to inspire you to live your best life, which is of utmost importance to me, anything less than honesty would be a disservice to you.
Accomplishing things, whether it's getting healthier, repairing a tattered relationship, or writing a book is hard, but it's worth it.
I don't sleep enough. This morning's brutal migraine served to remind me of this fact. I'll get a little more sleep in the week ahead. I'm late getting my third novel to my editor. My goal was to have it to him two weeks ago. I hate missing deadlines, even when they are self-imposed. I'm getting close, and I'll be head-down focused to get it sent off soon, but it'll take daily dedication. Sometimes my pretty office looks like a bomb went off in there. Juggling lots of balls at once can create a paper tornado.
Progress is messy, and frustrating at times, but it's worth it.
If you are working hard on something important to you, I understand it can be really hard. I commend you for committing to it in the first place and I’m here to help you stay on track. I try to share things that help me chase my dreams in the hopes it will help you do the same.
Never, ever be afraid to go after that thing you've always wanted to do. Or maybe you just stumbled across something new that intrigues you. Explore it further—perhaps you'll decide it's not for you. Or maybe it will open up a whole new word for you, as writing has done for me.
You never know until you try. When things get tough, it's up to you to find ways to keep yourself going. Personally, I never want to get to the end of my life and regret not trying. I may fail at some things but at least I’ll try. And since none of us know when that day will come, why not start that thing you've always wanted to do today (unless you've already started-in which case GOOD job!)?
Three things that work for me when it would be easier to sit in front of the television and watch my favorite show include:
By the way, it's perfectly fine to sit in front of the television and watch your favorite shows- just be sure to make it a reward after you’ve actually done what needs doing first!
The world around us is full of wonderful things that can inspire us in the pursuit of everything we want to do and hope to accomplish in our lifetime. Practice recognizing those things and make them a part of the environment in which you live. Fill your own cup, day in and day out, and share your own unique greatness with the world. Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!