Monday, December 29, 2008

Parenting Reflections for 2008

Hmmmm, as I sit here fingers poised and ready to type out a novel, I find myself with writer's block. Isn't that funny coming from someone who usually has way too many things on her mind and has trouble narrowing down what it is she will blog about. But that's me. I have started this post about thirty different times on probably just as many occasions, and I still am not sure what it is that I want to convey in this post. As you can see by the title of this post, it is about parenting, but what about it?

I guess I could sum it up by saying that a parent is a continual work in progress, and that no matter how awesome they appear, they are far from perfect--------ahem, speaking from experience that is. Take two weeks ago---- While I was going to the bathroom, you know who was sitting at my feet and in an instant, Dennis reached behind the shower curtain and pulled out a razor and stuck it in his mouth...... before my quick reflexes could take it out of his hands. How did I not see that one coming? Don't worry, I was there to prevent him from getting hurt, but it was sobering that even I after years of practice, didn't have it all together all of the time.

Oh, and what about Sveta's ringworm on her face? I saw that she was developing a rash on her face, but refused to believe that it was ringworm at first. Doesn't everybody know that Reed kids are too good to get ringworm? After I was thoroughly insulted by the school nurse who suggested that this is what my lovely daughter had, I went home and googled it, and sure enough, she had it. I immediately started putting on an anti-fungal cream, but the ring wasn't getting any better after two days. That is when I noticed that she kept touching it, like every few minutes. I insisted that she stop touching at, but after three more days, it was evident that she was touching it when I wasn't around. No amount of love, encouragement, begging, or demanding was going to get my sweet Sveta to stop touching it, so I got my creative parenting juices flowing.
"Sveta, No gum or candy until your ringoworm goes away. That means, don't touch it!"
And guess what? Within two days, the ring was nearly flat, and on the third day, we celebrated. Sveta got a piece of gum. I winked at her, and pointed to my nose and simply said, "Mama knows."
Little things like this happen everyday..... I think it comes with the territory, and I can certainly handle it, but there are times when I feel like I am not enough, not patient enough, not caring enough, not strong enough, not wise enough, and not able to do the things that I was sure I could handle. Actually...... I don't feel this way too often, but when Dennis started bleeding and had to be rushed to the hospital, I panicked feeling very inadequate. Everything I knew about parenting temporarily slipped my mind, and as I rode to the hospital thinking that perhaps the child in my arms would die, I wondered if he would have been better off just staying in the orphanage. My heart knew the answer to be no, but my head thought that if he was still there, he would not be riding in an ambulance having blood sucked out of his mouth to keep from choking.
All I was able to do was hold my son.
Even my faith temporarily faltered as I wondered if God would indeed save Dennis. Only when the bleeding stopped, did I have peace that Dennis was going to be okay. What kind of mother loses hope, if even for a second------ just because things are out of her control? I know. This kind of mother. Later, my husband told me that as he was racing home in the car, he felt God telling him that Dennis was going to be okay. That was when I was gently reminded that I was not doing this alone, and that while I momentarily didn't have everything it takes to be an awesome parent, I didn't have to be because God was right there picking up the slack.
Well........... God picks up the slack for me many times a day.
And it doesn't make me weak to admit that. In fact, I have told my kids on more than one occasion that when they do something that makes me upset with them and even possibly makes me dislike them because of their behavior, they can take comfort in knowing that I turn to God to fill in and make up what I am unable to give at that moment. And because of that, they can trust that I will always love and be there for them, no matter what.
Everyday, I am learning to be more patient, and I am working hard at being gentler and softer when I speak. This is an area where I need major work, but it was really encouraging to have my daughter notice and say two days in a row, "Look at Mama. She is being gentler when she speaks." Hunh?, (looking both ways), where did she get that? Gentler? I was just trying to keep from raising my voice when I speak. But, I can handle being called gentler, although she hasn't used those words to describe me in a few days.
As a mother, I have to continually be open to change, and I have to remind my children that they have to be open to change too. Just because we are in a comfortable place in the mean time doesn't mean that things are going to stay that way forever. Just this year, I became the parent to not one but two teenagers, and with that comes change. Not just on my part, but on their part too. This year, I took my kindergartner out of school because he needed to be home with me one more year. Had I been unwilling to change or acknowledge that my son just wasn't ready for school yet would have been detrimental to his well being, I believe. Just a month ago, I had to address one of my son's obsessions with fire----- which was a huge change for me. These are just to name a few.
Recently, John and I had a major breakthrough with one of our daughters. It started out with something trivial------- another daughter coming to us and saying that someone had been in her room to turn on her Christmas lights without asking. The rule in our home is to not touch something that is not yours without the permission of the owner, so for the daughter whose lights were touched, this was a big deal. I went around asking each child, and each one said it wasn't them except for one who said that Dennis probably had done it. Stupid, stupid me, actually entertained that thought, and was almost convinced that it couldn't possibly be the daughter who was the only one who had alone time in the room, who had a habit of using things without permission, and who was trying to blame someone else. Even after 2 years home, she was more convincing than ever and stupid, stupid me even went back and asked the daughter with the lights if she had made up the story to get someone else in trouble. Of course, I apologized for that one, and learned a valuable lesson about my forgiving and very honest daughter, and had my husband who is often times much wiser than I deal with our lying daughter.
He came down on her very matter-of-factly, and said that he knew that she had turned on the lights. Her story changed. Now, she probably did do it, but her brain couldn't remember doing it. Still a lie, but to her, she was convinced that she had us convinced. Thankfully, I was doing something with the other kids, and my husband wasn't buying it. Eventually, the truth came out, hard as it was, and our daughter learned once more the same thing we have been teaching her from day one. Consistency continually, I like to call it. It was hard to see just how much more work we have cut out for ourselves with her on such a simple thing as lying. She was willing to blame another child, she was willing to have the whole family forgo movie night, and she was willing to lie to our face not once, but as many times as it took to deny that she did anything wrong. At the end of her confession, I was not so graceful. Probably because it was like pulling teeth to get the truth out of her, and mainly because I thought that we were past this kind of nonsense.
This happened five days ago, and we did go on to enjoy a wonderful Christmas with her, but until she has rebuilt her character--- one of honesty and trustworthiness which amounts to being responsible and respectful, she will enjoy a much earlier bedtime and less privileges than her sisters. I periodically joke with her that I wonder if she will still have an early bedtime when she is seventeen.
As I wrap up this post, I am still blessed to report that I am doing exactly what it is that I want to do with my life........ and through it all, it is still very rewarding, every last bit of it. I am still excited that I found a solution to my sock dilemma, I am still following the five finger rule, and I remind my kids daily that they are all stuck with me. My wonderful husband and I are getting ready to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.... with overnight childcare courtesy of my Mom and sister. If we still don't have trouble getting people to watch our kids, that must mean we are doing something right, right? Ending with a big smile!


  1. this is really wonderful post! I can feel your love for your family in´s so great how you keep going even though there are small difficulties :) just keep smiling :P

  2. You have so much to feel proud about and you should know what a great mom you are. Look around at your children and see the loving home and security you give them with John.

  3. Love, Love, LOVE this precious letter and reminder of God's Faithfulness.. . .I just love the idea of a parenting letter too!

    Thanks for sharing. . .I just may tackle this one too!


  4. I`m glad I`m not the only one who has doubts about her ability to parent. And despite your problems, you are obviously an amazing mom!

  5. Christine,
    I look forward to reading your blog everyday. But I have to say that this post is my favorite. I love how you are so honest and not afraid to put your feelings out there so others may grow as parents just by reading them. Thank you for opening your heart and "keeping it real" for all of us. You are an amazing Mom and I look forward to reading about you and your family next year. Happy New Year!

  6. great reflections...i am constantly looking for my gentle and softer's def a work in progress!

  7. What a great post!! You are putting words to so many of my thoughts. one moment at a time right, and yes I have to say you are doing A LOT right!!! Praise GOD for his faithfulness!

  8. hey! I just wanted to tell you that I pray for your family all the time and that I think you are doing an amazing job. I have ringworm on my arm, I got it from a kid at the after school care where I work. And now people freak out when they see it, it isn't going away. It itches and is hard not to touch it. Praying for you and may the Lord bless you and keep you may the Lord cause His face to shine down upon you and may He grant you peace.

  9. Oh the trials of motherhood. It is nice to have peace even when the children try to challenge that. I have three kids and they all have their own set of drama. But overall, they are all three great kids. I'm very blessed to have each one in my life. One thing that I have been praying for is to learn how to contain my anger more. I have been under so much stress and it is very easy for me to lash out and I have felt very bad about it. So pray with me!

    I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's.

  10. I love it. You are keeping it real. And that's what God asks from us in addition to relying on Him. I'm soooo glad He is there to pick up the slack. I needed that this summer with our sweet girl, learning as I went. God was so merciful to us all, and He taught us so much!

    Happy New Year to your wonderful family, and many blessings in the coming year from our great God and Father!

  11. HI Christine!
    You have to admit that you have had a jam-packed year!!! You've done more in one year than most of us in 5 or 6!!
    I can so-totally relate to the teeth-pulling feeling with the lying child..I have one too... One of the things I try to remember is that some poor girl is going to get stuck with him later... I better work harder so she does not have to deal with it too!!!

    Take care!

  12. Christine,I absolutely loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing. You are such a great mom.

    I think we, as moms, always lose our "brain" when our children are hurt or sick. That is exactly why God is there for us. He loves us and takes care of us. I can't tell you how many times I have doubted myself as a mother, only to have my 3 sons tell me what a great mom I am. I still doubt myself, even now as my sons are grown. But, one thing is for sure. We do the absolute best that we can.

    I really do wish that someone had written a parent manual though. It would have made life a whole lot easier...Have a wonderful day.

  13. Ditto to everything said so far. You really inspire me, thank you for being willing to say these sorts of things so that new moms like me can know that we aren't hopeless.

  14. Sounds like some days we are dealing with the same things. I have one that has to go to bed early just because it is so emotionally draining dealing with him.

    Jasmine's surgery was unsuccessful and left her with a HUGE scar that looks like someone went after her with a butcher knife!!! Ugh.

  15. Awesome post as usual and I am happy to hear Dennis is Ok. You are a great mom and I know you encourage me an awful lot from your posts. Hope you have a blessed New Year!

  16. Dear Christine,
    Loved your introspection, and we all have the same struggles. I'm so glad you're working on being soft spoken, as it is something I am also working on. Sharing the struggle is like dieting together...but that issue gets to wait until after New Years!
    Don't worry too much about the lying thing. I mean, you have to work on it, but none of yours are past the early teens and we had a heck of a time with it at that age for 2 of our boys. One of them was still not entirely reliable at age 16, and now at age 21 he has the morals of a saint. Of course, he was a smart, bio kid with no cognitive or historical issues, so an adoptive child might be a different story. However, as he got older the consequences got MUCH stiffer, and we had a rule that anyone who wanted to drive had to go 6 mos. w/o even the slightest misleading statement. This tripped up both our older boys, one of whom lied about food in his room (lost 4 mos for that one) and the other who lost 2 mos for a lie that I can't even remember. We put the date of the lies on the calendar and refused to get a license for 6 mos. We did warn them about the rule 6 months in advance so they had no one to blame for falling into the "trap." And, the rascal who lied the most drove a friend in violation of another rule and lost 4 more months just 2 months after being licensed! Just last year our then 13 yo cheated on home school tests and I still don't fully trust him even tho he is a great kid. So, even though you are discouraged, I think lying in teens is fairly normal. Ugh!
    Sherry in Ohio

  17. Love this post. I have been going backwards each night and reading a few entrees. I admire your parenting style and love so many of your ideas. (The comforters were too cute)
    I hope you don't mind, but I added your blog to my blog. (you can add mine too) I don't have the great writing style you have, mostly photos of what we are doing!! Anyway, thanks for sharing!

  18. Of course it is a work in progress :-) when we start thinking we know it all and can stop trying, THAT is when we are in error. You guys do a beautiful job with all of your kids!

  19. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your life! You are an inspiration to me. Reading your blog is a blessing to me and I'm constantly learning from you! Have a blessed 2009!

  20. I love your honesty, and as always, I think you're doing an amazing job. You are an inspiration as a mom and as a Christian!

  21. I find your blog to be such an encouragement. Our kids are nearly 20, 18 and 16. The oldest is in her own apartment and the 18 year old is a freshman at college, which leaves us with only our 16 year old son at home most of the time. We started our family young and have looked into adoption... years ago we even started the paperwork. We have gone through some things with our children that, at times, make me glad we didn't adopt... but, there's a part of me that still thinks about it. I don't talk to my husband about it. It's why I read your blog. I know just how hard parenting gets and I've done a lot of research on the issues many adoptive parents face. The last time my husband and I talked about it he was in the absolutely not place...

    You have a very open and friendly writing style. Your honesty and your committment are inspiring.

  22. "...I turn to God to fill in and make up what I am unable to give at that moment. And because of that, they can trust that I will always love and be there for them, no matter what."

    I like that. Thanks for sharing. This was a nice post.

  23. What a great post. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you all a blessed new year!

  24. Oh so much I can relate with. I don't know how you do it. We are still licensed as Foster Parents and don't know how a 4th child would work and I wonder about my ability to manage - you Wow me. The lieing child - have one too - a work in progress for truth. Great letter. Blessings to your family in the new year and continued good health for Dennis - he is in the right home!

  25. I this this may be your best post ever! It makes me feel good to know that even the best parents have their doubts (and you fall into the ranks of the best).


  26. Your have much wisdom to share and for that I am grateful. You have such a wonderful family and I am glad to see that you had such a nice holiday. Here's to many more wondeful times to come. God Bless you all!

  27. You are doing more than just "something" right! Lots of somethings... :)

  28. This is an absolutely wonderful post--straight from the heart, so real. Thanks for letting all of us know you. It's a pleasure. Have a wonderful new year!

  29. I love your honesty in this post!!! I have felt like this many days and the post really speaks to my heart. I also had to smile about the incident with your son, b/c I remember riding in the back of the ambulance with my child, me crying nonstop, after she got into the rat poison while I was in the shower and when she was supposed to be asleep. I kept thinking, I know better, I know better. It's refreshing to read about other moms going thru the same things as me. Parenting is hard work, but I love it. Dana


I find your comments so inspiring! Thanks for visiting our family blog, and sharing your thoughts.