A Letter To My Son On His 18th Birthday

Seth 10.6Dear Son,

Happy Birthday!

You have waited patiently for this day. The day you become your own man. The day you can live life by your own rules. The day you can make your own decisions. I hope this day is everything you imagined, but, before you go and celebrate, we wanted to tell you a few things we wish we had known when we were 18.

  1. Being an adult is not about fun and freedom. It’s about character. Make wise choices and well thought out decisions. Consider all of your actions with your future in mind, because everything you do will have an effect on your life in some way. Study each situation and have the proper perspective. There is no such thing as an easy decision.
  2. Remember, every single decision you make, action you take and sentence you speak will have an effect on others. You may not know the individuals you affect, but you will affect someone. Always take that into consideration. Everyone is free to do and say as they please. However, once your actions or words are impeding on someone else’s rights, human decency needs to come into play.
  3. See beyond the surface of those around you. Pay attention. Everyone is dealing with some sort of demon. Their smiles don’t necessarily mean happiness. Offer to help. When we reach out to others, it brings meaning and purpose into our lives.
  4. If there is jealousy or misunderstandings toward you, repay the ugliness with kindness, love, understanding and forgiveness. Love everyone… even those who are hard to love.
  5. Be respectful to everyone… always… no exceptions. Everyone deserves respect. Even if someone is treating you poorly, treat him or her with respect. It shows character and strength. We are all different in so many ways and, no matter our differences, we are all the same on the inside.
  6. Treat a woman like a Queen. Always ask permission. Always use your best manners (open doors, hold hands, introduce her, say please and thank you, let her order first). Pay attention. Listen to her when she speaks. Thank her for the things she does. Compliment her and don’t expect anything in return. If you’re unhappy with your relationship, be honest and leave. NEVER cheat! Always be honest. Don’t put her down and don’t EVER hit!
  7. Always take the high road. No matter the situation or how you are being treated, take the high road. Don’t sink to another person’s level. It’s never worth the consequences.
  8. Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you will run into that person or company again in your life and will need to depend on one of them. Always keep every relationship in the green… even if you don’t really care too much about said person or company.
  9. Remember who you are. Decide what is important to you and define your values. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. Don’t be afraid to be you.
  10. Intelligence and wisdom are not the same. Intelligence is the ability to learn. Wisdom is using knowledge and experience to make good choices. Many intelligent people have no idea how to put their knowledge to use. You are a very smart young man. Use your knowledge to help you create a wonderful life.
  11. You’re a very kind person with a beautiful heart. Stay that way. Don’t let the ugliness of this world have any effect on you.
  12. Be the very best you can be in all circumstances. If you don’t put your full effort into whatever it is you’re doing, then it’s not worth doing. You won’t get the result you’re looking for. You won’t learn what you need to learn. It’s not worth your time.
  13. Don’t quit when the going gets rough. Life is full of difficulties and each one will make you stronger and a better person. Learn from your struggles, try a little harder and get it done.
  14. Know when you are wrong, admit your mistake and ask for forgiveness. No excuses.
  15. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to. So, don’t doubt your abilities. On the other hand, don’t think too highly of yourself, either. Humility is a strong characteristic.
  16. There is no substitute for hard work. The process of working toward a goal can be as rewarding as the achievement itself.
  17. Never stop learning. There’s a whole world to be explored beyond the classroom… long after graduation.
  18. Refuse to have “what ifs”. The only things in life you’ll regret are the risks you don’t take.
  19. Keep an open mind. Others will often have ideas worth pursuing. Don’t assume you’re right just because you were taught or raised to do something a certain way or believe a specific view. The world is full of ideas and possibilities.
  20. Listen more than you speak. You will learn and achieve more by paying attention to others and trying to understand their point of view than trying to get others to pay attention to you and prove your own point of view. Plus, people always appreciate being heard.
  21. Volunteer at something you are passionate about. Giving without expecting anything in return is the best way to learn about life, about others and about you.
  22. Keep your promises. Trust is earned and, once it is lost, it’s incredibly difficult to earn back. If you’re fortunate enough to receive someone’s trust, don’t give it away.
  23. Value your family. We are the ones who will be there for you no matter what… without judgment… without question… we love you unconditionally.
  24. Make friends with those who respect you as much as you respect them, with those who will be honest with you and appreciate your honesty in return and with those who are willing to lend an ear as much as they are willing to ask for yours.
  25. Be safe. This sounds easy. However, life is a challenge no matter what path you take. You will always have temptations of all sorts. Just walk away. They may seem like fun, but the outcome is always an ugly picture.
  26. Trust in God. He has a plan for you. He always listens. When you feel overwhelmed or scared or unsure… Give it to God. He will always guide you and watch over you. When you feel happy or blessed or thankful… Give it to God. Praise Him. He has provided you with a wonderful life.
  27. When all else fails, when you need an answer you just can’t come up with on your own, when you need to bounce an idea off of someone or when you just need to talk… Call your Mom!! I can fix anything!

Son, you are an amazing young man. Your love for your family, your work ethic, your sense of humor and your drive to give and help others are just a few of the things that make us proud. No words can adequately describe our love for you. We are blessed to call you our son…. And, today, we are pleased to call you a man.

Love Always and Forever,

Dad and Mom

A Mother’s Job

WANTED

One female to be available 24/7, through sickness and in health and with very little sleep. Must be willing to put aside all of ones own needs and wants and selflessly give ones life to caring for another human being. Must be able to:

  1. feed the mouths of those who will talk back in defiance
  2. lift the spirits of those who will, at times, break yours
  3. wipe the tears of those who may cause you to cry
  4. help those who are incapable of helping you
  5. listen to those who will not stop to lend you an ear

Requirements:

  1. educated enough to be modest
  2. strong enough to be gentle
  3. relentless enough to be compassionate
  4. passionate enough to be sensible
  5. experienced enough to be understanding

CRAZY? Yes! Our job is insane! Can you imagine what our brains and bodies go through every day in order to accomplish this job we call “motherhood”? It truly is a miracle we make it to the end of each day without completely losing our minds. (I honestly believe this is why wine was invented.) We get it done, though… each and every day. We never stop. Why? Because, we love our children and we are more than happy to give our everything to them. But, don’t forget to stop and give yourself a little credit. Look at our job description? We deserve a “you go girl!” Don’t you think?

“Cheers!” to us, Moms. We are amazing!

Presence Is Truly A Gift

This afternoon, my youngest daughter wanted to hangout at her school’s playground with her friends for a while. Of course, I came armed with a granola bar, water and my computer to keep busy as I watched her and her friends play (Yes, I do keep a very close eye on them… even while I type. It’s a skill I’ve developed over the years. I’m able to type and watch the kids at the same time. No, it’s not the same as sitting on my phone with my mind distracted and my eyes glued on the little screen. I’m actually watching the kids and aware of their every move.) Just a few minutes after we arrived, I was asked to join in a game they call “Magic”, which seems to be a combination of hide ‘n’ seek and tag. My daughter and one of her friends came running up to me yelling “Mom! Can you play Magic with us?” I immediately heard snickering coming from some of the other mothers as they heard me exclaim “You want me to what?” Though I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I walked on to the playground like a trooper and asked for instructions. Seeing the excitement in my daughter’s eyes as she shared all of the rules with me was all I needed. I knew I was going to play the game to the best of my ability… no matter how silly I looked. So, I closed my eyes, counted to 10 and started searching for the other little players. All I could hear was giggling and more giggling. Before I knew it, I was playing with an entire crew of my daughter’s friends and they were all having a great time. My daughter was beaming with pride and joy and I could not have been happier to be able to provide that moment for her.  

After a few rounds, I had to excuse myself and get some work done. On my way back to my seat at the picnic table, a couple of other moms looked at me with smiles and said “Big mom points for you today!” This made me think…

It doesn’t matter how talented we are or what we’re trying to do, our kids just want to spend time with us. Every little moment means the world to them. We laughed. We made memories. I got to know some more of my daughter’s friends. To a lot of people, today’s activities would be the equivalent of just another normal, uneventful day, but, to me and my child (and maybe to some of the other children we played with), today was a really great day. I will remember this day for the rest of my life and I think my daughter will, too.

So, there’s no reason to be perfect, and certainly no need to be rich, in order to be a wonderful mother. The only thing we need to be is present… and that is the best gift of all.

“Cheers!” to us, Moms!

How To Get Away With… Nothing

There is absolutely no broken rule, lie or wrongdoing my children can get away with in my household. No matter the who, what, why, when, where or how, I will find out. Call it an eye for detail, call it perceptive observation, call it logical thinking, call it masterful mind reading… call it whatever you wish… I will uncover the scandal. My poor kids don’t have a chance, but that doesn’t stop them from trying!

The strategy played by my kids can only be described as an advanced version of the “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me” toddler game. The lack of logical thinking put toward the cover ups of their misconducts is almost comical. I’ve actually had a hard time keeping a stern face when reprimanding them. There have been many moments when I’ve looked at them and thought “How did you think this was ever going to work out in your favor.” or “Did you really think this was an amazing idea?” Honestly, I’m not sure if I should be worried for my children’s academic future or happy they will never have a career in crime.

In my children’s defense, however, there is nothing they can do that I, personally, didn’t do when I was young. When I add my experience to my skills in observation, I truly am my children’s worst nightmare… or the best thing that has ever happened to them (It really depends on who’s telling the story). I see all, hear all, know all… and that’s the way I like it. Of course, my kids will make mistakes and I hope they do! Mistakes build character and strength and create amazing adults… if you learn from said mistakes. So, yes, I want them to mess up, because I want them to be able to make intelligent decisions when they’re grown.

If you think about it, if we weren’t, at one time, young and stupid, we wouldn’t be old and wise, now. So, let’s allow our kids to make mistakes… but don’t let them get away with those mistakes! “Cheers!” to us, Moms! We can do this!

 

Cool Mom

I have been called “Cool Mom” by all three of my kids many times. Is this a huge accomplishment? Yes! Am I proud? Yes! Here’s why…

For most, “Cool Mom” is a title easily achieved. I mean, seriously, it doesn’t take much effort to be a mom who has befriended her children, has no rules or guidelines for her children and doesn’t hold her children accountable for anything. In my book, however, this does not define a “Cool Mom”, but is actually a dangerous recipe for some of the selfish and entitled problems of the world.

Me? Well… as a “Cool Mom”, my children are still required to follow quite a long list of rules. They are expected to always respect everyone, treat everyone kindly and always be polite. Their rooms are to remain clean, they must pick up after themselves and they are to do any chore asked of them without whining. Grades need to be kept up and all homework must be turned in. Most of all, no lying. Now, after reading this, you may be thinking “this woman is crazy!” However, keep in mind, my kids still say I’m a “Cool Mom” and this is why…

I never expect them to be perfect. In fact, I don’t believe in the concept of “perfection”. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s a part of life. Children, especially, are going to make mistakes, because they are still learning every day. So, when they make a mistake, I sit down and talk with them. I help them understand why it was wrong and how they can do better next time. I don’t yell at them or call them names or swear at them. Plus, I have made it very clear to my kids that there is never going to be a situation we can’t work through and they know they can come and talk to me about anything… literally anything… I won’t get mad. If they can’t talk to me, how am I going to help them grow into the upstanding citizens that I hope they will be someday?

So, yes, I’m strict and I have high expectations, but I’m also laid back and understanding that they are children and human beings. My children have fun, they make messes, they play, they are loud, they are very goofy… but they know when it’s not appropriate to be loud and to pick up their messes and to always remember their morals.

Somehow, all of this has defined “Cool Mom” in my household. I truly believe children need and want rules and guidelines and to know they always have someone they can talk to. It helps them feel safe and loved.

Our job isn’t easy, Moms, but we can figure it out together. So, “Cheers!” to us! We can all be “Cool Moms”!