Thursday, 8 December 2016

We Do Hard Things

There is a terrible tension we all face as parents. Of wanting to see our kids succeed, conquer tough stuff and develop strength of character but the tension comes from the fact that no parent likes to see their child have to struggle or life to be difficult or for things to be hard for them. We desperately want our kids to be able to "do hard things" but it hurts so desperately when our kids have to "do hard things."

This where I am right now. Our little family is facing some "hard things". My 5 year old has been struggling with separation anxiety for about 6 months now. We have done all we can, from gently trying to coax and understand her irrational fear to forcing her to face her fear and remaining determined to get her past the tears and tantrums when she is afraid being away from me (because once she is wherever she needs to be she is fine). The struggle of trying to determine if this is just a behavioral/attention/control issue or whether there is something actually triggering fear. But I have come to the end of my available tools to help her and it hurts my heart every time I have to leave her in tears because some days just going to school is a "hard thing" for her. She is struggling and she is not able to verbalize all that is going on inside of her. I am exhausted from watching her struggle through this and we have done all we know to teach her to cope and understand her feelings and why she has these emotions.

The other "hard thing" we are facing at the moment is with our youngest, who is the most delightful, full of life child. She is such a joy to us all every day. But we were beginning to see that her speech was not where it should be. She jabbers all the time and she understands instructions and comprehends communication perfectly but intelligible spoken words were fewer then should be at 28 months. We had a speech assessment for her yesterday and my hope was that we would be told that she was just a little slower then others but time would fix that. Unfortunately this was not the case. She is struggling with her motor ability to form words and sounds. She has not be formally diagnosed with anything but it was obvious to me as the speech therapist played and assessed her abilities that my "baby" was struggling to make proper sounds and words come out and she would often just resort to the sounds she was comfortable with rather then try the difficult one.

This is tough. I don't want life to be "hard" for my kids. I don't want her to have to struggle just to form words.  But we will do "hard things". It is going to take time and it is going to take a great deal of work and persistence. She will speak normally but it is not going to come easy for her. 2 year olds shouldn't have "hard things", is what I want to tell myself, but the truth is we all have "hard things".

I want my kids to grow up strong and resilient. I want to see them conqueror the world in their own special way. So as  parent it hurts to watch them struggle but I know they do not struggle alone. None of us struggle alone. I love my kids too much to leave them to flounder and God loves us more I could ever love my kids, so I know He is with us in our "hard things".

I feel like our new family motto is going to be "We do hard things!" (which I would rather it be then we do easy things) but we won't conqueror those "hard things" because we are strong but because we are weak and He is strong. The truth is we will all "do hard things"find courage in the fact that you don't have to do them alone.

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

Love from the Parlee family.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

On Being Imperfect

So I have always been a perfectionist. Maybe not in my appearance or tidiness but when it comes to behavior, achievements, grades and performance I like to "get it right" and I have a tendency to beat myself up about failing.

These past couple weeks my husband has been several hours away taking his 2nd year of instrumentation (which oddly has nothing to do with music), and I have been left to parent my 3 beautiful children on my own. This is always an exhausting and, at times, overwhelming challenge, and it has been like a huge magnifying glass on my abilities as a parent.  And over the past couple weeks I have been struggling with feeling like just can't seem to get it right and that I just keep failing at doing this parenting thing right. Feeling as though my inability to control my attitude and frustration is harming my kids and will completely mess them up for life. I am so afraid that these precious formative years, in which they learn and absorb so much, are going to be wasted because of my failures and I won't create those happy, Jesus loving, well mannered kids. And it will all be my 'fault'!

There goes that perfection again! Only this time it has taken me 5 years to identify it as that.

My 3 year old took a little longer to go to sleep tonight and after being up a couple times I went in to get her empty bottle and in her sweet innocence asked if I wanted to cuddle (or cuddo as she says it) with her. I did and I told her I would love to. And it was as I was laying there with her praying for her, realizing that these years are so short and I wanted to just take an extra few minutes to show her how loved she is and allow myself to absorb a few more precious moments where I am not uptight because we are running late, eating meals, cleaning messes or settling disputes, something I found myself thinking I don't do enough.

In that moment God was able to speak to my heart that He didn't expect me to do it perfect. He didn't make me the perfect parent. He doesn't expect me to get it right ALL the time. I am here to love my kids with an imperfect love, only He can love them perfectly! There is no perfect parent! Good kids don't happen randomly, but they also aren't the result of some prefect parenting formula in which their parents were always patient and understanding, they are a result of God's grace despite our imperfections.

So there it is, you will make mistakes. You weren't designed to do it perfect. You are there to love the best you can. To strive to seek God to teach you, to allow these little humans teach you new lessons about character and self-control. But you will not always get it right...and that is OKAY! Love them, love them the best you can. And point them towards the only One who will never fail them, the One who loves you and them in the midst of messiness and failure.

I won't be perfect, I won't be the perfect parent. I can make mistakes. I will try again and again and again. But it is right there in my "weakness"and failure that I can point my kids to God unending grace and His perfect love.

 "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

So keep loving imperfectly!

Friday, 9 January 2015

That Thing You Do...

Happy New Year! Well we have a had a pretty rough start to 2015, which kicked off with a sick, not sleeping 5 month old and a puking 3 year old all day New Years Eve. This lead to an early bed time for all and peaceful slumber through the big event of a new year rolling in...that is at least until one of the sick children started to cry.

And if you have ever had a puking child before you know that nothing can get you out of bed, down the stairs and bucket in hand faster then the slightest cry or whimper from that child in the middle of the night.

So it has been rough. The flu raged though our house this year each kid getting it 2 days after the other creating over a week and a half of suffering for this mom and dad, not to mention fighting sickness ourselves. So we finished off our holidays in a sick and sleepless blur and my poor husband has been back at work for 3 days and has already accumulated over 20 hours of overtime...ugh.

But here is where we get to the point of the this story. In the midst of having sick kids my 3 year old happens to be way beyond miserable when she isn't feeling well. For 3 days I had to sit with her on my lap cuddling or else she would break down in tears and sob, and heaven forbid dad or grandma offer to give her comfort or bring her a drink while I was taking care of the baby or even worse using the washroom - "No, I want Mommy!" I was getting extremely tired of hearing the word "mommy". Things only got worse for the poor little tyrant when we took her to the doctor (my husband had to hold her down so the doctor could look in her ears and mouth) and she had an ear infection and swollen tonsils - here begins the 2 day fight to get her to take her medicine. There was a moment during all of this where all of my compassion and sympathy for this child had reach its end. I no longer felt that I liked my own child. We were both miserable.

Then a read a blog post from one of my close friends today and she made a comment about her husband commenting on something about her that he liked, and this got me thinking about how often we do that. When was the last time we told someone "I like that about you!" Something we noticed, something we appreciate, a unique talent or pattern of thought. When we the last time someone else told you the same thing. My friend mentioned how it made her feel to have her husband acknowledge and "like" something about her that she often times feels makes her "odd". And don't get me wrong she is odd but in a beautiful way only she can be odd. :)

I like that my husband is reliable and honest. I know that I can trust what he tells me (when he finally opens up) and I know that he is dependable...this can lead to him being a crazy workaholic but it also means he is not going to quit or walk away from something hard.

From here I began to think of the beautiful 3 foot tall blond who has a mind of her own and listening powers that only work when she decides. What is it that I like about her? When was the last time I told her? I want her to grow up hearing not only how much I love her but also how much I appreciate and love the things about her that make her unique. The things that give her spark and make her glow.

So there you have it a little challenge for us all. Find someone and let them know what it is you like about them, it will probably mean a lot!

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Choice I Make

I have been contemplating a month or so on writing this blog. I wanted to make sure I was doing it from the best attitude and not in a hurt or accusing tone, so I will do the best I can.

I have this personality flaw...it is call talking...well actually it is spouting off an opinion without thinking about what I am actually saying or how it may sound to the other person and this opinion is often a negative one to which has been spoken by the other person. This is a problem, my husband has called me on it most, but other friends have too, so it is something that I have been trying to work on, not always successfully. However, it has made me more aware of it when other do this same thing to me and I don't like it.
So here is the reason for writing this post...

My husband and I have decided to have an scheduled c-section for this birth. And as soon as I write that I can hear what could possibly be going through the minds of some people:
"Have you thought about a v-bac?"
"I know of women who have sucessfully had a narutal birth after 2 previous sections.
"A natural birth is safer maybe you should try again?"
"You know they won't let you have any more kids after 3 section?"
"A c-section is just easier birth."
"You just need a doula."

I have answers to all of these questions and more but the truth of the matter is that I feel a little hurt and diminished by these questions. First of all why do I have to justify to anyone a decision that both my husband and I have made very carefully and considerately. And second it is my responsibility to make the best decision for the health of my child, do you think I am not smart enough to weigh all the pros and cons of both sides and make a educated decision? So why do I start feeling so guilty if someone questions my reasons for have a 3rd c-section?

I have now experienced two labours that resulted in emergency c-sections, due to heart rates dropping, fetal distress, slowed labour and various other challenges.  None of these were easy choices to make and absolutely NONE of them were easy births. I not only faced physical challenges of recovery from major abdominal surgery but I also struggled with months of doubt and feelings that I was not a real woman if I couldn't have a child naturally. This was a huge struggle for me with both sections and something that I know other who have had vaginal births seem perplexed by. Feeling like a failed somehow that one of the most amazing jobs I have as a woman I failed to accomplish and had to take the easy way out. It has literally taken me years to come to grips with this and no matter how many times I tell myself "it doesn't matter how they got here, as long as they are healthy" it still feels like it matters and it still feels like a scarlet letter on my womanhood.

Would I love to have a natural birth, Yes! A hundred times yes, but do I feel right about putting my health and my unborn babies health at risk again, no. There is no medical reason for my poor labours, you could blame it on doctors, or nurses or my inability to cope or a myriad of other things, goodness know I have. But the truth is as much as I would love to have a natural birth the risk of another EMERGENCY makes me sick. You may not understand this and perhaps you would make a different choice, that is ok, and I am ok. By the grace of God this new little one will make its appearance into the world happy and healthy. Will I only have 3 kids...yes. Are my husband and I happy with this choice? Yes. Even if I had another natural birth our family would be complete. I don't believe that every family has to be or should be huge, so if you feel called to have a big family God bless you and if you feel content with two kids God bless you too. Why do we have to do so much judging?

We should all be making the choices that we feel are best for us and our family, not based on someone else opinion but on what we feel God leading us to. This coming from a person who loves to give her opinion.
I still have to tell my chiropractor that I am having a section and I am pretty sure he is one of those people I am going to have defend our decision to, but we are not making this decision lightly or without a lot of thought and prayer, so I have to walk forward with confidence, despite what others may think is best. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

Moments of Grace and Gratefulnes

Well, I suppose it has been awhile, but it is hard to blog when you really have no topic in mind. Today: however, I find myself with the time and the topic.

Today is day number 6 of my 2 month stretch of single parenting (plus grandma, as she lives across the street). My husband has gotten the opportunity to continue his education and will one day be a duel ticketed electrician and instrumentation tech. So this May he set out to begin his first year of instrumentation.

Thankfully trades school is not full time (I don't think we could have handled that) and is crammed into an 8 weeks course. So while he is 4 hours away, staying with family and spending his time reading books, doing homework, and drinking Starbucks, here I am at home with a 4 year old and a 2 year old and 27 weeks pregnant!

I may have just heard some of you gasp! How could he possibly leave me for 8 weeks, alone, at the beginning of my third trimester? It is just how things have worked out and to be honest I am completely content with it. We have worked out weekends that he will either travel home or the kids and I will travel to see him.

I have been preparing for this for some time and I am super excited to see him learn new things and expand his skills.  I am so proud of him and his desire to try new things and increase his expertise. It also helps when his company is paying for his school and maintaining his salary while he at school! Huge relief!

I will also admit that we both have small, selfish reasons for enjoying these weeks apart. And anyone who has ever been through the 3rd trimester, or has had to sleep with someone in their 3rd trimester, knows how relieving it can be to not have to share a bed!  I can stretch out if I need to and I can cover the bed in my many pillows, one for my head, one for between my knees, one for me to drape my arm over and one for behind my back so I still feel something close. It really is quite the nest. And I don't have to disrupt his sleep with my tossing and turning. So we will survive.

But it was today that I was struck by how grateful I am for what I have, even if it means doing this parenting thing by myself for a while. I find myself too often taking for granted what I have been given and not enjoying the moments I am living through today.

A few things have struck me today as the kids and I wandered down our street to the playground. I was watching the kids playing and pushing them on swings and I realized once again how incredibly blessed I am to be able to spend my days with them and watch them grow and laugh and enjoy the world around them. This trying age of toddlerhood can be exhausting and at times I honestly just want to escape! But then there are moments like today when the peace and gratefulness of not having to go to work, of being able to take this kids for a walk, and watching them experience the world around them. Not having to miss the glee of my 2 year old arms spread wide, head lifted to the sky laughing and telling me to push her faster on the swing.

My heart was full today as my son serenaded me with my guitar as I made lunch or after lunch snuggling on the couch until my daughter fell until she fell asleep for her nap.  I realize that this is a blessing and that not all moms are able to have this, but I am enormously grateful today that it is I, their mom, and not some stranger watching them grow and learn and experience the joy of life!

I take for granted the little lives that have been placed in my care and although I do not always remember to cherish every moment, today I do. And today I stand amazed at all I have been given and wouldn't trade for anything.



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Some Days you Win Sone Days you Lose...and this was my day to lose

Phew, I am exhausted! Why? You might ask? Well it wasn't because I accomplished any amazing feat or anything today. In all honesty my laundry is still sitting in the same pile it was this morning and supper was made out of a crockpot. My trouble with today but simply just "the kids". I couldn't win (well actually I won once but it was an epic battle).

It just turned out to be one of those days where my fuse was short and my voice too loud. The kids were too slow and the toys in a huge mess. The epic battle I alluded to earlier, well that was supper time. My son has decided that unless it is pancakes he doesn't like supper...he only likes "snacks". So we sat down for 45 min to simply eat half a bun (gone in 30 seconds) and 10 bites of roast beef and carrots. 10 Stinking Bites! I mean come on how long does it really take to eat 10 BITES!!!
Now his refusal to eat is not simply stubborn fighting but instead he sits there talking and talking and getting distracted by EVERYTHING! It would be exhausting just to try to relate how it went. I just couldn't get him to focus on eating and I was getting frustrated, BUT eventually he ate 10 bites...45 minutes later.

Nap time was another disaster. My kids are usually pretty easy to get down for naps, but today was awful. I think it took and hour of "No it's quiet time, go back to your bed" before they finally both were sobbing and finally got quiet enough to nap. I just about gave up on that one, but worried about the long term repercussions. See children are like horses, you let them away with something once and they think they can do it all the time. No matter how may times they have been told no in the past, that one time you let them eat the alfalfa while you are riding will leave you arm aching from being yanked by the reigns so they can get another bite. (That was a horse reference not the children eating alfalfa, just in case you missed that)

But my day pretty much consisted of cleaning up toys, chasing a tricycle down the street, finding a lost Baaba, fighting the "no soother if your not in bed" battle with jelly beans, changing peed pants and hoping the accident didn't happen on my carpet and trying ever so hard not to lose my temper and failing miserably. Lets just hope and pray that tomorrow goes better.

So needless to say this is mostly a venting post, no great lesson to be learned here today, well there was probably a lesson that could have been learned but I have not had the energy to figure out what it is.

So far they are both in bed, lets hope for good and I think I am in need of some quiet time myself.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Attitude and Grace

Ugh...(you always know this will be a great post when it starts with that sound)
And before I start let me give you a little background over the past several years and what September means to me:
September 2011 - took a corner too tight and put hole in the wall of my tire. Had to pull over on the side of a busy road and try to get a hold of my husband to come help seems I had a 3 month old and not even 2 year old in the car. Cost = whole new set of tires because the old ones were too worn out to just replace one.
September 2012 - Forgot something and while turning around in a field punctured the side wall of tire (the side wall is not patchable for any of you who don't know this fact)  purchased the year before, oh and my husband was out of town when I did this one. Cost = new set of winter tires and only one new tire in the spring to replace the summer tire I wrecked.
So when September was approaching this year I laughed and told my husband I was going to have to be extra careful and not get a flat tire this year, or maybe just not drive for the month of September.
Well I am beginning to think that the latter would have been my best option.
September 2013 - While merging onto a road in town I bumped the car in front of me (I would give you excuses and explain the whole scenario but it really doesn't matter I simply didn't pay attention) Now it seemed like a small dent from my tow hooks on the front of the truck. No damage to my vehicle but what I perceived as a small dent in hers. As this happened on Saturday I had been waiting to hear back on Monday about it. Well did I hear back. Apparently it was more than $2000 damage, therefore it has be reported to the police and I am now stressed and worried about the extent of this "mistake".

This is where we begin to get into attitude. On Sunday evening our small group from church had gotten together and the discussion and study was based on attitude and watching and being accountable for our attitudes; therefore, this has been on my mind since. Boy, do I want to have attitude. See the car I hit was not the drivers car it was her boyfriends, which means he makes the decisions about it right? Well in my mind he must be a real jerk, there is no way that small dent it worth over $2000 (in my mind anyway) So I want to get angry and say how unfair this is and pretty much find a way to mess them over in anyway I can (Carnal nature speaking here) But God spoke gently to my heart reminding me about my "attitude" (by the way Thanks Chris for that attitude talk) and I know that I need to take this one graciously. Finding a gentle attitude is not always easy but in all honestly this whole thing was my fault and because I was not paying attention. *sigh*

This is where the grace part comes in: I hate messing up and making mistakes. Just ask anyone who knows we and who grew up with me. I was devastated when I failed my first math test in grade 12. I know I am not perfect but I just hate rocking the boat and making mistakes that I cannot "fix". I struggle with perfectionism and the overwhelming sense of failure when something like this happens, especially when I know that it was caused by my behavior. I begin to feel worthless and useless and the spiral just keeps going down and down until I am pretty sure I am the worst wife in the world and I should never be give any responsibility let alone a drivers license. I just want to fix it and make it right before it affects anyone else or causes upheaval. The problem is this is now a money issue and I make NO money. I do not input into our home financially that means that my mistake is going to come out of my husbands wages. He is the one who has to pay for my mistake and it is our family who pays, not me! If I had my own money to pay for this I would use it in a heartbeat! This makes me feel even more awful.

So grace - dear sweet grace. My husband is not a yeller I actually cannot think of a time when he has yelled at me, he has gotten angry but I don't think he has ever yelled. And such was the case in this incident as well. He gets really quiet (and that can be frustrating as well) and I know there are a million things going through his head to say to me (which is sometimes worse because I know him well enough to guess what he might be thinking). So there I am literally sobbing, curled up in the corner, pouting that he would never let this sort of thing happen to him! (attitude!) I know I made a mistake and that I wasn't paying attention (His mind is probably screaming "Just PAY ATTENTION! and this wouldn't have happened") But he knows I already know this and after we have our conversation and I am no longer sobbing. He looks at me and tells me that he still loves me, and that he would never let something like this change that fact. His love hadn't altered because of my accident. Well, the tears started all over again as he hugged me. I had no idea how much I needed to hear that from him. I mean had I really thought about it I would have known it was true but hearing it from him made me realize the grace he was offering me despite what a terrible person I felt I was.
Such a picture to me of God's grace for us. We all know the things we do wrong and satan has no trouble pointing out to us our faults and failures yet despite how low and small and worthless we feel  God says "I still love you! My love for you has never changed and  nothing we can ever do will change His love for us.
How beautiful grace truly is. I see clearly the grace from my husband and I know God's grace is even bigger.

On a practical note I know that I am not always good at paying attention and this is a skill I am going to have to develop and I think I have reached the point that I want to develop. It is not something that comes naturally to me, I am naturally a little scattered and I multitask a lot. But before something even bigger happens I am ready to change and grow and discipline myself to change even though I know it won't always be easy or comfortable. But until then looks like I have a day filled with terrible phone calls and a trip to the police station to give a report; not any fun in my book but necessary for the reality of my situation.
Today I am praying for peace (these kind of things always stress me out and I have never had an accident that was my fault) and I am praying for a gracious attitude. Your prayers would be appreciated too!

P.S. If anyone is interested in buying homemade relish, jams or pickles the proceeds will be going to helping pay my deductible ;)