Fat Momma Syndrome

Fat Momma Syndrome, or FMS.   You will not find this syndrome on any medical list.  You will not find its traits or characteristics described anywhere but here.  This label is my creation based on years of observations as a youth pastor.   Caveat;  I am not attempting to criticize any woman’s size. That would be the pot calling the kettle black.   I am labeling a parenting temptation.

I believe the syndrome begins long before the teen years, but that is when I saw it reach its peak.  I am referring to the teen years of the daughter, not the mother.   As she enters her teen years, her mom is entering her mid-late thirties or maybe her early forties. Momma no longer has the youthful figure that she had at 15 or 20 years of age, but she remembers. perfect-parent

 

Her daughter is beautiful and shapely.   Momma is proud of her.  Rather than helping her daughter to learn to dress tastefully and modestly, she allows or even encourages her to dress in ways that attract attention to her body.   I have many times been shocked at the alluring outfits that mom helped select for her daughter.

I think psychologists might use words such as transference or projection.  Others might say mom is living vicariously through her daughter.  However it is described, it is sad.   It is sad that mom is putting so much emphasis on outward beauty, which she knows changes and does not last.   It is sad that mom is passing along to her daughter her own inner struggles with self-image.

My own daughter was more sensible than I in this area.  I am proud that she dressed more modestly as a teen than did I as a teen.   As an adult, she has my permission to speak to me about my clothing if I wear something unflattering or too aged or too youthful or immodest.

 

Moms, no matter your size or shape, help your daughters to sail into womanhood with grace and style.  Perhaps together you could learn about fashion, styles, body shapes and discovering what looks best on each of you.  Teach your daughters to be discriminating and individuals not controlled by fads.    Hygiene, personal grooming, make up, and hair care are other areas that need to be taught.   Learning to do these well will instill personal confidence, which is very attractive.

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Still Letting Go

I surprised myself.  I thought I was ready.  I had prayed for years and years for this very thing.  And then when it happened, I wasn’t ready.  My emotions were conflicted.  I do not enjoy being emotional.

I thought I had “let her go” long ago.  She went far away to college for three years and then she returned.  She moved out of our house and then we moved away.  She is a fully independent adult.  Yet, I realized there was one more way in which I had to “let her go”.

little-dOur only daughter has found a wonderful man who cherishes her and they are planning to marry.   Why was I feeling sad?  He is a fine man.  They love each other.  I struggled with these feelings for several weeks, even as we went bridal dress shopping and began talking about wedding plans.  These are exciting plans and I am thrilled to be involved.  Yet, the sadness persists.

She is not our only child.  No, we also have four sons.  Three of them have been married for more than ten years.   They have given us three amazing daughters-in-law and twelve wonderful grandchildren.   I have been through weddings, young marriages, and in-laws before.  This is not a new experience.

BUT, I have never experienced this with my daughter. Until now.  I realized there would be more changes. Changes we make ourselves are easier to handle than changes made by others, which affect us. I realized my sadness is selfish.  I have to share her.  She will have less time for me and for us, her parents.  I am not just sharing her with her future husband but am also sharing her with his family.  Holidays and birthdays will be divided between two families.D and D

I am whining and being a bit ridiculous.  But the feelings are still my feelings.

I also know that I will adjust and be okay. Talking (and writing) about this is helping me. I have told countless parents that they will be okay when their adult child makes a life transition and so will the child.  This is still true. So I am trying to apply my own advice.  I can adjust to changes.

I am thankful for the close relationship I have with my daughter.  We have had some wonderful adventures together. New adventures await us.  Onward we go with the wedding plans.

P.S. Yes, she will read this because she is my writing editor.

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Editor’s Note: From my perspective, you have been nothing but excited and supportive. Thank you. Thank you for feeling the saddness, and yet choosing to making room for new. Thank you for loving my fiancé. Thank you for graciously coming along side without taking over as plans come together for the wedding. However, no matter what you do, never let me go! Not really.  I’m 31 years old and I need you and Dad in my life. Circumstances change, and priorities shift, but our relationship will always be important to me. I love you, Ma!

Open Door

Is your front door open?  It might cost you and it might be messy. An open door may let in pain but it may also let in some wonderful relationships.  We have experienced both. Like many parents we …

Source: Open Door

Running to Share

I watched him run. He was ready. He had joy on his face. Every lap counted. He was running for charity and he is only a pre-schooler. Other, older and bigger kids ran further and longer, but he was giving it his best. He had a great attitude. He was making a difference greater than he probably understood.  Crosby was helping.  Twice as I was watching, he stopped briefly and talked to me. I felt honored. Though we see each other regularly at church, this was the most conversation we ever had.kids-running

Crosby taught me an important lesson.  Even young children can give to others. Sometimes as parents we get in the way.  We may think they can’t do much or they are too young. True he could not address the letters that were mailed requesting support, but he did the running.

Helping our children develop giving hearts can be challenging. Like many other worthwhile endeavors it takes time, energy, and a little creativity.  Children often have plenty of all of these.  They may have some wild and crazy ideas and some of those may be perfect.

Why not challenge yourself and your children to discover ways to give to others.  Perhaps start with one project per season of the year.  It could be as simple as raking the neighbor’s leaves or taking them some homemade pumpkin muffins.  Try sharing some of those surplus tomatoes from your garden.pumpkin-muffins

Giving to others makes us better people.  It helps us to focus on others’ needs and less on ourselves. As we share our stuff with others, our stuff becomes a little less important to us and the people become more important.

Recently one of our local high school sewing classes made colorful pillowcases for a hospital pediatric ward.  I applaud these students and their teacher for using their abilities to serve others. I am continually amazed at the generosity of my city.img_3518

What has your family done to serve someone else?  How have you managed to involve your children? Please share your ideas.

Out of the mouths of babes

Do your kids crack you up? How many times have you chuckled at the amusing things they have said?

When my children were little, especially ages 3- 8 they said funny things every day.  They were often comical because they arrived at conclusions based on their observations and their very limited knowledge.  They were trying to make sense of their world.   The world is very complicated with words which have multiple meanings.   Sometimes this results in uproarious declarations.IMG_3410

Parents of young children have very busy lives.  Even as a twenty-something I knew if I did not write it down, no matter how amazing or endearing it was, I would forget it.   I frequently wrote notes or information on slips of paper and threw them in the drawer containing their baby books.  Later, sometimes much later, that bit of information would actually be entered into the baby book, but without the notes, their books would have been rather empty.

I had the same problem with “funny things”.  I knew I wanted a record of them.  I kept a small journal easily reachable in the drawer in the kitchen.  My bedroom nightstand would have been a safer location, but it would have gotten lost under a stack of old greeting cards and random stuff.   The one and only unstuffed kitchen drawer worked well.

I would write in the journal as soon as possible.  Repeating the saying to spouse or grandparents also helped me retain the information and they enjoyed hearing about it, but I would still forget unless I wrote it down.   As my children aged they enjoyed and laughed at the things they said when they were younger.

The following are a few of my favorite entries:

4 kidsJan. 14, 88 – Momma told Tommy (age 4 1/2) he was good looking and someday the girls would be after him.  He said, “I’ll go out with them and then dump them with a dump truck.”    (Tom married his first girlfriend after dating for 5 years and they are presently expecting their 6th child)

July 21, 88 – David, age 5, said to momma at bedtime, “Men know more than women.”  “What do you mean?  I asked.  “Men know more about women than women know about men.”  (David married at age 21 and has two daughters)

1/8/89 – Debra, age 4, looking out the window at the big pine trees said, “Look, Ma, hotdogs in the trees.  We can climb up there and eat them. “    (Debra is still willing to climb a tree or eat hotdogs.)

1/4/87 – Danny, age 8, said, “Tonight was the best church service  I was ever in.” “Why?” asked Mom.  “Because I could read all the words in the hymnal.”      (Dan is a pastor in a church without hymnals.)

Mar. 2001 – Seth, age 5, said, “I know when I want to get married – June 1st when I am in college.” Why, asked mom.  “It’s close to Christmas.”  ( Seth is 21, in college and single.)

I wish I had written down more of the great things my children said.  Perhaps you would like to record more than just the witty announcements.  Outlandish statements, anecdotal examples of their character, or maybe declarations of future careers could be included.  You probably are already taking lots of photos with your phone, write some notes too.

There are numerous online sources through which one could inexpensively and simply print quotes and add adorable pics in a bound book format.   It could be a sentimental keepsake, golden or teen birthday or high school graduation gift

The format is inconsequential, just write it down somewhere.  You will always be glad you did.

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My battle against guns

Are you pro-gun or anti-gun?  What about for your children?  My father was a hunter and I had many uncles and cousins who were hunters.  I even had one uncle who was a trapper, he was called Trapper John.  Yet, because of a horrific gun incident in the family just a few weeks after our wedding, I was against having guns in our home. Our compromise was a locked gun cabinet.

Our first child, a son, was born two years later.  We decided guns would not be a part of his playthings. As a pre-schooler he turned every elongated object into a gun. Every stick was a gun.  Every straw was a gun.  A baseball bat could serve as a gun.  Even a piece of toast could be bitten at until it was the shape of a gun.  I had lost the battle against guns.

It was either the water guns or the small wooden rifle which broke the barrier.  We used the wooden rifle to talk about gun safety and to hunt imaginary rabbits in the living room.  I am not opposed to lawfully hunting game for food. I greatly appreciate anyone sharing their venison with me.  I have less arthritis pain when I eat wild caught, free- range meat.

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siblings playing with air soft

Water guns became larger and larger holding greater and greater amounts of water.  Undoubtedly someone would eventually grab the hose and the water play escalated into a battle.

For the cooler months Nerf dart guns were harmless and lots of fun.  Googles were required when our sons delved into rubberband guns.  The entire family room would be transformed for these battles.  All three boys and their sister would play outside with the lazer guns.  These games would spread across the yards of several neighbors.   Lazer guns could be played a night, which was an added bonus for our aging children.

As teenagers and young adults they loved playing with air soft guns and paint ball guns.  They still do.   There is an element of competition and excitement involved in this play.  On the plus, side this play also includes running, exercise and fresh air.

Our youngest son, who is 10 years behind his next closest sibling, did not play with guns quite as much as his older siblings.  But he did have every one of the types of guns previously listed.  He also designed, built and sold some pvc guns for shooting marshmallows or Nerf darts.

I do sometimes wonder if we had had 4 girls and 1 son, rather than the reverse of that, if gun play would have been less of an issue.  I don’t know the answer.  Testosterone did reign in our home.

There is a huge difference in a play gun and a real gun.  A real gun is a weapon and a tool. It must be treated with respect and caution. Always assume a real gun is loaded.  Safety lessons should be repeated in any home for all the occupants where there are guns, even those locked in cabinets.

I am not sorry I lost the gun battle.  All my children have a very healthy respect for guns. We all appreciate our U.S. Constitutional Second Amendment rights to bear arms. It is the criminals who are not lawful or respectful of human life.

Do with Dad

What do you do with your daddy? What did he do with you? (I am singing this to my own tune in my head.)  Fishing, camping, hunting, boating, hiking, kickball, badminton, watching TV and homework are things I remember doing as a kid with my dad.

Reflecting upon those camping and fishing trips, I wonder where the joy was for my dad. It seemed like he spent most of our fishing time untangling lines, fixing reels, or taking our fish off the hooks.  However, he kept taking us back to the water.

Once, while we were water skiing on the Mississippi River he decided he really wanted to ski even though he had not planned on getting in the water.  That did not stop him.  He removed his clothing and skied in his underwear.

If, at suppertime, we failed to give Dad a tall glass of ice tea, with ice which bumped your nose as you drank, he claimed we put him in dessert training.  If we cleared away the dishes too quickly after a meal he would accuse us of giving him “the bum’s rush”.  It was his way of teasing us.  But it was my dad who taught my sister and me how to do the dishes.  My mom worked full time on the third shift at M & M Mars candy factory. She always cooked a big meal for supper (a main dish, a potato or noodles, a vegetable or two and a salad) and then went to bed for a few more hours of sleep before going to work.  This is why Dad taught us how to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.  Eventually he stepped away and we did it all.

I am thankful my dad and mom are still living and I am privileged to spend time with them.  Just watching TV with them is enjoyable, especially if, perchance, the Chicago Bears are playing.

The solitary thing for which I am most thankful regarding my dad and mom is their faith in Jesus Christ.  Their example of faith, love, and integrity are an amazing legacy.  Their faith points many to our Heavenly Father.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, especially mine, my husband and my sons.

(singing again) What do you do with your daddy? What did he do with you?

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My dad and I. May 29, 1976.

Patchwork Mosaic

My love for quilts began at a farm house in southern Illinois. It belonged to my aunt and uncle.  My uncle was a farmer and coal miner and so heating his home with a coal burning stove was practical and economical.  Curtains hung in the bedroom doorways to allow the heat to pass through above the curtain rod.  But one was never cold in bed because one was lying under a stack of homemade quilts.  The weight of the quilts not only provided warmth but also a feeling of safety and security.

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my sister and I at our uncle and aunt’s farmyard

In this same home my aunt often had a quilt in process on a large wooden frame.  I loved watching her quilt by hand as we visited.  I am so thankful for the quilting lessons and the time she gave to me.  If I quilted every day for the rest of my life I could not catch up to her expertise.

I love quilts. I love the artistry and the talent involved in their creation. I have at least one quilt in almost every room of my house.  I have them in all sizes.  They are on the beds, on the walls, as a table runner, a throw pillow, curtains, and an end table doily.  Some I have made and others were given to me.  Some are family heirlooms.  Some were purchased used and others purchased new.  I like to think I am tasteful and not over-bearing with my quilts. I hope my home does not appear to be decorated by a hundred year old lady with a dozen cats and no visitors.

Many children have benefitted from experiences similar to mine at the farm house. The use of a weighted blanket can give safety and security. The gentle heaviness is somehow comforting to all, but especially to children with some special needs such as sensory issues, mood disorders and some Autism issues.    A quick search on You Tube will help you find some tutorial videos such as : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdCn-tDD_W0

t-sirtsThe last two quilts I made were t-shirt quilts for my two youngest children.  They collected and saved favorite shirts from their teen years, which I then made into quilts.  Had my older kids known of such an idea, I am certain they would have requested one also.   My oldest son still has a full size blue jean patch quilt that I made for him more than 30 years ago.  It is on the guest bed in his home.

Originally quilts were made with bits of fabric scraps, worn out clothes, used linens and even feed sack bags. The pieces were arranged into a design or maybe a picture.  The old and used was repurposed or recycled and given new life.  It was how people were “green” centuries before we thought of green, back in the days when people did not waste anything.

Quilts are rather like people.  Size, colors, variety, imperfections and wear vary. But each one is a work of art and valuable.   They have different uses and purposes.  Some are multi-use and others are specific design use. Some are young and others are old.  New is not always better than old.

As parents we have the opportunity to guide and assist our children as they learn, grow, and discover their interests, talents, and preferences.  Each of their lives is a patchwork of their personalities and experiences.  Sometimes the process can be messy and mistakes will be made.  But the result can be a blue ribbon showpiece.  Help them to feel comfortable and secure with who they are.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.”  Psalm 139: 13-14

 

Summer or Not

Do you think children should do school work/homework during their summer break?   That was the survey question Parents Magazine, www.parents.com , recently asked. The results were reported in their June 2016 issue.  The answer was 59% to 41%.  Which side do you think was the majority?

The majority is not necessarily the best answer for your family.  Furthermore the answer may vary from year to year and even from child to child.

We were a homeschooling family.  Our five children were born over a span of 17 years.   Counting from when the eldest entered home school pre- kindergarten until the youngest finished high school was thirty years.work

We generally followed a traditional school year calendar.  Year after year I noticed that my children were squirrely by May 1st.  The entire month of May was a challenge for me and for them.  Focus and concentration were elusive. We were weary of the hard work and eager for a break.  We usually ended the school year  June 1st, which was almost always 5- 10 days earlier than our community public schools.  We did comply with our state standard of required number of school days.

During June I would wrap up the record keeping for the year.  I also would research curricula, make decisions, and purchases for the next school year.  In July I refused to think about or do anything regarding school. My brain was fried and my endurance exhausted.  July was my one month free from school.   As soon as August rolled around it was time to preview curricula, begin lesson plans and prepare for the new school year.   This is not meant to be a rant or a complaint.  It is just a reality.   I loved homeschooling and was committed to it (for 30 years), but I needed a break just as much as the children did. Summer was also the time when I tried to get caught up with big household cleaning and projects that I had neglected through the previous school year.

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But, there were a few exceptions.  Two of our sons required additional and specialized assistance with reading.  Both of them had a couple of summers where the daily reading work continued.  If a child is struggling in a particular subject, I would encourage the use of great creativity in addressing that area during the summer.

 

In general, I believe children need to play freely.  A less structured summer schedule is a refreshing change.  Our children also enjoyed participating in numerous park district classes, sports and programs.  A few of those classes could be classified as both fun and educational.

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We continued to frequently visit the library during the summer.  Keeping a supply of reading materials available will encourage reading.  Children who love to read will find time and material to read.  Non-readers can be read to and may expend great effort to avoid reading themselves.

Back to the survey.  The survey said: 59% NO and 41% YES to homework in the summer.  Which side are you on?