Raising future adults — one chore and life skill at a time


So, here I am over at 123 Parenting Lane and thought I would share what’s up. I’ve begun to change how I am doing this parenting thing and I think it’s because my kids are growing up so danged fast.

It hit me a while back that I am not raising kids anymore. I don’t have babies, toddlers or little kids. I have one preteen boy and two teenage girls. Frankly the last thing I want to do is raise kids anymore. Why do I say that? Well I don’t WANT to have grown KIDS when I’m done with the official parenting thing and become an empty nester. I want to have grown adult offspring.
IMG_2233I’ve changed gears: I am now “raising future adults.” This change in mindset has completely overhauled how I do things, how I parent, how I work at parenting and how I see the day-to-day struggles and challenges. I found it actually takes a lot of stress out of the things that we once fought over. With a mindset change, it’s become easier to distance my self personally and see the end game for what it is: a practice game, dress rehearsal, a run-through before the big shindig.

Take cooking, for example. I used to cook all the meals, clean up all the mess, do all the dishes and work hard to make everyone happy. Now? Yeah, I don’t do most of that anymore. Oh, I still have dishes that I do here and there, I still cook some and plan meals, but I’m not the main source of all of it.

We have a weekly rotation of chores. One main chore for each kid, one empties the dishwasher, one fills, one cleans up the bathroom. At the end of the night, everyone takes their own stuff to their rooms and doing this keeps the house relatively sane. They do this daily. Then they each are assigned two nights to create a meal they know how to make or want to learn. Three kids + two meals each = six nights off and only one night for me to cook. My husband helps my son cook his meals. One day he will be on his own for that too.

The kids cooking not only teaches them how to make a meal but also the work involved in prep and getting it done and served. They pick meals they like, but they also respect the efforts of their siblings and that the sibling likes the meal. I rarely hear “I hate this,” or “I want something else to eat.” It’s not an option to eat anything else, and no one will die from eating something that isn’t their favorite. On a positive note here, they also know they have at least two meals a week they like, because they get to pick them.

I sit in the kitchen and work on my laptop. If they need help, I am available to answer questions, give pointers or give a hand. Often they will use the crock pot and even stick the dish in before school. Then there is precious little to do that night. They love that, and we all eat well.

Why am I making my kids cook and do all the kitchen work? Because I already know how to do all that. THEY are the ones who need to know how to do it and how to do it well when they leave home. These future adults need to know how to care for a house and themselves and feeding themselves more than PB&Js. It’s something I want them to leave home with. I remember my friends asking me how to cook stuff when I was in college, and let me tell you they were beyond clueless. When both my brother and I moved out we had cookbooks full of recipes. He’s now an amazing cook and baker on top of being an awesome dad, husband and engineer. We left home knowing things because my mom did this exact same thing with us. She rocked, even if I didn’t appreciate her smarts at the time.

So yeah, I’m done raising kids. They do complain now and again about it. I listen and say, ‘yeah, sorry about that.”  It changes nothing. We are a family and we work together to do what it takes to function and get through this life thing.

It’s important they also know that I don’t love what I have to do daily either, but I do have to do it anyway. Once they leave home, they are going to have to do lots of things they won’t love to do. It’s good practice doing things you don’t want to do and developing a decent attitude about it. After all, they can’t yell back at a boss that they don’t FEEL like doing something, or they hate that job chore, or they don’t like working next to so and so.

Giving them practice doing things they don’t enjoy, but which are needed skills, is just good parenting. It took a while to get it to work like a rusty, badly functioning clock, but, hey, we are plugging away, the hands are moving, and regardless as to if it’s timely or not, we do eventually get it all done and learn things along the way.

Eventually someday, I’ll look back and be glad I had the headaches and stress associated with raising adults, because they will invite me over for dinner and we will have food on the table and their kids will unknowingly thank me with their shrieks of “EWWWWW, I don’t LIKE that!”

I have my answer, and world, you better watch out.


Every now and again, as a mom, you look at your kids, see how big they are, and wonder if you’ve done enough. Have you instilled in them not just the how-to’s and the must-do’s, but have you gotten down to the basics of what really matters? When push comes to shove, have your kids really learned what you wanted to plant in their hearts and their very souls?

Life is busy. It’s full of so many must-get-done lists in a day that it trails off long after the day is over and the hours are since spent and gone. The kids are asleep in their beds and there is still one more thing to put away, wash up, find a match to or set out so it’s not forgotten. How do you make sure you have gotten to the heart of things as you run to and fro? Did the kids notice when you took an extra minute out of the rat race to stop and talk about that “teachable” moment when it floated past the other day? Did they hear any of them over the last few years?

There’s never a good way to know until push comes to shove. Until your kid is square in the face with a choice of doing the right thing over what everyone else is doing, you never really know. Further still, they may know the right thing, they just may not have the gumption, the guts, to take that hard stand.
IMG_2242Alli, my 14 year old, came home from school the other day. She blew through the door in her normal blustery fashion and grabbed food from the pantry and fridge and sprawled in the kitchen and loudly began recounting the day. Suddenly she stopped, got heated, and her eyes went beady and hot. When she is mad, her crystal light blue eyes change into a royal blue, nearly glowing. They flash and dance, bouncing the light. I stopped what I was doing. She commanded attention.

“I was sooooo mad today. In class some of the kids were laughing and holding a group of pencils tight and with a rubber band around them. They waved them and walked around saying,’ WHO am I?’ Mom I was so mad! I stood up and yelled at them and told them what for. I didn’t care if we were in the middle of class. They can’t do that.” She was ticked off. She went on to tell me they were making fun of an autistic kid from class who liked to have his pencils organized just so. Alli has a special place in her heart for him. She has always taken up for him. She gets mad when anyone with a special need or challenge is mocked or bullied. She gets so mad she will physically stand up and confront the bullies till they back off.

Her sixth grade year this particular boy was in class with her and she volunteered to sit with him in class. No one wanted to be partnered with him. He would randomly talk and make noises and gestures. He could not control his vocal tics or some of his movements. But to Alli it was what made him like a little brother. She watched after him like she did her brother on the bus. She got in anyone’s face who would say anything to him.

Summers she works at a non-profit horse ranch where kids come to ride. Her favorite weeks of the summer at the Dare to Dream Youth Ranch are those where they host autism camps. She has always been drawn to kids, but particularly those with special needs. She has a way about her. A sense. She is as protective in the classroom as she is on the soccer field of the goal she defends.

I asked if she got in trouble for her outburst in class. Alli is not exactly a quiet girl. When ticked off, she can be quite outspoken and loud. I know she gets it honestly, as her mother might be a little bit like that. Yeah, she may be a chip off the old block here.

“No, she never told me to be quiet, in fact the teacher came over to me after I sat back down and told me thank you for standing up for him. She said she was glad I did that.” Alli tilted her chin in a way that said, “Yeah, and I’d do it again even if she didn’t like it.” She still had a defiant and ticked edge to her. She gets very riled at injustice and disrespect.

So, when it comes right down to it, in the midst of all the to-do’s and the must-get-done’s, have I gotten around to really getting to the heart of what I want my kids to grow up knowing?

Yeah. I think this passes the test. But honestly? It’s not a testament to my parenting. It’s a testament to my daughter’s strength, her determination and her moxie. She has all it takes to get out there in the world and be exactly who she was created to be. She knows what she needs to know, and she has what it takes to do what is right. And when push comes to shove, she’s gonna do it. I’m proud of her for being exactly who she is and not be ashamed of that for a minute. Frankly? I think I’m learning from her.

I may lie akes at night thinking or worrying about something, but this? Nope. This isn’t one of them.

This post is reposted from my parenting blog over at Will Settle for Chocolate 

Sometimes it takes a hug to make life play nice


IMG_2243We’ve had a rough week around here. It’s not really abnormal, in fact it’s pretty standard, but it’s rough nevertheless.

Each kid has their own hard spot. They’ve each had their own struggles and worries. I’ve found myself floating from one kid, one thing, to the next, trying to be flexible and able to meet them where they are. I’m not always sure what I’m doing.

What am I sure of? Hugs. Never underestimate the power of a hug.

There are many different ways to give and get a hug. The standard one is pretty great. My oldest and I were having a conversation. She was upset, in tears, overwhelmed, and ready to just give up. I said, “No way! We don’t do that in our family.”

Giving up is the easy way out, but it’s also much harder than knuckling down and setting your chin. Truly. It’s easy in the moment to just say, “I can’t do this” and allow yourself to stop trying. The only problem with that is you get further and further buried in your mucky pit and find it harder and harder to climb out. It’s not worth that. Just when you think you can’t do another minute, with a little love, you can.

I had no words, no way to change the reality she was dealing with. I did have arms, though, so I just stopped her, put out my arms and invited her to lie with me on her bed, cuddled up, and we squished our cute pup between us. Our furry baby then slathered on kisses and made us giggle. Nothing in the world changed, but cuddling up in a hug made a world of difference.

From the bus, my middle kid texted me this morning. She was stressing out over a presentation she has to give. She has to have it ready by Monday and has tons of stuff to get done beforehand. She has a science fair project due and then the regular stuff. It’s tough being a kid these days.

While it’s easy to say kid stress is nothing like we have as grownups, it’s simply not true. Every single thing they have to do is just as hard as our deadlines, our financial stress, our worries. Helping them deal with theirs in a healthy way, however, will give them the confidence to handle the adult version later.

So I texted her back and first said I was sorry she was stressed. I asked what was up.  I asked about the deadlines and began to break things down into bites. I found that some deadlines were not today, so we will work on stuff together at home.

I’ll drop all I can to help my kids. I regularly will drop my stuff and work on theirs with them, then pick my to-do’s back up after they are in bed. A little less sleep is worth the fact that they CAN sleep. She sent me silly stickers and we back and forth sent ridiculous selfie pics. She was laughing by the time she got off the bus and I knew she’d carry those smiles with her all day.

My youngest has been making some poor choices lately. He doesn’t like the book he has to read for his Lit Circle group. The girls keep picking the books and he is far from impressed in now reading the whole series versus just one book he has zero interest in or tolerance for. In frustration, he began just NOT reading the book. Mad. What resulted is being behind by 170 pages versus being right  on time.

He is a fast reader, and so when he was so behind, he knew his teacher would call him out on it. He began fretting and worrying, teary, trying to fib his way into a sick day. The rule at our house is if you’re sick you have no electronics, you just sleep and get well. Or read a book.  Hmmmmmm. Yeah, he wanted to be sick so he could score a read-all-day-on-the-book day and catch up.

My “hug” to him was to say “no.” I pulled him into an embrace and we talked about it. I asked what was going on, we got it down to the bare bones and figured out where all the fiasco started. I had already been in contact with the teacher before this over some issues similar and so I knew more than he knew I did. My extra hug to him was to lay down some new rules. He needed to read 25 pages a day, before he touched any electronic device, and then he would be ready for the next Lit Circle group, all caught up, and no more stress over it.

His big take away? The fact that regardless if you like something or not, you have to do it and be prepared. I told him there were lots of things I didn’t want to do, every day, but choosing NOT to do them was not on the list of OK ways to deal with it. This is gonna come up over and over in life, and if I really want to love on my kids, I’ll help them through it, learn to do things anyway and support them while they learn the lesson.

Hugs can be literal arms around you. Hugs can be notes of encouragement, silly selfies and the promise of help and support. Hugs can be consequences, new rules and life lessons that will stick with them forever. Hugs are love, given however needed, at just the right moment, tailored to fit.

Want to know the best part? My kids are learning all about how to give hugs, not just get them. The other day I was stressed out and worried, sure I was gonna fail, and then I found an “I Love YOU!” note scribbled on the papers I was working on. I find random sticky notes that send me hugs when I least expect them. I find silly drawings in places when I’m trying to get things done. I always smile and feel so much better, stronger, able to push on and through whatever it is I am doing.

Hugs. Need one, give one, take one, receive one.  Hugs make life livable.

This post is reposted from my parenting blog over at Will Settle for Chocolate 

The perks of raising a techno kid


IMG_2244My daughter Alli came home the other day and said she had won some art award and that she was to go to an award ceremony at the Grand Wayne Center and get a certificate. She was all shoulder shrugging “whatevs” about it. I was tickled pink and signed us all up to attend right then and there. What I failed to understand, however, was the scope of the award and the fact it was not just a citywide contest, but a national award. We are a bit new to the whole thing, I guess.

We arrived on Sunday and a guy was yelling, “Students to the right, family to the left.”

In a split second, as we were shuffling along like cattle in a squished line of parents and award winners, a prick of panic welled up in Alli as she realized she would not be waiting to cross that stage sitting beside us, but by herself. “I don’t wanna sit alone,” she hissed at me under her breath as we got closer to the doors. I wanted to change it for her, but I couldn’t. So I did what any mom would do, I said what I knew ultimately would be true, but would not feel true for a very long time… “hon, you’re gonna do fine, it will be OK.”

With that, we went out separate ways.

We found our seats and then noticed Alli was not finding hers. It was by schools. So I went up to her and together we tried to figure it out. She was the only one from her school getting an award and so with only one chair to find it was a bit harder to do. While other kids were sitting with friends, Alli was sitting by strangers. My heart sank. I really hated that for her. I wanted to scoop her up or sit right down in the aisle beside her, but instead I slowly walked away, back to my seat a bazillion rows behind her.

My pocket buzzed. My phone was on silent. It was Alli. She was texting me. “I’m scared,” it said with sad faces beside it. With that we began a conversation and though I was a bazillion rows away, I was also only a second away via text. Technology was now this mama’s best friend. I tried to build her up, to get her to believe she could do this, that she wouldn’t trip crossing that huge stage that loomed in front of her, and I may have almost succeeded until the program began and the over-excited emcee hadn’t just declared the headcount for the afternoon at around 2,000 or so attendees, with 750 awards from 52 surrounding counties. The winners were for Scholastic Art and Writing Achievement awards, all of which were currently being displayed over in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.

Immediately, Alli began freaking out via text at that info tirade. “2,000???” she texted. I told her the truth. It was gonna feel AWESOME when it was over, she’d get a rush, she’d be filled and over flowing with adrenaline and she’d be on cloud nine. She just had to get up there and cross that stage first. And I KNEW she could do it. (What I didn’t say was what she already knew, that it was gonna stink waiting until her school was called, and since it was alphabetical, “Towles New Tech” was gonna be a while down the line.)

I know there was no way for my mom or dad to virtually hold my  hand when I wished they could, back when I was a kid. I know it had to be hard for them to have to simply let go. I can honestly say, letting my kids go, grow up, to do hard things and to go be amazing is far easier when they can check in with me a bit here and there when the going gets tough. Yeah, it’s easier on me and them both.

For that little bit of time, when we were a bazillion rows away, she and I were only a few fingertip pushes away from each other. A few goofy faces sent from me to her and she was laughing in spite of herself. As much as growing up techno kids is scary, it also has its perks. Sometimes I don’t hate it at all.

And I have to say, “way to go Alli — you make me busting-my-buttons proud, girl!”

 

This post is reposted from my parenting blog over at Will Settle for Chocolate 

Mama DOES know best!


IMG_2234You know that old saying, “Mama knows best”? Never, EVER let anyone tell you that you don’t know something. You are with your child day in and day out, and if you feel something is off, wrong or isn’t going the way that seems natural or normal or right in any way, draw your claws and demand to get answers. “Let’s wait and see how this goes,” is not an answer I take kindly to. I’ll do the try and wait game for a small time, but be prepared to hear from me, a lot, and never go away until you are ready to move forward to the next step. I’m not going away. Oh, and forget to get back to me about tests or setting up appointments? Yeah, that does NOT go well in my book; you just entered my hit-list side of the notebook.

Moms DO know best. They know when their kid is being dramatic or attention seeking and when it crosses the line into seriously real. And, whatever you do, don’t tell a mom (me) to parent something that is your (the doctor’s) medical turf. If I say a medicine is screwing with my kid, I know it because I know my kid. I also will have done a lot of legwork on the home front to document and try to figure out which meds are likely the culprit. The changes in personality or behavior are not because I am slacking in parenting.

Let me direct you to some notable paperwork, dear sirs. It might be one of those drastic side effects they have listed at the bottom of the sheets that say something like, “Some individuals may have more severe effects, including: rapid mood changes, abnormal anxiety, heightened anger and aggression, suicidal thoughts, impulsiveness, restlessness and trouble sleeping.”

In our case? We had all those along with nearly every one of the others listed in the “not so drastic” side effects column. Was the medicine doing the job we began taking it for. Yes, actually it was. Frustratingly so.

It worked nearly perfectly. It was like a dream at first and I was amazed that it did so much good. It was because it WORKED that I beat my head against a wall and tried to decide if it was ME or really the medicine. I tried to decide if I was somehow screwing up with my kid. Do I REALLY want to muck around with meds AGAIN when they are actually doing the job they are being taken for?

Am I willing to trade the quality of life the “cure” offers versus the problem we were treating? Wow. I want to scream NOOOOOO! from the top of my lungs. And truly, it’s NOT worth it. But the battle we have here? It’s not as simple as that makes it sound. It’s hellish. I can’t describe it, and I can’t give words to the number of times we’ve traveled this valley of desperate and dark times.

The battle between body and medicine — specifically here it’s the body’s ability to regulate the chemistry of the brain with medical help — is complicated stuff. It is. Still, the fact remains, growing up a teen, while regulating medicines, can be daunting. Hormones and puberty clash with pills and prescriptions. The theories and ideas all make sense, how meds will increase or decrease this or that, how it will help alleviate one thing so another doesn’t elevate. I’m not anti-meds. But it’s hard as heck to ride this storm out.

Look, we’ve done the “no meds” route for years. Tried so many things I could still cry now from those frustrating days we ALL had. But by the time my child was 12 it was brutally and painfully obvious that we needed to seriously consider more help. Childhood onset of Bipolar Disorder is not something easily regulated. She also is OCD with anxiety disorders and Borderline Personality Disorder. The brain chemicals in this kid’s body just are not lined up. Her ducks don’t walk in a row like they are supposed to. Life is hard for her.

In order for her to stop the increasingly painful confusion of her mind’s fragmented reality, which was growing more the further she entered into puberty, we needed to help her regulate the chemicals a bit. It was just time to try something new. (Side note: I now understand why there are so many different medications out there. No two people are the same. No two are going to be chemically fixed by the same pill.)

Enter into today, where my daughter has been running in and out of the house all day—LOUDLY, breathlessly giggling, obsessing about her hair and clothes, talking to a boy and acting like a complete nut. She’s been wrestling with her sister, harassing her brother and chatting online with her friends. She’s 16. I expect nothing less than this. In fact this is exactly why I am teary. This is what we’ve been working towards; an active, loud, healthy, happy teen.

We’ve been working on her meds for more than four years now and it is a constant rollercoaster. We’ve just come off a 14-week stint where we have been weaning her on and off meds, searching for answers, trying new things, doing “wait and sees” and scratching whole ideas because I simply said “NO way in HELL we are doing that.”

The end result is this: I was RIGHT. I knew my kid.

Yes, she has significant trouble, and she is anxious and worried often. Has she ever been suicidal before, scared the crap out of me, harmed herself, done things that made me fear for her life, her very survival? Ummm, yeah, she has. In ways that lay me flat out, face down on my bed, fully-giving-my-kid-to-God kind of scared.

Want to know why I could go to a doctor and say, “Sorry, YOU are wrong. The meds are NOT right,” and do it with confidence? Because I know what those “down in the mucky pit days” look like. I know what the triggers are. I know what sets those wheels in motion. I know when to begin to watch her and I can hear warning bells going off just by looking in her eyes. I KNOW HER! When my kid starts doing things with no trigger, no warning signs, goes from 0-180 in a flat three seconds? It’s not me. It’s not her. It’s meds. Period.

We have routine. That no-trigger trip-out? It’s not the way we spiral here. We have a cycle, a system, a formula for our madness, if you please. THIS was something I wasn’t willing to let go, or to wait it out, or do a try and see. I demanded to be heard. Frankly, not being this proactive can land a kid in a hospital. Or dare I say it out loud? Yeah, I’ll say it. It’s my reality. It can land them in a grave. Everyone will say, “if only we had known,” and I will sit and beat myself to a pulp because I let myself be silenced, judged or second-guessed.

Medicine mixing for the brain’s chemistry is a hellish battle. I wish it on no one. It takes forever to get the right balance and when you do, especially in puberty, it can change before you know it and it needs to be adjusted again. I’d say it’s not for the faint of heart, but you don’t get to pick your heart. I had to learn how to buck up and become a bull in a china shop. I started out a bunny in a barn.

Today I stood in my kitchen looking out the window. I watched my daughter. She, for all the world, looked like every other 16 year old. She does not wear the battle scars on her face. The scars are there, make no mistake, but today her face radiated. It was brilliantly lit with a smile full of pure white teeth and NO BRACES! She was still celebrating today by not having popcorn hulls stuck in those old things. Laffy Taffy was chasing closely on its heels and she was grinning ear to ear.

The battle is long, the cost is high, but the rewards of the little victories we are winning along the way are truly worth it.  Even though getting to the answer is tiring and time-consuming, we ARE getting to the answers.

There is no greater victory than one won for your child.

 

This post is reposted from my parenting blog over at Will Settle for Chocolate 

Easter Hunting for fairness in the fun


stock-footage-easter-eggs-background-colorful-easter-eggs-in-a-basket-with-green-grass-decoration-white-300x168“On your mark, get set, GO!!!” Two little girls with bouncing curls and flouncy Easter dresses scurried off with baskets way too large for their little bodies to carry gracefully. One little freckle-faced, redheaded boy stood looking wide eyed, watching as his sisters darted here and there and snatched up eggs of all colors and sizes. Grandma took him by the hand and pointed to a big blue egg and he picked it up and put it in his basket. His eyes gleamed and were matched only by his wide grin. He just stood there, however, so she pointed to another and another, soon being clear that the “hidder” was now the “finder” in this hunt for little boy eggs.

The girls were back in no time flat from their mad dash throughout the house, baskets overflowing. The wide grinned boy followed them into the room, sat on his haunches to peek in at his eggs, and shook them, as he saw his sisters do, to try to guess the loot they held inside. It was painfully obvious that the girls far out hunted this little guy. He didn’t seem overly bothered by it, in fact he was oblivious, but the girls, they knew. One of them came up and tugged on my arm and said she was sad that “Drake-Drake” didn’t get many eggs. It’s wasn’t fair. She felt bad.

I looked down at her. This was not a child saying it wasn’t fair THEY didn’t get as many eggs as their siblings. It was the one who got the most who was worried about the one who got the least. She asked if they both could share eggs and make it equal. They thought they should all have the same so no one would be left out. With a tight throat I nodded my approval. Of course! They had already learned the important lesson I wanted them to and they were only 6 & 8 years old.

They got busy and counted out their eggs and then counted Drake’s. Each gifted him eggs from their piles until it equaled out so that they all each had the same amount. I wasn’t sure what to do with that. I really wasn’t. I was proud of them.

From that point on, every year, they would do the same thing, only they never asked me for permission again. It was assumed that they would have the fun of the hunt, but then they’d share the loot. It didn’t matter if it was Easter hunts after that, either, it extended to anything. Trick or treating, birthday party prize bags, arcade game tickets, you name it, they shared it amongst themselves.

They still do to this day, and they are 11, 14, and 16. Lindsey came home one day from an appointment where she had been given some candy as she left. She asked if she could take one for her brother and sister too. They would have never had known she even had the candy as it was during a school day, but she knew.

I may have helped them learn to share, but God Himself had written the verse from  Matthew 25:40 upon their hearts. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ They began living this out in many ways, always finding ways to give to others just like they do for each other.

Spring Breaking for Operation L-O-V-E


Spring Break. Most think of sandy beaches, warm breezes, long afternoons with a book, and personally I’d love to add a tall glass of sweet tea on the side. This year I drove north and did the opposite of all that good relaxing stuff. I drove up to help my parents pack up to move to Texas and retire to that warm relaxing good stuff I was talking about.

I truly wouldn’t have it any other way. I packed up the kids and left my third shift working hubby at home on dog duty and we came up to help make hard choices, as they need to downsize significantly, to do the hard labor of moving things out to the garage for a garage sale, and to help organize the beginnings of a move.

imagesMoving is not a new concept around our family. It occurred about every 2-4 years when I was growing up. As for me, I stayed put once I got married, but they continued to do the moves without my brother and I, and when it came time to slow down, well they got a whole 7 years in this last place. It seems like a real “home” to come home to now. I will really miss that. I suppose the next house will become home quickly though. Where ever we have landed, we’ve made that house a home within just a few short weeks. The same things and people will be in the new place, and best of all, the love that binds it all together will be there waiting, so yeah, it will be the new “going home to see mom and dad” place that this always has been. But my kids have been really grown since they lived here… and it’s hard to remember that tiny tike my son was, just 4 when they moved in, his sisters a bit taller, but now they are strong armed and backed to do the heavy lifting work of this job ahead of Gramma and Papa.

Want to know the best way to show someone you really love them? Join them in their trenches, join them in the mucky, yucky, not fun places in life that they really need a helping hand in and do it with a smile, a willing heart, and a joyful attitude. What would you be most blessed by if you were in their shoes? Go BE that for them.

So today we have nearly tackled the finished basement full of terrifyingly huge decisions to make. We will open up two closets today that instill fear into my mom’s heart to even lay eyes on. We will hold things up and say “go or sell?” We will let her sit and rest her two knees that need surgery and replacements and we will do the hard work of it all. And we will laugh. A lot. And we will share memories. We will make the work become a joy because we are together. At the end of the day, at the end of the 9 days, we will be tired, sometimes even weary, but we will be very very accomplished.

Best of all? My kids are seeing what it means to love. Love is a verb. It’s an action. It is not idle. It is always moving, changing, and it is always caring about the other person.

So with boxes lined up along the basement wall, all according to size and shape and use, and a side of the basement that says “Texas Bound” and one that says “NOPE” ready to be hauled up to the garage to sell, we are getting the Operation LOVE well in hand. While some may come back rested from break, we may need a break from ours. But oh, how worth the effort it is!

This post is reposted from my parenting blog over at Will Settle for Chocolate