Archive for the Parenting Category

“Inspirational” Videos

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Parenting, Rants on November 27, 2011 by czriley

If you are on Facebook, I’m sure at some point you’ve had a friend post a link to a video. Usually silly, sometimes they post videos that are supposed to be inspirational or moving. I don’t always find the video as funny or inspirational as the person who posted it, but the worst that happens is that I waste a few minutes and go on with my life. Not this time.
A friend posted a video with the title “How One Family’s Horrific Tragedy turned into an Unbelievable Miracle – a Must See” Sounds very inspirational, right? How wrong I was. The horrific tragedy? Mom driving 3 small children in mini-van when they get in an accident. With a huge truck. The picture was chilling – the back part of the mini-van was barely recognizable. And I’m thinking that the miracle must have been that the kids survived somehow, right? Please? Wrong. They slowly go through the sequence of events, as this family loses all 3 of their young children. And I’m sitting there, stunned and crying. I have 3 kids and I drive a mini-van – I can only too easily imagine myself in their shoes. My heart is breaking for these people I will never know. Where the heck is the miracle in all of this?  You are then subjected to what seemed like HOURS of photos of the adorable children, while really sad music plays in the background.  I wanted to yell at the screen “Okay already, we get it!  They were adorable!  They’re all dead now.  WHERE IS THE MIRACLE??”  Finally, in the last minute or so of the video, we get the miracle.  The parents had triplets 2 years after losing their other children.  And the triplets are the same genders as the children they lost.

Of course I’m happy that this family has more children to love.  And, yes, I believe it’s outside the realm of coincidence that they had triplets who are the same genders as the children they lost.  But did I find this video inspirational?  Hell no!!!  Well over 5 minutes of horror and heartbreak, 2 minutes or less of miracle.

What’s my point here?  I’m not sure I know, exactly.  I guess it’s a cautionary tale – be careful what videos you watch, hug your children and tell them you love them because life has no guarantees.  But I’m still left wondering – where is the miracle in all this?  Because in the end, these parents went through horror and heartache beyond imagining.  And nothing can make up for that.


The Perfect Parent

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Parenting with tags on April 28, 2011 by czriley

Do you believe in the myth of The Perfect Parent?  I used to. I spent many years, blaming my parents for all the things they did or didn’t do. The mistakes, the unkind words, the ridiculous rules. I could cite every instance where they hadn’t done the right thing, the thing that I most needed them to do. Poor me – what awful parents they were! They didn’t understand me, they didn’t give me the love and compassion I needed, they just didn’t do anything right. Ever.
So there I was, stuck.  Angry with them for all the things they weren’t, and all the things they were. Why were they so awful? How could they have done this to me? Then there came a day where my therapist (yes, I was in therapy, though not just because of my awful parents) suggested that, just maybe, my parents had done the best they could. And that, really, what more could I ask of them? Treason! Heresy! They should have…. But, wait. I started to think about that. What a radical idea – my parents did their best. But what about the time…. Yes, even then. And gradually, it dawned on me. My parents? They’re HUMAN! And like any human, they are NOT perfect! So, no, of course they weren’t the perfect parents. And they had a lot working against them. A couple of young, rebellious kids from a tiny town in the Midwest. They got married as soon as Mom graduated from high school, then became parents 2 days short of exactly 9 months after their wedding. Mom was just 19, Dad was 20. What kind of parent would I have been at that age? (I shudder to think) They struggled for years with little income as Dad went to college, added another child a few years later. We lived in married student housing with mice and cockroaches, and those years are some of the happiest memories I have. But I digress. The point is – they had things hard. And they were so young. They barely had time to get used to being married and adults, and then they had to be parents as well. And I’m certain I was not exactly an easy child to raise. So, yes, they made mistakes. They did not give me everything I needed emotionally. They were never perfect – and they still aren’t. But they did the best they could. And I came to realize that their best was enough.
Now I am a parent, too, and this whole thing comes into clearer perspective. God only knows I wish I could be the perfect parent. Never yell and lose my temper, never say or do the wrong thing, always be exactly what each of my three children needs me to be. Yet, no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I love them, I can never be perfect. All I can do, just like my own parents, is my best. Some days that might not be saying much. But what more is there?

My parents love me.  And they did their best.  And now I understand just how much that means.

Letting Go: Update

Posted in Five for Ten, Parenting with tags , , on May 23, 2010 by czriley

If you visited during Momalom’s Five for Ten Challenge, you might have read my post on Courage titled Letting Go. This is a follow up to that post to let you know how it’s going.
We sent them off on Sunday night. The class was all excited and eager to be on their way. We parents had varying degrees of difficulty letting them go. I made poor E give me a hug before he left. “Do I HAVE to?” he asked. “Humor me” I answered. He didn’t seem to mind too terribly much. One of his classmates came bounding back out of the bus just before they left to give his dad a hug – all the parents said “Aw”. Then they drove off. I did not cry, though it wasn’t easy.
Now they’ve been away a week, and so far I’m surviving. It’s funny, but we’re so busy with the other 2 kids and all the usual stuff around here that I don’t have much time to sit around and miss E. Oh, I do miss him, but I’m not inconsolable or worrying about him every waking moment. Which is a good thing. We’ve had one brief message from one of the teachers, just a general message that everything was going well. And one photo. No word, otherwise. Which falls under the old “no news is good news” cliche.
I have been looking up maps online to see where, exactly, they are each day. And I’ve been checking the weather in those places, too. And feeling jealous – the night time low in New Orleans the other day was higher than our daytime high! The class is on their return leg now, and will be home on Wednesday. Can NOT wait to see E again.
Meantime, his 12yo sister, T, is heading off on a week long field trip tomorrow. G will be an only child for about 3 days. He’ll love it, I’m sure. It will be kind of fun to have just one for a bit – haven’t had just one since E was 4! But it will also be awfully quiet around here.
Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Missing E, but doing okay. And I’m sure he’s doing ok, too.

Feeling Older, and Shorter

Posted in Parenting with tags , , on December 1, 2009 by czriley

Age has never been something I’ve obsessed about. Oh, sure, there was maybe a little twinge when I hit 30. And when I hit 40; something about those years when both numbers change, I guess. But now, at 47, the twinges seem to be coming more often. And mostly because of my kids.
Part of it is just the idea of having a child who is a TEENAGER. Yikes! When did that happen? Wasn’t it last week he was a toddler? Guess not. He’s also quite a bit taller than I am. It’s surprising how old having children taller than you can make you feel! I got a new jolt of this last weekend, when we discovered, by way of my husband and his level, that my 11yo daughter is now exactly as tall as I am. Wait! When did this happen? But, but – I’m not ready! Thank goodness the youngest, 10, is still shorter than I am. But not for too much longer, I’m sure. (I should perhaps explain that I’m only 5’2″, so getting taller than I am isn’t exactly difficult.)
The other thing that made me feel old happened last night. E (the 14yo) has suddenly developed an interest in Facebook. Even a week ago, he had no interest in it or email even. Now, suddenly, he’s totally into both. So we helped him set up a Facebook account last night. He’s thrilled, and already has several friends (including his parents and grandparents). He seems very comfortable with it. Obviously he’s ready. Just as obviously I’m not! It’s just a little more of the slow letting go I have to do with him. One more way he’s independent. One more way I can’t watch over him 24/7. Don’t get me wrong; being independent is good, and I’m really enjoying watching him grow up and turn into this amazing, mature young man. But it sure does make me feel old.

How I became the cool mom

Posted in Parenting on May 19, 2009 by czriley

One of the good days in motherhood. Well, at least some good moments. I was driving for E’s field trip, which meant I had a carload of 7th grade boys. Of course one had an iPod along, and they wanted to play it on the car stereo. They asked E if they could, no doubt wondering if I’d allow it. I did, and then they were a bit concerned about the music they wanted to play. “It’s kind of heavy metal” one said. No problem for me, I’ve been a hard rock fan for longer than they’ve been around! Slipknot first – a new one to me, but not bad. Next – I Don’t Care by Apocalyptica. I LOVE Apocalyptica! Finnish heavy metal band with cellos – brilliant! Seriously, check them out on iTunes or wherever.  We all sang along to that one. Don’t remember the rest. Some were a bit too much for me, but most I quite enjoyed. I heard from E later that the boys were commenting how none of the other parents would have allowed them to listen to it. Hey, that means I’m the cool mom!  At least when driving on field trips.