Instead of perfection…

A few weeks ago Sarah and I were back at the hospital for another diabetes clinic.  We typically go every three months, but this time it had been closer to 4 1/2 and I was nervous.  To be honest, I’m always nervous at these appointments.   The team takes a look at all of Sarah’s numbers that have been downloaded from her pump, and they look at her A1C – a quick blood test they do that shows the over-all amount percentage of sugar that has attached to her red blood cells – and together this shows the team how well we’ve been managing Sarah’s diabetes.

And although that sounds benign on paper, as I’m sitting in the room waiting for the doctor to come I’m quaking on the inside.  I thinking of all the times that I forgot to give Sarah insulin, or we didn’t count carbs right and how often her numbers were higher than they should have been and then I feel like I’m  waiting for exam results.  Like they are going to come into the room and tell me if I’ve passed or failed, and all I can see in my mind is a big red “F” stamped on Sarah’s medical chart.     Now, in saying all of this I’m doing a disservice to Sarah’s wonderful medical team who has NEVER once treated her diabetes care like this, it’s just me.  It’s a heavy burden I put on myself and I’ve usually got myself so wound up before these visits I often shed some tears.

However on this visit I was so relieved to find that we passed!  hahaha   Sarah’s A1C’s had come down slightly (which is good!) and the doctor was fine with what her numbers had been over-all and I could finally relax.  I thanked the doctor for being so good to us, and always being encouraging rather than judgemental.  He asked me if I had heard his space-ship to the moon story.  I hadn’t, so he told me.  He told me the story about how U.S. President John F. Kennedy wanted NASA to put a man on the moon.  Finally in 1969 they were ready and Apollo 11 started it’s journey into outer-space.  The doctor then asked me how many times during that journey the rocket was actually headed in the right direction towards the moon.  My guess was 75% but he came back and said, “Nope, 5%”.   I was really surprised by that number… wow!  The doctor went on to say that we need to take that perspective with diabetes care.  We are always striving for the moon and those great numbers, but have to realize that it’s a process, that it’s going to constantly need tweaking and small changes here and there, but the most important thing is to keep going.  It’s a journey.    And I liked that.   Perfection is obviously what we are striving for, but the fact that NASA did something amazing without perfection has really made me think about Sarah’s diabetes care in a new light.  It give me a long-view sort of mindset – one that takes some pressure off the here and now, knowing that we probably never will perfect, but there is always tomorrow.

But God clearly wanted to bring this idea into other areas of my life, and one of those is my anger.  My anger and frustration with my kids when they aren’t listening or they argue with each other, or they don’t do what they are supposed to do, and how I can just get mad when life doesn’t go my way.  I get frustrated because in my mind I’m telling myself, ‘It’s not supposed to be like this, why can’t everyone just do what they are supposed to do so we can have the happy life that I want?’

I read this line regarding parenting from Auntie Leila over at Like Mother like Daughter the other day… “The sooner you learn that frustration is part of the process, the happier you will be.  Our worst enemy is thinking that things should be perfect.”   This quote almost knocked me over!  And it struck me that it’s so true!  I was looking at problems completely the wrong way, thinking that they shouldn’t exist at all, instead of realizing it’s just a part of life!

It’s kinda funny because my friend Tania is currently parenting 4 little girls, 3 years of age and under, and we get a kick out of 2 of her children who get frustrated so easily, even when they are trying to accomplish things beyond their skill level.  Like her baby who gets frustrated because she can’t crawl around as fast as her older sisters can move around, and so just puts her  head down and howls.  We laugh because we know it’s part of the process.  We don’t expect a baby to just stand up and walk one day… we know that it takes lots of practice, lots of falls and lots of frustration on their part and we accept that it is part of the process of growing up and learning a new skill.  So why have I decided somewhere along the line that things in my life have to be perfect all the time?  I’m not perfect, why would I expect this of others?   Clearly I need a paradigm shift.

Apparently perfection isn’t always a good thing anyway.  I recently read an article from John Piper entitled  “Parents, you can’t build heaven here”.   He said that too often we try to make heaven for our children in the right here and now.  We try to bring too much perfection in a child’s life – guarding them from too much or trying to give them too much in the name of our love for them, but this actually back-fires because it teaches children that they deserve perfection.  And then when life (as we all know too well) falls very short of the perfection they are used to – these kids don’t know how to persevere and deal with problems.  Instead of helping them,  we’ve actually hindered their growth.

The verse that is used in John Piper’s article is Philippians 3:12, such a great verse….

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Phil 3:12-14

Paul is telling us to keep going because we haven’t obtained perfection.  Yes, it is our goal, but we have to keep forgetting what is behind and straining forward towards our goal.  He doesn’t beat us up for not having obtained it… obtaining it is a future thing to look forward to, through the hard work of living and trying and striving.

I can see that it’s time for me to accept that frustration is a part of my life I can’t escape and so just deal.  And if that frustration causes me to stop and refocus, or learn something new, or teach my children something new, or make changes along the way to my final goal (which in my life is to be more like Christ), then right now I am willing to take frustration instead of perfection – knowing that when perfection finally comes it will have been well worth the fight.


Parenting Challenge #1 for me…

Happy New Year!   A whole new year of blogging, I’m excited to see what it brings.  I got some stats back from Word-Press on New Years and apparently I’ve had readers from around the globe, including Switzerland and Hong Kong, which kinda makes me wonder how these people ever stumbled onto my blog or if it was just some sort of  honest mistake.  Word Press also reminded me that I had only pumped out 90 posts in 2011… which spread over 365 days might be considered a little lame.  I’ll try to do better this year.  But that is NOT a resolution!    I think that as I get older, I find it harder to resolve to do things because I know myself and how I don’t like to be bossed around – by me.    I’m trying to get myself to do something right now for 21 days, I’m on day 2 and having a serious power struggle.  So I guess I can’t even tell you about it in case I can’t follow through, but if I complete it, you’ll be the first to know.

However, I will accept challenges over resolutions.  Challenges just sounds, well, I guess more challenging.  Like, “Are you up for the challenge?”    So… I am challenged to make some little changes to parenting… and here’s  how it started.

Right before Christmas we got together with some neighbours and had us a wonderful time… Jason and I wondered why on earth we hadn’t thought ourselves of getting together before,  it’s a shame.   Anyway,  while we were there, one of my neighbours mentioned that when her and her husband  embarked on their parenting journey, the first thing they decided was that when they made a parenting decision, they weren’t going to back down, they were always going to follow through with decisions they made.

Wow, that really spoke to me because that is one area where I’m not so great.     The kids ask me a question, I give an answer… they start to bug me and cajole and bug some more and what do I do?  Well I start questioning myself, I start thinking, “Oh, am I really being fair?”  Or worse, I start thinking, do I really want to follow up with what I just said, and then I cave… AHHHHHH!!!!!   Not all the time, but there have been too many times.   It’s not good, it’s not good!  In fact, the experts will tend to tell you that in doing so you are actually TRAINING your child to NOT believe you!    To never take you at your word.    Scary.

OK – so I have challenged myself to always say what I mean and stick with it  and be consistent when it comes to the kids.   This way they will start to know that when I say yes, it’s yes and no means no and stop means STOP!!!!   But there are obstacles in my way.

The first obstacle  is that I often speak too soon…  the kids ask me a question and I just blurt out an answer – the first thing that I think of.  “No” is a good one when I’m busy, or perhaps a “don’t do that” when I’m distracted, both randomly given just to provide an answer and both not good enough if I’m intent on following through.

So, clearly I need to take a minute and think of an answer even if that means telling them to wait while I think about it or even call Dad to weigh his opinion.  But then once I do speak… BAM!!    My word is law!  hahaha… don’t worry, I’m not a dictator here.    But what I mean is,  now that I’ve thought of something, now I have to follow-up on that.  As in, “Sarah, if you lick that batter with your finger one more time you are not helping mommy put the cookies on the trays”…   if I say it, I HAVE to follow through with it.    If I don’t, then my words become meaningless and vacant and then why bother speaking at all?     Idle threats do bug me, I always think, why bother?  The kids and you know you don’t mean it, so you would be better off just ignoring their behaviour and saying nothing at all instead of having them think you aren’t trustworthy.    And if I say “No TV right now” then I guess I mean no TV right now and if that means I need get out some paints or play-dough or play with them for a bit,  that would probably be better anyway.

You see… I have a duty to my kids, not only to parent them wisely, but to train them to obey, not only because I say so, but because it’s what the Bible says.    It says very clearly in Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  It’s not my law, it’s God’s law.    And when you think of it, it’s so incredibly important for so many reasons, no wonder God included it!   First off, I want my kids to see me as trustworthy – to know that I am going to follow through with what I say.     And then, just think –  obedience could  save my kids lives one day.  That is huge for me, what if someday I see a danger they don’t, and I can yell at them to stop and they stop?    I can’t imagine how I would feel if I if were in a situation where I needed my child to come back to me and they didn’t…   it makes me shudder.

I forgot to tell my neighbour this that night before Christmas, but when I first saw her husband years ago at school,  he had their son with him and he was about 5 at the time.   For whatever reason this little guy starting to run away from his dad across the field to another group of kids, and his dad called out at him to stop and….  he stopped.   He actually stopped and came back.    I remember thinking at that exact point that this child I didn’t know could play with my kids.    Why?   Because I knew that he was a well-trained child.   Cool eh?   This is the proof!   Following through has worked for them and it’s definitely why I’ve challenged myself to always means what I say and always follow through.    I’ll keep you posted!

Some moms are smart, this one this not

The other day I was sewing and I was having a hard time figuring out how to sew a seam inside out and backwards and I said under my breath, “I’m not smart”.  Well this was overheard by Sarah who was hanging out by me and since she was rather bored she decided to turn it into song.  For  quite a while afterwards she was singing the above refrain, “Some moms are smart, this one is not”.  It kept making me grin,  and she probably couldn’t have been more right if she tried… but I’m fine with that.  I might not be smart, but I’m sure I’m good at other things, I’m sure of it.

And since I’m not smart, I’m so happy to learn from other’s who are.   Our church had the privilege of having Donna Otto from the Homemakers by Choice ministry  come to speak to our women this past weekend.  It was wonderfully encouraging!

Just one the things I took away from the weekend was when she talked about people often feel disconnected from each other, but most long to be connected.  Church is a great connector of people, but even in that there can be room for improvement, and that is why she advocates for mentors.   Older women who come along side a younger woman and mentor them.  Just like in Titus chapter 2 where Paul instructs in verse 3-5 that older women are to teach what is good and “so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands so that the word of God may not be reviled.”  There is a lot in there and I won’t even attempt at “unpacking” it as our Pastor Norm says, but just imagine,  to have someone with life experience raising kids and being in a successful happy marriage,  mentoring you to help you along and encourage you, what a tremendous blessing!!!

And I need help.  I need help raising my children to be competent independence adults.  I was talking with my neighbor the other day about how we like and rather expect our friends to parent our children when we aren’t around and I got to thinking about that and how important other people’s input into my children’s lives are.

Our first instinct might be to protect our children from others, but I think that could end up back-firing and being rather dangerous.    Our children are going to be independent adults someday, away from us protecting them,  and they need to know how to deal with all sorts of people;  nice people, not so nice people, strict people, fun people.   Not everyone is going to treat them like we do and nor should they!   My mom treats my kids differently than I do and that’s GOOD.  And the teacher’s at school treat my kids differently than I do and that’s GOOD.   Sunday schools, same. Friends the same.   It’s not always easy, but I want my kids to learn how to respond correctly to people, to be respectful of authority and so they need lots of practice.

Wow, that was quite the bunny trail…   but I will leave you with a picture of my Sophia, (of course) that my good friend Laura took on the soccer field last night.

Looking at her makes me realize afresh that I don’t want to mess this parenting thing up, I need all the help I can get!!   And I do thank God for the wonderful friends and mentors in my life but now I’m pretty sure I need more!

May the force be with you…

William has loved StarWars for a while now.  We weren’t quite sure where he was first introduced to StarWars but I think the influence is all around him, from Jason’s old StarWars sleeping bag that Erik’s been using for a few years to friends that have figurines to the Lego StarWars sets they’ve received as gifts and even Lego StarWars games on the computer.     But Jason was getting quite concerned that the boys were getting a wrong view of StarWars because they have never seen the movies.  And by ‘the movies’ he meant of course the original trilogy, none of this episodes 1,2 & 3 stuff.  Jason refuses to see them or even acknowledge them as real StarWars.  

So this weekend we decided that the boys were now old enough to watch the movies and on Sunday afternoon when Sophia went down for a nap, we broke out the DVD’s and watched Episode IV – a New Hope.  They were mesmerized… it was a huge hit and of course they loved it.  And what’s not to love?   Luke – the petulant, pouty jedi-in-training, Hans Solo, the bad-boy and of course bossy and beautiful Princess Leia.   So now the boys are well versed in the ways of the force.   *Disclaimer –  I did skip the part where Luke sees the bodies of his aunt and uncle, I still find that scene disturbing.  I think we will view Jason’s favourite, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’  next weekend, but I don’t know about return of the Jedi.. I think the content might be a bit too mature… we’ll see.

You know what’s funny though, is that we waited to show the boys the movie until they were old enough – but Sarah saw it too and she’s 4!   Isn’t that just the way it is with subsequent kids?  The first one has to follow all the rules and they all get broken for the younger kids.    I had many high ideals when I first had Erik, for instance we never let Erik drink pop until he was 4 or 5 – but Sophy get a tiny bit when we eat pizza because everyone else is having it.    Erik didn’t watch TV until he was two – as per the recommendation of the Pediatric Society – but then William watched it with Erik and he was not 2 – neither Sarah or Sophia for that matter.    It’s funny how our attitudes change…  and we relax a little when we get more comfortable with parenting. 

But now all the kids have lots of costume ideas for next Halloween – Sarah wants to be “Chabaca” – Chewbacca and William and Erik are fluctuating between stormtroopers and Hans Solo and I think I’ll dress Sophia up as a tiny princess Leia… I can hardly wait.   

William was in heaven again yesterday when he received an early present from his aunt Daila from out East – she couldn’t have sent a better present…

More Star Wars – thanks Aunt Daila!    And it even came complete with a Yoda birthday card that plays the StarWars theme when opened… I’ll just hide it before it gets annoying.  

So as I said before we are now well versed in the ways of the force and if the kids start hitting each other with sticks to mimic light sabers, at least we will know we brought it on ourselves.