The "Slamwich" Generation

When my girls were younger we came across a card game called Slamwich. It is a fun, fast paced game, where you build sandwiches using cards that have pictures of bread, lettuce, bacon and other sandwich type fixings. While you are trying to build your sandwich you have to keep an eye out for the sandwich thieves who try to steal your sandwiches. At certain points in the game you slam your hand down yelling, "Slamwich," if you see the fixings for an entire sandwich, sandwiched in the discard pile. It was a favorite game of many of the kids their age and would often be accompanied by lots of yelling and slamming.

slamwich

You may have heard of the sandwich generation. This phrase refers to people who are of an age where their lives are sandwiched between the demands of their children struggling for autonomy and the demands of caring for aging parents. The point at which one enters the sandwich arena depends on the age and maturing of the children and the increasing demands of parents with failing health or mental capabilities.

This past weekend I went to visit my mother. My father died 10 years ago, so my mother has been living alone for quite a while now. My oldest brother lives in the area, so he is there for her when she needs a job done around the house, if there is an emergency, or just to have her over for dinner with the family. I am thankful that Jeff is there and that he has taken an active part in helping my aging mother. He is definitely in sandwich mode. 

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull.

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull.

As I drove the five and a half hours home, I began to think about that term and the thought struck me that it is really more like the slamwich generation! Sometimes, it feels more like we are getting slammed between the demands of these other generations of people. I think many of our children are self focused. We were too at that age. They don't often think outside the box of go to work, hang out with friends, go to school. Life revolves around what pleases them and what they think makes life significant. Married children are establishing their own homes, their own routines and starting families. You would think that it makes it easier for us who are in the middle of the bread! But I am still helping them out, whether it be with a little money to help them through another month of bills, or being available for babysitting. For older people, their demands are more obvious. While I was at my mother's she was having a large amount of anxiety over many different things. She has a harder time sleeping at night, so even that becomes a source of fear. I was able to calm her and help her work through some of that. I don't know about you other sandwichers, but it can be both mentally and emotionally taxing to be in this position..

I have a few bits of advice for all of us who are feeling like we are on display in the deli case at an upscale grocery store:

1. Remember, you are an essential part of that other person's life. They wouldn't be making demands of you, if you weren't needed or appreciated. Well, okay, the appreciation thing is questionable, but you are needed. Whether you are caring for your live-in mother-in-law with dementia, or caring for your grandson while his single mother goes to work, you are important.

2. God has a purpose in all of the messes of life, the lovely ones and the ugly ones. His desire is that we reflect His characteristics of love, compassion, gentleness and long suffering. Long suffering is definitely a slamwich characteristic.

3. I saw a quote recently on a picture at a thrift store over the weekend that I almost brought home with me:  

Patience with others is love. Patience with self is hope. Patience with God is faith.
— Unknown

How appropriate for those of us who are feeling the pressure of being in the slamwich generation. We have to have patience with these people we love, especially when the pressure is great. Our responses to them can turn them toward Jesus or turn them away. We also need patience with ourselves. There are times we need to get away. Take a walk. Don't answer the phone. Take a long bubble bath. Read a book. Get together with your friends and watch a movie. Be good to yourself and give yourself a break. And we need to be patient with God. He is trustworthy and He knows what He's doing, even when we don't have a clue.

Photo credit Josh Jones on StockSnap.

Photo credit Josh Jones on StockSnap.

I want to encourage all of you who find yourselves feeling like the salami and cheese smashed between two pieces of stale wheat bread, hang in there. You are not alone and you are His beautiful servant bringing hope and comfort to those in need.

Travel Log - Post 3

We almost titled this the "Vacation from hell," but thought that might set into play a very bad attitude. It just seems my husband and I have been part of the populous that continuously is challenged with difficulty. If you have ever seen the movie Holes, I blame it on my "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great grandfather." This quote from the book Holes, by Louis Sachar is the basis for all the bad luck for generations of Yelnats. I don't know for sure, but I don't think any of my great-great grandfathers were no-good-dirty-rotten, etc, but it sure seems, at times that bad luck follows us everywhere we go. Personally, I don't believe in luck. I believe all of our steps are ordered by God and He is involved in every aspect of life. That doesn't mean He makes all the bad stuff happen, but He knows about it and He allows it. Bad stuff happens because we live in a world that is not perfect. It is a world full of traffic jams, bugs, thunderstorms and car problems.

Our "bad luck" started with the traffic jam that I told you about in Post 1. The second thing that happened was the torrential rain that complicated our second travel day. I literally felt like I was driving under Niagara Falls, the rain was that bad! We had two great evenings with our friends Lee and Dale, see Post 2, and then made our way to our campsite. Mark and I both love to camp. Here is a pic of me after we got our tent set up.

camping

That was before I started getting bit by "no-see-um" flies! The truth is you actually can see the little devils if you catch them right when they bite you. They are almost microscopic. But I squashed several dozen of these little, tiny black flies. I currently have over 40 bites on just one arm. That doesn't count my other arm, neck legs and head. Uggg! Even using Off with Deet, doesn't completely deter these minions from Satan. Weird thing, though, they are eating me alive and my husband hardly has a single bite! Guess that's because I am so delicious! Ha, ha. So I am covered with red bite marks and they itch like crazy! "No-good-dirty-rotten...."

Another bad thing that happened, was our oil filter started leaking. We drove out to the beach one afternoon and after parking, I got out of the car and noticed an odd smell. I asked my hubby, if it was coming from our car. He pops open the hood and smoke pours out! Thankfully it was only the oil filter and not some other engine problem. We have, since making the discovery, been able to get to an oil change place and have the filter and oil changed. Good as new! But why we had to lose a night's sleep over it...."No-good-dirty-rotten...."

Today, we decided to get out of the heat and sun and come into town. This was today's outfit. It might look familiar, as I styled this dress and leggings on another occasion, here.

travel outfit
travel outfit

I know my hair is lacking any real style, but I did put make up on. I am camping after all! 

I hope you are enjoying these travel posts and outfits. I will probably try to post again in another few days, when we are in a new place. Have a great Wednesday!

A Memorial to Moms

Since this past Sunday was Mother's Day, I thought it fitting to write a post for all of you moms out there, or at least the few of you who might stop in to read this blog. While our country has been honoring mothers for over 100 years, it seems hardly appropriate to give moms only one day of honor and recognition. After all, the rest of humanity wouldn't even be here if it weren't for mothers. In reality, very little of what truly goes on in a mother's life is about honor and recognition. Motherhood is a memorial to the pains of birth, followed by the pains of the heart. A life of toil, meeting the needs and demands of others, with snippets of joy and laughter slipped in. A stew made up of love, sweat, tears, scented soaps, dry hands and pretty scarves. A woman, but not just that, a mother, is a conglomeration of people; a melting pot of jobs and a garden of everything from herbs and vegetables, to flowers and cacti.

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

My mother, a small woman of English descent still wears a headscarf that makes her look like a little Polish babushka. She is a lady who knows how to whip up a pot of chicken soup and clean a house. She was a Sunday School teacher to 2 and 3 year olds for over 50 years. Her hands and face are wrinkly, but her eyes blaze with light and her heart loves to dance and laugh. At 89 years of age she still lives independently in the home I was raised in. 

Mom and Dad C

My mother-in-law was an oncology nurse for over 20 years. She has a poise and dignity that carry over into everything she does. She makes fabulous meals and has been a source of love, fun and inspiration to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. In her retirement she continues to care for and help anyone her life touches including her own husband who has Parkinson's.

There are not enough pages to give moms their due. But we must also acknowledge that all we see on a day to day basis, only glosses over the surface of who a mother really is. She is human. She was born with a sin nature and struggles against it all of her life. She knows the voice of the enemy because he lashes her with guilt and regret. She has been down the road of "what ifs" a million times and has worn a spot in the carpet somewhere with her nighttime pacing. She could own stock in the Kleenex company and I know God has many alabaster jars full of tears in heaven. She wants to be what everyone expects of her, but also realizes that is impossible. She wants her husband to succeed, but more often than not, feels too overwhelmed to help him do it. She desires the best life for her children, but must only stand back and watch when they make choices that guarantee that life will not happen. She has hopes and dreams for herself, but she is willing to give them all up to simply be for everyone else.

Who is your mother? She is a warrior! She will fight for you. She is a priestess! She will pray for you. She is a bear! She will protect you. She is a light! She will guide you. She is a fire! She will warm you. She is so many things and more because that is who God made her. God made you, Mom and you are the crown of His creation! 

 

Marital Bliss?

Most of the time when I think of the word "bliss" I think happiness. Webster adds the idea of a state of well being or contentment. How many of you would say you have marital bliss?

UG86T8KW5X.jpg

I hope you all are responding in the affirmative. Ha, ha. I'm sure there are some of you who are happily married, but the majority of us struggle. As I've said before, anything worth doing is often difficult. I know marriage can get hard. It can be an all out war. Not that you and your spouse are fighting all the time, but that you are constantly fighting within your self to do the right thing, say the right thing, be gentle, show kindness, meet their needs and so on. Just like our faith, marriage can benefit from a few tools to help it grow. Let me preface this by saying, I know not everyone is in a cooperative marriage. You may have an abusive spouse or a spouse who does not share your faith, or perhaps your spouse has issues with pornography or some other addiction. If your spouse does not want to grow in the relationship with you, you can still benefit from these tools in that you will grow. Your own growth will make a difference in your marriage. However, if you are in a dangerous situation please contact someone who can help you. All the growth in the world will not fix a person if they do not want to be fixed.

1. Partnering in faith. Sharing a common faith is a key component in bringing intimacy to a marriage. Being in agreement on things like politics, social issues and what sort of belief system you have, will go a long way in making a marriage stronger. But you can't just share common ideals, you need to do something about it. Go to church together. Read the Bible and pray together. Go to a couples Bible study. Do volunteering together. This has a ripple affect. Not only do you grow closer to one another because you are spending time together doing something you both want to do, but if you have children, they will see the benefit these things have on your relationship and in the church and community.

2. Read books together. You can read any books together. Once again, the act of being together, reading and talking about what you read can be a catalyst for growth. My husband and I have read numerous marriage books together. His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr. was one of the first books we read together. Every book offers some good information that will help you understand your spouse better. Here are some other good titles: Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray, Sacred Sex by Tim Alan Gardner, For Women Only and For Men Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn ( I linked this to a set that sells both books and a DVD, but you can buy each book separately) and Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge. Every single one of these books has information to help a couple process their differences and work through those areas of miscommunication. My husband, Mark, the philosopher really liked His Needs, Her Needs and the two books by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn. These books presented the topic of marriage in a very straight forward, list type way. My personal picks were Sacred Sex and Love and War. Both of these presented the information from a Biblical perspective. That does not make me a better person than my spouse. We just process information differently and see the world through different colored glasses. And that is okay. If you can read any of these together you'll be further ahead than if you hadn't read anything at all. And if your spouse doesn't want to read, by all means read them yourself. They will give you valuable insight into the male species and what he is thinking within the marriage. BUT read it with an open heart. Not with a pen and paper in hand to make a list of all the things your spouse is not doing right. If you are the only one interested in growth, then let God grow YOU!

3. Get away. This cannot be stressed enough. Getting away, is tantamount to growth in your marriage. If you are limited on time and resources go on a date. My husband and I have a date night every week. Actually, now that our girls are on their own, we have as many date nights as we want, but we still set Wednesday evening aside to go out to dinner and then we usually end up at a Barnes and Noble, because we both love books. Find a babysitter if you do not have family in town. Your church is a good place to look for teenagers who are willing to watch your kids for a few dollars. If you are able to, get away every 6 months for a weekend. Go to a hotel, a state park lodge or camp ground. If you can't do that, send the kids to your parents or in-laws and stay home all weekend. Light candles, play music, get movies and just relax and enjoy one another. Another good place to go is to a marriage conference. My spouse and I have never gone to a conference. We both love to camp and hike, so we usually design our own weekends away. However, there are many different types of marriage retreats and conferences. Just Google "marriage conference" or "marriage retreat" and different options will come up. Or check with your church. They may already have something in place.

4. Counseling. Finally, I want to talk about counseling. I am a firm believer in getting good Godly counsel. Don't expect that your spouse will be excited about this, at least not right away. It is much harder for a man to bare their soul to a perfect stranger than for a woman....at least that's how I feel. However, if you feel you need help, get it. Do it for yourself and for the benefit of your marriage. A counselor can help you see yourself and your spouse differently. It is preferable that a couple do this together, that way you can both talk and express your feelings with a mediator present. Part of a counselor's job is to get you talking and to keep you on track. We all know how we can get sidetracked when we are trying to talk to each other about our marriages. Something comes up about the past, shots are being fired, someone ends up angry and the other is crying! Sound familiar? Counseling is not a bad thing and can be a great help for your relationship.

Lastly, I would like to add a personal note. My husband and I love each other and when we married we made a commitment. It has not been easy. We are both strong personalities with our own way of looking at the world. Time has tempered us, but if I had to do it over again, I would have started reading earlier. I would have gone to counseling sooner. Don't wait until you have gotten so set in your ways that changing will be like pulling an elephant through the eye of a needle. Start early and be teachable. Humility is a huge factor in having a thriving, growing marriage. 

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
— James 4:10 (NASB)
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,
— Ephesians 4:1-2 (NASB)

Celebrating Together

Though Easter was brought about through sacrifice, pain and death, we do not dwell on those things. We remember Jesus' act of love and as Christian parents we try to teach our children about the meaning of sacrifice, but what we celebrate is the resulting beauty of the resurrection. We emphasize the risen Lord, not the one who was in the grave. We happily look forward, not only to eternity spent with Him, but to the advent of Spring in the calendar year. How you celebrate is probably a combination of traditions you were brought up with and your own new ideas.

When I was growing up, we always wore our best clothes on Easter Sunday. My mother, being a seamstress of sorts, often made matching dresses for her and I, while my two older brothers and my father wore suits and ties. At some point during the day, jelly beans were hidden around the house and we were each given a cup. Our job was to find as many jelly beans as we could. My bothers would, more often, return with cups much fuller than mine, but I didn't mind. I think I enjoyed the ham dinner and the desert afterwords more than the jelly beans. We were also given Easter baskets with various candy and chocolate Easter bunnies.

When I became a parent, I thought it would be fun to take the jelly bean hunt to a whole new level and have a treasure hunt. After all, I wasn't a big fan of jelly beans. Several months before Easter I would begin shopping for little toys, candies or other items my girls might like. I would wrap them in tissue paper, gift bags or gift wrap and proceed to hide them all over the house and yard (if the weather allowed). I would make clues which Rebecca and Rachel would have to follow. Sometimes, one clue only led to another clue. But eventually a clue would lead to a gift. This hunt was such a hit that now, Rachel wants me to plan a hunt for her son Quintin. Oh, just twist my arm! 

eggs

There are so many wonderful things families can do together outside of the actual church services. These days many churches host egg hunts and other fun activities making the celebration last from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Here are a few suggestions for making Easter, not just about gifts and candy, but about Jesus.

1. Get "resurrection eggs" and use these to tell the story of Easter.

2. Plan a jelly bean hunt, or a treasure hunt and every time something is found, read a portion of the Easter story from the Bible.

3. Color eggs. While you're doing this fun activity with your kids or grandkids listen to Christian music, or talk about how an egg symbolizes the Triune God, and new life.

4. Plan a nature hike. In the midwest we don't know what the weather will be like, but as long as it is not raining, go to a nearby park or out in your back yard and talk to the kids about God's creation.

5. With your older kids you could watch a classic old movie such as Ben-Hur,  The Greatest Story Ever Told, or The Passion of the Christ (this is very graphic and should only be shown at your discretion). Talk with your children about the movie, ask questions about the portrayals in the movies and how it compares to scripture. Ben-Hur is a fictional account based on the novel by Lew Wallace.

6. Have your kids help prepare the Easter meal. Have them be involved in setting the table, getting out decorations and tossing the salad.

7. When your family is sitting down to eat spend a few moments letting people pray or express things they are grateful for. Gratitude doesn't just have to be for Thanksgiving.

In the comments section below share some of your Easter family traditions and ideas.

God bless you as you celebrate the glory of our Risen Lord.

How to Get out of a Sticky Wicket

Many of you have heard the term, "sticky wicket". See the origin of this term here. I love to say the term with a bit of an English accent and usually say it when referring to a difficult situation. Family dynamics are often a quandary. You feel, as a parent, the need to be in charge and admitting when you mess up proves that you aren't. It becomes a bit of a sticky wicket.

Family

This week on my blog I have been talking about confession. Confession within our families is a hard task. It involves humility and selflessness. But not confessing when we have hurt, maimed and mutilated allows the enemy to create walls and distance between us and those we love most.

When I was a young mom I was incredibly impatient with our two daughters and my husband. I would lose my temper, yell and throw things. Over the years God began to deal with me. He revealed through church, friends and His word how to manage discipline and life without anger. I started apologizing to my kids and my spouse when I would blow up, admitting to them it was wrong and that I was sorry.

Mug

Confession does not always mean an automatic change in behavior. Often, God allows difficulty to enter our lives to temper us. I know He did in mine. While suffering can cause us to be bitter, we need to choose to whom we are loyal. Bitterness will not make my relationship with God better, nor with my family. I must be pliable clay in the Potter's hands. 

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
— Jeremiah 18:1-4

Today, think about your family. Is there someone you need to confess to? Someone who deserves an apology? Did you snip at your husband this morning? Did you yell at your daughter to clean her room? Did you discipline your five year old out of anger and impatience? Go to them and confess. Restore their faith in you and in God. It's worth it to get out of the "sticky wicket."

Every Choice Affects Someone

Monday's post on my faith page talked about sin. The whole point of Jesus being born, living, teaching, dying and rising was to free us from sin; to restore us to a right relationship with God our Heavenly Father. Like ripples on water being part of a family means that we are always affecting or influencing someone else by our choices. As much as we hear the mantra, "It's okay as long as you aren't hurting anyone else," it isn't a realistic statement. Everything we do affects someone else. Everything we don't do affects someone else.

As a wife my choices affect my husband. More accurately my sins affect my husband. I used to think what I ate, what I listened to, what I thought was only affecting me, but it wasn't. When I eat poorly I am more tired. This impacts my relationship with Mark in that I am not able to enjoy evenings together because I am constantly yawning and intimacy gets tossed aside in favor of sleep. Other sins, such as pride, self-absorption and disrespect also affect my marriage.

As a mother, my choices affect my children. The sin of worry and anxiety have led me to more than one emotion filled discourse with my adult daughters. And for the most part that only leads to further frustration and pain, rather than healthy communication. Gluttony, anger and lack of trust in God affect how my daughters relate to me and how I represent Christ to them.

If you are a single person you may be breathing a sigh of relief. "Oh good! I don't have to worry about my choices or my sins affecting other people." But of course you do. If you are living at home, your choice to drink excessively affects your parent(s) every time you stay out late. If you have a job, your choice to not show up on time, affects your boss and your fellow employees. Every choice has a ripple affect and that goes for the good ones as well as the bad ones.

As members of a family, and representatives of Christ, we need to think about how our choices will affect those around us. A choice to sin, or do something against God will have far reaching effects for you and for those you love. Choose to choose wisely; choose to choose love instead of self interest. Make a difference to your spouse, your kids and those around you for good.

Am I at the Opera?

I came from a family that was relatively quiet. I have two older brothers. Jeff is ten years my senior and Kevin is 4 years older than me. Yes, I was the baby and I was a girl. Imagine my brothers' chagrin when they realized something alien came into the house on that day my parents brought me home from the hospital. Jeff was enough older that he didn't pay me much mind, but Kevin, he just wasn't too sure about this crying mess. 

As we grew up in a conservative Christian home, we ate meals together. I have fond memories of sitting around our kitchen table eating. However, I do remember it being very quiet. Maybe it was because I was a girl or maybe it was due to our age differences, but there was hardly any conversation. Just reaching for what we wanted, or a quiet, "Can you pass the butter?" I don't remember talking about school or other family or....well, anything.

But somehow we survived and we all made it to adulthood. I met my husband, Mark in college (and that is another story). The first time I was invited to his home for a meal, I was ill prepared for the event. I did not realize I was going to the opera. When we sat down to eat the delicious meal his mother had prepared I was expecting a meal, much like those at my house....quiet, with little conversation. After we said grace, there was some chit chat as we passed around the food. Slowly there was a rise in the volume and speed of the conversation. I was trying to keep up with the questions being asked of me and the other conversations that were going on at the table. Mind you this is not a huge family. Mark has one married sister, that's it. But all of a sudden I found myself unable to keep up with the voices, all talking at the same time, all trying to be heard. 

In opera the term is called imbroglio. It is usually a culminating piece where a number of characters are singing at the same time in a very emotional or fast paced way. So my first encounter with my husband's family was imbroglio. While it was a bit overwhelming, I was rather fascinated by it all. Over the years, I have learned to put my ten cents in (inflation you know) and I am able to take all the conversations in. And the family has grown. Two nephews, our own daughters and now additional in-laws and grandchildren.

Through it all I have come to appreciate family. Large or small, noisy or quiet, imbroglio or solo, it's all good. I am very thankful for the family God gave me, both by blood and marriage. I hope you are able to be thankful for yours as well.

Wait a Minute! This is Not What I Signed Up For!

If you would have told me when I first got pregnant the path I would be walking today, I may have run away screaming. I looked at motherhood, both as exciting and terrifying. Midnight feedings, colic, terrible twos, followed by temperamental threes, potty training...that was a cake walk. Parenting adults, not so much.

When our children are small, we have some amount of control. We can control their environment, when they eat, who they play with, where they go and so on. As they get older we begin to expand the boundaries. They go off to school, or in my case we homeschooled, and we begin to allow them more freedom. They go to their friends' homes, with our knowledge of the family they are hanging around with. We try to help them make good choices, take them to church, limit their choices of music and movies, while still allowing them to broaden their understanding of the world. 

Of course, then puberty hits and all chaos breaks loose. We find ourselves reeling from the increasing lack of control we have. Their social circles broaden and suddenly we are left out. We don't know who all of their friends are and we don't always know where they are. We blink our eyes and they are graduating from high school and off to college. Wait a minute! What just happened? Could we go back to when they were small? There are some things I would like to do over.

You might be asking yourself some of the same questions I have asked, "How did we get here? Where did I mess up? When did I go from 'Mommy' to 'chopped liver'? I understand. I have two adult daughters. They have both gone through difficulties, some by their own choosing and some heaped upon them by others. As mothers we hurt...gosh I have hurt...when my daughter's fiancee asked for the ring back; when my other daughter told us she was pregnant...and there is more, so much pain. And perhaps the hardest part as a mom is not being able to do anything; not take the pain away, not heal the hurt, not change the past. I have no control. I am powerless. Or at least, that is how it feels at times.

The truth, dear ones, is that you, as a mom, have the greatest power in the universe....the capacity to love. God gave women this very special ability to love. So even though your relationship with your children changes and you can't keep them from making bad choices or having harmful things happen to them, you can still love them. Day in, day out. And for some, that and prayer are the best chance your child has.

So each day I make a conscious choice to try to mirror Jesus. To love as He would love, give help when it is needed and withhold words when they are not wanted (sometimes the hardest thing to do). I love my adult children just as much as when I first saw their little faces, it is just different and that is okay.

Rachel and Rebecca ready for Halloween 2012.

Rachel and Rebecca ready for Halloween 2012.

Grand-parenting or Co-parenting?

When did grand-parenting become co-parenting? When did we go from grand to co?  I mean co isn't even an entire word...It doesn't matter, really. When my grandson calls me by the name he chose, he calls me Grandma, not Coma!  There are times, though, at days' end, after co-parenting, I feel like I am in a coma.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Back in the day, grandparents visited.  Today, many of us co-parent with our adult children, watching their children, for many reasons ranging from single parenthood and financial hardship to being the only trustworthy choice for daycare.

My grandson, like many boys at age 4 and 5, loves to go to play lands or playgrounds, weather permitting.  Sitting at MacDonald's after we have finished our meal, I watch him run furiously in the play area. I also people watch, a pastime I enjoy.  Often, I see other women, and sometimes men, my age or older looking very tired.  Like me, they've brought their grandchild there as a way to use up time in an otherwise long day, in an otherwise long week.  Let's face it, 18 to 30 year olds are more physically capable of dealing with a 4 year old's incessant questions.

"Grandma, where are we going?"

"Why?"

"Grandma, what are you doing?"

"Why?"

"Grandma, why do I have to take a bath? Why do I have to go potty?  Why do I need to eat? Why can't I have more gum? Why can't we go out for ice cream? Why is that man fat?"

"Grandma, why are you yawning?"

Co-parenting is the new normal. My own daughter, Rachel, is a single mom, working at a coffee shop.  She just makes ends meet and paying for a sitter would be out of the question.  While state aid is often available, many of us would rather watch our grandkids, than put them in a setting where they might fall through the cracks.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

The love we feel towards our children is immense, but the love we feel towards our grandchildren, at times, exceeds reason. Perhaps what drives us is a desire to nurture and feel needed; perhaps it is a desire for a second chance to do better. Whatever your reasons for becoming a co-parenter rather than just a grandparent, hang in there! God knows your capabilities and your children and grandchildren. He knows you are an essential piece of the puzzle and He is faithful. He will provide strength, love and even continuous, gentle responses to all of those whys.

 

 

Family is like a tree.

There is a beautiful picture that shows a tree standing tall and the words written beside it read, "Family is like branches on a tree. We all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one." The very first time I saw that picture, I thought how lovely and how true. Families are made up of so many diverse people. People with various personalities, likes and dislikes; people that we love madly and would even die for, yet the very same people who drive us to the brink of madness.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

fall tree yellow leaves

Living as a family, or as a community is often a trying experience. You have heard the expression, "Blood is thicker than water",  well it is also sticky, slimy and hard to clean up...not that I speak from personal experience and no, I do not have any bodies buried in my back yard, other than my daughters' childhood guinea pigs. However, the analogy holds true. Families can be loyal, loving and trustworthy, but they can also be the source of great pain and long suffering.

This page is a place for you to come to find camaraderie in the ups and downs of living and loving our families. Are your children young, energetic and you need advice?  Is your husband not the same person you thought you married?  Are you, like me, co-parenting your grandkids? Let's walk this journey together.

Families are complex and full  of layers.  I look forward to exploring them with you.