Category Archives: 5 Protective Factors
One day, long ago, in the first years of Jon’s and my marriage, my friend Jaymi accidentally dropped her ring on our couch.
It fell out of sight immediately. We took off the cushions, but somehow the ring was somehow even deeper in the crevices of the couch. We then shoved our arms clear down into the guts of the couch and fished around blindly.
Eventually Jaymi hit upon the ring and pulled it out… along with a handful of dust bunnies and random stuff that had piled up over the years. It was a secondhand couch for Jon and me, so you can imagine how exciting the collection was.
Jon looked over as Jaymi pulled out her hand, and all the crap along with it, and he just about died. He was so embarrassed that we would have dust in the couch, and a random sock, and a toy. He ran to get the vacuum to clean it out immediately, as his mother, Patty, taught him. She is very particular when it comes to anything to do with cleaning. She reads cleaning magazines, files papers daily, organizes her spices. You get my point. Jon was raised this way.
I would have to say I am more random. I juggle cleaning and kids daily. I am always cleaning up and straightening things, but if I must choose between filing paperwork and going hiking, or anything else for that matter, I will choose the non-cleaning thing.
Back all those years ago, Jon and I were working through the normal things newlyweds do in the first, let’s say, seven years of marriage. I think it takes a while to set personal boundaries in marriage and figure out how to navigate what we can’t change about each other.
As Jon sucked all the dirt off the couch, I laughed at him for being so freaked out about some mess. I was a little annoyed, too, that I failed so miserably as a housekeeper/homemaker in his eyes.
Jon eventually left for work. Later that night, he came home with a combo meal from McDonald’s, which in my opinion is the nastiest place to eat. I could smell the Big Macs from across the house, the smell that makes me sick.
He sat down in front of the T.V. while he ate. I walked in and he was basically falling asleep in his food because he was so tired. He was dropping that pink nasty-smelly sauce and I couldn’t help but tease him for the mess he was making after the morning’s cleaning freak out.
I said, teasingly, “Oh no! You’re getting sauce on our table. NOW what are the neighbors going to think?”
He didn’t like my taunting very much, I guess. How could I tell? Because he took his 24-ounce glass of water and threw it at me!
I was so shocked I started laughing and said,” NOW what are our friends going to say see water marks dripping down the wall by the front door?”
I don’t think he liked this much either because he proceeded to throw his Big Mac at me. I dodged and it hit the wall.
I had two choices at this point. I could let it drop and go to bed. Or I could continue down the path we were on.
I picked up the greasy, smelly, condiment-less, tasteless hamburger and threw it as hard and fast as I could. It flung apart in the air like a bad airplane and hit the piano and splattered up the wall. Now, Jon isn’t fast most of the time, but today, he was fast. He unwrapped his other Big Mac as he stood. I am naturally fast, but nothing makes me move like Jon when he moves fast. (I once saw him jump an eight-foot wooden fence in a single bound when our hunting dog was about to eat our kids new Easter rabbit. The man can turn it on.)
I turned and ran the only way I could in our small house, up the stairs. I skipped two steps at a time, glanced back and saw Jon skipping three! I bolted into my room, slammed the door and ran into our bathroom. Jon didn’t even check to make sure that the bedroom door unlocked. He just plowed through it and popped the whole door off the frame, and smashed the frame out of the wall! He ran into the bathroom. I stared at him, daring him with my eyes to throw that last hamburger at me.
The dare worked. He threw it. I said, “I didn’t even lock the bedroom door.” He just grunted and walked away.
Suddenly we heard a “ding dong” — the doorbell. People have the worst timing, I thought. I couldn’t believe my ears when Jon answered the door. It was Patty and Grandma Ginny.
From the top of the stairs, I peeked around a corner to see Patty and Grandma Ginny step in and look around. I am positive they smelled the nasty pink sauce because Patty’s nose curled. Or maybe she saw the water drips on the wall and the lettuce on the piano. Or maybe she saw Jon’s look on his face. The look of foreboding.
I walked down the stairs and planted myself in front of them all. “Jon,” I said, “you threw the Big Mac. I AM NOT cleaning this up, and I am not coming back until it is.” And I marched out of the house.
Patty and Grandma started cleaning up the mess. A few hours later, Jon and I made up. Years and many fights and many laughs later, when we were moving out of that house, I found a crusty piece of Big Mac lettuce still stuck behind the piano on the wall.
Marriage does gets easier as time goes on. You get used to each other’s crap, and you figure out how to handle what’s not going to change. We solved the couch problem by hiring a housekeeper that helps me a few times a week. Her name is Maria. I love her like a sister.
The moral to this story is:
Don’t eat Big Macs. They are nasty.
Don’t boss each other around. Don’t tease too much. It doesn’t get you anywhere.
Every marriage could use a Maria.
Run fast if you take on Jon.
I would by lying if I didn’t say I was a bit nervous to be back on social media, after a summer without it.
I feel a bit like a child that has been grounded from the car and finally gets to drive, or an addict that is let back into a party scene after an alcohol recovery, or like I’ve walked into a Thanksgiving feast after starving on an island for months.
Yes, I’m sure I sound a tad dramatic, but after spending everyday on Facebook for the past ten years, that’s just how it feels. I’m cautious, hesitant and taking it all in. I’ve learned so much about myself that I can hardly put it all into words – especially in one blog – so just know that this is not the only time I’ll write about this here on my new blog. I thought I’d be writing on my blog this summer, at least, but when I decided to walk away from social media, I couldn’t bring myself to have any tie to the computer.
In fact, I even let my huge project and new non-profit (Parent Advocacy Council and The Parent Tribe) slip away from my consciousness; something I’ve worked tirelessly on for several years now. But you know what? It felt good and it felt right. My mind has become more clear and focused without all the chatter that used to fill every day, as I was in any line, in the bathroom, while I did homework with my kids, on date nights, during church, at stop lights and any other place you can imagine.
Now you get ready to gasp at my usage, I would challenge you to look around. The more I lifted my head and stared into my kids’ eyes, the more I saw parents everywhere that gave more attention and love to their pocket world than to their own children. I saw kids find their happiness, connection, and love from the latest app *hit*. I saw couples longingly gazing into other people’s lives while they were “bonding” at the restaurant table. I could go on and on, but I won’t you get the picture I’m painting because you’ve seen it, too.
I wish I could say that social media was ALL good or ALL bad, but I can’t. What I found is that it is neither. In fact, social media has felt more like an extension of my body, a third arm that has been removed. The arm isn’t good or bad, it just is a tool to carry out what is most important to you. And honestly, being away from Facebook, instagram, snapchat, and my blog, I realized that I mostly used my ‘tool’ to do a lot of good and I it was amputated – leaving me powerless to spread good things going on in the community or worthwhile projects my friends could be a part of. I also fell into a depression when I should have been gleeful and feeling free, I felt lonely and isolated. Yes, of course, I can hear you thinking… I had my husband and children around, I had wonderful experiences in breathtaking places this summer, but I was so used to the constant stimulation from my “friends” that somehow it still didn’t feel like enough.
I am not saying this is healthy – in fact, I believe that we are all so used to instant gratification with everything in our lives – even “likes” that we base many more decisions on them than we realize. I wasn’t so worried if my hair was “done” for a selfie, I didn’t care if my house wasn’t perfectly picked up (in the background) of my pictures and I often even lost my phone, without even realizing it for hours. At the same time, I missed out on important life events of loved ones and I didn’t have a constant giggle in my mind of the latest meme or video I had seen that gave me a good laugh.
It was quiet and I was alone with my thoughts.
This can be good or bad, and I can tell you that I experienced both on an extreme level. I’m actually brought to tears a bit thinking about it – and to be honest, I’m actually headed to see a personal counselor for the first time, for myself, to work though all the things I’ve pushed out of my head for so long. So you see, this has been a serious thing for me.
One night I was alone in our cabin in our cabin near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and it was pitch black. Jon had stayed back in Utah for a few days after I left and so I text him.
“Jon! DUDE! What are you doing?!”
“Well, it’s dark and I’m alone, and all the kids are asleep. What did you do today? Who did you see? Did work go well? Did that guy come by the office? Where are you going next?” etc.etc.etc. and any of you that know Jon well, also know that he is NOT a texter, and he text…
“How long until you get back on Facebook?” and we both laughed.
You see, Facebook is me – I am Facebook. It is where my friends and family really are, but it’s not really there with you. The people who make up your family are ‘there’ and Facebook is a fun pastime that brings me so much joy, but it can’t take the place of living, breathing, human interaction and love. It has to be a tool that is used when it’s needed, even everyday if it must, but like any tool it has to be put away in the toolbox. We don’t sleep with our hammers and power tools – at least I don’t. We use them for entertainment, a project, a goal…to create something beautiful or that makes us happy – and then we lock it up and sleep in the house it built. We enjoy it as an addition to our life – not as our life.
So on that note, I say goodbye for today. I’m off to create and live in my world. I’m feel so blessed to have this tool of a blog so I can share my thoughts, for myself, to gain clarity – but now I will put it away and move on. I’m so glad you’re here and I pray you have a wonderful day!
ps. Oh, and those darling little sweeties in the picture? They are my granddaughters and I missed them more than anything when I couldn’t see them everyday on social!!!
It’s been a hard week in our home, and I have to constantly remind myself to be fearless. It’s a challenge as the parent because our children look to us for guidance and support. Somehow, through the hardest times, we have to keep our chin up and continue on. And then when we feel safe enough, or we can’t control it any longer, we cry. I don’t often let this happen in front of my kids, so when I do they know it’s a pretty big deal. Although I don’t like doing it, I know that these are often the times when they learn the most – because it opens up conversations about big feelings.
I’m reading a book called “The Resilience Breakthrough” by Christian Moore. It is really great, and although I’m not too far into the book yet, I’ve learned a lot. I love the stories and the basic information that is given to better understand the trials we all face and the different skills we can build to overcome them. I would highly recommend the book. One of my favorite thoughts are the different types of resiliency: Relational Resilience, Rock Bottom Resilience, Street Resilience and Resource Resilience. We all fight through hard things for different reasons, and to recognize where we are strong and weak, helps us to become more optimistic and strong.
My husband and I both find resilience in our own way, and I watch each of my kids struggle through their hardships in their own ways. As I’ve read this book, I recognize pieces of myself and family – and I’m becoming more able to help them when they are struggling. Having said this, we can only do so much as parents. From the moment our baby is placed into our arms, we search for every possible way to support and love them. And for years, we teach, hold, love, praise – anything we can do to give them a good life – and in the end, it is still their choice to live the way they want and make huge decisions that will decide their course.
Tuesday morning I’m leaving to Idaho to speak about parenting, and I don’t consider myself anymore ready to parent than anyone else. The only difference is that I’m enough of a sucker to try to talk about it! The one difference, possibly, is that I work with countess parents and I learn a lot from them. I see the trials they overcome, I hear of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles they face, and I feel of their expansive love they have for their children as they speak of them.
I see parents being FEARLESS everyday.
Being fearless doesn’t mean that we aren’t scared. It means that we decide to do our best, no matter what that may look like. We cannot change the past and we don’t know what may happen in the future, but we do have control over today – and today if we choose to be FEARLESS – we will make the best decisions to influence the best possible outcomes. And in doing this, we will find happiness because this is the only place we have direct control of, anyway.
Make it a beautiful week and look for new ways to become FEARLESS!