Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sometimes You're Just Gonna Have To Get Wet

Several years ago—before we were a family of six—John, Zach, Elizabeth, Olivia, and I went to feed the fish in the pond and let Zach throw a line in while the girls looked for tadpoles. John and I were on the four-wheeler and the kids rode in small wooden trailer hitched to back of it.

Afterwards, while we were riding back up to the house we saw the rain coming toward us. We literally saw a huge wall of heavy rain moving across the field in our direction. It was actually really cool seeing nature at work like that, but it also left us feeling completely powerless. There was nothing we could do to escape the fact that we were going to get wet. Very wet.

I can still hear the kids giggling and squealing as we rode through the pouring down rain and as we ran into the house sloshing and dripping. And I also remember that in the short amount of time it took to get out of our wet clothes and into dry ones, the rain stopped. It was over almost as quickly as it had begun.

There was no getting around that wall of rain, and staying where we were wouldn’t have kept us from getting wet, either. It was coming and there was nothing we could do to stop it or avoid it. Just like life.

As a parent there are going to be times in our lives and in the lives of our children when we see the storms coming—the consequences of poor choices, rebellion, broken hearts, disappointments, failures, accidents, and even circumstances beyond our (or their) control. We see them coming so we look for any possible way out—ignoring the problem, denial, pride, or running away. 

But the voice of experience tells me (loud and clear without stuttering or stammering) that the only way to deal with the storms of parenting is to face them head-on. See them for what they are, acknowledge them, go through them, learn from them, and then ‘dry yourself off’ and enjoy the renewal and refreshing that comes afterwards—maturity, humility, wisdom, stronger relationships, confidence, compassion, and just plain ole common sense.

Being a parent is rewarding, fulfilling, and the absolute most important job on earth. It is also the most difficult and most heart and gut-wrenching job on earth—one with its share of pop-up storms. But just like a rain storm brings growth and refreshment, the storms you weather as a parent can do the same.


Momma D
                      Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

There's A Little Bit Of Merida In Us All

No matter how many children you have, what ages they are, where you live, what they like to play with, or even whether they are boys or girls, you are undoubtedly familiar with some girls who are sweet, kind, cute as can be, and who like to sing their hearts out…and do it quite well.

You know who I’m talking about—girls collectively referred to as “Disney princesses”. There are several and each has their own distinct quality that makes them so endearing. But when it comes to being realistic and true to life in her personality and her relationship with her mom, no one fits the bill quite like Merida from the movie, “Brave”.

Merida is confident, intelligent, loving, kind, and has a mind of her own that doesn’t always agree with her parents—particularly her mother. Sound familiar?

Merida isn’t about to give up who she is and what she loves to conform to the mold her mom expects her to fit into. No way! And to make sure that doesn’t happen, Merida tries to cast a spell on her mom but in the process ends up turning her into a bear. A bossy, grouchy, demanding bear that refuses to back down from anything…until her ‘bear-ness’ almost costs Merida her life.

From that point on, mother and daughter work together with respect and appreciation for each other’s abilities and personalities. In doing so they break the spell so that Queen Elinor (Merida’s mom) is no longer a bear. She is herself again, but less demanding and more approachable. And yes, they all live happily ever after.

As a mom I know there have been times when my kids have looked at me and seen a bear—a grouchy, bossy, demanding bear. My intentions may have been good, but I was still a bear. Or maybe my ‘bear-ness’ was the result of my being in a bad mood, not feeling well, or because of something my kids had done to make me irritable or angry. But I was still a bear. And when I was a bear, I wasn’t doing anyone any good. I was only making things worse.

It was only when I took a deep breath and put things into their proper perspective, OR realized my ‘bear-ness’ wasn’t something they should have to deal with, OR swallowed my pride and admitted I was wrong and they were right, that my kids saw the real me again. And when that happened, life was better and everyone was much happier.

As a parent there are going to be times when you turn into a bear. We’re not perfect and it happens. But those times need to be few and far between. And those times certainly shouldn’t be because we are trying to make our children fit into molds they don’t belong in. Instead, we need to be parents who work with your children’s strengths and passions rather than against them; allowing and encouraging them to become the unique individual they are meant to be. For when that happens, so does happiness.


Momma D
                      Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Grass Is Great for Horses--Not Preschoolers

My granddaughter Mackenzie loves horses. It would be safe to say she is passionate on the subject. At eight years old she knows the different breeds, more horse terminology than I ever will (or want to), the different kinds of saddles, bridles, and all the other things horse-related. Mackenzie’s love for horses has been part of who she is for as long as she has been able to say the word. As a toddler and preschooler she spent an endless amount of time on her hands and knees galloping, bucking, trotting, cantering, and grazing like any horse worth their weight in hay would do.

It was the grazing, however, that brings me to today’s parenting reminder…

We were outside enjoying a warm spring day and as usual, three year-old Mackenzie was bucking and galloping through the grass. At one point she stopped and started pretending to munch on the grass. She was getting pretty close to the ground so I warned her against actually taking a bite.

Mackenzie ‘argued’ that she was a real horse so she needed to take a real bite—and with that, she did. She bit off a mouthful of grass and for a split-second she started chewing. But her chewing was immediately followed by a considerable amount of time spent spitting and sputtering, coughing and wiping her mouth and tongue as fast as her little hands could move.

And me?  I have to admit I laughed. Yes, I helped her get the grass out of her mouth and I got her a drink of water to wash the taste away so she could go right back to being a horse—a horse that now knew how not to let her imagination go too far…and why.  But I laughed. What can I say? It was funny. Thinking back on that little event now, however, reminds me of two things:

1: There are some things your kids are going to have to learn for themselves. Some mistakes are going to have to be made in spite of your direst warnings and advisements. And as parents we need to be ready to love our kids in spite of their stubbornness and let them know that only when they learn from their mistakes will they be able to move beyond their mistakes.

2: There are going to be times when your kids are going to do exactly what you tell them not to do. Once the deed is done, however, your children need to know you will be there to give them that drink of water to get the taste out of their mouth. No, not bail them out or protect them from the consequences of their actions, but to let them know that you love them no matter what and won’t hold their actions against them.

We’ve all eaten our fair share of grass, so to speak, so why should you think your kids will be any different? They won’t be. I promise. But how you handle the situation can make all the difference in the world to both you and them.


Momma D
                       Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't Be Afraid to Look Under the Rock...Just be Careful

Several years ago my daughter Olivia and I spent a great deal of time gathering and hauling large rocks for a landscaping project at our (then) house. These weren't just any rocks, though. They were rocks from the foundation and fireplace of my great-great grandparents home. They were part of our story.

As we climbed around on what remained of the 'old home place' deciding which rocks to take (that's code for which ones we wouldn't kill ourselves lifting into the back of the truck), we laughed about how crazy we were to be 'risking our lives' for a bunch of old rocks, but we wouldn't have stopped for all the money in the world.

Each time we started to pick up a rock, though, I also did something else. I warned Olivia to be careful...very, very careful because of the possible dangers hiding under the rocks (that's code for snake).

FYI: I'm very thankful to say that in all the rocks we picked up (more than I can count), we never saw one snake. Nada. Zilch. Zero. None.

If we had, however, I can say with complete certainty that after we had quit screaming and doing that little "I just saw a snake" dance, we would have been right back at it. Why? Because our my desire to get the rocks and Olivia's desire to be able to say she had survived the day was greater than our fear of what might be underneath them.

As parents we need raise our children to be careful, but not afraid to look under a few rocks in their lifetime.

We need to raise our children to be confident enough in who they are to look under the rocks called trying something newspeaking up for what is right, and being confident enough in their abilities and personality to follow their dreams.

But at the same time we need to tech them to be ready to recognize the snake (poor choices, dangerous situations, and peer pressure) when they see it and to get as far away from it as possible.

Looking under a few rocks is something we all have to do, so do your job and teach your children how to do it right.

Momma D
                          Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

That Mr. Magorium...He Sure Knows What He's Talking About

In the movie, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Dustin Hoffman plays Mr. Magorium; the owner of a somewhat magical toy store. Mr. Magorium, who is 243 year old, is preparing to die. As part of his preparation, he makes arrangements to leave the toy store to Molly Mahoney, the young woman who has been his friend and assistant since she was a child.

But Molly doesn't want to accept that Mr. Magorium is going to die. Nor does she think she is capable of taking over the toy store. In fact, she doesn't think she is capable of doing much of anything. Feeling insecure about who she is and what the future holds for her, Mr. Magorium has these final words of encouragement and wisdom for Molly...Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.

As a parent, there are few things we could say to our children that have as much potential to encourage and embolden them to aspire to be who they were created to be as those two sentences: Your life is an occasion. Rise to it. As parents we have been given the privilege and responsibility to help our children discover who they are, what they are passionate about, what they excel at and most of all, how to grow to be the best 'them' they can be. It is also our privilege and responsibility as parents to provide our children the opportunities and resources to do these things.

The occasion of your children's lives may not look like you think it should, or be a life you would choose for them...or even yourself. But if your children are happy, self-sufficient, and people of integrity, then I think it is safe to say they are rising to the occasion of their life. And that means as a parent, you have risen to the occasion of your life, too.

Momma D
                          Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

May I Have Your Attention, Please....

A few years ago (almost three, to be exact) I was visiting Emma, Dwight, and Essie, who were living on Camp Pendleton. It was during the time of the wildfires—some of which were burning on base.
You could see the fires from the front yard of their house and each day we wondered if they would get close enough for us to have to be evacuated. At around 1 a.m. one morning we stopped wondering because over the loud speakers positioned throughout the base, a voice came on telling us we needed to evacuate immediately.
Waking up to the voice over the loudspeaker was coupled with the dense smoke that was starting to overtake the area, so as quickly as possible, we gathered a few things for ourselves, a few more things for week-old Essie, called some good great friends who lived out of range of the fires, and left.
We didn’t complain about being wakened from a sound sleep. We didn’t debate the wisdom of the choice being made for us. In fact, we were thankful—very thankful—for the diligence of those watching the fires 24/7 in an effort to keep us all safe. We were thankful they didn’t hesitate to ‘disturb’ us—that they did what they knew was in our best interest regardless of the time of day (or night) and without worrying about how we might react.
As parents there are times we need to be that voice coming over the loud speaker for our children. We need to step in and say or do whatever is necessary to keep our kids safe. Even if it makes us unpopular. Even if it makes them mad. Even if it isn’t easy or convenient. Even if it’s downright hard.
As a parent it is your job to keep your kids from ignoring the warnings to get away from the fires of bad choices that can ruin or even claim their lives. As a parent it is your job to expect certain behaviors from your children no matter what. As a parent it is your job to be vigilant in watching for dangers and warning signs of things that can adversely affect your child and keep them from growing into the amazing and wonderful people they are.
Parents don’t be afraid to be the voice that comes over the loud speaker. Trust me, even if it doesn’t make you the coolest mom or dad of the month, or your kids insist you’ve ruined their life, it’s worth it. And guess what else? Someday they will actually thank you for it.


Momma D
                       Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Just Lub You So Much

Have you ever been at a loss for words? You knew you should say something but you weren't sure what that something should be. Or maybe you've done just the opposite. You know-the old open-mouth-insert-foot routine? You might also remember your grandma or mom telling you that 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'.

While I definitely agree with teaching our children to not say things that are hurtful, rude, or unkind, I also think we need to take it a step farther. And I can't think of a better example of what that 'looks like' than what my granddaughter, Macy, used to do when she was just learning how to talk on the phone.

She loved talking to me on the phone, but let's face it-when she was two, she didn't have a whole lot to talk about. The dogs, the sheep and cows, what she and her sister had been doing, whether or not she'd been in time-out that day, where Grandpa was (and wanting to talk to him).... You know, the normal stuff. But that wasn't enough for Macy-she wanted all the 'air time' she could get. So when she couldn't think of anything else to say, she would say, "I just lub you so, so much, Nanna."

I instantly responded with the same and then she would say it again and again..."I just lub you so, so much, Nanna."

Doesn't that just melt your heart? It sure did mine!

Now here's the point I want to make...

Instead of teaching our children to be silent rather than not say things that are rude or unkind, teach them to fill that silence with words that encourage, mend relationships, melt hearts and share God's love. If we teach our children to go that extra mile and fill the silence with friendship and love there won't be nearly as much room for bullying, gossip and all those other hurtful things.

Momma D
                            Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Fork, please, Nanna

A few weeks ago when I put two year-old Esther’s dinner in front of her, she refused to eat her chicken—complete with a little container of barbeque sauce on the side for dipping. But why? She usually loves dipping her chicken in barbeque sauce. Why not tonight?

Okay, I have to be honest by saying her initial refusal to eat the chicken that night could easily have been because Esther is Esther. She is independent, has a reason for everything she does, and makes her move in her own time and on her own terms. But that doesn’t fit with the point I want to make and on this particular occasion, Esther’s independent way of thinking wasn’t the reason for her protests.

The reason for her protests was simple: She didn’t have a fork.

When I told her for the third or fourth time that she needed to eat her chicken, she finally said, “Fork please, Nanna.” And when I gave her the fork, she happily speared each piece, one at a time, dipped it into the sauce, and ate it.

Here’s my question to you: How many times have you told or expected your kids to do something without making sure they have what they need to fulfill your expectations?

Have you told your preschooler to clean their room but not taught them what your expectations of ‘clean’ are or showed them how to do it?

Do you expect your school-age children to make good grades (and possibly discipline them for not doing so) without helping them establish good study habits and/or giving them the time at home to do so (instead of filling their every waking hour with extra-curricular activities)?

Do you tell your children to act one way but demonstrate otherwise?

Do you preach/teach one set of morals and values but allow the opposite into your home via television, music, movies, and dress code?

I didn’t intentionally deny Esther the equipment she needed to get the job done, and I’m sure you don’t either. But if you don’t take the time to make sure they are properly equipped, you’ll be scratching your head and asking yourself ‘why’, while your kids are wishing you had just taken the time to give them a fork.


Momma D
                           Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Are You Over A Barrel

It was a warm-ish sunny day in mid-March. We were just finishing cleaning up the reception area of the church after our daughter Elizabeth’s wedding. Emma and I were carrying things to the car and Becca (who was eight months pregnant at the time) was walking to her car with 2 year-old Mackenzie beside her. Mackenzie suddenly spies a small outdoor play area and decides that it looks a lot more interesting than her car seat. In a split-second she lets go of Becca’s hand and takes off on a dead run for the play area.

For anyone who has ever been eight months pregnant you know going after Mackenzie was not an option. Just thinking about going after her was exhausting. What’s more, calling Mackenzie back to her just spurred Mackenzie on to run faster—away from her momma. So what did Becca do? She looked at Emma and said, “Get her, Emma! And bring her back to me.” (all said in a no-nonsense, she’s-in-big-trouble-now tone of voice).

This is a clear ‘case’ of Mackenzie having Becca over the proverbial barrel.

Sure she was only 2, but she knew what she was doing. She knew she was getting away with something and that her momma was powerless to run after her. But Mackenzie’s victory was temporary. Emma was happy to oblige Becca, and if memory serves me correctly, she gave Mack a good scolding on the way back to where Becca was waiting to dole out a bit more discipline.

Do your kids have you over a barrel? I’m not just talking about running toward a playground even when you tell them not to. And I’m not just talking about getting one more bedtime story and another drink of water three more times before the lights go out at night. Those things are part of dealing with raising a toddler. But the key phrase in that sentence is ‘dealing with’. If you don’t deal with these ‘barrel issues’ when they are little, your kids will have you right where they want you later on.

So how do you make sure your kids don’t keep you over a barrel? I’m glad you asked.

*Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you say ‘one more time’, then one more time is all there should be. If you say ‘no’ then stick to it. If you tell them they can’t have something, don’t give it to them to keep peace.

*Set boundaries and enforce them. If a child breaks the rules (which we all know they will), make sure they suffer the consequences for doing so. Kids need rules, boundaries, consistency and they need you to be credible. They don’t just need it—they thrive on it.

*Don’t be afraid of your kids. Too many parents these days are afraid to hurt their kids’ feelings or making them angry or upset. Too many parents are bending over a barrel willingly because they are afraid their kids won’t love them or like them. Trust me they love you. They even like you (most of the time). But what’s more, they need and want you. They need and want you to be strong, firm, fair, and constant.

Don’t be afraid to stand up straight—to stand up to your kids and for your kids.


Momma D
                         Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I Was That Kid

Several months ago the media, doing what they seem to do best, incited the public against a mom’s insinuated lack of parenting skills when her toddler ended up in the clutches of a gorilla at the zoo. And then a few weeks ago the media once again took on the role of rebel-rouser when a parent shared her home-surveillance video which showed one of her toddler-aged twins pulling a dresser over on himself. Talk show hostesses and a plethora of others went into accuser-m ode. How could this mom not have been there the instant the dresser fell—if not sooner? Or for that matter, how could she have let it happen in the first place?

Parents, give each other a break! Quit being so hard on each other—so mean to each other!

Stuff happens…fast. I know because I was that kid. When I was three I pulled a chest of drawers over on me because I was trying to get something from the top of –something that didn’t belong to me. My parents were just down the hallway in the living room…being good parents.

When I was three I threw a fit when Granny took me for my first haircut. I’m talking major fit—the kind that sent my little black patent leather shoes flying across the room. This was not my normal behavior and it in no way reflected on Granny’s lack of discipline. Trust me.

When I was four I gashed my chin open on the edge of our dining room table after slipping on some peanut butter while ‘tap dancing’ on said table-top while my mom was in the basement taking laundry from the wringer washer so she could hang it on the clothesline, which was also in the basement. Oh, and while she was doing that, she was also being a good mom.

When I was six I ended up covered in poison sumac growing along the fence in the barn lot. A couple of doctor’s appointments and two kinds of medicine later, I was as good as new and no one even thought about blaming Granny or Mom for being neglectful.

Until I was tall enough to not ‘have to’, I climbed on top of the counter tops to reach things in the kitchen cabinets. My favorite thing to get was the pancake syrup…as soon as my mom or Granny answered the phone (which was attached to the wall, back in those days).

When I was seven...when I was nine…. I could keep going, but I won’t, because hopefully I’ve reminded you that wherever a child is present there is the potential for stuff to happen.

Stuff happens in the blink of an eye. Stuff happens no matter how careful you are. Stuff happens no matter how consistent you are when it comes to discipline. Stuff happens because…well, just because.

So before pointing fingers and laying blame, remember this: your kids just might be that kid before the day is over.


Momma D
                       Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.