Wednesday, January 27, 2016

His Eyes, My Hair, Her Nose and His Elbows

One warm, summer Sunday, when I was ten or eleven, several people were visiting on the front lawn of the church after the service. I was playing with some of my friends when Helen, a middle-aged woman in our church stopped me and said, “Darla, if you want to know what you’re going to look like when you get older, just look at your granny because you are the spitting image of her.”

“Yikes!” I thought. I loved my granny more than words can say, but when you’re ten or eleven years old, hearing you’re going to have wrinkly skin and graying hair is NOT exactly good news.

I don’t remember what I said. I don’t think I said anything, but I’m sure the look on my face combined with my lack of a response was enough. But then again, knowing Helen, she probably didn’t realize I’d taken her words as anything other than the compliment I now know them to be.

Fast forward a few years…

Friends and family all have different opinions about which of our four kids look alike and who they look like. Some think Zach and Elizabeth look alike, while others think Emma and Zach look alike. Some say Elizabeth and Olivia favor John’s side of the family, but others disagree; saying they favor my side.

Fast forward a few more years…okay, several more years…

“She’s a little mini-Darla” or “She looks just like you,” are comments I often hear about Mack and me.

“It’s amazing to me how Mack looks like you,” John said to me, “and Macy looks just like Teri.” (her other grandma) And she sure does! J

“Elizabeth has been cloned!” is something I’ve heard from more people than I can count when they see pictures of Elizabeth’s daughter, Laney Beth.

“I think Laney looks like John,” other say. But then that makes sense to me because I think Elizabeth looks like her daddy.

Essie, on the other hand, is a perfect combination of both Emma and Dwight in looks and personality.

And finally, one evening at the dinner table, John smiled and said, “It finally happened. I’m married to Wanda, Jr.” (Granny) Turns out Helen was right. I do look just like her—gray hair and all! J

The point I want to make is this: We are all a reflection of those who have made us. Our eyes, hair, nose structure, the sound of our voice, even allergies are traits we pass on to our children and grandchildren. We don’t have any control over who gets what—it just happens.

But even more important than that are the qualities we can control—the qualities of faith, compassion, honesty, hope, forgiveness, and love. THESE are what really matter and what we need to make sure we pass on to our children and the things we see reflected back to us as we watch our children and grandchildren grow.

Momma D
                        Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I'll Take Mine Real and Simple with a Big Side of Sincere

Our three year-old grandson Reuben is by far the most literal little guy (or gal, for that matter) I’ve ever met. He’s not silly…he’s Reuben. He’s not a pistol…he’s Reuben. He’s not our little sweetie…he’s Reuben. And I LOVE it! It’s just one of the many things that makes him the amazing and adorable little man he is.

The truth of the matter, however, is that Reuben really doesn’t see things all that differently than other kids his age. He’s just got the wherewithal to take the time to say what he’s thinking. You might even say he’s a bit of an ambassador for his peers without even realizing it by just being Reuben. Huh? How?

Well since you asked…

The fact that Reuben doesn’t ‘get’ our affectionate ‘name calling’ should serve to remind us that children need and prefer us to keep things real and simple because that’s the way they see them, AND that our little ones have feelings, too.

Reuben and his peers don’t want to be called names any more than your and I do. Think about it…how would you like it if people went around calling you silly? Or what if your boss referred to you as the office clown instead of seeing you as a valuable employee?

If Reuben and his peers knew how to articulate their true feelings on the subject, I think it would probably go something like this: “I prefer to be called Reuben since that’s my name but thanks for noticing my great sense of humor. I get it from my dad.”

Reuben and his peers also don’t want or need to be overwhelmed with details. They don’t care that your great aunt Harriet’s house always smells like lavender, that she was married to Uncle William, and used to have a dog that ate bologna sandwiches. They just want to know if a) she’s a cheek-pincher and b) if she’ll have any toys or should they take their own.

And finally, Reuben and his peers don’t need and shouldn’t have to deal with mixed signals. It’s confusing and frustrating to have to wonder why being silly was okay yesterday but earned them a big fat time-out today?  You also know there are times they wonder, “If you liked the name you chose for me so well, why do I only hear it when I’m in trouble?” And most importantly, when you tell them you love them, they need to be able to take you at your word and need to know your actions will always reflect what you say. Always.

Reuben’s mommy and daddy appreciate and respect his desire to keep things simple and true. He knows he is loved, that they won’t overwhelm him with stuff that doesn’t matter anyway, and at the end of the day as he’s drifting off to sleep, he never has to question whether or not being Reuben is a good thing or not.

So on behalf of Reuben the ambassador for three year-olds everywhere, let me close by saying when it comes to talking to your kids keep it real, simple, and consistent.


Momma D
                             Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Drink your Molasses Water and Remember…Tomorrow is Another Day

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s finally happened—Momma D has finally lost it because there is no possible way drinking molasses water has anything to do with parenting. Wrong! I can assure you I haven’t lost it (not completely, anyway) and believe it or not, being a parent and drinking molasses water do go together…metaphorically speaking, that is. So stay with me. I promise it will all make sense by the time you get to the bottom of the page.

The years we spent raising our kids were also spent farming-primarily sheep…lots and lots of sheep. Lambing time (the period of time when ewes give birth) was an especially busy time for us. Checking to make sure everyone was healthy and keeping track of all those little lambs running around took time and energy, but for all the work we put into it, the ewes still had the biggest job of all in bringing the lambs into the world and making it possible for them to take their first breaths of ‘real’ air.

Here’s how it works…once a lamb is born its mother immediately begins cleaning the amniotic sack off the newborn lamb—starting with its nose and face. Over and over and over again the ewe licks the sticky membrane off her lamb until it is all gone.

This can’t be a pleasant process. The membrane is sticky, bloody, and because of the makeup of the fluid formerly inside, it is incredibly salty. YUK! But she does it because she knows it’s what needs to be done—it’s what is best for her lamb. So…to give her a much-needed and well-deserved boost of energy we gave the ewes a bucket of nice, warm, sweet molasses water to drink after they were done. And let me tell you they were ready for it! But once they were done drinking they turned their attention back to their lambs just the way they were supposed to.

Okay here’s where you come in…

Being a parent requires you to do a lot of things you don’t necessarily want to do for your kids, but you do them anyway because you know it’s what is best for them. You know, things like taking away privileges, saying no to something even though ‘everybody else’s parents are saying yes, cleaning up after them when they’re sick, going over their spelling words one more time even though you would both rather do anything else but that, cleaning up the broken glass that slipped out of their hands…in the store…that you told them not to touch. And on and on the list goes. Afterwards though, you need to give yourself the ‘luxury’ of taking a big drink of warm, sweet molasses water and giving yourself a few minutes to regroup before getting back to the never-ending job/blessing of being a parent.

For some of you, the molasses water may be thirty minutes in the hot shower or tub, time alone with a good book, or a cup of coffee and uninterrupted conversation with your friends. For others it may be a game of golf, an afternoon of shopping without going anywhere near a candy store or stores filled with un-stuffed bears, or watching the game with the guys.

What it is doesn’t really matter as long as you do it. Allowing yourself the opportunity to refresh and regroup makes you a better parent. In doing so you are able to release frustrations (what parent doesn’t have them) and enjoy spending time with people your own age. Taking time to refresh and regroup also sets your priorities back in order; allowing you to see your children as the precious treasures they truly are. Then once you’ve had your ‘molasses’ you’re ready to get back in the game…until next time.

See? I told you I wasn’t losing it!

Momma D

                             Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Some Call It Affluenza But I Call It Bad Parenting

Are you aware of the recent news coverage revolving around the so-called disease the media calls “affluenza”? Seriously? Has society fallen so far to try to excuse away the fact that A) this young man is a spoiled brat and B) he is such because his parents have made him that way?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is in a nutshell: A wealthy Texas teenager was given a slap on the wrist and probation for killing four people and injuring several more in 2013 when he caused a horrific traffic accident while driving drunk. Oh, and he was only sixteen at the time of the accident. Now, a little more than two years later, his mother (I use that term loosely) skips the country with him because it was discovered he was violating the terms of his probation by drinking and getting drunk (go figure!)—which was grounds for his arrest.

Mother and son were found in Mexico, arrested, and as I write, mom, Tanya is being sent back to Texas to face criminal charges and prison time. Son Ethan, however is still being held by authorities in Mexico, where before being arrested, racked up a huge tab at a bar/strip club, was escorted out for drunkenness and non-payment, and then he and his mom skipped out of their hotel without paying.
It’s not my habit to be calling names (especially children) but I’m going to make an exception here because someone needs to call it what it is instead of trying to excuse it away. Selfish. Spoiled. Entitled. Thoughtless. Disrespectful…and just about anything else along those lines applies to both mother and son. But sad, lost, hopeless, pitiful, tragic, and precious lives being wasted away also apply. These two have the potential to be so much better if they only would be.

Now before you write me off as being overly critical hear me out. I want you to look at these two and learn from them because they have MUCH to teach every single parent out there.

Lesson 1: Children really do live what they learn. Ethan is a product of his upbringing. He was raised to believe he didn’t have to comply with the law, that rules didn’t apply to him and that they are meant to be broken, and that responsibility is something he doesn’t need to concern himself with. Ethan has been raised to think only of himself and to do whatever he wants without regard to the rights and well-being of anyone else because he’s rich and money talks.

What are your children learning from the way you live? Are they learning integrity, responsibility, respect, compassion, selflessness, confidence, humility, and love? Or are they learning to resemble Ethan in even the smallest of ways?

Lesson 2: Ethan has a brain and is old enough to know right from wrong, but chooses wrong. You know as well as I do teenagers don’t blindly obey their parents without question. Ethan is choosing to make poor choices because he wants to.

Parents, if you are doing the very best you can to be the very best parent you can, don’t beat yourself up and allow guilt to swallow you whole if your child chooses to rebel and reject the principles of his/her upbringing. There comes a time when children have to be held responsible and accountable for their own actions.

Lesson 3: Parenting mistakes don’t have to be permanent and it’s not too late to change. Evidence and witnesses prove beyond a doubt that Ethan was raised in an atmosphere where discipline, respect, expectations, guidelines, and true parental love were non-existent. But after Ethan killed and injured those innocent people, his parents had every opportunity and resource available to turn things around and to help Ethan turn his life around. But instead of embracing their opportunity AND responsibility to do so, they turned their back on their son and encouraged him to keep on keepin’ on.

Parents, we all make mistakes raising our kids. A harsh word or two (or three…), unjust and misplaced anger and frustration, missing cues, hurting their feelings. We’re not perfect. When these things happen we have the capability to ask forgiveness, repeal the disciplinary action, speak softly, and apologize for being wrong. My question to you, though, is do you? If so, keep up the great work. If not, why not? And either way, make today the day you commit to not letting these occasional mistakes become the norm.

I know this post isn’t the usual witty wisdom Momma D usually shares, but there are times when witty wisdom needs to be set aside for what my kids and I call a “come to Jesus talk”. Today was one of those days.


Momma D

                           Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.