Category Archives: Back in the Day

I just call it good parenting.

I remember when I was about 12 years old and I would spend all day in the summertime at the neighborhood swimming pool. I would ride my suh-weet pink 10-speed there, by myself, wind in my hair, towel around my neck, a dollar for some snacks from the vending machines, and BAM! I was ready to spend the day with my friends.

This was around 1982. When there were no smartphones and no way to really track your kid’s every move. At the pool back in the day, there were only lifeguards and the moms of toddlers and a phone, with a cord, attached to the wall.

I would stay there all day sometimes. Had me a really nice tan, too, y’all.

I look back on that time and wonder how in the world my mom let me do that. How many times have we heard our elders say: “Oh, but it was a different time then.” Okay, so now I’m the elder saying, “It was a different time.”

Because it was. It was a time when you could let your kids roam the neighborhood and ride their bikes around town. And stay out till dusk and just give a holler when it was time for dinner.

Maybe it was because it was a small town. Maybe it was because I was basically a good kid. Maybe it is because back then, you knew pretty much all your neighbors and everyone looked out for everyone else’s kids. People weren’t so busy with their own lives (or so afraid of someone else’s mama) to prevent them from calling out some child who was misbehaving. “Hey, you, I see what you are doing there! You better straighten up before I call your mama!” It really did take a village, and the village actively participated.

It was a different time. Not so, now.

Now, in the 21st century, with all the social media outlets, internet, cable television and smartphones at our fingertips, and with all the crazies out there, documented for us daily on the world wide web and the nightly news, and where we live in neighborhoods of transient people whom we barely know, we have to be different kinds of parents today.

she calls it stalking

I find myself hovering and asking questions and needing to know things and having to tell my kids things that I don’t think our mothers before us had to do. Oh, don’t get me wrong—I thought my mom was the most interfering mom ever!  She wanted to know who, when, where, and what. And she wanted me to call her and check in. Oh, the horror!! She was, and is, a good mom.

There are things happening today that did not happen when I was a teenager—at least not to my knowledge, or not in the circle of friends I chose to have. There are things I might have done, but was too scared to do because, “what if my parents found out.” I valued my reputation. I valued the relationship I had with my parents. I respected them. And I did not want to disappoint them. But I was a moody teen and was kinda sassy, and of course, I wanted to try to get away with as much as I felt like I could.  I know there were times that I made some poor choices and did disappoint them. It felt terrible at the time. I learned some good lessons, thankfully, without any long term repercussions.

I had an interesting conversation with my 14 year old daughter yesterday. Emma is so blown away by the behavior of some of the kids at her school. She has overheard conversations where young ladies are bragging about their exploits. Emma and I have talked about sex and God’s design for relationships and I have said so many times that once your reputation is ruined, it is hard to repair. Emma said, “Mom, they don’t care about their reputations. They are not embarrassed about the things they are doing. They will be talking about it like it’s no big deal and the people they are talking to are just laughing about it. They just don’t care. I don’t get it. They are just crazy.”

SIGH.

I say it’s just sad. I am so sad for those young ladies. And it breaks my heart to think about the reasons why they do the things they do.

I am thankful to have a daughter who respects herself and who understands that she is a child of God and holds herself to a higher standard. She is so much more together than I was at her age.

So as I am calling or texting Emma and reading her Facebook wall and wanting to meet her friends and their parents and the boy who wants to take her to the Military Ball and making sure our internet browser has a good filter and asking her all the who, what, when, where, why and how questions, she calls it stalking.

I just call it good parenting.

‘Cause what else is a mama supposed to do in this day and age?

We have to be vigilant. We have to pray for our kids. We have to talk to our kids and know what is going on in their lives. Even if it seems intrusive—or stalker-y. We need to make sure they know the truth.

I am not perfect and neither is she. We are both going to make mistakes. But we talk to each other and I will continue to stalk her—mercilessly. And pray without ceasing.

9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy… Colossians 1:9-11 NLT

 

(This post was linked with Throwback Thursday.)

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A letter to my younger self

I was inspired to write a letter to Little Joell by this recent post by Tiffany Noth at A Bloggy Mom.

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Haven’t we all said, “I wish I knew then what I know now?”

12 year old Joell - 1982

Well, here is what I would share with little me if I could:

Dear Little Joell,

Here are a few tidbits that may help you get through the next few years:

  1. Worry less about your outsides and more about your insides. First of all, you are not fat. Yes, I know this may come as a shock to you. But you are just right just the way you are. And even if you were heavy, you would still be beautiful. And all those skinny girls, they are not going to be skinny at your 20th reunion. Trust me. And it really doesn’t matter anyway. So get busy cultivating your self-esteem based on who you are in Christ and spend less time perfecting your mullet.
  2. That thing Daddy said when you were in college, about how in 20 years that D you made in Religion won’t matter? Guess what? He was right. Because in 20 years, you will have been married to your high school sweetheart for a long time already and you’ll be a stay at home mom, so your degree? Pretty much not used, at least for your life’s work anyway. But that’s okay, you are not going to be a kindergarten teacher or a school social worker like you planned. You are going to be a wife and a mom and you love it. And by the way, the dude who taught that Religion class was clueless, it’s just that Daddy was too good to say that. And P.S. Your hubby? He’s pretty great.
  3. Your Mom is not an idiot. In fact, she is pretty amazing. She gets on your case (not nearly as much as you perceive in your adolescent mind) because she loves you so much. She wants to know where you are because she is worried about your safety, not because she loves nagging you or because she thinks you are a bad kid. She and Dad sacrificed so much so she could be a stay at home mom. She doesn’t ask much of you at all, so give her a break, okay? And maybe offer to help her with stuff around the house.
  4. Those things you are scared to do? Do them. That pageant you thought about entering but didn’t because you were afraid to sing in front of a crowd? Do it anyway. That time you thought about going to a foreign country to teach little kids English? Go. You want to be a writer? Do it. (May I suggest a major in English instead of Social Work?). Don’t be so worried about what others think about you. Stop thinking you aren’t good enough. Don’t be afraid to look foolish. If you feel God tugging at your heart, OBEY!
  5. Things don’t always go like you plan and that is okay. You know that romantic dream world you live in where your future is always happy, filled with flowers and rainbows and life is always easy? Sorry. But please know, you will have so many moments of incredible joy and happiness. You will be so blessed. You will also learn that marriage is work, mothering is wonderful, yet heartbreaking, and even though all of it is tough at times, all that hard work is so worth it.
  6. The things that seem so urgent right now and like they may very well be the end of the world? Nope. Not so much. Your teen years are a blip on the screen of your life. Keep the drama to a minimum. It is all going to be okay. Just wait a few years. You’ll see.
  7. Hey, you know what? You are a good kid. Yeah, you will make a few questionable choices, but that is part of learning. It’s okay to be the goodie-two-shoes. When your parents tell you how much they love you and how awesome they think you are, they mean it. You should believe it, because it is actually true.

But that story your brother told you about how when you were 4 you broke the window in the back of the station wagon? NOT true! It was always him.

Now go love God, love people and love life…you have such a beautiful life.

Don’t forget how much you are loved,

Your much older and wiser self.

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Flashbacks

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” ~ Bernard Meltzer

So I promised y’all a non-whiney post this time.  And that is exactly what y’all will be getting.

In this episode, y’all will be getting a blast from my past.  My long ago past…most of which is not appropriate to air here.  I like to say it’s “not for public consumption”.  No, I have not always been such a well-behaved girl.  I know y’all are shocked and dismayed, but suffice it to say that I used to like to partake, a lot, of the par-tay beverages back in the day, and I did most of that with my friend, Alexis (Kristi would join us on occasion as well).  Not that it was her fault, by any means.  But let’s face it, she was the one with the fake ID…and all that crazy confidence. “Y’all gotta be cool, now” she would say.  So, there ya go.  I mean, can we all agree, that most people lose their minds–to some degree–between the ages of 15 and 22??  Most of us are able to locate our brains again around 23 or so, I think.  Fortunately, that theory held true for Alexis and me.

Alexis recently turned 40–much to her great distress–and her mom, who we have always affectionately referred to as “R” (the first letter of her name–not sure she ever loved the fact that that was what we called her, but…), wanted to throw her a surprise birthday shindig.  I was invited and since I hadn’t seen or talked to my friend in a loooong time, I thought it would be great fun to go.  And so we did…and, yes, I dragged my poor hubby along. (He had fun too.) 

The party was this past weekend, at the home of Sid and R (Alexis’ parents), which is in the same community where Hubby grew up and where his parents still live.  We were late to the party, (Shocker!) so we missed the official “surprise”, but I think Alexis was plenty surprised by the whole thing, so I can live with it.  There was food and drink and reminiscing.  R had asked, that in lieu of gifts, guests bring a photo of themselves with Alexis and write down a favorite memory of her or advice for getting older. Isn’t that a great idea?? Well, since I am not, in fact, getting older, <don’t look at me that way!!> I opted for some “remember when” comments.  And since I was not sure who would be seeing said comments, I kept it clean. 

My favorite part of the evening was later, after everyone else was gone except for:  Hubby and me, Kristi (who had arrived later, after attending a family function), Alexis and her husband Will, Alexis’ parents (Sid and R) and Alexis’ younger brother and another family friend.  We laughed (a lot) about some of our close calls and poor judgement.  We thanked God for sparing us, and we lamented how we didn’t see each other enough.  There really is no excuse, you know.  It’s not like I live in Iowa anymore.  And for goodness sake, Kristi and Alexis live in the same county.

It did my heart good to see my old (and I do mean old…muahahahaha…) friend.  Alexis, who has endured some pretty tough challenges in life…even after we had gotten ourselves straightened out!…seems to be truly happy.  She has a sweet husband who adores her.  She has a job she is good at.  People who love her.  I mean, really, what more could you ask for? 

Alexis would probably say, “A mimosa”.

At least now we don’t need a fake ID to get one.

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