Planning 2015: Mother to My Son

I am continuing to share with you my revelations for 2015.  Today, I share with you the mother I would like to be to my son.  Please journey with me.  Your comments and perspective are more than welcome here.

Mother

My sweet eleven year old boy has been doggie paddling through some rough waters. I think he has been hit in the face with some of that water.  He swims on, but I see that his self-esteem has taken some hits.  For a boy that mainly seeks to please, rarely voices any complaints and often lives in his own thoughts, it’s easy to keep on trucking without taking any pit stops.  As his mama, I am committed this year to taking a lot of pit stops for refreshments, rest and meaningful exchange along our life’s route.

My plans for him include a weekly date with me.  I am inspired to reach out to him and take interest in his life.  He loves lacrosse – – I am sports-challenged, but I plan to have him teach me the game.  He expressed an interest in starting a coin collection – – we can do that together.  I also am inspired to teach him how to be the man I want for me, his future wife and his daughters one day.  I’m learning that it takes a mom to instill in her son a deep understanding of women.  I’m encouraged to give him insights into a woman’s world so that he can navigate his way through it with honor and goodness.

I’m also remembering and learning again the timeless qualities of honorable manhood.  Honor, courage, commitment, sacrifice, love, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom and grace.  These are qualities I encourage in my kids, both male and female.  But I am breathing in the singularity of what these qualities mean for a boy in a boy’s world, or a man in a man’s world.  The angle is different.  I want to be the edge or angle that allows the light to shine in on his growing manhood.

The revelation, the different thing, the building block is that building character is bound to build long term self esteem in the boy.  I don’t really want to just tell him how wonderful he is anymore.  I don’t just want to talk to him about what is good and right and holy.  I want him to believe who he is and live who God made him to be.  As my boy grows into a man, I see that he has to know who he is on the inside; and that belief has to be something he comes to know independently.

If you are interested in reading a few of the articles I read on raising an honorable man, check out the following:   It’s A Boy!, How Moms Can Lead Their Sons into Good, Honorable Manhood and Protecting the Self Esteem of Boys.

 

Liven Up Those New Year’s Resolutions

By JMathis

Relevant Magazine just posted a great article on how to actually make New Year’s Resolutions that are not…well, boring.  How many times have you tried starting a new fitness plan on January 1st, only to be stuffing your face with Twinkies by January 3rd? Check out this article by Rachel Held Evans.

For those of you unfamiliar with the writings of Rachel Held Evans, I really encourage you to pick up a copy of her bestselling book, Evolving in Monkey Town. This is a beautifully written memoir that honestly recounts Rachel’s personal struggle with doubting her faith in God. So many of us, including myself, are wrestling with spiritual and intellectual doubt as to long-standing beliefs instilled in us by the church, family or our culture. Many of us are trained to shut up about our doubts, lest we appear to be heretical or traitorous to others in the religious community.

It takes a great writer like Rachel to give us the courage to openly ask why we believe in Jesus Christ, as in many ways, this process of questioning is what will help us to better embrace a deeper, personal and more mature faith in Christ.

Each Day is a Fresh Page

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

I remember my first time vividly. It was my freshman year of high school, and I was in Mrs. Sloane’s English class. Not typically one who was tempted to cheat, I had to forcibly suppress my desire to peek a glance at my neighboring classmate’s paper to see what she had written. Sweat drops beaded around my temple as I blankly stared at the pristine white sheet of paper entitled, “My New Year’s Resolution.”  It was written in my signature, calligraphic cursive handwriting. But the handwriting, which had once won me penmanship awards in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades now mocked me, challenging me to think and write down a list of resolutions that could improve or change my habits or (gasp!) even maybe my life! I glanced around the room, noting each of my classmates were rapidly scribbling away like seasoned novelists. I glanced worriedly at Mrs. Sloane who stood at the front of the class, forearms resting on the wooden podium as she closely monitored the class like we were inmates at a federal prison. Perhaps it was the “deer in headlights” look in my eyes that finally broke her stoic silence, but a smile broke out over her severe countenance. Smiling reassuredly at us, she addressed the class: “Don’t let this assignment intimidate you. I’m not grading you on what you write down, unless it’s something extremely silly and I know you’re not taking the assignment seriously. You can write down anything you want…just think of even small things you would like to change/improve in your daily habits…exercising more…watching less television…turning your homework in on time,” she added pointedly looking at one of my less studious counterparts. “ Just remember to be specific…”

My head reared up and I sat up in my chair. Really? That was it?! Watching less t.v. counted as a New Year’s resolution? Relief flooded through me. I could think of several things like that! I quickly jotted several items on my list and then flipped my paper over, clasping my hands over it protectively as I patiently waited for the rest of my classmates to finish their lists. My eyes darted from one desk to another, noting that several students were still working on their lists. This wasn’t a novel, for goodness sake…it was a list!  Everyone could make a list! I crossed my hands over my chest confidently. This was undoubtedly the easiest assignment Mrs. Sloane had given us, and I was guaranteed an “A.” Two weeks later I had managed to break every one of my New Year’s resolutions.

And so began my love/hate relationship with writing and keeping New Year’s resolutions. By the time I reached college though, I had all but abandonded writing them. My freshman year, I was so idealistic that I wrote goals that were not realistic, given my current financial situation, such as traveling to Europe. My sophomore year I was so overwhelmed by exams, finals, etc., that I had completely forgotten about them. My junior year I had evolved beyond the need for writing any (I blame that one on my Existential philosophy classes), and my senior year, I was once again so overwhelmed with final exams that I, again, had completely forgot about them.

Then my mid-20s came. There was just something about the end of the year that not only begged for celebration but for self-reflection and self improvement, and so post-college, I returned to the yearly ritual of writing resolutions down each year. Although I had “failed” at keeping them, like a masochist, I, along with the rest of the country, participated in this national ritual. Perhaps, it was my own stubbornness, but I was determined that one of these years, I would actually be successful at keeping them…at least one of them. But as the cycle began again, a new yearly ritual began…seeing how long would I last before breaking one of them? It became a bit of a joke and a challenge between me and my friends to see which one of us could last the longest. But soon the challenge switched to see which one of us would be the first to break it.

Somehow and somewhere in the midst of that endless cycle, I finally had an epiphany in my late 20s. Who said that one day of deterring from my goals was a sign of complete failure? As the old adage goes, if you fall of the horse, get right back on…

And with that realization, came another…who needed to wait until the end of the year to make a New Year’s resolution? Every day was a new opportunity to make a fresh start. Each day is a chance to change/transform myself into the person I aspire to be.

A few years ago, a song came out, sung by Natasha Bedingfield, reminding me that each day of my life was a blank slate, a fresh page for which to start writing the script to my life.  I share those lyrics with you:

Unwritten.

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your innovations
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten