Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Category: Family (page 2 of 10)

Worse Than “The Devil Made Me Do It”?

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This blog has been very quiet the last month. There’s one main reason for that, and her name is Sadie, our new goldendoodle puppy.

“Aw, she’s so cute,” you might say. Yes, she’s cute, but you aren’t the one getting up with her at 2:45 in the morning to take her out to pee in freezing cold temperatures. A little of that cuteness fades at that point.

So, here’s the story. I had no desire for a dog. Zero. Nada. Never in my life had I owned one. Yet, God blessed me with a little boy that has loved dogs practically since he came from the womb. His first birthday was even dog-themed. As many of you know he still carries his stuffed dog, Yoggie, all over the place.

If I had made a list on paper, the reasons to not get a dog would have outweighed the positive reasons to get one. However, sometimes I think God asks us to do things that aren’t reasonable. We often hear the phrase, “The devil made me do it,” but as a Christian I sometimes feel the Holy Spirit prompts me to do things way outside of my comfort zone. These things can even be painful. Some people get called to Africa, I get prompted to purchase a canine companion.

I can’t tell you yet if this was a good decision. Truthfully, I’ve struggled with anxiety for years on and off, and getting the dog made it spiral out of control. I went on medicine last week to try to get a grip on it. My prayer was that whatever dog we got would be just what our family needed. Maybe I needed one to take care of an issue that’s been festering for awhile. The ironic thing is, if the dog has taught me anything, it’s that I’ve had a very cushy life so far. I guess I needed a good dose of selflessness.

So, pray for me, will you, as I venture down this new road of pet ownership? Seriously, I could have far worse things to complain about!

By the way, she’s very smart. She already sits, lays down, dances in a circle, holds out her paw, and is already learning to ring the bells at the door to go outside to potty and she’s only 12 weeks old. Now you’re really wondering what I’m moaning about!!

What have you done outside of your comfort zone?

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When Parenthood Gets Lonely

Some things are easy to ask advice about. When your kids are young and they hit, bite or throw a tantrum you can post on Facebook to get ideas on what to do. Johnny keeps blowing raspberries while you are feeding him his baby food? Your neighbor might have some suggestions. Susie won’t keep her diaper on during nap time? The mom in your playgroup may have some experience.

When our kids are young, it’s not such a big deal to share stories about their shenanigans. In fact, the stories are often amusing after the fact, even if their defiance makes you livid in the moment. However, as they age, the difficulties you have with them maybe aren’t so humorous. You hesitate to tell other people for fear they will question your parenting skills, or not let their kid hang around yours anymore.

The baby, toddler, and preschool year are exhausting. Our bodies may ache physically at the end of the day from running around so much and lack of sleep. Potty training may wear on our last nerve.

When kids enter the teen and tween years, the physical nature of parenting lessens, but the emotional nature ramps up. Every day seems like there is a new dilemma to face. What movies can they watch? How far away from home can they go on their own? What friends do you trust enough to allow your child to go to their house alone without you?  And on, and on, and on.

The day comes where your child commits a major infraction. Suddenly, you can err in two different ways. You can share the story too publicly. You see, as your children age, their stories become more of their own. These stories aren’t really for you to share anymore without their permission. Or, you can err on the side of being so fearful to share due to shame that you neglect to get the help and advice you need to deal with the problem. You feel your best friend who always gave such great advice might not understand the fact that your daughter sent a sext message to her boyfriend.

I have discovered now that my oldest is ten that parenting suddenly feels a bit lonely at times. My ideas for blog posts wane a bit. My boys have always encouraged me to share their stories here. I think I inadvertently led them to believe that sharing them on here makes them somewhat famous. Ha! Now that my oldest is ten, I know there are stories that might potentially embarrass him that I now keep to myself.

Here are a few pieces of advice. Honestly, I’m writing them primarily for myself. Telling you simply helps me process them.

  1. Remember that as your children age, their stories become more of their own.
  2. Never publicly demean your child through social media for their choices/decisions.
  3. Work even harder to find trusted friends or mentors to share the burdens of parenting with.
  4. Offer grace to your children as they begin to make more of their own decisions.
  5. Offer grace to your friends and their children when they share burdensome moments with you.
  6. Look for ways to encourage other parents of tweens and teens. If you see their kid doing something awesome, let them know.
  7. Let your child know their stories are safe with you. They will certainly clam up if they know you run to other family members or friends with tales of every offense they commit.
  8. Pray for other parents, and for your children.
  9. It’s okay to admit parenting this age is hard, but look for every opportunity to build your child up at home and in front of others.
  10. Remember that this stage will pass just like all of the others. They don’t stay tweens/teens forever (thank goodness)!

If you are feeling a little like an island in your parenting endeavor right now, I understand. One of my most recent battles was over a book I wouldn’t let my son read. It took place smack in the middle of the library. At least when he was a toddler I could pick him up, drag him out, and strap him in his seat. We don’t have that luxury anymore when they are nearly our size. Suddenly a screaming fit from a two-year-old doesn’t seem so horrendous anymore!

Remember:

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.”

Psalm 127:3

Blessings,

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Doc Petry: Hall of Famer

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Friday night I had the opportunity to attend the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame banquet. My sweet dad was posthumously inducted into the humanitarian category for his contributions as athletic trainer at Bloomington High School South. Following, you will find the speech I gave on his behalf. So proud to be his daughter.

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Dedicated. Skilled. Responsible. Respected. Trusted. Likable. Honorable. Hard worker. Fast learner. Cool under pressure. Caring. Encouraging. Conscientious. All of these are words and phrases that have been used to describe Tom, also affectionately known as “Doc” Petry, specifically related to his 30 year athletic training career. He would be so humbled and feel incredibly privileged to become a part of this Hall of Fame.

Fame is an interesting concept. The word fame means the condition of being known or talked about by many people, especially on account of notable achievements. Aside from Indiana Athletic Trainer of the Year in 1994, my dad didn’t have a treasure trove of trophies, medals, or other awards. I doubt he ever broke any records. In fact, he started in athletic training because of his own physical limitations due to an illness he had as a child. He might not have been able to participate on a field or court himself, but he knew he could help people who wanted to do so. Regardless if someone was first string or fourth, he provided the same degree of care, probably because he knew what it was like to be sidelined.

Some of us get to be in the spotlight, and others are the ones running the spotlight. My dad was more of a behind the scenes person. One of our favorite stories about him concerns another Monroe County Sports Hall of Famer, Dave Reeve. Dave was a football player for Bloomington South in the early 70’s. He was badly burned in an accident in August of 1973 while filling a gas tank on a houseboat. Doctors felt his injuries would prevent him from participating in football for at least a year due to the weight of the shoulder pads. My dad was convinced he could rig up special pads, and sure enough with the doctors’ permission Dave was able to suit up a mere three weeks after his accident. Reeve later ended up in the record books of Notre Dame. Who knows what his future would have looked like without the care and ingenuity of Doc Petry.

In his long career, which by the way is nearly unheard of any more as the average American changes careers 5-7 times in their lifetime, it would be fascinating to know how many athletes he helped continue playing in spite of injuries. How many might not have received scholarships? How many might not have gone on to play at the collegiate level or beyond? How many are more comfortable even now as a result of the treatment they received?

Training didn’t come without its hazards. My dad had a terrible habit of keeping his scissors he used in his back pocket. My mom reminded him probably hundreds of times about taking them out before he would get in the car at the end of the day, but to no avail. Our 1971 Cutlass eventually sported a hole in the driver’s seat due to his negligence.

Those of you who knew my dad know he was a man of few words and didn’t get visibly excited about too many things. However, a hard-fought win, a success during a championship game, or a player’s personal achievement would bring one of the biggest smiles to his face with maybe even a few cheers.

My dad passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s four and a half years ago. One of the few awards that does grace the wall in his old office is the Ted Hall Memorial Scholarship plaque. He received it from the YMCA as recognition for making significant lifestyle changes in their rehab program he participated in. My dad used all of his marvelous qualities to stave off the effects of the disease for as long as he could. I watched his dedication in physical therapy and still remember him doing arm exercises with a Lysol can just days before he passed when that was the only part of his body that still functioned to any degree.

I have heard it said that our sense of smell is the sense that can lead to the most nostalgia. For instance, the smell of apple pie may take us right back to our grandmother’s kitchen. For me, the first overwhelming sense of loss from my dad’s passing ironically came when I took my boys to one of their first indoor track practices at IU. Who knew a sweaty gym smell could bring tears of sadness to a person’s eyes? And, even now, I can instantly recall the smell of the tape my dad used to wrap up the athletes. I didn’t ever get to witness him teach, but I did get to see him tape a fair number of ankles as I waited for him to take me home after school. One article about my dad by Rex Kirts indicates that in one given year (some time in the mid to late 60’s) he had used nine miles of tape. The hard-core numbers guy that Dad was, I have no doubt that measurement was fairly accurate.

One of his jobs as athletic trainer was to train upcoming young people interested in the career. He was a patient teacher, and so thorough it was said students under him learned more in their time in his high school training room than they would have in two years of college classes. Those who worked closely with Doc grew a deep respect for him.

I will close with these words from a plaque given to my dad before his retirement:

“For your unrelenting commitment in the classroom and your many years as the State’s Most Valuable Trainer we recognize the professionalism, dedication and talent you have provided this school. The high degrees of respect and admiration that you have earned and the standards you have set make you a significant part of the tradition and pride of Bloomington High School South.”

My family is honored for my dad to be included in the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame. Thank you for recognizing him as a valuable part of the athletic community.


*Additionally, I found out after writing this speech that a player’s whose life he helped save during a practice by making a critical decision and personally rushing him to the hospital for what turned out to be ruptured spleen, is now the athletic director at Notre Dame. “Small” jobs matter. So thankful for a wonderful example to follow.

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