Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Tag: parenting (page 1 of 6)



The offending clothes.

“Mom! Tomorrow is dress like a grown up day at school. I need you to help me put an outfit together.”

This from the mouth of my youngest son as he was getting ready for bed. He was already going to be late turning in as it was.

I had that momentary mom debate. Do I draw the line and tell him we’ll take care of it in the morning, or just say sorry, he should have told me earlier? Or, do I take a few minutes to help him gather some things? I opted for the latter, mainly because he rarely wants to participate in events such as these, so I actually felt a little encouraged.

He proceeds to pull out a white dress shirt from the closet and put it on. Next, he hunts down a tie he is happy with. Third on the list is pants. Keep in mind, the seasons are beginning to turn. I haven’t pulled out all of his brother’s hand-me-downs yet for the new season. I trudge into his brother’s room and dig through a storage tub in the closet for a pair of dress pants that will hopefully fit. Now, he digs through the drawer for a belt. There are two and we have to make sure which one fits him now. At this point, he begins insisting on a jacket. His brother has a black suit coat and he wants to wear one like that (which we don’t have in his size). I remember we have a nice dress coat hanging in the entryway closet. I drag it out and he tries it on.

People, this has now been a nearly half hour process. I woke up at 4:30 that morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I am beyond ready to crawl into my own bed.

Finally, he’s satisfied and I tuck him in. I sing him the two songs I have sung every night for as long as I can remember and say the prayer I always say. As soon as I head to his CD player to turn on the audiobook he is currently listening to, he begins to cackle. Not a gentle chuckle. Not a snicker. A full-blown, laughing his head off guffaw.

“Why are you laughing?” I ask.

He laughs harder.

“What is going on?” I press.

He looks at me with sheer glee. “It’s not dress like a grown up day tomorrow!! I tricked you!”

Me: Silence. Dead, furious, livid, stunned silence.

He sees my rage…a bit of a look of panic on his face.

Quietly, “Um, I’ll still wear it tomorrow if you want me to, Mom. Anyway, all isn’t lost. Now we know what I can wear for my school program.”

I maturely leave the room with no words and a slam of my own bedroom door, much to my husband’s dismay. As I relay the story, he sees more of the humor than my distress, which doesn’t help. The ridiculousness of it all strikes me and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I choose to laugh, although I’m still pretty darn mad at this point. How in the world did I give birth to this kind of menace?

A word of warning if you have children. Do not under any circumstances allow them to watch YouTube videos about pranks. I can’t help but think that’s what made the idea enter that little head of his.

I still remember as a kid pretending to be a spider, crawling out from under my bed at bedtime and biting my dad on the shoulder. Unfortunately, I bit way too hard and took a chunk out. No joke. Let’s just say that didn’t go over too well.

Parenting is dangerous, no question about it. At least I get good blogging material from my kids.

Oh, and if your kid tells you it’s a certain dress up day at school and you haven’t heard anything about it, be very, very suspicious.



Supporting Your Kid’s Interests

spell bowlDo you ever have moments where you wonder how your kid can be so different from you?

Recently, I’ve had several friends post pictures on Facebook of their kids reading by choice during their free time. As someone who values books, I indeed find these photos share-worthy. I will admit, when I see them, I have this small, fleeting thought of, “Where did I go wrong?” I have my library science degree, read all of the time, and neither one of my boys could provide me a photo opportunity like this. They are both excellent readers, and my oldest read voraciously until the end of fifth grade, then it came to a halt. He read his tail off all of his fifth grade year to earn an award for a reading program they have at their school called Accelerated Reader. The previous year they had honored the top ten readers at the awards ceremony at the end of the year. They decided not to give that award this particular year, so all of his hard work went unrecognized. He refused to pick up a book all summer long. As a former teacher, I felt horrified that my kid went a whole 8 weeks without reading a single thing, but I worried that forcing the issue would only make him resent it even more.

My husband was an amazing trumpet player. One of our kids plays, but can take it or leave it. It’s not a passion. I didn’t participate in any sports, but my oldest enjoys track. I didn’t love sitting in the cold rain a time or two for meets, but I’m pleased he wants to be a part of a team and do something physical.

Our youngest wants to be on the spell bowl team. This requires studying 25 words a night, every night for about six weeks with no guarantee of making the team. I was a good speller, but never had a chance to do something like this. I may lose my mind quizzing him on the words, but I appreciate his interest and perseverance.

I have a friend whose daughter recently made the cheerleading squad. She confessed that just about everything about cheerleading is unfamiliar/unappealing to her (her sport was swimming), but her daughter loves it, so she is along for the ride.

Sometimes what we envision or hope for our children doesn’t become reality. Sometimes our kids’ interests push us outside of our own comfort zones. What is most important to me, as their mother, is to shape my children into the people God created them to be. And, I suppose one of the reasons I care about this topic is because as a teacher I saw some students forced into activities that they didn’t enjoy or care about because it was their parent’s interest, and not their own.

Admittedly, it is easier to cheer your child on when you share the love of the activity, but don’t let your passions overshadow your child’s. Kids can do amazing things when they are allowed to pursue the things that naturally drive them.

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!


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

Psalm 127:3




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