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History

I watched much of the inauguration with some of my children today (we did do some cleaning too.) It was fun and emotional and hopeful. But more, it was important. I am so privileged and thankful to have had the opportunity to share this, another historic day, with my favorites.

Over the course of the day we each asked questions, considered new ideas, consulted “Uncle Google”, met amazing new people, shared opinions, disagreed with one another, expressed our hopes, and ultimately learned something.

Thank you dads and moms, for sitting with your kiddos and watching the events and celebrations unfold today. They need your help to understand the context and their place in it. Keep talking.

We watched together!

Loss

We’ve all experienced loss in this season. Our kiddos need to help to navigate those griefs. You, even – or especially, in your own sorrow, can be the first line for helping them understand and move towards healing. Whether a universal sorrow or a very personal one, we need each other.

Participating in memorials or gatherings of remembrance have very important roles in dealing. Your child needs your perspective and comfort within those good and necessary rituals.

They especially need you now. Your respect and honesty is so important as they grapple with big feelings. Good job being close.

This is a tricky time. There are events and images and conversations that are too much information for our kiddos. But, even despite your shielding, they are (or will be) getting some pieces. You’re doing one of the hardest parenting jobs in helping them understand and feel. You deserve a shout-out for the way you are working to ask, listen, and share.

We talked about the really sad bits.

Abandon

The invitation to meaningful play can be merely a prompt and open space.

You have the power of gifting opportunity for creative experimentation, motivation for ideas, time for imaginative solutions. You have the ability to set in motion free fun. With easy encouragement and basic, found tools, you extend and deepen both the joy and the learning.

Great job giving your kiddo the gift of play and learning and fun in a simple toy and an admiring audience.

They ran in the yard with a balloon on a string.

Surrender

Sometimes it is important to pull out, to back up, to surrender, to quit. Even, maybe especially, in our parenting. Giving up can mean anything from tossing out the days-old resolutions, to allowing jammies for everyone, or backing off on the expectations – anything.

You find your balance. You might ask yourself whether any particular thing is going to matter in the long run. Some things are. BUT is this causing more trouble than it is worth? Is now the wrong time? Is it costing too much in stress? Where does it rate on the “Cosmic Significance Factor Scale?”

Moms & Dads want to keep getting better and so they constantly watch and listen and think. This practice of honest reflection can reveal what is not working. You were aware enough to observe and brave enough to figure out what not helping and then you acted. Now to do the hard work of whatever needs doing to try for a better way. Your commitment to this constant process cycle affects you and your kiddo for the better.

You made the very wise decision to stop doing something that needed to end. Great job reflecting and changing; this is meaningful learning. Here’s to trying a new way!

I gave up (and I’m glad.)

Birder

Everyone wins with this open ended family activity. It hits all the right notes: everyone is involved, you go outdoors, you work together to care for something, there is loads to learn and share…

But, like every worthwhile thing, it is costly. It took planning, preparing, maybe dealing with a bit of resistance, and most likely caused a mess. Because you are a parent, you did it anyway.

You put out the seed & peanut butter pinecones or hung the popcorn garlands, now find a perch together to watch who comes for the Winter treats. This is an awesome way to handle this long, tricky season – good job parents. (Bonus points for identifying the visitors and/or taking their photo!)

We fed the birds.

Perspective

We are all concerned with screen time – for our children, each other, and ourselves. There are strengths and weaknesses in using any electronic devise: connection & distraction, creativity & inactivity… We work hard to find balance.

Our cell phone camera, with its convenience and ease, can be a wonderful tool for storytelling. The images captured document experience as well as create art. It is simple enough even for a child. Sharing this tool gives them another voice.

By allowing our kiddo to take the photos we get a whole new perspective – theirs. Moms & Dads? that’s not generally convenient or practical (or even always the best thing to do.) But you chose it at the very right time and it matters. Enjoy the pictures, and stories, together.

I let them take the photos.

Measure Carefully

Portion control is everything; even in parenting. Finding the balance of too much and not enough is tricky. It is our job to navigate that, to measure the information and expectation out with sensitivity and bravery.

Information helps. Honesty helps. Books help. Vulnerability helps. Normalcy helps. Friends help. Nature helps. Listening helps. Trying again helps. Hope helps. Silly helps. Asking for help helps.

In this overwhelming time you are doing the huge job of interpreting current events for your child. You deserve commendation for considering what they are seeing & hearing, what they can handle, and what they need to know. You are also committed to the ongoing lessons, hard conversations, and costly actions that the next bits will bring. Well done.

I gave them enough information for now.

Chores

Every time we invite our children into the tasks we have to do, we help them grow. Working together is a gift – bringing skills, efficiency, confidence, and (in my experience) some laughs.

You’ve done the hard work of staying close behind them to steady or catch, trusting them to try to reach the counter, mopping up the spills (or breaks), exhorting in the face of bad attitudes, praising attempts, raising the bar higher, and likely some nagging, cajoling, and scolding. BUT, you have also consistently expected and encouraged your kiddo to share in the responsibility. They have shown they are capable.

Great job to both your kiddo and to you! Practicing the simplest of chores builds life skills that are important in so many ways. Your example, teaching, and encouragement has enabled them to be an authentic part of your household. That feels good all around.

They cleared their own plate.

Candlelight

When I had toddlers we bought a Christmas carousel pyramid. (You know, the wooden decoration where the rising heat from candles moves a fan that turns a scene?) The kiddos were mesmerized as it was lit and the other lights turned off. It was the longest, easiest, most settled supper we’d had as a young family.

We joked that we should have candles every night.

Then we did.

It is now 30 years from that holiday season and I still have candles at dinner. The mood it creates as everything else (dirty dishes, homework…) literally fades into the dark is as intimate as ever.

You lit the candles. You sat together. You enjoyed just the faces and voices at your table. This is a parenting win; well done.

We ate by candlelight.

Happy New Year

Whether you continue to draft intentions for this year or you are choosing to keep at the ones you’ve set – congratulations! Seriously, we are five day into 2021 and our commitment to reflection and mindfulness is vital. This is how we will keep equilibrium this year.

Our pursuit of overall balance (as strenuous as finding it on that new exercise thingy) requires new muscle strength, practiced focus, and constant adjustment. These are all things parents are great at. We are precisely strong, engaged, and flexible. Go us!

As we think about what this year will hold and how we will hold it, more than a list, we are working at becoming aware. Parents! This is a year of grace. Go gently into your resolutions. Your resolve to keep at it, in all categories, matters.

We are still working on those goals.