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Parenting with Fierceness: Some Drawbacks and Perks from a Mom of Twins

I was so excited the day in 1997 when our obstetrician told us we were having twins.

We had waited for them for just a little bit longer than some people do, as fertility was something that I had to work a little harder at than some other things I had set to accomplish in my our 25 and 26 years of life.

We found out at about 20 weeks gestation that they were both boys, so from then on we set to naming them.

As many can imagine, parenting them (let’s face it, being pregnant with them) has had its own set of challenges and rewards.

14 lbs is really too much baby for a uterus, and chasing two 18 month olds was enough to keep anyone on their toes.

I’m not even going to go into potty training two toddlers at once or teaching two of them to drive at the same time.

Who wins?

For today, let’s focus on game playing.

One thing I was never able to completely do was to parent them in a way where one of them was able to consistently ‘win’ at games we played together.

We played a lot of board games (or ‘bored’ games as my husband and one of my sons tend to call them) as they were growing up. The person who won the game was always the person who ‘actually’ won the game.

In Uno, we each tried our hardest to be the one to run out of cards first. In Monopoly Jr., the goal had something to do with Mickey Mouse, so that effort was put forth to win applied to that game as well.

When they were about 4 years old, we got together with a childhood friend of mine whose son is about 6 months younger than they are.

As we were playing, she got a confused look on her face.

‘How do you decide which one is going to win?’

I looked at her with an equally confused look, since the person who won was the person who got the joy of winning.

She went on ‘Well, I tend to let my son win, so if you have two the same age, how do you decide which one wins each time?’

At that moment, I realized how another facet of having and raising twins is different than raising singletons.

My children have never individually been my ‘one and only’.  They have always each been one of my ones and only, but they have also had each other for as long as they have had their dad and me.

Parenting using a Zone Defense

Another incident that comes to mind from around the same age occurred when I took them to a playground with a childhood friend whose son is a little over 2 years younger than they are.

We went to a park in Fishers, Indiana, where she lived at the time.

There was a very large playground there, where we watched our children from far enough back to be able to catch them if any of them got too far away or hurt themselves.

We experienced some frustrations because some of the other parents (or ‘those Fishers parents’ as we called them at the time) watched their children from such a close distance that if their child ran quickly through the playground, the parents had to either book it to the other side of the playground set or jump up and go through the obstacles themselves.

Kind of like a zone defense vs. man to man in basketball. We utilized the zone defense, the one to one parents really put in a lot more legwork.

We were both amused when parents were on the playgroud itself. They had to do some interesting gymnastics to try to keep up with their child as they skirted out of arms reach.

These children, who we have now raised into twenty somethings and now have peers in college and in the workforce, are now much, much bigger than they were at 4 and 2 years of age.

In Summary:

The takeaway from this article is thinking about how, as we parent, are in relationships, and supervise others, are we providing that balance of support and autonomy.

We want our children to stay safe.

Those big giant heads help us to do that as we understand that they cannot meet their own needs.

As we are in relationships where we want our children to grow and become more automonous, how do we provide that support while also enabling them to have some small failures and to be independent in the process?

As someone who has supervised 20 something staff for many years, I started to hear ‘you are just like my mom!’ several years ago.

I have talked with staff about how their parents encouraged their independence, as I encouraged them to separate from their parents in ways that would help them to become adults who are able to work independently and productively.

This task, for me as a supervisor, is much easier than the task is for me as a parent.

As my children moved to Bloomington as 18 year old ‘adults’, I thought of all of the things my husband I had done to encourage their confidence and independence, and all of the things we have done that has allowed them to continue to rely on us.

Putting Into Practice

As you think about the people in your life who you are trying to help become successful, independent, good-enough decision-making adults, what are some areas that you feel you have success in?

What is one specific area that you can look at about what you have done, whether that is with a friend, a spouse, an employee, or a child you have a role in raising, that you can look back on and think

‘I am doing a pretty good job at that task’?

What areas can you think of where you are helpful to someone else?

Now I encourage you to think of an area where you have what I call ‘room for growth’.

As you think about that area, what is something that you think about that you can be doing presently to help yourself, someone close to you, or a future relationship you hope to have?

When you think about that area you have room for improvement in, what is one specific thing you can think about that you will try to be better about?

For me, I encourage myself to remember that 21 year olds have a lot of independence and a lot of questions about how to maintain that independence.

The next task: identify something you’ll do, make a note of it in some way that you’ll remember, then make an effort and do it.

Now decide by when….

Happy Friday! It’s definitely my favorite day of the week!


Gotta Let the Dog Out

And Other Things People Say and Do to Motivate and Stay on Task

Have you ever been somewhere, where you wanted to be at first, and then you wanted to leave?

I usually want to be where I am, and my brother usually wants to be where he is going next.  I have noticed that once I get somewhere, I have to give myself a schedule to leave or else I will just stay until everyone has left.

For him, he likes to set a timeline which allows him to stay long enough, and then he frequently leaves just a little bit before that time is up.

I think an accurate description for my brother and me is that I have stagnant inertia (or lack of inertia), so I like to stay where I am, and he has forward inertia, because he is always moving to the next thing.

Currently, I am grand-pup sitting.

I was sitting in my local Starbucks last week, where I have gotten to know several other people who also spend time in Starbucks.

My son, one of the puppy’s dads, was home sleeping, and so was Mosby, our puppy. He is just about 1.5, so he’s still got another 1.5 years of puppy-dom.

The person I was sitting next to had to leave to drive to a different town.  I utilized that opportunity to leave as well, since I wanted to make sure I got home to the puppy at a decent time.

I said ‘I need to let the puppy out’. This was a true statement, and was what was helping motivate me to move from my current location of Starbucks.

My new friend was reminded of someone who used to say that as his ‘goodbye’ line.  The person (he could not remember where his reference came from), used to say that everytime he was ready to leave.

It is probably the equivalent of saying ‘I have to go, I have a meeting’, which I said a lot in my previous role as Director at a social service agency.

The thing was, I almost always did have a meeting to attend.  I supervised 13 staff, had meetings in four counties, and I have a tendency to chat.

Due to my own love of chatting, at work I try to limit my chatting times to right before I have to be somewhere.

This leads me to a couple of things to think about for today:

What things do you like to say when you need to transition from one location to another, and you don’t have a ‘work’ or  ‘obligation’ reason to do that?

What helps motivate you to go somewhere when you would rather stay where you are?

If you are someone who has trouble motivating yourself to start doing something, what self-talk, action, or reward do you give yourself to help yourself get it done?

If you are someone who is more likely to stay where you are, what words, phrases, or incentives do you use to help yourself get to that next place?

If you always want to move on the next thing, what timelines do you give yourself to stay where you are before moving on?

Now for today’s goal: Set yourself a guideline to do something, whether it is a work obligation, a fun obligation, or just something for you, and try to make that happen.

Now set a goal for when you want that to happen-how about today, tomorrow, or at least this week?

Kindle on a Beach
An Afternoon at the Beach is not something where I need to be motivated to be

Have a great day! Hope your motivational efforts are effective and help you complete a task or two today.

Growing Up is Hard to Do

Ever wonder what makes it so hard to grow up?

A good friend was talking with me this morning about this frustration. I have also noticed that kids who are around 20ish (I’ll always call them kids) are not nearly in the rush to grow up that I was.

Her specific frustration was about an adult in her life who is not as big of a fan of sharing the tasks related to maintaining their home as she would like.

She had been talking with her dad, who had noticed the same frustration occuring among females he knows who are associated with men in their lives.

As a parent of 2 boys and a wife to a husband, I recognize things I have done througout the years to encourage them both to complete tasks, and to be needy in other areas.

I like things done a specific way.

For instance, when we are all folding laundry together (something we do less often since they live in Bloomington, Indiana and I live in Noblesville), I like things stacked by the drawer they belong in once they are put away.

So, pants go in a pile, socks go together by user, and t-shirts go in a pile by owner.

Seems pretty easy, right??

I can tell you that it has not been an easy training for 2 of my 3 trainees. One of my sons has a brain that organizes similarly to mine, so he automatically does it what we call ‘the right way’.

My other son, who is a little craftier in how he completes his tasks, learned to fold v e r y, v e r y slowly. He would give me a hug when he was younger than 13 or so, which of course I appreciated.

Interestingly, he folded fewer items than the rest of us.

I watch the 20 somethings who work when I attend local restaurants, coffee shops, and clothing establishments.

One of the things I notice is that the teens and twenty somethings are very good at completing specific tasks.

Frequetly, if you give them a task, they put their head down, focus internally, and complete it.

Almost as if they had their face in a phone.

They can be very friendly while asking for your order, but being friendly WHILE they enter your order into the cash register seems more difficult.

Another thing I have noticed is that in the community where I live, there are older, pseudo-retired people who are helping the youth learn to take orders from people in eating/coffee establishments.

I get called ma’am, sweetie, honey, etc. more now than when I was younger, more spoiled, and cuter. Back then I was regularly called ‘princess’.

I never took that one for a compliment at the time, mostly due to the fact that it was not intended to be one.

A couple of questions to leave you with today:

What helps you complete tasks without being told to do them? What is your intrinsic (internal)  enjoyment at completing things that are necessary, and how do you go about getting those tasks completed?

What do you think is something, one thing, that you can do to help others around you complete the tasks about which you tend to micro-manage?

If the other person is a child, I encourage you to help them come up with a way to complete a small task, which you can then give them some positive reinforcement for completing.

This could be clearing their plate from the table, getting dressed without being asked, avoiding whining when asked to brush their teeth, etc.

It will be something that you want them to complete without your assistance.

If the person you are wishing would complete more tasks is a life partner, spouse, or loved one, I encourage you to talk together, at a time when neither one of you is angry, about a couple of tasks you each wish the other one would do more often.

Have a conversation, where each of you is allowed to speak and be heard, about an idea you have and then listen to the feedback about how your loved one, friend, or roommate feels about that task.

Come up with one for each of you, or one for yourself, and try to make it happen.

Hope you enjoy a youthful moment today. Enjoy your Monday!

Saturday Mornings

Do you just love Saturday mornings?

I do.

I love sitting in the near quiet, this morning with a very tired dog at my side and a sleepy husband upstairs.

I love the chance to do what I want with zero time limits.

Let’s talk about time

I grew up in a house where time (the time on a clock) was very important.

With parents who were teachers (music teachers, no less), they had to pay very close attention to the clock all of the time to make sure their students came and went at the appropriate time to get that ‘specials’ time in.

With a brother as a teacher who also coached swimming for several years, we often joke that he pays attention to time to the milisecond, and I round to 15 minute intervals.

In the social service world, most time increments are rounded to the closest 15 minutes.

We know that if it is 7 minutes or less past the hour, it counts at 4:00, but get it to last until 4:08 and you are talking 4:15.

One of my favorite parts of Saturdays in the house where my children grew up in is that we did not pay attention to the clock nearly as much on weekends as we did during the rest of the week.

We ate when we got hungry.

That can be challenging when we are trying to eat together and we have all woken up at different times.

There are several questions about what time each of us has eaten breakfast, and if you do not eat breakfast at all then you want your lunch the earliest of all of us.

During my sons’ teen years, waking them up in time for lunch was a pretty significant challenge, so we frequently either ate without them or convinced them to go pick us up something to eat from one of our favorite restaurants (shout out to Chick Fila and QDoba here)

Now that we are primarily empty nesters, time is even less important. My natural rhythms get me up with the sun, or a little before. I spent my middle school years having practice before school, so I literally wake up ready to play basketball or volleyball (be glad you don’t live with me-I’ll launch right into that conversation we left off with last night as if we are still mid-thought)

For my differently circadium rhythm’ed husband, mornings are not nearly as exciting as they are to me. He loves to sleep until he wake up, which is not necessarily when the sun is coming up, although with the noises in the house (ahem, guilty) it is usually near that time.

Ahhhh….Quiet Time

This morning, I’m having a quiet morning with our Grand-Puppy, Mosby.  He is nearly 1.5 years old, he usually lives with college students so he too likes to sleep in, and he was so grateful when I let him out real quick to go to the bathroom when I came downstairs at 6:45 (after 45 minutes of being awake).

How This Can Apply to You

Here are a couple of questions for today:

What are some simple pleasures you really enjoy? When you think of something that really makes you think ‘wow, that is just something I really enjoy’, what images or sounds comes to mind?

A sound I love is acoustic music. when I imagine Eric Clapton playing on ‘Unplugged’, I can feel myself getting more relaxed.

What is a sound that is help

I love to look at water

How are you able to get those needs met as you also parent, work, relax, talk with friends, and avoid talking with people you would rather not talk to?

What are some ways you can work to increase the amount of time you focus on your simple pleasures? How can you spend a day ignoring the clock and listening to your belly to know it is time to eat, or a day where you are driven by the clock to do things you want to do?


Live to Dance

a pictures of Cinceraria flowers with

Let’s Have a Dance-Off!

I love dancing.

I spent some time with one of my nieces this weekend, who also loves to dance.

She suggested that we have a dance-off.  It is important to note that she has been taking dance classes for 4 years or so, maybe even longer.  Also, she’s about 7 and a half. As you can imagine, she’s a pretty good dancer.

She’s full of energy, she’s fun, and she dances when she hears a beat.  

That beat she hears (imagine: 5,6,7,8!) keeps her on beat, whether the beat is coming from the radio or from the song in her head.

Now, I ask you to imagine her Aunt Terri.

I am older than 7 by about 4 decades. I also have high energy, am fun, and move my body ‘just a titch’ if I hear a beat.

One guess who won the dance-off. Actually, it depends who you ask. I say I did and she says she did.  

She tried to get her grandma (my mom) to be the judge, but Grandma was busy trying to ignore our antics; therefore, she was unable to declare a winner.

The issue for today: What drives us.

As I have mentioned in previous aricles, I have some unreliable ligaments. 

I have a habit of testing their limits, and since I am also very, very competitive, I wanted to win that dance contest.

I had to remember that even though I wanted to win and show that little girl what a ‘real’ dancer could do, her skills were well above mine.

She is currently in dance class each week, is talented in dancing skills and she is self-confident.

We have a mutual love of each other.

Later, when we were done with dancing (or during one of our many breaks where I was lying on the floor) we made a video on my phone.

In that video, she commented that I was the ‘worst aunt ever’.

I took it as the compliment that was intended.

No matter whether we are cooperating or coordinating with people who have similar traits to us, sometimes it works well to work together.

Sometimes it does not work as well and it causes stress and barriers.

Sometimes, what we like best in ourself becomes a frustration for us when we find the same characteristic in someone else.

The same can be true of someone with whom we share much less in common.  

A person who really likes to talk (guilty) frequently spends a lot of time with people who talk much less.

The compatibility of people who have opposite strengths can really work well together.

Imagine a couple who works well together with one who is more interested in big ideas and another who is more interested in the detail work.

Another example occurs with employees in a business who cooperate well together.  

I envision that some of those employees like to have decisions made for them, and some of the people working like to be decision makers.  

There are also people who have the role of middle managers, who prefer to have a balance of decision making and following decisions of others .

In a business, the leader, known as President or CEO or Executive Director, makes some of the final decisions.

The second in command might be shared by several people, or just one or two.  The seconds in commands, knowns as Vice Presidents, Executive Team, or Directors, tend to work well with their leaders when things are going well.

Some people in this position can be the people in charge of raising money for the organization (Development), the person in charge of making sure the organization run smoothly (Operations) and the person who is in charge of the quality of the work (Clinical).

A third group in the scenario are what are commonly referred to in the social service field as Direct Care workers, or front line staff.  Sometimes this group is referred to as ‘the people who do the work’.

This group includes the people who have the role of conducting the work that is the ‘meat’ of the business. Other terms for this role are ‘agents’ or ‘entry level’ positions.

The final group in this scenario is one of my other favorites, which is the person who has the title ‘Assistant’ in their job description.  An assistant’s role is to assist with what is needed.  

Their role can include helping the leader disperse information clearly and be prepared for meetings, answering the phone, and returning messages when the phone is not answered immediately.  

I refer to assistants as those who ‘keep the wheels running smoothly’.

When you have the chance to do something you love to do, or something which drives you and something you enjoy doing, I encourage you to find a way to do it.

I encourage you to work toward getting to the place where you have the opportunity to do things you enjoy, even if it is difficult.

I love to dance. The way that I meet that need is by listening to music, singing along, and moving my body a little bit.

Here’s a couple of final questions for this article:

What can you find to do today, this week, or within the month that is something you think about, that helps drive you?

How can you include the things that motivate you with the things that do not motivate you as much?

Have fun!

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