In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Kind of Happily Ever After

Today is my 30th wedding anniversary.


I almost double-checked the dates on our marriage certificate to make sure I hadn't made a mistake on the anniversary total. Even though my wedding photo is a bit faded, the ink on the certificate still states in bold black: May 24, 1980.

I married Rob Vogt 30 years ago.

When I got married, 30 seemed so old. Now I'm way-past 30 and I don't feel old at all. (For the record, feeling tired is not the same thing as feeling old.)

I thought about highlighting each of the 30 years by selecting one definitive memory for that year. I quickly realized how impossible that was.

Sure, 1983 is the year our son Josh was born--but there are so many other memories wrapped up in that year. 1986 is Katie Beth's year to arrive. The memory for 1988 would be our daughter Amy. Fast-forward to 2000 and you'd hear a million memories about our caboose kiddo, Christa.

And those are just the memories that define us as parents.

There are friendships-around-the-world and military-mandated moves, thanks to Rob's Air Force career. Walks along the coast of Florida and hikes in the Rocky Mountains. There are too many nights apart because of hospital call schedules and at least one family Christmas dinner in a hospital cafeteria and just about every New Year's Eve on call.

We've had break-your-heart hardships and moments we've looked at each other and wondered, "How did we get here--and how do we fight our way out?" There are frustrated silences and my husband's willingess to always ask forgiveness first.

We've celebrated and we've cried. We've laughed together and always, always found time to dance in the kitchen--and include our kids in the dance.

We've forged a family.

With the oh-to-quickly passage of time, we've written our very own happily ever after.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pardon Me For A Sentimental Mom Moment

Photo by LJM Photography

So, Christa, my caboose kiddo, is growing up way-too fast.
And, yes, I don't know how that happened.
When Christa was born, I had three teenagers, so I knew how quickly the years rush by. It had already happened with her brother and sisters.
Christa tries to fast-forward her life sometimes because she's thinking somehow--magically!-she'll catch up with Josh, Katie Beth and Amy.
But this week, Christa surprised me. She's requested a bit of a rewind in her life. And we're both enjoying it.
When Christa was a baby, I rocked her to sleep. And while we rocked, I sang certain songs to her. One of her favorite fall-to-sleep songs was the "ABC" song. Yes, the little ditty preschoolers use to learn the alphabet.
I don't know why this became a favorite song. Maybe in one of my exhausted mom moments, when I'd run through my entire song list, I sang "ABCDEFG blah, blah, blah" out of desperation. And it became a regular bedtime song.
Back to this week. It's been months since I've sat beside Christa and sung her to sleep. Several nights ago, she had a difficult time falling to sleep. So, I snuggled up next to her, rubbed her back, and started singing all her old favorite bedtime songs. Including the "ABC" song.
She's requested songs and snuggles every night this week.
And, I've got to admit, I've enjoyed those moments with my daughter.
Silly, sentimental mom that I am.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

What's being whittled away?

Photo by murlouw/

"He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away." ~Raymond Hull, Canadian Playwright

Somewhere along the way, I stopped thinking for myself and started to care too much about what others thought about me.
Or, as a good friend likes to say, I let others be my "voices of authority."
I let others tell me who I was.
I let others tell me how to be find approval.
I let others tell me how to live my life that was oh-so-easily performance based.
I whittled myself down to their pre-approved size and shape.
A few years ago, I stopped the whittling process. I dropped the knife.
It's taken a while, but I'm finding myself again. I'm daring to ask myself, "Who am I?"--and I'm trying to listen to the right voices--safer ones--for my answers.

Thinking Out Loud: As a mom, I have a lot of influence in my children's lives. I can touch them like the slash of a knife--and possibly scar them forever. Or I can affect my children with a timely, prayed-over word or action--and enable their innate beauty and strength to be revealed. May my children be confident in who they are so their talents and gifts will not be overpowered by a world that demands they conform to a "one size fits all" mentality.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stressed? Call Your Mother!

Photo by lhumbl/

Here's some affirmation for all you moms out there: Your kids need you--and you've got some new data to prove it.

According to, a new study shows that talking to your mom on the phone is almost as good as getting a hug when you're stressed out.

The study, which involved girls ages 7 to 12, found that talking on the phone with mom reduced a key stress hormone and released oxytocin, a brain chemical that is key in forming bonds.

When I read the study, I couldn't help but remember a now-funny incident that happened when I was a newlywed--a long, long time ago. I'd barely been married a month--and had moved across the country the day after the wedding. Yeah, I was happily married and homesick.

My husband and I took our wedding gift money and wisely invested it in . . . new bikes. (Who cares that we needed a couch.) One night we were out riding and I took a tumble. Somehow my husband got me and our two bikes back home. While he doctored my scrapes, I sat on our bed and cried. Before I realized what I was saying, I blurted out, "I want my mom."

What had I just said?

I was an adult, married woman.

And the minute I got a boo-boo, I reverted back to "I want my mom" behavior?

But, back then I didn't have this study to back up my words. Calling my mom would have reduced my stress.

Now you know.

Thinking Out Loud: Feeling stressed? Call your mom. You'll feel better--and your mom will too.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Motherhood: A Choice of Imperfections

Photo by socyo/

"It's true that the impossible idea of a perfect mother has become a tyranny . . ." ~Julia Bard, deputy editor, Newsweek

I didn't agree with everything Julia Bard wrote in her article, "Lowering the Bar: When Bad Mothers Give Us Hope."

But that's okay--I like it when writers shove my preconceived ideas around a bit.

One thing Bard and I agree on: We moms trip ourselves in our pursuit of perfection.

I lived under the tyranny of my own making for too many years--the belief that I needed to be more than a good mom. I aimed for perfection. I suffered many figurative skinned knees and literal bruises to my mom-ego as I stumbled over my imperfections.

Here's another funny thing about trying to be a perfect mom: Your definition of a perfect mom and my definition of a perfect mom and the ever-authoritative"their" definition of a perfect mom is going to differ.

You may be a gotta-stay-at-home-to-be-a-perfect-mom kind of mom.

Or you may be a prefer-to-work-and-be-a-mom kind of mom.

There are moms who make dinners from scratch every night--bless them, one and all--and moms who are so committed to their kiddos' extra-curricular activities they are known at every fast-food restaurant in town. They've looked at their choices: meals at home or cheering at the children's games--and chosen "To go, please."

There are moms who homeschool. Moms who send their children to private school. Moms whose children go too public school.

Some moms pack their kids' lunches--and some moms believe their children need to learn to be responsible by making their own PB&J.

Thinking Out Loud: Whatever style of motherhood you choose, it becomes overwhelming if you aim for perfection. Breathe in, breathe out, as my friend Evangeline says. Define motherhood according to what's important to you--don't fool yourself into thinking you're going to be a perfect mom. And don't criticize another mom's choices. Really, she's probably doing the best she can--and could use a mom-friend, not a critic.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

The Summertime To Do and Don't List

It's May.

Which means the school days are winding down for Christa.

Which means I've got to figure out what she's doing this summer.

It's always a challenge: The delicate balance between too much to do and not enough. The last thing I want is to have a bored nine-year-old dragging around behind me asking, "What can I do? What can I do?" all day, every day until I announce, "Time to shop for school supplies!"

But I also don't want to drag Christa out of bed every morning and run full-tilt through the supposedly lazy days of summer.

So I try to plan the perfect summer of just enough planned activities and just enough unplanned free time. Too be honest, I haven't gotten it right yet.

Should we do the library reading program? Christa loves to read, so that's an easy yes. Sure, I'll be making multiple trips to the library, but it's doable.

I've signed her up for a three-week writing class with one of her closest friends. After I convinced her it really was fun, not summer school, she was all about journals and blogs and writing her memoir. Of course, the first week of the class falls during the week of her dance recital, so I am going to be crazy-busy that week, what with dance practices and writing class. Oh, well. It will be worth it. And I will just keep telling myself that--and plan on eating out a lot that week.

That leaves the rest of the summer. And deciding between want tos and have tos and oh, well, let's not. I want Christa to have time to sleep in (wishful thinking) and to ride bikes and to read books and to build forts in the living room that stay up all day long. She wants to go to soccer camp and take karate and take art class and swim class--her list could go on for pages.

Thinking Out Loud: Summertime. Another chance to make wise choices about the dos and the don'ts. I don't want Christa's life to be a flurry of activities--so that her days whiz by her in fast-forward motion. Sure, I want her to experience a lot of things. But I also want her to experience rest. Relaxation. Days when she wakes up and asks, "What are we doing today?" and I answer, "Nothing." Those can be good days too.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Lessons Learned

I wondered what God was up to when he surprised me with my fourth child when I was 41.
I like to joke that Christa is comic relief--and she certainly has brought a lot of laughter to our family. The good kind.

But I also know that Christa's purpose isn't just to make me laugh.

She has the profound childlike ability to teach me important lessons I still need to learn.

This past weekend, Christa participated in a dance competition. Now, being the type A person that I am, I tend to go into hyper-drive about these kinds of things. Is her hair right? (Meaning: perfect) Is her outfit right? (Meaning: perfect) Are we going to be there on time? (Meaning: early)

Christa, however, is oh-so-calm about it all.

Don't get me wrong. She loves to dance. And she does it well.

She just skips the oh-my-gosh-what-am-I-gonna-do-if-it-isn't-perfect stressing out part of it.

Christa told her dad getting ready for the competition was a lot of hard work. Then, she said, you wait around backstage--and it's really boring. Then you line up with your team and you start getting nervous. But then you go out on stage and you start dancing and you have fun.

Christa focuses on the fun part of it all. She's with her friends, she's dancing--and she's having fun.

And that's why she's up on the stage. It's not the competition.

It's the chance to dance.

To have fun.

Thinking Out Loud: I'm all about persective these days. I think I've got such a mature perspective on life because of the years I've accumulated. And then my nine-year-old daughter trumps me. She reminds me that, somehow, as the years added up, I lost sight of the importance of fun. Life isn't just some competition. God created a lot of things he wants us to enjoy. And sometimes I get so caught up in doing and accomplishing, I miss out on all the fun.

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