Saturday, October 22, 2011

Of course, My Kids Will Need Therapy

I gotta love my time at MOPS.

As my sidebar states, 

One of my passions is coming alongside young moms on the road of life 
and sharing what's in my suitcase.

I admit that there are days that I feel "a little light in the suitcase" with nothing to give. And there are days that I'm certain women think I should pack up some of that stuff oozing out of the suitcase and move on down the road, thank you. But most of the time, I know God brings women into my life when we both need each other. 

We need to talk about the kids, our relationships, complicated adult stuff, physical ailments, other stuff (read: sex), our belief systems, our in-laws, our husband or our lack of one, weight gain, child training, surgical procedures, laundry stains, life, death and backyard science experiments gone wrong. We just do. Men need it in a different form (usually) than women, but they need it just as much as we do.

How can I put this bluntly without calling for a Formal Intervention?


I am becoming a solid believer in the fact that personal growth demands therapy.

(eyebrows lifted in skepticism)
Define that, please:

the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial,rehabilitating, or curative process: speech therapy.
a curative power or quality.
3.      any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.

Come to the front of the line if you know you have some disorder and 
could use something to relieve tension

I have been privileged to have received the truest types of therapy at various times of my suitcase-carrying life. I have stuck my emotional straw into another woman's psyche and shamelessly drained her dry  because of my need. My list of therapists includes
  • L...O...N...G phone conversations when my kids were small and I was somewhat immobile 
  • walks in the park or around the block, alone or with a friend, sometimes at 2am with a screaming baby
  • 2 friends from college and days stolen away to be just us again (interpret: giggly and sleep-deprived!)
  • debriefing my hard-working husband in a torrent of words as he puts his car into park
  • calling out to God, sometimes with words
  • a sister (did I mention she's older? just saying')
  • digging in the back yard...not to hide the bodies, but to say I was gardening
  • coming alongside another friend to listen (listening helps me process where I am as I process where you are)
  • Bible study groups
  • blogging 
  • texting things to people who actually understand I don't mean it
  • cooking/baking
  • telling our dog Lucy what is wrong with everyone, including me
  • telling our dog Lucy what is right with everyone, rarely including me
  • Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
  • saying sarcastic things to children too young (or too new to America) to understand
  • poetry (yeah, you wait. I may post it on a bad day...)
  • journaling prayers
  • you name it...I've probably used it for therapy...uh, wait. I take that back. I might not have.
A chance encounter, or a planned event, or a paid therapy session becomes personal growth as our goal is to BE PRESENT for each other. I am striving to be aware of my family and making sure that I'm not just here, but truly PRESENT with each one, each day (with the exception of the University kids who might get one text a week. Give me a break, there's a lot of them youngin's!) I'm striving to BE THERE for my friends, and sometimes I fail. 

So, yes, I expect my kids will need therapy.

Not just to talk about how weird I was or how embarrassed they were, but because I pray they will be healthy, growing adults that will carry their own suitcases, and sometimes need someone to help them unpack, and sometimes need someone to help them lug it, and sometimes need to share what they gathered on their way through this wonderful world.

...the type of things that I am beginning to recognize as 
Flowers From My Father.

 Enjoying them might be my one weakness. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

12 weeks in the beginning of Forever

October 22nd marks 12 weeks since our Mayin Li joined her Forever Family.
She has photos of the first people she knew as jia, her family. She tells me about the children around her in the photos and names two of the adults. When I asked Maylin if her heart hurt because she wants to see them again, she cocked her head to the right, lifted her eyes toward the top left in thought,
and didn't answer me.

When I asked if she knew she would stay with us, this jia, her forever family, for always, she broke into a big grin and flung her lanky arms around my neck and buried her face into my shoulder. "Shtay," she proclaimed. Oh yes, girlie, you will shtay. You are part of our hearts, just like the rest.

In 12 very full, very fast weeks, we've gone
from a family of 9 to a full house of 10. 

We've seen Maylin go 

From a screaming bundle of petrified girl to nose-to-nose kisses
with a Golden Doodle.

From blink-blink-blink when spoken to in English to calling out,
 "schutt dee dough-uh!" and bowing her head over her plate as she says,
 "Pway ferse."

From wearing shoes everywhere except her bed
to nonchalantly walking through the airport scanner in her socks.

From defiance and meltdowns over seat belt restraint
to clicking it herself with a "see-bell on."

From a child without true family ties
to meeting 45 of her close relatives (only 33 more to go!)

From dressing and feeding babies in her orphanage
to playing dress up and baby dolls in her own room.

From a reserved girlie that watched my face for emotional clues in any new situation
to a confident, sassy thing that enjoys drawing the attention back to herself.

From the model child who folded her clothing and put her shoes in the shoe bench
to a regular Dersch kid that requires gentle reminders to take care of her stuff.

From a kid who consumes vast amounts of fruits, vegetables and noodles
to a squirrel who mysteriously produces her stash of candy at will.

From a photo and a tug and a longing in our hearts
to lifetime commitment that just makes herself a part of us each minute we're together.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Purposeful Parenting

I don’t know when I was able to first articulate 
my goals in parenting into words. 

Like many moms, I had vague concepts of desiring to “turn out good kids.” 
I recall the era that I formed my first “opinion” regarding it into a statement. Our boys were about 3 and 5 which also means First Born Daughter was newly born. We had spent time with friends who had children the same ages as our kids and the kids were not fun to be around. They were whiney, and insistent, and all-around annoying to more than just my husband and I. We watched the parents take 10 minutes to eventually cajole one child to go do for the other child what a mama or baba ought to have done in 30 seconds, but they were too engroassed in a conversation or an activity to do it themselves. It made everyone around them a little miserable, including themselves.  Because of the character of the parents, I was actually pretty sure that the kids would turn into good adults, but I didn’t relish spending much time with them until they were. 
(If we knew you and your kids at that time, assume it was NOT you. 
I don't think the person of whom I am writing reads this blog.)

So, I decided the Arrows in my quiver (Psalm 127:4-5) were worth shooting toward a more refined goal than “A Good Christian Citizen” later in life. My desired product became 

"a kid that was pleasant to be around while he/she grew into a man/woman 
that loved God with his/her whole heart.” 

I still think that is a succinct, if not detailed, statement of my general aim with my Arrows. With that statement, I began my journey to Purposeful Parenting.

Please remember that I strongly feel that you (yes, you with the coffee cup beside your computer) are God’s gift to your children. Your home (with the water ring on the side table) is exactly the place God wanted your particular (and possibly peculiar) child/children to be. He is not calling you to create my home (for which you have my permission to thank Him) and I am not called to be you (for which, I may or may not have already thanked Him.) Each of us (including you in the new blouse reading this at work) has been made to be suited for the job He’s given. I am also convinced that He changes me (ouch! growth!) to become more of what He intends me to be, so that I can function even better at the tasks He sets before me (whether they be Teething Nights and Peanut Butter and Jelly Days, or Prom Nights and Graduation Days.)

In my attempts toward Purposeful Parenting, I look at 
my expectations and long-range goals, 
then attempt to recognize the steps needed to get to that outcome. A previous post, Launch Dates, talked about preparing my kids for adulthood. I look at their spiritual, physical, emotional components. I look at where they are, and which things from today will contribute to their overall success in that area. 

I must say I am passionate that my children have been given a purpose by God EACH MINUTE of EACH DAY that He desires for them to accomplish. 
Sometimes, that purpose is learning to be kind when it isn’t fun. 
Sometimes that purpose is learning to survive when life is hard. 
Sometimes it is creating music from their soul, whether it be on their violin, from their fingertips to paper, or in the laughter on the playground. 

I do not want to focus my kids (or myself) on their future to the exclusion on their present! 
Each one of my Dear Ones has an agenda from God today...and it fits perfectly into the agenda He has for their life. I have yet to live my’s still ahead of me, so I need to focus on what I have: today.

By nature, this is where I would give you some examples from my family's life to help you understand the idea of what I am trying to say...but I am hesitant to give you that “out.” This is the Mom- (and Dad-) work through which you need the Holy Spirit to lead you. I might be sad about it, but I don’t get to be you...and you don’t get to be me. But, I will attempt to give some direction.

1. Expectations
  A. Decide what your expectations are for your child. Do not shoot too low. They will only aim for what you do. (Most kids will aim just slightly lower than you do, with the exception of that first born personality!)
  B. Decide how tasks from today build the overall character you want to see tomorrow/in the future.
  C. Decide if you’re child is ready to hear why this thing matters (washing their brother’s dog in itself isn’t going to make them a good CEO of a business, but it may contribute to the self-discipline needed to handle other people’s money responsibly.)

2. Implementation
  A. Model it. If you wear the same pair of shorts 4 days straight and haven’t combed your hair in a week, don’t think they will be motivated to do otherwise. If your bedroom has clothing on every horizontal surface, careful consider how you’ll request them to send clothing to the laundry room each Tuesday.
  B. Teach it. Even if I model safe driving, I don't expect my 15 year old to get behind the wheel of our vehicle and understand the full dynamics of what needs to occur. If I say, "Fold the towels in the dryer," but never show them how I want them folded, I can't really go back and hold them responsible for something I've never shown them. They may be folded, but will they even fit in the space you usually put them? Once I've folded them with the kid, I feel like they are responsible for the lesson.
  C. Make expectations non-negotiable (we consider blood and fire to be adequate reasons for interrupting adult conversations or for not following through with assigned tasks. Mark and I would have to discuss if we’d consider hospitalization as an adequate reason, also.)
  D. Declare consequences for any misdemeanors. I desperately attempt to have the consequence be an “natural” as possible: 

(Here I go with personal examples...Ugh!!) 
~~If the dish isn’t cleared from the table after you used it, your next meal will be served on it. (really. It usually only takes one tearful meal to "remember" the once difficult task of clearing the table.)
~~If the dog is repeatedly not fed without a reminder, you will go a day with 3 plain meals, and no snacks AT ALL. It doesn’t feel good to be hungry. (I borrowed that one from a mean friend who is a great mommy, but never have used it myself...) 
~~Potty mouth gets to clean toilets.
~~A helpful hint from my cupboard: I have a 3x5 on the inside of a cupboard door with a list of tasks that are yucky. When a consequence is needed, I often refer to that list. Simple, but necessary, things like weeding, cleaning outside trash cans, sorting the game closet) It seems my mind goes blank at crucial parenting times, and the list helps me through those moments.


Oh, and did I mention, FOLLOW THROUGH. This truly is the most difficult part since we are humans in tired bodies with blurry eyes from the sleepless night or allergies. We have spent ourselves on these (occasionally ungrateful) Darlings with little reward. We have seen others do this without looking like they even put effort into it. We have all the "reasons" why being consistent is just not easy for us...But you must FOLLOW THROUGH. If we don’t, then we’re apt to raise the kid we read about in the wrong section of the paper (and my heart goes out to those mamas) We want the delightful human interest story, or the change-the-world story written about our kids!! Front page is best but we’ll take the sports page if the paper spells her name right.

As the Brits said in The Second World War, 

(Which just is Queen-speak for Follow Through)

Enjoying a quiet house and a cup of tea from the Czech's my one weakness.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Great Imitators

Why is it that I can have reams and reams of pages  screen after screen of posts "written" in my head while I am cooking, or buckling a car seat, or bathing a dog, but when I sit to put it in a tangible form...poof...what was that thought?

I have several posts begun and in the pile of "Please Finish and Post" but each night, (at least, most nights) sleep wins out because I hate morning. I am trying to force myself to have a consistent habit of

early to bed (before 10:30)
early to rise (6:45...don't rag on me, it's early to me)
so I can be healthy (-ish)
wealthy (Mark's in charge of whatever that means)
and wise (contain your laughter, the children are sleeping.)

I am reading the same chapter of my Bible daily for a week right now. It has helped me see connections within the chapters and within each book over the weeks. As I read Ephesians 5 again tonight, I was thinking about the 3 directions we're given regarding our "walk" or lifestyle:
Walk in love
Walk as children of Light
Walk carefully

I had pondered those thoughts yesterday and came back to the chapter "to put some flesh on them." The first verse jumped out at me, and I realized one reason I hadn't finished two of the posts:
they were meant to be one post.

Well...probably, one post in two parts. This could get a little long since 
I took so much space explaining how I got to this thought.

Earlier this week, while I lifted the too-heavy-with-stuff-that-actually-belongs-elsewhere lid of the shoe bench so Maylin could retrieve footwear  for our great expedition to the mailbox, I began
The Ponder.
Listening and singing along with her Inner Mongolian music

Yes, Mailbox Trip is sometimes the highlight of Day Home with Mom.
Her Imperialness scoffs at me when I attempt to assist her in gathering the mail from the box.

"Me do it," says she as her open right hand pats her lower neck.
"Alrighty,"says I as I cock one brow and initiate
the catch-the-falling-letters maneuver, "have at it."

Maylin is learning new stuff each day we go through this little routine. She is more willing to accept my help and has stopped twisting her body away from me if she suspects assistance may be forth-coming. Her little pirouette usually results in (no surprise,) Maylin dropping a few pieces of mail.

This whole rigmarole doesn't seem to annoy me as an old experienced mother as it would have a few decades and a few children ago. So far, I haven't received any certified letters that needed to remain pristine (as evidenced by the fact that they were placed in the care of the correspondance-shredding USPS.) 
But the process is notable.

She is talking about our surroudings more each as we take our short hike to the mailbox at the road. She occasionally graces me with a few token bits of mail to carry...quite generous when you consider yourself
the Me-Do-It Queen. She looks where I'm looking, and chooses to walk at the same speed I do. She enjoys our little jaunt and bringing home our captive USPS treasures.
She imitates me.

We took a trip to Gabriel's Christian Book & Supply last week and the store clerk pointed out that my adorable daughter walked across the parking lot, into the store and up and down aisles with her little pocketbook in the crook of her arm, just like I did.
She imitates me.

She watches as I comb my hair and then asks for the comb to do her own hair.

This just stinkin' makes me laugh

She checks out what footwear I put on to go outside, or to the car, or to the garden before she selects her own. (unless it truly matters, then she chooses the flip flops that are two sizes too big and are sure to trip us both on our "quick run into the grocery.")

She know what bowls we use for which foods and snacks. She doesn't put the used toilet paper into the trash can any longer (well, not often.) She knows when I say, "Time to get the kids," that she can finally fill the snack basket, just like I do. She kisses her babies goodnight. (And Baba) Her language is progressing with more clearly formed th, sh and tr sounds. (Yes, it's adorable when she loudly tells Lucy she needs to "Sit. Sit, Loot-see." She's not too clear on the S sound on that word.)

Maylin is still a tease. She is actually a hoot. She uses the phrases that are common in our home. (Come on! Time to eat. Lessuh go. Milk, please...) and she is putting phrases together on her own. ("Oh, me sorry!" when she accidentally turned the lights off on me and Alex.)

My heartache for the week was three days ago when she dropped her Chinese intonation of "Mama." When she called my name, I realized I have been Americanized into "Mommy." (sniff) She didn't learn it from me, but as she internalizes "American" inflection, it was a natural step to her. (sniff)

The mini update on Maylin brings me to my point: ("Finally," you say!)

She is a child, and as such, she naturally IMITATES those around her.
She is beginning to reveal what Life with the Dersch Family will do to a person.

Imitation is what we do as humans, and especially as young humans. It reminds me a little of the post in which I asked, Do I talk too much? The kids are going to take what I say and do, and internalize it, so I want to be mindful of what I say and do.

Ephesians 5:1 reminded me tonight that God desires me to imitate Him. Throughout Ephesians 3, 4, and 5 He gives me instruction on the positive role I should be to my children, and those around me. It isn't a list of "Don'ts" but a discussion of how
Life With the Christ Family should look.

This concept gave me a focus in parenting, many (many, many) years ago.
I desire to choose
Purposeful Parenting
because children are imitators...and I want to purposefully influence that.

Which means, I want to purposefully imitate Christ. There is a whole Manuel on that, and I'm so glad it's available to me. I've been reading a chapter each day.

I plan on developing the Purposeful Parenting idea with you. Since we're heading into the weekend, it may even be sooner than later.

It is the sweetest blessing and scariest curse I know,
She imitates me.