I’ve seen this video pop up twice, and both times didn’t watch it because of the length. Then I was on Dan Pierce’s blog and he had posted it, citing my same reason for him almost not watching it. I gave a little laugh and decided to watch the first 5 minutes and go from there. I’m not really a video-watcher, so it’s hard to keep my attention. But this one did. It’s powerful. And I don’t use that work lightly. I sobbed.
Truth be told, I wanted to share it with you immediately, but then thought of a thousand reasons not to do so. In the end, I feel like it needs to be seen. Parents, watch alone before watching with your kids. You know your kids better than I, so I’m not even going to attempt a rating. I don’t know that I’ll watch it with Daniela. She has a beautifully sensitive soul and it would tear her apart. Maybe in a few years.
I originally wrote this in a collection of my private writings. It was never meant to be seen here, but when I was reading through some of them, this stood out as Learning to be the Light. The thought of posting about money makes me nauseated, but the idea is universal. There are so many ways you can learn to be Light.
I’m realizing something. I think it’s been coming toward me for a few months but I just started to wrap my head around it. Sometimes I’ll understand it so clearly, and other times it just kind of floats around my consciousness — out of sight enough that I can’t grasp it, but close enough for me to know it’s there.
I’ve always been inwardly proud of the organizations I donate to. Organizations that I feel are bettering this world. Not proud in a public “look what I’m doing” kind of way, but proud in a more private “it makes me feel good” way. Whenever I feel like I’m not “doing enough” for God, i.e.: going to church regularly, I fall back to that monetary donation and remind myself that I’m giving happily and humbly. ** Sidenote: I don’t believe God speaks via guilt. Guilt is a form of manipulation and God speaks from a place of Love — Anyway, Christ mentions several times in the New Testament that giving what you have to the poor is pretty important. Christ loved on the ones that were ostracized and hated. Like gays and Muslims. He was a cheerleader for the underdog. But here’s the thing, it’s easy for me to set up a small monthly contribution then stand back and reap the warm fuzzies. I don’t value money the same way other people do, so giving it away doesn’t stretch and teach me. And let’s not jump to the conclusion that I have an overabundance of money; giving is about the gesture, not the actual price tag. I’m naturally a generous person, but I’m much more stingy with my time. I imagine that if I traded places with the man in Matthew 19 ~ the one who asked Christ what he had to do to gain favor in the next life, I’m certain Christ’s answer to me would be different than what he told this man. Christ said “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven”. The man left crestfallen. Put me in that story and I’d be much more easygoing about the whole thing. You see, I don’t give away what I value, I give away what is easy. I feel Jesus showing me that yes, the money is good, but what about all that time I’m hoarding? If he told me that in order to gain favor in the next life, I needed to give up my alone time and spend every spare moment investing my time into others, I imagine I would walk away a bit disappointed, weighing the pros and cons. I’d probably even make a list. I’m big on lists. Please don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy volunteering my time — I do. It’s just that when it comes down to it, I’d much rather spend another evening watching Weeds with Marco than going to that small group I signed up for. I’d rather spend a lazy Sunday morning reading with Daniela than getting dressed and driving to church. Not to mention serving in that church. And since we’re being completely honest here, I can’t even remember the last time we went to church. Must have been just before last summer. Nothing intentional, it’s just easier to relax in pajamas than it is to get everyone out the door for something that isn’t mandatory. Like school.
This is what I’m making an effort to work on. Not necessarily the church thing, that’s another story for another time, but giving more of my time to those around me. Investing in others from the commodity I hold closest. I’m putting my focus on giving of myself. Relationships. Connection. Volunteering. Community. Striving to really live out the lessons we teach our children — even when I’d rather stay home and do nothing. Children learn by example, and I want Daniela to look back and see that humanity was important in the way we lived our lives. I want investing in people and community to be a natural extension of her life. Spreading love and Light. Namaste.
Today wrapped up the Olympic games at Daniela’s school. ThankYouThankYouThankYou. She is a natural athlete and performed brilliantly throughout the two-day competition. Well, shot put wasn’t her best, which hurt because she’s practiced so consistently, but she was thrilled to bring home the blue for cross country; her favorite. And would you believe that my massive 16GB memory card hit capacity 3 seconds before she crossed the finish line?? Of course.
Blue shoes and a ribbon in her hair <3
I’ve got to say, when I saw that shot put hit the ground short of her average throw, my stomach sank. She cringed and buried her face in hands, but though better of it and smiled at everyone as she walked to the “non placing” group. It wasn’t a bad throw by any means, it just wasn’t her average either. Every fiber of mothering instinct in me wanted to wrap my arms around her and make the sadness go away; make her laugh. Distract her from her disappointment, but I reigned myself in. She needed to feel that. She needed the space to recognize her letdown and bring herself through it. I can’t always do that for her. My heart damn near exploded when a few minutes later her girlfriend walked over and asked if she was ok. Daniela tossed her french braid behind her shoulder and chirped “Oh thanks! I’m fine though!” and began playing with the group again. My girl worked through it on her own! I loved being able to watch that little moment.
I love the kids she goes to school with. Nearly all of them have been together since k-4 and are a freaking riot. She has been truly blessed in the friend department.
When I was 16 years old I lost my parent’s trust. I told them I was going to work when really I was going out for girls’ night with my best friend. We saw a movie and went to the mall. Totally innocent stuff, but I wasn’t allowed to go to the movie theatre. Baptist upbringing and all. My dad found out — as dads do — and I was grounded for months.
He drove me to and from work (which is the ultimate humiliation when you’re 16 and your dad is the probation officer), I had no social life outside of church, and even that was strictly limited. Even after he gave me back the keys, he watched my mileage to make sure I was going where I said I was going. I’m pretty sure this lasted until the summer before college.
You know how on cheesy sitcoms there is a theme that runs through every episode? Uncle Jessie lies to Rebecca, Michelle sneaks extra dessert, and DJ stays out way past curfew with her boyfriend. In the end, Danny has a big family meeting about earning trust. If you don’t know who these people are, Netflix Full House pronto. Yes, I used Netflix as a verb. Roll with it.
In life, these themes are rarely that obvious. Our cause and effect are often spread out over a lifetime and nothing is ever resolved in 30 minutes minus commercial breaks.
But The Madrid’s House of Awesomeness had a theme yesterday. From the time Daniela got home from theatre rehearsal until we were lying in bed with the lights out, the subject of trust kept reappearing.
Daniela told me that she didn’t want dessert because they had sweets at school. Yes, I have the most health-conscious child you ever did meet. For real. I told her how great it is that we can trust her to eat sweets in moderation. She beamed.
Later, I was helping her with math homework and I noticed that she had answered all the questions correctly, then erased them. I asked her about it and she told me that she’d asked a friend for help and the friend had instead just written in the answers. Daniela knew that wasn’t right so she erased them. Even though she really struggles with that particular math concept, she was honest in her work! What I would have given for a friend like that in school :) Again we talked about honesty and how much trust we have in her.
Two more times the subject of trust popped up like that. Marco and I chuckled about it as Dani was getting ready for bed then he shrugged it off. I kept thinking about it though, and it occurred to me how easy it would be for Daniela to lie and we would totally believe her. It wasn’t long ago that I was a teenager abusing my parents’ trust. Not often, but enough to get caught.
So we talked.
As I was lying in bed with her, I told her my story and she was horrified. I’m not sure at what, though. She probably sided with her Grandpa Mark. Freaking kid.
Moral of the story was that trust is a delicate badge of honor. And not just with parents, I told her. Trust with friends, teachers, and significant others is something to be earned and cherished. Not taken lightly or carelessly. There will come a day when she wants to lie to me. And if she chooses that path, I’ll probably believe her. But I’m cultivating a relationship with her that values honesty, trust, and open communication above lectures, groundings, and imposed consequences – though I’m sure they’ll find their place in there too ;) I just don’t want her to feel the need to lie to me.
I thanked her again for being trustworthy and finished my story: As angry and suppressed as I felt having my dad drive me to work because I was grounded, those few minutes in the car with him were some of the best conversations I’ve had. I began to see him as a person, which I think he was always a little afraid of me seeing; his humanity. I began to see that maybe he enforced rules with such gusto because underneath all the stern parenting was just a dad who was scared he wasn’t doing a good enough job. Parenting is the most rewarding job you will ever feel insecure in. That’s how you know you’re doing a fine job.
I don’t think I earned my dad’s trust back by making curfew and going where I said I was going. I think we earned each other’s trust by peeling back the layers of frustration and exposing our vulnerability. 12 years later, I love my dad for the humanity he showed me. One 10 minute car ride conversation after another.
Friday Phone Dump! Hashtag your Instagram photos #ltbtl and I’ll include them in the round up!
“Baby, why are you crying?” Marco, Daniela, and I were sprawled on our bed talking about the upcoming school olympic games, which she takes very seriously.
Daniela choked back a bigger sob and with tears now rolling freely, whispered “Because I’m a bad person!” My heart broke.
Daniela has never been very good at accepting criticism. It’s one of the things we’re working on. As soon as I heard her sad words though, I instantly knew how she got to that dramatic conclusion.
Daniela has a hard time separating her behavior from who she is at her core. If I were to tell her that she did something bad, she hears that she is bad. That drastically changed my parenting style, but occasionally something will slip out that I didn’t catch. Such was the case here.
A few days ago I posted some pictures of Marco and Daniela training for the various competitions. Marco is amazing with her. He coaches her with love and compassion, but she is hard on herself and gets easily frustrated. I just want to swoop in and remind her that it’s more important to be a kind athlete than to be the best, but Marco turns her discouragement into motivation to do better. Daniela can be fierce; she doesn’t like to lose and Marco’s competitive nature loves that spark. Meanwhile, I worry that Daniela will be so focused on winning, that a defeat will crumple her.
Daniela is what you would call a sore loser. Competition is highly emotional for her and when she’s ahead, her laughs and silly dances are infectious. But when she falls behind, her shoulders slump, her face falls, and her frustration is evident through her scowls and body language. She feels everything intensely, and that’s a beautiful part of who she is – a part I am still learning to understand every day. But I also feel strongly that she should be taught how to lose. Try as he might, Marco just doesn’t quite grasp this the way I do. His attempts come across more as “On the off chance you happen to not be in first place, (wink wink), be proud that you did your best. (Wink, wink)” While it’s good advice, it’s not exactly what I was going for :)
After they came in the house the other day bragging about a particular long jump measurement, I called a family meeting. I’m totally the downer, I know. Well, Daniela doesn’t respond well to criticism. Even the most innocuous remark can wither her in a flash. We talked about what a kind and compassionate person she is and how that should transfer to sports. I told her what a great winner she is, always proud, but never cocky. Then it slipped. I segued into the criticism with a smooth “One thing you could work on though, is being a good loser. Because let’s face it (insert giggle) you’re a sore loser!” Then Marco told a funny family story about a game she lost when she little. Which normally makes her laugh, but I had already done the damage.
Sore loser –> bad action –> bad person.
Of course I immediately pulled her onto my lap and rocked her as if she were still a toddler. All I could say at the moment was “No, no sweet baby. No.” I apologized a thousand times and tried to help her grasp the idea that her behavior is entirely separate from who she is, but I’m not sure she really believes it. I tell her constantly, and I told her again that I would give anything for her to see herself the way I see her. Compassionate, smart, clever, and so very loving. She smiled that adorable half smile of hers and life went on, but it got me thinking about how fragile a child’s self esteem can be.
Alvin Price, author of several parenting books including 101 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self Esteem, said “Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes in it to drain it dry.”
What scares me is that often its the adults poking the holes.
I recently volunteered as a Guardian Ad Litem and am representing the best interests of 7 (seven!) siblings. These children have been through a lot, and for obvious reasons don’t trust the adults involved in the removal from their home. My heart just breaks for them. I’ve made it a priority to spend a few minutes with each child just speaking life into them individually, praising their characteristics and encouraging their abilities. It’s our one-on-one time, and their caregivers tell me they look forward to it. One young girl in particular has really come out of her shell. She used to shrink away when I told her how brave she is, but now she lights up. She quipped, “I told my teacher I was brave!”
Kids believe what we tell them. When we believe in them, they bloom! They watch for our reactions and adjust accordingly. This is showcased beautifully in one of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird:
Smoke was rolling off our house and Miss Rachel’s house like fog off a riverbank, and men were pulling hoses toward them. Behind us, the fire truck from Abbottsville screamed around the curve and stopped in front of our house…
“Don’t worry, Scout, it ain’t time to worry yet,” said Jem. He pointed. “Looka yonder.”
In a group of neighbors, Atticus was standing with his hands in his overcoat pockets. He might have been watching a football game.
“See there, he’s not worried yet,” said Jem.
Kids look to us to form their opinions of themselves and their worlds! That’s a mighty responsibility to shoulder carelessly. They rely on the adults around them to keep them safe and let them know that everything will be okay. That they are okay. As adults, we need to be conscientious about the words and ideas we speak over our children! I read on Pinterest somewhere that the way we talk to children becomes their inner voice. I think that is accurate to the -enth degree. I have a fabulous inner voice. For real. My mom was very vocal growing up about raising me to be confident and independent. She instilled in me a self assurance that absolutely shaped my personality. In some respects I may be overly confident (ha!). But I credit her with building up the qualities in me that helped me slide into marriage and stepmotherhood without batting an eye. I wasn’t perfect at it, but I wasn’t second guessing my every move either. I was confident that I could add another dimension to Marco and Daniela’s lives and that we would blend as a beautiful family. And we did.
But how different my story would read if I had grown up with constant ridicule and jeering. The life and Light she spoke into me propelled me upward.
As life is wont to do, the cycle now repeats itself and I am responsible for the life I speak into Daniela. One of the things we have adopted in this empowerment journey is reading little quotes while lying in bed at night. Right now it’s this one by Jada Pinkett Smith on the backlash of why she would let her daughter cut/dye/shave her hair.
The question why I LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair…even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires.
This blew me away. While I believe that ultimately Daniela belongs to God, I agree that there is no person on this earth who should be making Daniela’s decisions for her. As parents, we are to teach our children to think for themselves, empowering them to be their own advocates. This has a boomerang effect too, for when kids do have a problem they can’t face alone, they turn to the people who have supported their independence all along. They’ve been taught by example that they can trust and depend on their parents.
I want Daniela to be confident enough in her self worth that she could dye her hair blue. Or green. Or even fuscia. I don’t want society to dictate what is “pretty” for her. If she feels good in leopard velour hotpants, I want her to rock those hideous things. Of course I will be taking pictures for future blackmail, but that’s beside the point :)
Another way we empower Daniela is recognizing guilt trips. She was very young when Marco started doing this, maybe 5 or 6 years old. He taught her what a guilt trip was, showed her how people use them to manipulate, and how to deflect them. She’s a pro. Every so often he’ll say something with even the slightest hint of guilt dripping off it and she’s all over that sucker. “Papi! Don’t guilt trip!” I can’t tell you how that warms my heart. People will try to use her, to take advantage of her generous heart, but if her life reflects all the value her adults have poured into her, she will not only recognize it for what it is, but she won’t let the ugly make her bitter.
Constructive criticism is a necessary learning tool in life, but should be used with caution on children, if at all. There are so many other, more meaningful ways to teach children and I don’t want to be the parent that resorts to criticism. I pray constantly that Daniela’s spirit is so wrapped up in kindness and love and compassion that mean spirited people wouldn’t even make a dent. The life we speak into our children ultimately becomes them. It’s imperative to make sure it’s nurturing their spirits.
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots” — Frank A. Clark
Before our weather went kaput and thrust us into the land of chills, we snuck in a beautiful day at the park. Unfortunately for me, it was less park and more outdoor gym since Daniela has the school olympics coming up. Marco and Daniela are a fiercely competitive duo; religiously training for long jumps (running and standing), running (distance and dash), shot put, and all manner of elementary school olympic sports. They are the epitome of dedication while I watch. From the shade. And shout the occasional cheer or performance tip — which increased her shot put throw by nearly 2 feet. Marco will roll his eyes at my credit, but thats ok ;)
Check out these high quality pictures — I remembered my big girl camera! I really do love watching them. The way she looks at him and her face lights up. The way he is always quick to praise and build her up. They are pure Light.
I’ll be back this week (tomorrow’s the goal) with my thoughts on empowering and speaking life into kids. Just need the finishing touches and all ;) Happy Tuesday.
I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow today. And the wee leprechaun who disappeared for a week and came back a foot taller. I swear, the sunshine and fresh air on the cruise nourished her roots because she looked so big! My baby girl!
She had an amazing time on her spring break cruise and talked my ear off on the short drive home, but the first thing out of her mouth when I got her in the car was a loud “I am SO glad to be with you!” She melts my heart. For reals. I couldn’t get enough of her today; her scent, her smiles, her belly laughs. yes, it was only a week, but I was having withdrawals something fierce. I took 152 pictures today, that should tell you something.
We had a picnic lunch in the backyard and she started to bring me snails. She hasn’t gathered those little suckers in years. Maybe she felt my awe at her growing up-ness and tossed me a moment in time, who knows, but I cherished the snail quest. I took about twenty minutes and just sat on the blanket watching Marco and Daniela play. They are incredibly goofy together. Their facial expressions slay me every freaking time. But my favorite was when she snuggled up next to me and put her head in my lap. She didn’t say a word, just rested there on mama. I thought my heart might explode.
There is something to be said about green beer and drunk Irish folk, but I’ll take my little leprechaun over those festivities any day of the year. Especially when my leprechauns dance to Irish folk music :)
searching for the elusive little leprechauns
I’ve been thinking a lot about empowerment and rules and speaking life into kids lately. Until I sort all my thoughts out in my head, I want to share a few quotes that have started to spark a direction to the thoughts. I fully plan on Daniela and I memorizing the first and at least frequently reading the rest of them, they’re that good :)
Via a text from one of the most awesome people I know and get to call family, Tyrna. Before that it was Pinterest :)
Via Jada Pinkett Smith on her daughter Willow’s hair cut.
Via Hannah Brencher, who rocks life.
And of course, our Friday Phone Dump! Hashtag your Instagram photos #ltbtl if you want to get in on the fun Fridays :)
Daniela gets back from her cruise this weekend and I am so ready to squeeze her and never let go!!! Enjoy your weekend!
I’ve been amazed at the emails I’ve gotten asking about the travel document I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Instead of replying to each, I thought I’d just address it here and Q&A the few that aren’t touched.
First of all, I am no blended family expert. I’ve mentioned this before, but we are a traditional family when Daniela is at home and I suspect it’s the same at her mom’s house. We’ve never had to deal with a lot of the problems that the majority of blended families face so I can’t speak for everyone when I tell our story. Daniela doesn’t remember a time without me or her stepdad in her life so there was never a real transition period for her. She considers her stepdad and myself to be just as much her parents as her mom and dad are, and I am constantly in awe of that honor and responsibility.
When Daniela’s mom first approached Marco about taking Daniela on this cruise, they both knew that an international travel document would likely be required. When a child leaves their home country without both parents, the non traveling parent’s consent must be provided. This could be something as simple as a notarized letter, or something more complex like our travel document. You can find a lot of travel document templates online, but Marco is a cautious person and prefers to have all his bases covered personally. Lucky for him, he married a writer and I am often at his disposal for one written thing or another :)
I’ve facilitated travel documents in family mediations a few times so I was comfortable with what he was looking for. I used the same format that I would use for any Record of Agreement because that’s what I’m comfortable with, but it’s certainly not mandated, and parents my choose to write it however they wish. Here’s my format:
Marco also wanted to make sure that they had covered anything that might come up later. In simple, numbered paragraphs our travel document covered:
Both parents signed and notarized it, and Dani was all set for a fun filled Spring Break cruise!
One thing that made the trip preparation much smoother was that it was a closed circuit cruise, meaning that it left and returned to the same US port. US citizens do not need passports to travel on a closed circuit cruise, so there was not the issue of a passport to address.
Though it did not come into play with her cruise, I do want to mention that whenever you are traveling with your child (or consenting to your child traveling) internationally, it’s always wise to check with the US Department of State concerning the laws and travel requirements and/or travel advisories for your destination. I can’t emphasize this enough for blended families. The US Dept of State website has wonderful resources concerning traveling with children and an entire program geared toward the prevention of international parental child abductions. It’s called the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program. As scary as it is to think about, there are families who are living through horrendous ordeals of parental kidnapping. Safety plans are there for when they are needed. Additionally, there is a treaty called the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention) that ensures, should you find yourself in that nightmare of a situation, the signatory country will uphold the most recent custody order in the US and return your child to you. Because sovereign nations can’t interfere with each other’s legal systems, US family court orders are generally not recognized in other countries. The Dept of State website also lists the countries that have signed the Hague Convention so that you can make an informed decision concerning your child’s international travel.
Ok, enough with the heavy.
Traveling with, or allowing your child to travel, internationally is a privilege not many are gifted with in childhood. I was fortunate enough as a child to experience just about every state in the continental US and being able to pull on those memories as an adult with the incredible lifestyle diversity I saw right here in the US, has made me a vocal proponent for exposing children to the many lifestyles and cultures and religions that can be found all over the world. That’s the whole concept behind being a world citizen. I identify with world citizenship and try to instill in Daniela the concept of being at home in the world. But as parents, we have the responsibility to be smart about the decisions we make that directly effect our children. If your family situation does not allow for world wide travel, bring the world to them! One of my favorite websites for exploring the world with kids is Kid World Citizen. The world in your living room!
There were a few other questions that I couldn’t quite fit into this, so here they are in Q&A format. A few of the questions were not really related to international travel, but I liked them so I’m sharing them :) #bloggersperogative
Q: Was there an emergency contact plan included in your travel document?
A: No. If an emergency where to arise on the trip, Marco and I have no doubt that her mom or stepdad would be quick to notify us. Additionally, were an emergency to come up that incapacitated them, I’m sure the powers that be would be looking at emergency contacts from the cruise line’s paperwork, not our own individual travel document.
Q: Does the travel document need to be signed by a judge?
A: Nope! It’s a very simple way of showing immigration that the child has permission to leave the country without mom (or dad, or guardian) traveling with them. Ours was written in the format of a legal document because that’s what I’m most comfortable with, but it’s not necessary at all. The only thing it must have is travel dates, names, and notarized signatures for mom and dad.
Q: Did you sign her travel document too?
A: No. As a step parent, my rights are very limited. The travel document is strictly between mom and dad, and those are the only two signatures necessary. Of course, legal guardians may also sign if mom and/or dad are unable.
Q: As a stepmom, do you have a final say in your step daughter’s activities? Like playdates, trips, and sports? Could you have said “no” to this trip?
A: Hmmm, that one’s a bit tricky! First of all, no, I could not have put the kibosh on this trip. That decision is strictly between her mom and dad. If I, for whatever reason, felt it was a bad idea, I would have shared that with Marco but ultimately the decision is between the two of them. For the first part of your question, if it’s something that is strictly taking place at our home (like a playdate with a friend) I’ll schedule it without consulting the other parents (provided it’s during our timesharing and whatnot). Trips and sports are generally agreed upon between Mom and Dad specifically and my input is shared with Marco if I feel so inclined.
And for my favorite question!
Q: Is it hard for you to love a child as much as you do and not really be her mom?
A: Noooo!!!!! I know a lot of step moms struggle with genuinely loving their step children as their own, which is completely natural and okay. I loved Daniela from day one and I got super lucky that she totally loved me back. We’re kismet. As far as being her real mom goes, I guess it depends on your definition of “mom”. For years I struggled with how I identified as a mother and I finally had to come to the conclusion that a mom is many different things to many different people. There are people who will never see me as a mom, and that’s fine. There are also people (myself included, sometimes!) that forget that I didn’t actually give birth to Daniela. Maybe it’s because I don’t know how to be any other kind of mom, but being a step mom came very naturally to me. That’s not to say I’ve always done everything right. Good lord, no. I’ve stumbled across emails I sent her mom in the very beginning that make me cringe! I was out to prove that I was good for the whole family and I came off like an ass, at best. I like to think the worst of my pride is behind me. But no, the love I have for this child makes it very easy for me to be whatever kind of mom she needs me to be.
I tried to answer as many questions as I could, but if I missed yours (or you thought of another one!) leave me a comment or shoot me an email and I’ll do my absolute best to get you an answer. And remember, I’m not an attorney. If you have qualms about your own blended family/international travel issues, it’s best to find a spectacular attorney who can guide you through your questions. That’s just not going to be me :)
I don’t normally read those long essay things that people post on Facebook, but for one reason or another I read this one today. Maybe it was the title that caught my attention: To The Mom on the iPhone. (Sidenote: I just spent 38 minutes searching FB for this article. And I can’t find it. It’s elusive. Like unicorns.)
The gist of it was, iPhone Mom, your kids are running around and playing in the park and you’re not watching them. They’re looking at you each time they climb to the top and you’re not watching them. They’re smiling and laughing and you’re glued to your phone screen. Only, it was a lot less judgmental and bitchy. It really got me thinking about how much I’m on the phone when spending time with Daniela. Tonight we had a little Mommy/Daughter date so I decided to stash the phone away and just be with her, 100%. I caved and pulled it out for pictures, but didn’t let myself instagram them until after we were home :)
In the 4 hours we were gone, I reached for my phone 13 times. That’s not including when I took photos. 13 instances where I would have spent maybe 1 or 2 minutes returning a text, scrolling through IG, or adding to my grocery list. That’s a half hour or more of my already limited time with her. I was surprised.
And while I don’t feel like we had any epiphany mother/daughter moments because I wasn’t on my phone, it did serve to make me more aware of what she sees me doing. Of course I’ll still find myself IG’ing her photos next time, but I’ll think twice about how often I do it. I want to be the Light in Daniela’s life too, and one of the best ways I can do that is by being present for her.
They’re only this little for a short while and when she’s 16 with her own phone, I’d like to be able to tell her to put her phone down and have a conversation with me without being completely hypocritical :)