The Problem With Marriage

wedding kissI have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

–Mother Teresa

Our marriage is probably like many of yours—sometimes effortless and occasionally the hardest work I’ve ever done.

I’ve been married for eight years now. The first six flew by in a breeze. We didn’t have to make it work because it wasn’t that difficult. There were romantic getaways and shared dreams, giggles and tickle fights and a growing family. We started a church and had a baby; we bought a home and moved to suburbia. Life was abundant with service and ministry and blessings. Sure, certain obstacles came our way, but our confidence in each other was high.

And then REAL life hit.

Tragedy and drama and human weakness at it’s finest.  Our fragile foundation rocked and rolled like the San Andreas fault.  My parents were suddenly both taken by fatal disease, Tim injured his back and faced permanent nerve damage and partial paralysis , there was spinal surgery, a long and painful recovery, and our constant battle with infertility that wove itself through every story—miscarriage after miscarriage. Add in a blended family and teenagers in to the mix and for two years we fought to keep our heads above water.

Maybe marriage wasn’t so easy.

Maybe it took work. Hard work.

Fortunately, I married a persistent man who never, ever, gives up. Week after week he showed up at the counselor by my side ready to tackle the broken parts of him and us and me. And even when I was drowning in sorrow and weary, he never let go of my hand.

While I wish certain outcomes were different, because I sure miss my mom and dad (and all the babies I won’t meet until eternity), I don’t regret the journey it’s forced us to travel. Pain brings out our best and worst traits. My husband has seen me unraveled and paralyzed with fear and yet he continues to love me. I have seen him blustering and red in frustration and yet I get up and choose only him every day.

So many people avoid pain. They run, they hide, they cope. I was a master at this.

But with a 72% divorce rate in Orange County, I don’t really think this strategy is working out too well for most of us.

If I learned anything from years of therapy it’s this…don’t avoid the pain–do the opposite–lean in.

Pain has made our marriage better. Adversity overcome together creates the glue of relationship. Pain forced us to restructure our boundaries, to surrender to one another sacrificially and to leave our selfish natures behind for something better—a relationship built on rock and not sand.

Every day we can either deposit love or steal life from one another. It’s a choice we are all given.

Today I sit here and write after another failed pregnancy, and a heartbeat that slipped away, with tears and sadness, and a surgery to remove the remains of another sweet baby. One more soul added to our little tribe in heaven.

But I am content. Not because it doesn’t hurt—oh boy it does, but because I’m facing the pain with my best friend at my side. The friend I have fought for and who fights  for me on a daily basis.

I am what we call in our family “happy/sad.” The sad is obvious, but the happy is because I have fallen in love with my husband all over again through this yucky experience. I am crazy about this man who shares his whole heart unabashedly and shines his light so bright it makes the dark not so scary for me. He holds my hand and whispers prayers when I need encouragement, he points me back to God when my faith wavers, and he makes me laugh through my tears.  I can only hope I will choose to fall in love over and over with this same man for the rest of my life.  I want more than anything to focus on the good and not dwell on the bad, celebrating the smallest victories and offering forgiveness quickly.

The problem with marriage is that it’s not easy.

We have to choose one another every day in spite of the pain and the brokenness of our humanity.

I’m so glad we didn’t give up on the mountain of hard, because the greatest joy was reached only by cresting this summit together.

–Samantha

Peep Roast

FullSizeRenderIt was a simple command, really, but I suffered a mini-meltdown in my seat.

“Think of one friend you know that you can invite to the Peep Roast and send them this card.”

I looked down at the ground, I casually glanced around at everyone else thinking and writing and I choked in the death pause of uncertainty.

I couldn’t think of one person.

The truth hit me hard, painfully hard and it ached in places I didn’t know I could ache.

Here is my reality right now, I live in a Christian bubble.

No one put me here, it just happened because I let myself get comfortable.

And it’s revolting to me. It’s against everything I believe to be true about the gospel.

My kids go to Christian school. My neighborhood all goes to the church we helped start in our local area. I see the same people day in and day out. And I love this community with all my heart, but sometimes I need to get out of it a little too.

How can you invite new peeps to the Peeps Roast when you don’t know any?

When your husband is a pastor and you are a Christian writer, every conversation begins with, “Come check out our church.”

But I invite people so casually, I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s like “How are you?”–or some other greeting I drop like I don’t really mean.  It’s just a rote expression I do by routine.

When did I stop being intentional about meeting new people that are different from me?

………………….

I will never forget the night Tim when asked me where I wanted to go to dinner and I replied “Mutt Lynches.”

He looked at me like I was cray-cray, because Mutts is a rowdy bar on the boardwalk of Balboa Penninsula.  I was pregnant at the time and could barely stomach the smell of beer, barf, or people in general.

But I nodded yes vehemently because my intuition or (prompt from God) was powerful.

That night we met a group of guys and one in particular we connected with. Over too many beers on his part, he confided that his wife had filed for divorce and served him papers that day. He had come home to an empty house void of his little ones and all he held dear.

He started to tear up as he shared that he deserved it. He had put his family’s needs below his quest for success and climbing the corporate ladder. He had erroneously believed they would always be there until they weren’t.

His friends had taken him out to tie one on. But it wasn’t helping. It just magnified the pain. His friends were stunned at his admission but too drunk to know what to do.

Then he jumped up and ran out the bar.

Tim and I huddled up and decided that Tim would go after him and I would stay with all my sweet drunk friends who would protect me or vice versa.

Tim found the guy walking towards the water’s edge.

Tim walked up and asked if he could pray with him and the guy collapsed on the beach weeping.

“I was ready to kill myself,”he confessed. I was going towards the water to drown myself. I cried out to God, “If you are real, give me one sign that you love me.”

“And you found me.”

They spent a long time on the sand simply crying out to God together and lifting heavy hearts, as the waves crashed and I played beer pong with iced tea back in the bar with the guys.

We later heard from the guy that he was working hard to repair his family. He thanked us over and over.

But the gift of that evening was just as profound for us as it was for him.

I, we, want to be available when God is moving. I want to get my hands dirty and wipe the tears of the broken and spiritually wounded.

And I don’t think staying comfortable is helping.

It’s probably time to start venturing out and hanging out with some rowdy folks again. Maybe you need to get your hands a little dirty again too?

–Samantha

 

Maybe no one has invited you to an Easter service this year?  Can I?

Saturday March 26th at 5:00pm

Easter Service at Mariners Mission Viejo (with our annual Peep Roast following the service)

26862 Crown Valley Parkway, Mission Viejo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Thongs and Gym Fails

embarrassed-girl-red-sweater_smIts mid February, which means I’ve been back in the gym for about six weeks now. I, like many of you, suffered a holiday workout mini-breakdown that started with good intentions and ended with about six extra pounds. So now I’m hitting the gym hard.

But the problem with going to the gym–is well–its the gym.

It’s full of awkward social exchanges, potential embarrassment and gross smells. Anytime people get sweaty, prance around the locker room in nothing but tattoos and body hair, and make grunting noises–it’s an eye opening experience.

So Tim and I are getting our workout on.  He’s lifting weights and I’m on the treadmill. As soon as I get a little warm, I peel off my coral long sleeve Nike workout shirt I received for Christmas (apparently to encourage me to work out) and throw it on ground next to my machine.

(I have a tank top on underneath just in case you thought I got naked)

I then immerse myself in “Hard Evidence” for the next forty minutes while climbing fake hills and terrain.

The show ends. I am so sucked in I can’t stop until I am assured that this evil woman is sentenced to life. Apparently she stun-gunned her husband and placed him alive in a barrel of acid.  Wow. Don’t want to run into that chick at the gym

I switch off the machine and turn around. And there directly behind the treadmill on the ground is my bright red lacy thong panties. 

I look around and I see a few smirks. It must have been stuck to the inside of my sweatshirt from laundry day.

It’s been 40 minutes since I took off my Nike sweatshirt. 40 minutes for the whole gym to walk by my underpants.

Awesome! I casually pick them up and throw them in my bag and then mentally place the dog cone of shame on my head and skulk away.

My cheeks burn. I hope no one walked by and noticed the pastor’s wife flaunting her little lingerie party.

I walk over to Tim, now on the treadmill.

He belly laughs when I tell him the story.  Then he tells me he how he just embarrassed himself too

A young fit girl on the back machine smiled and waved. Tim thought it was someone from the college group at church so he smiled big in reply and said “hi.”

But so did the big, ripped and inked guy behind him.  You know, the one she was really waving to.  The guy gave a withering look to my husband, the “as if…buddy” look.

Awkward…

But the best cone of shame story is told to me by my neighbor later that day.

So, he’s changing in the men’s locker room. He puts is foot in through one leg of his athletic pants, then the next. But the second leg sticks. Something is blocking his foot. So he pushes a little harder and out flies a small hot pink thong that flies across the floor of the men’s locker room.

And he is left with a bunch of dudes looking at him like he is a cross dresser.

Now we all know it was merely the bad luck of static cling, laundry day and a cute wife that can wear tiny hot pink thongs.

But the guys in the locker room didn’t. Remember, the sweaty, gross, hairy, ripped ones?

So he “oh so casually” walks over, picks it up and tosses it in the trash because he figures his wife wouldn’t go near it after he told her where it had been.

Nice.

Tell me again, why do we go to the gym?

 

 

 

 

The Jankiest Hood

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Maybe it’s just me?–but when I see a home festively adorned with Christmas lights near Valentines Day, the word “janky” comes to mind.

Well, how about a whole neighborhood?  Is that like the “jankiest hood in town?”

Because that’s what I, what WE, the suffering people of Whispering Creek II are dealing with.

First of all, I LOVE our neighborhood!  We are what some might call a tad “eager” around Christmas time.

For the most part, we get our Christmas spirit on!  Our track sits right across the street from one of the more famous drive-by Christmas neighborhoods in Ladera, (just to clarify…that’s not a place where drive-by shootings occur, but instead it’s when you pack up the whole family in the car with some Starbucks and drive around and look at decorated homes. Because this is what we do in warm places with no weather)

So, although we don’t have the mega awesome light displays and hand out hot chocolate and fliers, we are “a nice on the eyes” place to go for a “look see.”

The majority of our homes put up lights galore, inflatable snowman, reindeer, animals and all the elf fixins.

I even have an inflatable Darth Vader and two Frosty’s, not to brag or anything…

Normally, as a group we rent a lift, blast some music and decorate together.  But this year, we decided to try something new and hire a service to put up and TAKE DOWN the lights.

Mistake #1: we paid the man upfront for the whole job.

The lights went up in late November.  And the lights are still up.

The light man has gone AWOL. With half of our entire neighborhood’s cash.

He has not returned phone calls or texts and we are SOL, as my dad used to say. All we have is a card. With no address. Who do we even sue?

So when you drive into our little Ladera neighborhood, try not to judge.  We know. We know. We so freaking know it’s the jankiest in town, but we haven’t yet figured out how to rectify the problem.

Do we send our husbands up to the roofs and high peaks of our two story homes? Do we risk life and limb or suck up the loss and pay more money? Do I send out my husband, because we own a coveted extension ladder, and make some extra cash? (just kidding babe)

Is our life insurance up to date?

These are questions we must ask ourselves!

In the meantime…James the Christmas Light Dude.  You are a wanted man and have lost the favor of this Ladera neighborhood!  At any moment, our ever vigilant Ladera association will start threatening us with fines if we don’t get these lights down…because Ladera has standards.

Merry Christmas James. You stink!

reindeer

At least we put these guys away…

 

Throwing Stones

girl-sad-101artsSqueals erupt from the playground as a pack of pint sized girls tackle the monkey bars. The moms gather close, gobbling up grown-up time like precious pearls.

A small voice shrieks, “Mommy, sister said she hates me.” Tears fall.  A little sister sobs in frustration–she just wants to hang with the older girls. Be cool like them.

The lovely young mother administers a hug and kisses to her four-year-old, then calls the five-year-old over for a reckoning.

I watch the other girls stop their play. Somehow the word “hate” shocks us all out of our reverie. It get’s very quiet.

(When you play at the church school playground, it’s like God is watching)

I walk over and kneel down. A storm is brewing over their tiny countenance.

The girls are looking to lay blame.

“She said she hated her sister,” points out one little pig-tailed cutie. “That’s a bad word.”

I nod yes. “That’s true. But are you always nice to your little brother?” I probe, ever so gently.

A guilty smile sneaks out of the corner of her mouth. “No, she whispers.”

I turn to little Kolby. “Sometimes you and your sister fight, right?”

Kolby agrees sheepishly.

And suddenly they realize the “bad word” is in them too.

“Sometimes I say awful things I wish I could take back.” I confess.

I think of me sitting in the counselor’s office telling my husband his pride is an issue–as if I am somehow exempt from the very same malaise. 

And we all look down at our feet and the focus shifts off the bad child to the bad in us.

The next day the mom tells me her older daughter shared with her how she fears her friends like her little sister more than her.

In all truth, her little sister is a bit of a tot-sized hottie. She is vibrant and gorgeous with long golden hair and a winsome personality. She will probably be cheer captain and princess of everything.  I’d probably want to punch her in the face a few times if she were my sister too.  “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia ..”

Who wants to live up to that?

(I’m sure Jesus’ siblings struggled a bit too)

And then the mom laughs and said my little Kolby tried to empathize with her older daughter. Her daughter apologized for the bad choice of words and my Kolby explained that she too battles with jealousy towards her older sister Faith.

Kolby patted her on the back. “It’s tough, I know.”

The two hugged–closer now because of the rupture and the restoration.

I shook my head in disbelief. These are kindergartners–not thirty-five year old women. And yet somehow they are learning to self-identify and give grace and empathy to one another, not in spite of their brokenness but because if it.

I’ve learned down the long and bumpy road of life (and with a billion hours of therapy) that our broken pieces heal ONLY in relationship.

What a gift we give our children when we teach them to look within before casting stones and to share their hurt instead of bottling it up inside to fester and grow darker.

The mom and I hugged too–closer now because of the shared journey of parenting our girls together.

And I am grateful for friendship, forgiveness, and the sweet gift of grace we all desperately need.

–Samantha

 

Dear Santa…love Mom

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SANTA CLAUS
NORTH POLE

Dear Santa,

I know the big day is getting close, so I’m sure you and the elves are crazy busy shopping online, wrapping, and packing the sleigh. I feel your pain Santa…I do!

I want you to know I’ve been a MOSTLY good girl this year. I diligently cared for my husband when he had emergency back surgery and in the following months of his LONG recovery. Santa, he was in terrible pain and (sometimes) very grumpy, but with a lot of prayer, a little wine and weekly therapy we made it through!

DSC_0442-2I also took fabulous care of my children. I took my son back East for a college recruiting trip and we bonded over BPM music, survived a hurricane and slept in crappy hotels. It was awesome! Ok, I might have helped him a little too much on the college applications, (oops!) but I made him pay for the tires he accidentally spiked when he drove through a gated residential entrance. (See Santa…I’m working hard not to enable!)

I’ve also cooked, cleaned, laundered, shopped for, loved, cuddled and cherished every moment with my sweetheart and kids. On my honor, I haven’t missed much church, any games or recitals. I’ve driven Kolby to endless auditions in the hoods of LA and navigated the mean streets of the stage Momster.

DSC_0373Santa, I’ve volunteered at J Serra High School until illness has overtaken me (I lost my voice for 3 weeks!). I’ve worked like a like a dog and sacrificed sleep to these munchkins. I’ve watched 400 freaking episodes of Bernstein Bears, read to my little girl every single night (best part of my day), shopped with my teenagers until I wept from frustration, and I’ve laughed and tickled and cried with each one as life throws its best punches at us.

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Santa, even though I sometimes lose my spit, go a little cray-cray and have to text my therapist and Bible Study gals for extra support, I have managed to show up for work, finish a book, keep the sparks going with my man and love to the best of my ability. I know I’m a little jacked up, far from a typical pastor’s wife (whatever that is), with a broken and old uterus and some social awkwardness to boot, but maybe you could still get me a present? (Hint, hint)

  • MAC Makeup
  • Coach, or Kate Spade Purse
  • Spa Day perhaps? (Optional item if I’ve been really good!)

Thanks Santa! You’re the best! And you look dang sexy in that red hat!

Love, Samantha

Secrets of the Father

Secrets ImageIt took me a year–365 days of scratching out words and finding precious minutes to squirrel away and become someone else on paper.

But for Paul Aubin, it took a lifetime to write this story.

Many days I felt like a voyeur–like I woke up in the morning and put on a strange pair of pants. It’s probably what an actor feels taking on the nuances of a character. At times it was a little creepy. Paul and I would sit down together poring over the manuscript and he would say, “Let me tell you about this and that, or so and so…”

And I would interrupt, “Yeah, I know Paul.  I know all about you.” (cue eerie music)

His cheeks would flush.  And I would move my chair a few more inches away–because internalizing a person is just plain awkward.

But the truth is, on some level, I was a priest and I was Paul the little boy and the grown man too. Every day, I racked my head to think, emote and respond like two very different men. I sat in Starbucks and wept at times as the words tumbled out.  I railed at the injustice of a religious system built on a house of cards and I put myself in this heartbreaking love story destined to fail.

And over the course of that year, I fell in love with this beautiful and tragic tale of loss and redemption.

Paul’s story is the classic hero’s journey.  The life he once knew crashed and burned as he is confronted with a serious health crisis. Now with a ticking clock, he is forced to search for the parent’s who abandoned him and in the process discovers a scandalous cover-up within the Catholic church in a small New England town.

This is the astonishing and true story of a man who uncovered a thirty-five-year-old secret–and only he was the missing evidence.

I encourage you to discover it for yourself.

Click here to buy the Kindle version

Paperback now available to order.

–Samantha

How to be an Obnoxious Parent

I wrote this post five years ago and it feels like it needs to be updated.  Because maybe you don’t know how awesome my kids are now in 2015?

Random person-“Wow, your baby is really smart (pretty, adorable…amazing)!”

Me-“I know, right?”

Am I really that obnoxious parent who unashamedly brags on her kids?

Yep. I am. I can’t stop myself. I hear the words slipping out and I want to grab them back, whip out my lasso and coral them in, but it’s too late. Once again, I have over-shared regarding my kid’s total awesomeness.

(2010) Have I told you about Kyle?  We call him six-pack in training, our movie-star handsome, 4.0 GPA, nationally ranked football player, stud pitcher, kindergarten volunteering, gentle, loving, Godly, ridiculously humorous almost thirteen year old son?

lu7a0170Five years later…

(2015) Kyle is a 17 yr old senior in high school at J Serra.  He still loves football–although he is now a linebacker, fullback and tight end, instead of a center. He is in the process of getting recruited for college ball–more on that to come soon. He is a captain of his football team, still movie-star handsome, a good student, not playing baseball now and thinking of playing a little lacrosse in the spring?  He has no girlfriend (heck yeah!), is still soooo funny, even-tempered, hard-working, and is a county music, Jesus loving boy.  He’s building houses in Peru next spring, driving our old gas guzzling Ford truck around, and enjoying every minute of his friends and youth. Strangely enough, he is now violently allergic to his favorite food–sushi?  Suckaroo!  Kyle loves the beach, working out and snowboarding. If he’s not at football practice he is usually hanging out somewhere with Brad and Kelly.

(2010) What about my little beauty Faith? Let me tell you about my sweetheart girl who dances like a fairy, cheers like a maniac, is smart, fun-loving, a talented actress(recently starred in Peter Pan as the Indian Grizzly Bear), is a great big-sis, and leads worship with gusto? Did I mention she is shooting a spec commercial for the Vizio tablet this weekend?

(2015)  Faith is a freshman at J Serra and joins the Lions with her brother.  She is a JV cheerleader and is on the yearbook staff.  She is artistic, fashion-minded and dedicated.  She works hard in the classroom and wants to pursue photography as a career. Faith loves Campus Ministry–mainly because the worship director is “so beautiful mom,” which I totally get, because I think pastor’s are hot too!  Faith’s personality is mostly sunshine with a few storm clouds thrown in for good measure.  She is extroverted to the extreme and so beautiful, inside and out.

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(2010) How about the Kolbster?  Baby Kolby is so freaking cute! She is months beyond her year, crazy clever, reads letters, knows every animal sound (including “hop” for bunny because I don’t know what the heck the bunny says), has killer hair, and talks incessantly about her big brother.

I just love Duck Chili mommy!

(2015)  Yep, Kolby still has killer hair.  I think we are all a little jealous.  Kolby is in kindergarten now–a real big girl–and the joy of our lives. She is clever and silly and smart as a whip.  Kolby plays soccer, does ballet and cheerleading, and is a part of a Daisy Troop.  She still loves her bro Kyle but talks about other boys now too (gasp!) On any given afternoon she rolls with the Claymont Street girls gang of blond beauties. She loves to color, play with Shopkins, read books with mama and play Barbies.  Kisses from Kolby are magical and her snuggles have true healing power.
KolbyK_selects_017I know. I know. Someone stop me from bragging. I have diarrhea of the pompous mouth when it comes to my munchkins. But, I’m guessing most parents feel thisway. They love their kids so, so, so much, they simply can’t help themselves.

But in my defense, even God brags on his boy a bit. “Have you seen my son Job?” he tells Lucifer. “He’s a total stud, blameless, upright and courageous.” (Slightly modified by Sam from Job 1:8)

Sounds like some swagger wagon to me…

So maybe my crazy love for my kids is annoying, boastful, and even bombastic.

But maybe it’s also… sort of a God thing.

Why Dodge Ball Matters

dodgeball-blog-jpg_180529_zps6e2f5270A ball whizzed by my nose. I squealed and jumped out of the way protecting the tiny infant in my arms from the rocking Dodge ball game on my neighbor’s lawn.

Holding my neighbor’s baby in the middle of a pint sized ball war wasn’t safe but it sure was fun.

As both our families fought to gain control of the ball and escape the pounding of hard rubber, my daughter Faith mentions how much fun it is to play the “real” game instead of the watered down version she was forced to play in school.

“What game did you play in Jr. High instead of Dodge ball?” my neighbor and good friend asks.

“Evasion ball.” Faith replied.

(My friend and I subtly give each other the WTF look…)

What’s Evasion Ball?

“It’s like Dodge ball but no one gets out.  Once you get hit you become a goalie.”

We look at each other in disbelief.

Let’s get this straight.

No one gets out.  No one faces the wrath of the ball or the pain of getting picked last.  Everyone wins and no one loses.

Now I certainly don’t like adversity or suffering, no one does at the time, but there are certain rites of passage that help us move into maturity and grow up.  Mastering the rules of the playground and how to survive helps a child navigate the ups and downs of life.

Who doesn’t remember the thump of the red ball on the face?

Why, why, why are we teaching our kids to “evade” reality?

kwdEe4TBy taking away the trials and avoiding the struggles we are raising a generation of kids unprepared for the harsh realities of the world.  When we remove loss and pain and disappointment from our children’s lives we also remove the ability to cope with loss and pain and disappointment.  And when those painful emotions inevitably hit, our kids (overwhelmed and unequipped) turn to drugs and sex and unhealthy self-soothing methods because they can’t process losing and sadness.

As a mom with a senior in high school. One of the recurring themes I hear over and over from colleges is that kids today are not “emotionally prepared” to handle life on their own. 

Well-meaning mama’s, you are not doing your kids any favor by doing all their laundry, dishes and chores.  Stop paying for their speeding tickets, stop doing their homework, and stop rescuing them when they get in trouble.

Be with them when they get their hearts broken.  Don’t call the parent and do an intervention.  Take them to a movie and buy them an ice-cream cone and help them process not avoid the pain.

Ground them when they come in late.  Have the balls to say “no” occasionally.  Also, have the balls to say “yes” even more than “no” and let them screw things up.  It’s far better to let them make a few mistakes under your roof than get hauled off to jail later.

I hear the martyr mom’s brag about their devotion and how spoiled their kids are—as if the mama’s who actually train their kid’s to function as future adults don’t love their kids as much as they do.  I say baloney!

Have we forgotten the goal is to LAUNCH these kids—not enable them to live on our income or sofa?

So I am raising the gauntlet…

Let’s teach our kids how to rebound and get back up after they get smacked by a ball.  Let’s let them suffer a little. (I am not advocating child abuse here, just natural consequences)

Let’s make our kids work for the trophy and for grades and even for relationships. Nothing good ever bloomed from apathy.

A long long time ago in grade school, I got punched by a bully, who then ran away and hid after I smacked him back. It was both traumatic and empowering. Was I scared? Heck yeah!  I cried as I fought back, but, he never messed me with again. Maybe he even respected me?  Gasp!  Thirty-five years later we are friends on Facebook.  That’s the dance of life.  It’s about confrontation and resolution, not evasion.

Sometimes getting whacked by the ball stings.  It hurts our pride and makes us cry.  But finding the courage to get back in the game and play says far more about our kid’s character than avoiding the game altogether.

I think Dodge Ball matters.  Bamm.

—Samantha

How to End the Clothes Drama With Your Teen Daughter

Kids rebel when they hit adolescence–it’s simply a part of pulling away from their parents and creating self-identification.

Every kid does this differently–hair, clothes, grades, parties, eye rolling, politics, religion, tone of voice, apathy. Pick your poison.  If you want to argue with me on this and say your kid is perfectly obedient, I will argue back and suggest you have raised a clone who can’t think for themselves. That’s called a co-dependent child and you have your own issues.

aafe4c51ee8357ec283b61d4d6918155.jpg (236×251)I also might argue teen girls do this “self-identification” the best.  Boys are good but girls are better. Adolescent girls just have a knack for pushing hot buttons.

When I think about my lovely teenage daughter, I know I am blessed. She is kind, loving, Godly, a diligent student, an entrepreneur at heart, a gifted photographer, and beautiful inside and out. She makes friends easily and is a strong leader. I have it good, I know.

But on the flip side, my darling girl is also a skilled instigator. She can identify weakness in people as quick as Jason Bourne.  In about 30 seconds flat, she knows what will yank your chain.  It’s a terrible gift.  And when the moment is right–bamm.  You go down.

This girl knows what drives me bonkers–black bras under white shirts, booty shorts with cheeks showing, tiny bikinis, mean comments and tones, Demi Lovato and tongues sticking out like Miley Cyrus.

So, it’s guaranteed that every day with my daughter will involve one of these irritants.

My best coping skill to combat my teen terrorist, beyond prayer, has been the school uniform.  The peace and happiness this one change made to our household in the mornings is truly priceless.

Junior High was a DISASTER! We used to struggle every morning. It was rare that any first outfit would pass muster and back up the stairs she would go. Occasionally she pulled a fast one and got out. We were at a stale-mate.

Together we would shop for and pick out clothes that are far too modest for her and far more revealing than I would like–but somewhere we met in the middle. Then we would bring the clothes home and she would wear them like crazy and dry them on hot until they either shrunk or she outgrew them and then they were perfect for her and another problem for me.

AAHHH!

The sad thing is, her clothes were modest compared to many of her friends, but the modest side of slutty is still skanky in my book.

Why oh why, you ask, do parent’s let their teen girls dress like a hussy?

It’s because the girls relentlessly wear them down!  Day after day after day!

Enter the uniform for high school.  Yes, it also involves private school.  I know, I know, most people can’t afford it. We can’t afford it either, but we make it happen because:

It’s the best money ever spent in the history of parenting.

Blouses and sweaters and plaid skirts! Brilliant!

Now don’t get me wrong, girls will still try to rebel but the damage is limited in this arena.

AHHHH Peace!

My daughter comes down stairs in the morning with her Catholic girl skirt hiked up to her naval, but I can take a deep breath and let it go, because there is a neurotic ladies dean waiting for her at school with all-knowing eyes to give her detention. The pressure is off me!

On the first day of school, her cheer friend got three detentions! One for too short, and two more for every roll. Ouch! My girl has learned the tricks–she doesn’t roll, she just hikes.  Smart huh?

 

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Is this payback for my indiscretions?

I know it could be worse.  My son decided to express himself through hair, one time he died it white and there were a few pre-season mohawks with blue hair before football. We rolled through that mess and kept it light. It’s just hair we said and laughed it off.

I wish I could say the same about my girl–it’s just ass–but I can’t. I want to protect her and keep her safe like all parents do. Modesty and sexuality are scary topics with girls. The stakes are higher.

No parent is ready for the darker side of letting go. I don’t want her to get hurt. I don’t want some boy to use her for sex and leave her heart-broken. I want my girl to value her beauty far beyond her looks. I want her to know she is worth so much more than what the world will tell her.  She is not an object!  And darn it, I want her to figure this out before age 35–like I did.

Deep breath.  More prayer.

The uniforms help.

Someday soon she will dress herself without mom around and I imagine, that without me (and her step-dad) to piss off and other teenage girls to impress, she’ll probably dress quite nicely.  Maturity will sneak up before I know it because I believe she knows she is loved.  And God has her back.

In the meantime, the uniform (and prayer) is my best friend!

–Samantha

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