I’m taking a little blog break for a couple of weeks and featuring some fabulous guest writers. Today’s guest post is from my lovely friend Rene from Shakayall.com. I graduated from high school with her husband John. I’ll be back soon with pictures from a fantastic vacation in Cabo with my hubby to tour the beautiful Westin Los Cabos and Sheraton properties. Please make my guests feel at home. Thanks ya’ll!
The Cook Family
I’m a 30-something mom to three girls ages 11, 9 and 5. My job is all about on the job training. I’m just learning things as I go and pray I don’t screw up too badly. Just when I feel that I have a handle on all things kids and family related–BAM something changes. I’m still learning, I’m not perfect and neither are my kids. But here are some things I’ve learned along the way that I think are important enough to share.
Pick your Battles. Especially with girls. And yes, I’m THAT mother. You know, the one who lets her child wear dress up to the grocery store. Or all day for that matter. Gasp! With 3 girls in the house, clothes are just the beginning of the battle. In the whole scheme of life it really doesn’t matter what my girls wear but what’s in their hearts.
Encourage Communication. I have girls so they LOVE to talk. Nothing is off limits and there are no stupid questions or topics. I’ll never forget the day when my now 11 year old was in Kindergarten and she came home and announced that a boy had yelled “F@#$” in class. Of course she proceeded to ask what the “F word” meant. Dear Lord I almost lost it. Times are a bit different now and I spend close to 2 hours a day driving the afternoon carpool for middle and elementary school. All that time in the car is perfect for talking about their day and its not long into the ride before they begin telling me all kinds of stuff. Another way we encourage communication is the family dinner. Each person has a chance to tell about their day and it includes dad in on the day’s events. For my oldest daughter, she processes most of the events of the day and isn’t ready to talk until bedtime. I used to (wrongly) think she was just stalling until I realized that’s just when her brain and her heart are ready to let it all out. This can make for some late school nights but I need to listen to what’s going on in that head of hers. The last way to encourage communication is by keeping a journal with your child. We basically write each other back and forth in a special notebook and its a good way to keep nosy sisters out of their “business”. Ultimately, my goal is to communicate with them now so that they’ll (hopefully) want to talk with/confide in me when they’re older but I know I have to set the precedence now.
Find your Family’s Passion(s). Around our house, surfing is a hot topic. We all surf in our family and my oldest daughter is a competitive surfer on the East Coast. We’re trying to make the most of this family passion in order to make a positive impact on others–creating awareness of girls excelling in surfing, leading a “surfers church” on the beach for 6 weeks this summer and encouraging other young preteens to pursue their God-given passion right where they are. This summer I do believe my girls invited more friends to church on the beach than I did! The other passion in our family is fighting poverty through education. We are currently in the process of building a secondary school in Nairobi, Kenya to help educate and equip young slum kids in order to break the generational cycle of poverty. I’m looking forward to returning to Kenya in February to assess the school building process and lead girls conferences in several of the existing slum schools. I’m even more excited about having my girls involved in the process of caring for the widows, orphans and poor of the world. This past year, my girls found creative ways to raise their own money in order to buy shoes for slum children because they have hearts that want to help. I want to leave a legacy of love for others and this starts with the little people I’m raising.
Appreciate the Small Things. I can’t tell you how many times we literally have to stop and smell the roses. I’m not kidding. With young children, my life was/is a series of fill in the blanks “Mommy, look its a _________!” It used to annoy me–especially when I was in a hurry. But with each child I seem to mellow a bit and slow down and I’m enjoying the fleeting moments of smelling flowers, counting bird nests, finding snails, looking at the moon. Because they’ll soon be gone–both those moments and the kids. Now looking back I can’t believe how “busyness” had highjacked seeing God’s beauty in nature and all the other seemingly small things of life.
Being different is OK. In fact, in our family its encouraged. But this comes with a warning label: being different isn’t easy. In fact it more than likely comes with tears because let’s face it–girls are mean. I repeatedly tell my kids that I don’t care what other kids are allowed to do or what other parents let their kids do. I really don’t give a flying rip. Call me weird, but my kids don’t have a Facebook, cellphone or hand held attention stealing device that discourage all forms of personal interaction. Nor do we wear the same cookie cutter clothes or participate in the same ‘ole after school activities as everyone else. Surfing and Fencing aren’t your average extracurricular activities. It takes more courage to be yourself and be different from the pack than to just be like everyone else. I’ll take different any day.
You can find Rene hanging out with her kids on the shores of Tybee Island, GA or in Franklin, TN. She’s been happily married to John for 16 years and they love raising different, Christ-centered kids who live out their passions and have a heart to help others.
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