Month: November 2015

A work in progress …

I had a wee day off from the Love Dare yesterday … just the book, not the striving to be a better parent part though!  Our weekend seems to have passed in a blur and we’re starting a new week already.  It’s an exciting week as the advent calendars will be started and the real countdown to Christmas can begin.  I love Christmas and the excitement of the Junior GGs.

This year the boys have chocolate advent calendars (what else!), Mr GG a gingerbread advent calendar and I’ve got a Yankee Candle one (better for my waistline!).  We’ve also prepared an advent calendar of things to do for the month so the plan is that the boys will be helping with the decorating, making Christmas Crackers and doing some of the Christmas baking … if it all works out I’ll be sitting with a cuppa watching the candles burn while they do all the work …

Anyway, back to the Love Dare.  Today has been another “sink in my seat, lower my head in shame” day.

Love is not irritable. 

Oh dear me.

Oh very dear me.

Surely I’m not alone in realising that my reactions (and tendency to irritability) directly correlate to circumstances … am I???  If, for example, one of the Junior GGs is washing the dishes and breaks a mug I will usually not be that bothered, it’s just a mug.  However, if one of the Junior GGs is washing the dishes and breaks a mug when maybe I’m annoyed with Mr GG over something then it becomes much harder not to completely over-react … MY FAVOURITE MUG IS BROKEN, LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN, WOE IS ME!

It’s natural to be irritable and grumpy at times, we’re human, but the problem is when circumstances cause us to be irritable with our children when they’ve not really earned it.  A broken mug is not that big a deal and would be wrong of me to get cranky about a genuine accident just because I’m a bit crabbit about something else.

This is a huge area I need to work on.  I’ve a tendency to over-react sometimes (Mr GG is probably smiling to himself reading this … or even tempted to ask me to remove the word “sometimes” … if he’s brave enough) and I’ve even more of a tendency to allow circumstances to affect my reactions to unrelated events … like the mug.  I’m aware of my failings and, believe it or not, I do try to temper my responses.  I could blame it all on my red hair but I don’t know that there’s any scientific proof for red-heads being fiery (but if anyone can provide some proof I’d be delighted!).

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve over-reacted about a minor incident at home, been really crabby and irritable with the boys (or the long-suffering Mr GG) through no fault of their own and then had to seek out said boy or boys and apologise, asking them to forgive me.  God has blessed me with wonderfully forgiving children who are never slow to tell me how much they love me and reassure me that they forgive me for my short-comings.  Yet another thing that I give thanks for often.

Today’s dare is to start reacting with love rather than irritation and to seek out areas in life where I can (realistically) lower stress so that my reactions aren’t so likely to be negatively affected by circumstances.  I’m onto it … it’s a work in progress …

Selfish? Me???

It seems a wee bit like overload to be posting twice in one day … but here goes!

It’s been one of those bitty days … it’s been horribly cold and windy and the rain has been torrential, so much so that the Christmas light switch-on at our shopping centre was cancelled.  The Junior GGs have been playing indoors most of the day which is never a totally good thing!

We’ve been slowly closing down an aquarium and today the job was finally finished … so, in the midst of the wind and rain I could be spotted making my way along to a neighbour’s house, carefully carrying a sweet tin with our last remaining fish in … Mr GG was sure I’d drop them but I didn’t and our last wee fishy charges were safely delivered to their new home!  Life is never dull J

So, today the subject has been “love is not selfish” – another difficult subject for me.  I’ve definitely got a tendency towards selfishness although I sense that I may not be alone in that confession.  I found today’s reading quite difficult but also encouraging too.  I was given a reminder that my children are a gift from God and whilst I need to (continually) strive to overcome selfishness as I parent them, I need also to beware of focusing all my attention on them, making them the centre of my life and, I guess to some extent, making them my idols.  It’s not always easy getting the balance right and maybe something I’ll never truly manage but I’ll keep striving.

Today’s dare has been to pray about my parenting … to think of areas that I’m selfish in and need to work on … and to re-dedicate my children to God.  When the boys were born Mr GG & I took part in what was called a “Dedication Service” in our church … we publicly gave thanks to God for the boys and promised to do our best to bring them up knowing the Bible and seeing God through our lives.  We’ve not forgotten our promises, not at all, but it’s helpful to make the promises a focus once again.

So far, six days into the Love Dare, I’m definitely finding the practical dares much easier to complete – it’s so much easier to “do” than to think deeply and acknowledge areas in my life and parenting that need work.  I’m a work in progress and I’m not afraid to admit it!

Love Languages

Apologies for not posting yesterday … I started writing early in the day but Fridays tend to be somewhat chaotic in GG HQ with piano lessons and Boys’ Brigade and whatnot therefore the time to finish and post ran away from me!  Still, I can’t complain … while the Junior GGs were at their various Friday night activities Mr GG and I took the opportunity to dine out … a chippie in the car no less!  Anyway, back to the blog …

Yesterday (Day 5) we were looking at the uniqueness of each of our children.  Although veering slightly off the path, it reminded me of the surprise I had when my second son was born.  I assumed he would be a carbon copy of my eldest son.  How wrong I was … I remember looking at him in hospital (all night, I was too excited to sleep) totally shocked that he looked and acted nothing like his brother … now they are much more alike in looks but, back then, not at all!

So, every single one of us is unique.  The mould was broken after we were born … in some cases I guess that’s no bad thing!  Each one of my children is different.  Two of them are so alike in looks that they tell sometimes folks they’re twins … however the fact there is five years and more than 12” difference in height between them kinda gives it away J.  They all have a family resemblance but personality wise … wow … we have three very different individuals living in our house.  Three boys who react in different ways, are treated in different ways and have very distinct personalities.  Three boys who have different interests, different gifts and their own unique way of looking at things!

We were reminded today that as well as being individuals each of our children relates to us in different ways.  They feel love in different ways.  Some children feel loved and valued by gifts, others by affection, others by praise etc.  When the oldest Junior GG was young I remember struggling with his behaviour (at that time we didn’t realise he was autistic although I had my suspicions) and in desperation turned to a book called “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Gary D Chapman and Ross Campbell.  This was a real help to me, so much so that just recently I bought a copy of “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers” (by Gary D Chapman) – I can’t let myself forget that the teenage years have nearly arrived in GG HQ (officially we have 12 months to go … eek!).

The dare for Day 5 was to consider the way each child feels love, taking into account their individual personalities.  I found this the hardest dare so far as I don’t believe my sons have any one set way of giving and receiving love … my opinion is that their needs change according to the situation.  Some days a positive encouragement may be enough, another day a hug does the trick, another day quality time is what it takes.  Mr GG and I considered the dare together for a long time last night and I honestly don’t believe that I can say I have completed it!  I haven’t pinpointed one “love language” for each of the boys so, in essence, the dare remains outstanding.  However, I don’t feel downhearted, I don’t feel like I have failed … instead I feel reassured that I’m constantly assessing the needs of my children and striving to display love in the way that is appropriate and most effective in the moment.  I think I feel almost pleased to say I’ve not completed Dare 5!

Gifts from God

So, yesterday I ended by contemplating what unexpected act of kindness I could carry out for each of the Junior GGs.  I wondered about baking brownies which I know all three boys love but that wouldn’t really be something unexpected as I bake them often.  I also know that the reality is all three boys could probably have given me a list the length of their arm of things they’d class as kind acts … a new gaming console, new video games, a trip to the moon (Junior GG No3’s regular suggestion for a Saturday family activity) … but this act didn’t have to be extravagant.  Although I didn’t have to do the same thing for each boy, and maybe I wouldn’t have had time been on my side, eventually I filled three hot water bottles, wrapped them in pyjamas for each of the boys and put them in their beds … when they got home from their grandparents’ the house was filled with oohs and ahhs and several hugs so I think the unexpected kind act achieved its purpose!  Job done!

Today the focus of the Love Dare was on seeing our children as gifts.  I totally agree with this (even when things seem to be going horribly wrong) and thank God every day for each of the boys.  This means that today’s dare was another simple one for me … to remind each of my children that they are a priceless gift and I’m grateful to have them in my life.  It was lovely to make a point of sitting with each of the boys and chatting with them … talking about all the things they mean to me, how much I love them, the unique qualities they bring to our family and how indescribably valuable they are.  I’m going to sleep tonight thinking once again about the amazing blessing that I’ve been given.

Acts of Kindness

I don’t always believe t’internet … sometimes it tells fibs … and I don’t like to quote something unless I know absolutely that it’s correct.  However, I’m quoting something today that I like … whether it’s truly a quote from who it’s accredited to or not, I’m not sure!

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” – Aesop

I like that!

Today’s subject is, as you may have guessed, kindness.  I like to think that I’m a kind person.  I like to think that I think of others … I don’t always, I’m only human, but I like to think that folks know I’ll be there if they need me.  And I like to think that my lads know that too.  That’s a lot of “thinking”!

Just this morning, as we drove to school, one of the Junior GGs told me he thought I was the best mum ever.  My heart was so happy when he said that … to be fair, I am the best mum ever … well, the best mum he’s ever had and I hope ever has!  I’m not always the greatest mum but, to my boys, I’m the best and I’m happy they’re pleased with the job I’m doing.  My son then went on to tell me he thought I was kind … maybe he’d been reading ahead but I doubt it, they don’t know I’m taking part in The Love Dare for Parents (unless they read this!) … maybe he was hoping I’d make chocolate brownies for their supper tonight!

So, back to being kind.  Essentially the message for today is that if we’re kind to our children and display kindness as an example of our behaviour then we will, in turn, teach them to show kindness.  We’re encouraged to include our children in acts of kindness and teach them that every one of us is equally valuable and important, no matter who we are!

The dare for today unsurprisingly is to show an unexpected act of kindness to each of the children.  This may be tough for me to complete before tomorrow … not because I’ll be struggling for ideas, but because the Junior GGs are spending the rest of today with the Senior GGs and usually arrive back just in time for bed!  Hmm, time for some creative planning I think … I’ll let you know how I get on!

Patience is a virtue …

Day 2 – and after the ease of yesterday’s dare I admit I felt quite confident settling down to read today.  That feeling didn’t last long … oh no … today’s subject was an area I sadly have to admit to failing in … patience!

People have commented to me in the past that they see me as a very patient and calm person.  Hmm, I can be … sometimes.  But, when I’m tired, stressed and worrying about things then I’m anything but.  It’s been known for Mr GG to suggest I’m as patient as a rumbling volcano … that sums it up really!!

I’m so very aware that, at times, I’m inconsistent when I comes to patience … sometimes I can be much more patient than others.  Those times when I’m aware that one or other of the Junior GGs is struggling with something (the lead up to Christmas is a huge time of anxiety and stress for one in particular) then I can be amazingly patient but at others, well, let’s just say I’m not!

Today’s dare is, again, relatively easy.  To stick the words “Love is Patient” in key places around GG HQ to, hopefully, encourage me to practise patience … I chose the fridge and a mirror (as suggested).  I also opted for the washing machine which, in all fairness, some days I spend more time opening and closing than the fridge especially given the penchant for mud certain members of the family possess.

Blogging about my journey is proving fruitful already … I’m definitely a procrastinator and would have put off today’s dare but felt I couldn’t write anything until I’d completed it!

Now, what does tomorrow hold?

Bettering my parenting skills …

Well, I’ll never win any prizes for being a prolific blogger!

However, in my never-ending quest to improve my parenting skills and give my lads the best homelife possible I’ve embarked on a new challenge and I’m wanting to chart my progress and thoughts here.

A few years ago Mr GG & I bought “The Love Dare” … not because our marriage was struggling but because we realise that to keep our marriage healthy we need to work at it.  Parenting takes continual work too.  I’m never going to be the perfect mum, it’s an impossibility (as impossible as me being the perfect wife) … how can I be a perfect parent when I’m such an imperfect human.  I accept that … but it doesn’t stop me wanting to strive!

So, now I’m embarking on “The Love Dare for Parents” by Stephen & Alex Kendrick.  I’m planning to chart my progress through the Dares and be honest with my failures as well as celebrating my successes.  Who knows what the end result will be but if it, in any way, helps me as a parent then my children will benefit and that can only be a good thing.

Before beginning the book there is the opportunity to take part in an on-line evaluation.  I gave it a whirl and was pleasantly surprised to find that the results (which I’m not sharing here, they’re far too personal) matched with how I would expect.  The areas I need to work on as a parent are ones I recognise and realise I fall down on.  Equally, the areas where I scored highly I recognise as strengths in my parenting already (which definitely could still do with some work).

So, mug of tea in hand I settled down this morning to read and prepare myself for the day’s dare which turned out to be one of the easiest things to be asked of me … to tell my children I love them.

I understand that some families don’t make a habit of saying they love each other but, in our family, it’s something that’s said often.  It’s said along with a kiss and hug as they go off to school in the morning, it’s said during conversations with them and it’s always said after a telling off … and every single time I say “I love you”, it’s meant from the bottom of my heart.

Now, what does Day 2 hold for me …