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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | children
Tag Archive - children

Ode to My Sharpie

Wherefore art thou, Sharpie? How do I love my Sharpies? Let me count the ways.

  1. Public Speaking. Writing cue words on a note card or paper makes it easier for me to glance and speak without reading.
  2. Grocery Lists. It’s easy to write with a Sharpie on my magnetic refrigerator list. Pencil is too faint to read. Ballpoint pens fade by the time I get to the end of the word. Sharpie works best.
  3. Organizing. When I’m doing something like planning my life or my business, I write notes with Sharpies. Sharpies keep me focused on the big picture, the forest, instead of being bogged down in the trees. I also think more creatively – I can write all over the page instead of logically like I’m more likely to do with an ink pen.
  4. Food preservation. When I can foods, I write the product and the date on the lid on top.
  5. Connect the Dots. Or Dogs. Once when a friend was napping, her son used their black Sharpie to connect the dots on their dalmation.
  6. Community Organizing. My son saw me make so many lists with Sharpies that when he was 5, he wrote a list of his friends he wanted to invite to his He Man Womanhaters Club… on the back seat of my car.
  7. Substitute Socks. Once, my daughter went to a choral camp and forgot to pack her mandatory black socks for the performance. The director informed the choristers anyone not wearing black socks would have black duck tape as a substitute. So she bought a value pack of black Sharpies and colored her ankles black. Then she decided to design her legs. She got no duck tape. She wore shorts showing off her artwork on her bus ride home from the final performance. When I called her on the trip home to tell her we were getting our family portrait taken as soon as she got off the bus, she burst into peals of laughter and hung up on me before telling me what she had done. When I finally saw her “art,” I was so relieved nothing was pierced, and her hair wasn’t flourescent, that I was relieved it was only permanent marker.

Hint: permanent marker can come off skin and carseats with soap and hot water. (I don’t know about the dog.)

Sharpies help me think outside the box and try new things. That can be a good thing. In an adult.

My I Spy Summer

 

Mary Biever, International Woman of Mystery

 This is a parable of why you should search your name on the Internet to monitor your brand.       

Several years ago, I noticed 2 of my kids’ friends, twin brothers, behaved strangely around me. They would walk around me, sometimes almost seeming to hide so I wouldn’t see them. I thought they were just odd.       

After 6 months, I learned they had made up a game about me – the Email Mary Spy Game. (My nickname used to be Email Mary because I organized nonprofit communities by way of email for many years.) They pretended I was an international spy, and their mission was to keep me under surveillance. They got extra points if they could walk around me without my noticing them.       

Kids were not going to outdo me on that one. I blogged it with a challenge. I invited hundreds of local families to join the Email Mary spy game, see when they would spy me, and tell me where later. For an entire summer, some played the game with me.    

It was a Where’s Email Mary Game. With 2 kids involved in everything, I was spied lots of places.       

Two years ago, I searched my profile on ZoomInfo. My listed occupation? International espionage agent. You never know what a spoof blog will do to your social media brand.       

I cleared it and knocked it off search but must make a confession.       

I’ve never been a spy.  My laugh alone would disqualify me.       

The golden rule of social media is CYA – cover your avatar. Be real. But be vigilant, especially if you’re a pranker.       

You never know which gag will land where on the Wild World Web. If my children one day write a book – maybe Life with Email Mary — or Mommy Social Media-ist, you’ll know why.

Your Cat's NOT in My Cradle

“Cat’s in the Cradle,” by Johnny Cash is my parenting theme song. With a twist. (hint – play while reading this blog)

He sings of making bad parenting choices and his son’s repeating that pattern. That doesn’t have to happen. I don’t repeat the patterns of my childhood.

Instead, I sing, “I’ll be nothing like you – your cat’s NOT in my cradle.”  I deliberately chose a better path.

My family – my children and my husband – have and always will come first.

Struggling to survive the “childhood-that-wasn’t” shaped my character. However, I chose how I would use it. 

Your childhood script can be flipped with hard work.

By the grace of God and with the support of a wonderful husband who’s spent the past 20 years gently loving away the rough edges, I changed. Once a scared but tough survivor who managed on my own since age 18 with long hair and short skirts, I had moved 26 times in 24 years when we first met. Sometimes I had slept on friends’ couches or floors when I was between addresses. 

My husband helped me become a wife and mom. We built our family together – talking, laughing, and sometimes arguing our way through family dinner hours, laundry piles, teen angst, and carpools. We have a good time now.

I have neither anger nor regrets about the past. At the end of Genesis, Joseph tells his brothers that what man meant for ill can be used for good by God to help others.

How can God use my terrible experiences of a lifetime ago? I can help young people struggling in their own stories, reach their hearts and tell them life can be better. As Corrie ten Boom once said, there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. We are not alone. There is hope.

Because of where I was, my life and family now is doubly precious. Instead of being trapped in past problems, God sent a husband and friends to help me write my own song.

Your cat’s not in my cradle.  I’m not just like you. My kids aren’t just like me.

The cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon. Little boy blue and the man in the moon…my children had a childhood.

Stories that start sadly can change and get the happy ending. Mine did.

It’s our choices, not the cat in the cradle, that determine the outcome of our lives.

Diary of a Mom

Baby - did I used to take showers? When will she start talking? This is the hardest phase of parenting because there’s so much work.

Toddler - She’s talking! Tells me no sometimes! This is the hardest phase of parenting because there’s so much running. 

Preschooler - Now she talks back. Just when I think she’s ok, she’s tried something new or made a new mess.  She told me I’m the meanest mom on the planet cause I told kids no when I chaperoned her field trip. This is the hardest part of parenting because we juggle watching with letting her explore.

Elementary - Can she ever take a breathe when she’s talking? This is the hardest part of parenting because I’m driving her everywhere all the time.

Middle School – She talks to her friends but doesn’t like to talk to me. This is the hardest part of parenting because of her attitude.

Early High School – She tells me how wrong I am and how right she is on a daily basis. If I had known how hard this part of parenting was, I would have planned a different life path.

Later High School – Some bad days, some good days. I choose my battles. In just over a year, she’ll be in college. This is our last time together before she leaves. This is the hardest part of parenting because we have so much to do before she leaves home.

College - We left her at her dorm today. I cried. Will miss her and wouldn’t trade a minute of my life as mom. 

Well, wouldn’t trade most of the minutes of my life as mom.

My life as mom hasn’t ended. It just changed.

Maybe that’s why the Bible says “and so it came to pass” instead of “and so it came to stay…”

The Un Christmas Letter

Today’s blog is a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Letters Past in my Family Parenting Adventures….

1998 - I took my kids alone to Disney on Ice in a strange city.  I bought my son, age 2, a harness. He was a running escape artist of locks and carseats.  When we went to the bathroom at intermission, I hooked his harness to the bathroom stall’s coat hook while I went to the bathroom. He unlocked the bathroom door, grabbed his sister, body slammed the door, and tried to escape. The harness hook caught him, while the bathroom line of women stared, wondering what I was doing with my children. An hour later, he broke the harness.

2000 - My neighbors laid a new concrete driveway. All the neighborhood kids played in my yard, and I took them all to watch the cement mixer, admonishing them not to walk in the wet concrete. All the kids behaved until it was time to leave. My son tried to run through the concrete for a shortcut and got 3 steps in before realizing he was ankle deep in concrete. A cement worker picked him up, hosed off his shoes, and redid the driveway.

2001 - My son, age 5, played an actor playing Batman by tying a jump rope to our slide to do the Bat Climb. The rope got loose, he fell, and he broke his arm.

2002 - My daughter, age 8, walked into Borders, angry because I told her I didn’t have enough money to buy her a new book. So she went to the children’s area clerk and loudly said, “My parents don’t allow me to have books and won’t buy me any.”

2004 - My kids sat with a Congressman at a fundraiser while I worked the kitchen. My son, age 8, won a lemonade chugging contest with a friend while he sat there – he drank 20 glasses, while his friend only drank 18. That year, at a banquet, kids shared what they were thankful for. Other kids were thankful for animals, flowers, and family. My son? “Thankful for my guns.”

2006 - My son, age 10 handcuffed himself and a friend to a sculpture at a college art exhibit and sat to see how long it would take me to notice. (half an hour)

My Christmas letters are the story of our family – not just the accomplishments, but the full picture. They remind me why my hair might have turned grey if I didn’t color it.

And why I have laugh lines – I wouldn’t trade a single moment.

A Castle’s On the Kitchen Table

P. Sherman. 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney
Image by M. Angel Herrero via Flickr

A model castle’s on the kitchen table and the fish tank’s in the sink.

Sometimes I get so busy, dear, I’ve forgotten how to think!

 The kids are in the backyard making spears from dead tree limbs,

The garden’s not near planted but the baby sings a hymn.

We’ve lost our pens and pencils and the school year’s near the end,

Derby cars swing on my clothesline; neighbors swear I’ve past the bend.

Told my kids the other day, the library’s not made for roller skates,

The laundry’s piled, the kids are wild – No shoes can find their mates.

Sometimes I get so busy, dear, I’ve forgotten how to think!

That’s when it’s time to measure the moments that pass before we blink.

Then the plates will set the table, no stacks will pile the sink,

I fear I’ll get so lonely, dear, I’ll forget how to think!

These days are few and fleeting – Treasure each and every day,

Whether trials or laughter – Drop extra stuff for time with kids to play.

Give me a castle on a kitchen table and a fish tank in the sink,

And a heartful of children’s memories, more precious than gold or mink.

(Written a few years ago – now the kitchen table gets filled with laptops, and I miss the castles.)

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