Coming Full Circle

14 Oct

universitypillarsstepsJohn carefully maneuvered the family pickup truck into the narrow parking space.  We left the car and set off to register my oldest son into a mathematics course at my alma mater. 

I have never used that expression.  “Alma mater.”  The words sound strange tripping off my tongue.  It means “nourishing mother” in Latin.  Was I intellectually “nourished” at my former college?

Yes and no.

I’d like to think that my academic experience enabled me to acquire knowledge and develop the skills necessary for a lifetime of intellectual curiosity and satisfied sustenance.

The world will forever be my classroom.

But, I must admit that during those years, I occasionally felt starved for intellectual stimulation.  Some of my undergraduate courses were less than provocative.

Linguistics taught by a professor who spent more time exhaling than speaking into the lecture microphone.

Statistics taught by a mathematician who gave us a final that had absolutely no connection to the course material.  To this day I wonder, did he give us an exam meant for his graduate students?

Human Anatomy filled with oodles of index cards for memorizing bones, muscles and the many systems of the body.

Some 30 years ago, I walked the halls and breezeways of this university by the sea.  On this beautiful, autumn afternoon, my son and I were walking side by side, as I had once done with schoolmates.


I wanted to cry, knowing that once upon a time, my wildest dreams couldn’t have conjured up this incredibly complex and caring son.

Odd feelings swelled up within me:  joy, melancholy, incredulity,  How was it that we were climbing the same steps that I’d once negotiated in such a very different time of my life?

I’d come full circle.

Typing these words, my heart swells with love and hope and excited anticipation for my firstborn son. Especially, hope that he will be intellectually nourished by this university experience.

As John and I walked back to the truck on that awesome October afternoon, I felt gratitude more than anything else. There are so few times in life that we are afforded the opportunity to come full circle.

I was blessed to share the experience of both seeing my past and my son’s future at once.

The bonds that encircle us are bound even stronger.

And I look forward to coming around with him again and again.

Happy Tuesday,




I Will Never Understand…

4 Oct

Children Suffer




Catie Pane

The Answer is Play

29 Sep


“Play is the answer to how anything new comes about.”

                                                                                        ~Jean Piaget

Sometimes Parenting is a Picnic with Ants

27 Sep

picnic with antsRecently, I commented to a friend that sometimes “parenting is no picnic.” Well, I’ve modified my metaphor.  I love picnics.  Most of the time, I love being a parent.  But, sometimes those pesky ants can wreak havoc on an otherwise lovely outing.

What are my “ants” of parenting?

  • when I wonder if my child is just going through a stage or if I am viewing a permanent character trait
  • when my own hormonal changes align with my son’s and I find myself in a perfect storm
  • when I don’t understand my child’s developmental struggles and I haven’t the first clue about how to communicate

So, what to do when the bugs take over and the picnic is polluted by pests?

Dig for the beauty in imperfection.

Ants have been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Obviously, they are not easily defeated.  Parents need to stand strong.  Never give up.

The scent trails left by other ants help these bugs to find food.  Use the advice of parents whose kids are grown to help find the nourishment to carry on.  We need to use our own instincts, as well.

Amazingly, these bugs can carry objects 50 times greater than their own body weight.  Ants are studs!  We need to dig deep to find our strength when we are weary from parenting.

Now, I just need to take my own advice and pack my parenting picnic knowing that no matter what insects may come along, I have the choice to adjust and see the beauty and wonder of unexpected occurrences.

Just like with children.

Hoping your “parenting picnic” is a positive one this weekend!



A Simple Smile

25 Sep

mother baby smile

“We shall never know

all the good a simple smile can do.”

~Mother Teresa

Just In Case It’s the Last Time…

23 Sep
For My Mom

Mother’s Day Rainbow by John Pane, May 2003


As he opened the door in the “drop off” zone, on that brisk, fall morning, John turned to me and said, “I love you, Mom.”  He quickly shut the door and rushed off to meet his 2nd grade friends on the playground before the school bells rang.

I noted a new tone of voice in his comment.  He had stated his words with precision.  He had given me a careful look, rather than a quick glance as he uttered the precious words we often shared.

When I picked him up that afternoon, he was quick to explain the morning’s communication of endearment.

“You know why I told you I love you this morning, Mom?”  My response was a simple, “Why?”

“Well, just in case,” John commented.

“Just in case?” I queried.

My older son proceeded to verbalize the most profoundly emotional reflection I had ever heard from him.

“Just in case it’s the last time we see one another.”


Driving home, I was spinning with questions and emotions.

I anxiously wondered if John had some sort of sense of impending doom.

I was consumed with astonishment at the depth of his feelings and his need to communicate them.

I was perplexed by his thoughts about death.

And then I remembered.  His hamster, “Flash,” had died a few weeks prior and his grandmother was terminally ill with Mesothelioma.

My 7 year-old son was looking through the blurry window of death.  I knew exactly how he felt.  The loss of a loved one is far from crystal clear.

It is filled with the fuzzy sort of pain that affects both heart and head.

It is filled with unpredictable and shadowy feelings of grief and disbelief.

It is filled with obscure confusion about how the world can go on when someone loved so dearly has died.

When his hamster passed away, he spent 3 hours in bed before dinner.  He couldn’t talk about it.  It was simply too painful. It was difficult to separate the death of his first pet with the impending death of his unconditionally loving grandparent.

In his carefully crafted communication that fall morning, John had stepped out into the realm of the reality of life and death.  As parents, we do our best to support our children’s social-emotional development.  Learning about loss is one of the most difficult domains.

So, for the past 10 years, each day my sons leave our home, I say, “God Bless You.  I love you.  Have a beautiful day!”

You know.  Just in case it’s the last time…



With Gratitude to Lori Schulz

22 Sep


Dear Readers:

I’ve been “off the grid” for a few days, immersed in meaningful family activities.

As I logged on to my blog this morning, I was thrilled to find that I have been nominated for a “One Lovely Blog” Award, by Lori Schulz.

I will be responding to the nomination within the next week, but in the meanwhile, I urge you to check out her blog:

Lori Schulz:  Children’s Ministry and Christian Ministry.

Wishing all of you a fantastic week!



For Our Children

18 Sep

shores of solar sea_Fotor

“People of today and tomorrow need this enthusiasm [of wonder]

if they are to meet and master the crucial challenges which stand before us.

Thanks to this enthusiasm, humanity, every time it loses its way,

will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path.

In this sense it has been said with profound insight that

“beauty will save the world.”

~John Paul II



Domestic Corporal Punishment: The Sting Will Never Be Forgotten

17 Sep

girl cryingI can still feel the sting left by the sudden, painful and humiliating moments during which my father slapped me as a child.

The last thing I will ever do is hit one of my children.

Despite research about the damaging effects of spanking children, parents still disagree about the practice.  Many say, “I was spanked and I turned out all right.”

My own memories of being spanked and slapped are scattered along the timeline of my childhood.  My brothers and I learned to laugh when spanked.  Somehow, it communicated that we weren’t really bothered by it.

But, it wasn’t true.

We were filled with shame.

Our defense of laughter eventually prevented future spankings. It was far from being funny. Being spanked was humiliating, demeaning and damaged self-esteem.

I am fully aware that domestic corporal punishment remains a controversial parenting issue, even in light of a plethora of research demonstrating its harmfulness.

A great resource on this topic is Elizabeth T. Gershoff’s, “Report on Physical Punishment in the United States:  What Research Tells Us About Its Effects on Children.”

In summary:

  • research outcomes have consistently demonstrated that kids who receive physical punishment are more likely to be seriously and physically abused.
  • in the long run, physical punishment is not proven to improve children’s behavior.
  • physical punishment has been proven to increase the likelihood of mental health challenges and other negative results in children.
  • children who are physically punished are more apt to be destructive and disobedient as older children.

For information about positive parenting and advice on effective discipline techniques for parents, please see Dr. Gershoff’s website:  Effective Discipline for Children.

happy child

Someday, your child will look back fondly at a childhood filled with cheerful memories, rather than stinging cheeks.

I certainly hope my children do.

Please comment on this contentious issue!

Wishing you a lovely Wednesday,



Every Stage is a Miraculous Unfolding

16 Sep

stages of plant development

“There is in every child

at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding,

which constitutes a new hope

and a new responsibility for all.”

~Erik Erikson




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