Saturday, June 16, 2018

The day my 14 yr old son was introduced to alcohol..

As a single parent raising kids from hard places, I try hard to parent intentionally. We have family values, family rules, family guidelines..I am intentional and my children write out life goals and values for themselves at 13. Recently we have had some really good discussions about different family values and morals, about family rules, about the fine line between socially drinking and becoming addicted. The talks about how just because it is not sin, does not make it right. The talks about how we are influenced by those we spend time with. The talks about how we must be willing to be set apart and different and how hard that can be.

God has been faithful in providing positive role models and friends for my children in the past year. We do struggle to find good Godly men that want to invest in young lives.But every once in awhile I find people who do that.. Usually in the most unusual and quiet ways. For that I am most thankful.

Let me give you an example.. My one son has started wearing his shirt tucked into his waistband. I HATE that look. It drives me CRAZY! But I let it go, because it really is a matter of preference.. AND I realized that he does it because 2 men, 2 men who are showing him how to be hardworking farmers who honor God, wear their shirts tucked in.. and being like men is way more important then being like a boring old mom. He is watching and modeling what he sees.

We  have walked through lots of hard stuff in the past couple months that has really stretched this momma. Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart. Parenting teenagers who spend the first 4-5 years of their lives in violent, criminal, dangerous, addiction ridden lifestyles is even harder.  But God is good and my kids are amazing kiddoes who work hard at doing what is right. I can only hope these last couple months of hard things build their faith, build their relationship with me and each other and are all a part of their strong foundation that we continue to build. Teaching teen boys to respect their mom has been a huge challenge. But it is so worth the hard work.

I know the majority of my blogging is all about the good stuff and the easy stuff.. but I decided to share a recent challenge we encountered.

Several weeks ago, we were away. I had laid out guidelines and rules to protect my children. I give them freedom as they earn it. My trust in you gives you freedom. We discussed how to handle uncomfortable situations.

So day 1 of our vacation,  8:30 pm  my 14 yr old got on a pontoon with a group of men.   I was inside putting Bubbie to bed. I trust my kids to make wise choices. My 12 and 13 yr olds came inside around 9. When I asked where big brother was, they told me he had gone out on the boat. He had permission to do this, within my boundaries and he had checked himself to make sure he was within those boundaries.

I worked on getting Bubbie to sleep until 9:30, then I got the other kids to bed.  My oldest was still not back from his pontoon ride.

So I went in search of others who might have details of what was going on.. Apparently all the men in the house except Jeremiah and my dad had gone out on this pontoon with the intent of fishing late into the night, while drinking "socially".

So now we have my 14 yr old son, out on a boat with a bunch of men he knows well and admires, fishing and drinking way late into the night. I. was. not. happy.

So I sat on the back deck praying.. see the thing is, I could have send a text message and demanded they bring him in. But  he is a 14 yr old boy. He hates drama and a fuss.  He would have been completely mortified and endlessly teased. I knew I could trust him to make wise decisions. I knew I could trust him to stand his ground and be a respectful son. I was very unhappy he was in this situation but I also knew that it needed to be handled with care.

So I felt led to merely pray, not intervene. I sat on that deck, worrying/fretting/praying from 10:30 to 11:30 pm.  At about 11 pm, I felt led to reach out to a couple prayer warriors. My son is strong, but I knew that he was in a situation that I would never ever voluntarily allow my child to be in.

11:30 pm, after 3 hours of partying  and fishing, my son and the other teen/preteen came laughing in the door. Soaking wet.. apparently they had almost capsized the pontoon. I did not find this the least bit funny and was in Massive Mama Bear mode.

He immediately went into defense mode.. Mom, I did not know it was going to be like this! We were just having fun! I obeyed all your rules!! You know you can trust me! I would never ever drink, I am not stupid! Mom, please don't make a fuss.

Me: What would YOU say if "I" went out until midnight drinking and hanging out with friends?!

Him: "I" was not drinking!

Me: silence

He had nothing more to say as he saw his mom in tears and he knew that a line had been crossed.

I send him to bed with a hug and the words "I love you and I am not angry at you. But I am very unhappy about the whole situation. We will talk about it some more when I am calm".

The next morning (at 5 AM!) when the other kids got up to go out fishing, they whispered wide eyed and shocked..
Was Elijah out all night?!
Was he drinking?
Is it true they almost drowned?

Now let's backtrack... somewhere around 11-11:15, I felt very heavy and I send out an SOS for prayer from my prayer warriors. Right about that time,  it's a long story, but apparently someone went running across the overloaded pontoon and the entire thing tipped dangerously, Like witnesses said they had never gotten so close to dumping a boat into the lake..  Now, important details here.. the majority of the adults had been consuming alcoholic beverages. Only 2 people on that pontoon were strong swimmers, one of which was my son. They were out in the middle of the lake, pretty far from any land, in the middle of the night. #Godprotected!

Second story.. I have to say this is my favorite part of the whole story..
Apparently there was a good bit of "good natured" mocking of our family's values and my strong parenting.
So one man says "Let's text Ruth Ann and tell her we will bring Elijah in once he is sober."
Second guy says "Then there would be 3 people who walked on water. Jesus, Peter and Ruth Ann. She would march down those steps, across the dock and walk right across the lake to grab Elijah off this boat and haul him back to the house" .
Apparently everyone knew how I felt about drinking.. 🙈🙉

Later, I brought up to the group, would you drink socially or otherwise in front of your own teen?!
The answer was mostly yes, because obviously every family has different values and morals.

The question, I regret NOT asking.. what would you do if I challenged your kids and teased them because you choose to drink socially and I don't? What if I told your kid you were a wrong for drinking socially and you were damaging them by exposing them to it?

Disclaimer: I do not think drinking is a sin. I do drink wine occasionally. I just don't think I want my boys to see drinking as being "one of the men".

So as in the t shirt story above, where my son tucks in his shirt because that he is what he sees men doing.. he has been trying to be more like the men he is around.. but guess what he is modeling this time?!

Later once everyone was calm, Elijah and I sat down for a discussion. I did not forbid him from going on future fishing trips, tho I did forbid younger, less trustworthy children from going out. We talked about the kind of influences we need in our lives and the choices we must make.  He now has to make his own decisions and I trust him..

We as a family have had some good conversations out of this hard thing, it is easy to want to protect our kids. It is equally important to guide them and guard their influences.
We also had some good conversations about how casual smoking and drinking, aka social smoking and drinking can lead to bigger problems. Realities we see in our home every day.. The realities of the damage alcohol can do to families. Addiction is no joke. Prenatal alcohol exposure is no joke.

How would you handle this situation? I especially would love to hear from experienced moms!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Seasons of Change

I am going back to work..

I am going to be a working, homeschooling single mom.

Bubbie is going to private school.

I am both thrilled and terrified.

I know that this is what God has for me and God is in every detail of this journey.

I  want to be that stay at home mom who spends her days doing fun things with her kids.

I don't want to send my kiddoe to school.

I know my kiddoe will benefit from being in school.

I think it will be a really good thing for me to get out and do something I am passionate about.

I go from thinking that there is no way my kids are ready to be left alone while mom works to thinking Praise God I have trained them in such a way that I can trust them to be left alone.

I am sad, to the point of mourning that so suddenly my years with young kids are over. Which happens when the majority of your kids are the same age.

I absolutely love having built in babysitters for Bubbie and Nesiah.

All the parenting books say that it is good for moms to have other interests and focuses as their kids enter the teen years and I think it is true..

I give myself permission to stop this job if I get overwhelmed.

I hope to see this job become a fulltime position and an answer to my financial worries in the next 5 years.

God has always provided for us in every way.. sometimes it is through gifts from other people, sometimes it is through a very flexible job that allows me serve children and families from hard places.

I can not believe my oldest is going into high school and my youngest into kindergarten.  Where has time gone?

I remember the days when I would go months without ever being away from my children.The seasons when attachment issues made reentry miserable, so I just never took a break.

I appreciate the days when I can run out to meet a friend for coffee and leave the kids at home, alone, to finish up school or whatever tasks they are working on.

This post is all over the place but in reality so are my emotions. This is the end of a season, a season that I dearly loved and fully enjoyed.