Archive | July 2014

Summertime Blues


By Karen Hendricks

I’m going to be honest—It’s been a real struggle for me to write this summer and keep the blog rollin’. Oh I’ve had topics planned… but life has gotten into the way. I know everyone can relate to busy summer schedules that fly by! But as busy as this summer has been, it’s also been an unusually sad one. And that has really thrown me for a loop.

It doesn’t feel “normal” to be battling the blues during the summertime—typically a happy, fun, easy-going season filled with sunshine. I consider myself to be a very positive, uplifting person but I’ve been struggling lately…

During the first week of June, my daughter suffered an injury during a soccer practice. Thankfully, she didn’t have any broken bones, but she was diagnosed with a deep bone bruise. We didn’t realize how much it would affect her—and through a ripple effect, all of our family—in limiting her activities for the entire summer. It wasn’t something that she bounced back from—as we first thought she would—right away.

As a parent, I think that I have felt every bump, bruise, hurt and injury to come through every one of my children through the years… Have you ever felt that way too? This summer’s injury has just weighed so heavily on my heart… it pains me to see her limited in her activities because she is normally highly competitive, extremely athletic and always on the go. Her wings have been clipped for the summer. So that’s one component of my summertime sadness.

Also on the medical theme, I’ve been struggling with some health issues. Thankfully, I hope they are behind me… as I had surgery in early July. Anesthesia is an unpredictable, crazy thing… while it makes some people goofy, it left me feeling very blue—something I am not used to, and compounded due to the worried state of mind I was already experiencing due to my daughter’s injury.

Between my daughter and I, we’ve racked up more than 25 health-related appointments, just during the months of June and July. Not the way I want to spend my summer!

Now there have been some bright spots: A wonderful daytrip to our annual family reunion, beautiful mornings that have inspired me to go running, challenging and enjoyable freelance work projects, several lovely lunch dates with girlfriends, peaceful time spent gardening—and reaping the delicious rewards of the garden!, recuperation time when I was actually able to read an entire book!, a fun summer morning spent picking blueberries with friends, a rewarding experience two of our children had during a week-long mission trip with our church youth group, and even a getaway that my husband and I were able to enjoy (just the two of us!) during our children’s mission trip.

In between these bright spots, I’ve been focusing on putting one foot in front of the other, and trying to be the best mom and wife that I can be to my family, day-to-day. Hopefully things are looking up. My daughter had promising medical appointments yesterday, I am feeling better, and the love and prayers of close family and friends are carrying us through.

Stay tuned for upcoming family-focused blog topics, “as we return to our normally scheduled program.” But until then… feel free to share your stories and advice.

  • Have you ever experienced sadness in the summertime?
  • Doesn’t it feel unnatural?
  • How did you cope?
  • Do you think it’s comparable to the seasonal blues that affect people over the Christmas holidays?
  • As moms we often set the tone for our families, so how do you shake off the blues and stay strong and positive during times of crisis? 

I Can’t Wait to Hold Your Hand

By Jennifer (Smith) Schuler

Photo Credit: Licensed under the Public Domain by the National Cancer Institute.

Photo Credit: Licensed under the Public Domain by the National Cancer Institute.

Ah, sweet summertime… those lazy, hazy days. The days are lighter and brighter, the pace of life seems to slow down, and families get to spend more time together. And that’s what all moms and dads look forward to, right? Time spent with their children.

Funny, though, I don’t always hear that from parents. In fact, many times I hear quite the opposite. In May, I attended a fellowship dinner for my church. The conversation soon turned to children—about how fast kids grow and about the many changes they go through.

I sensed where all this was going because many times while talking with a friend or family member, at some point during the conversation they begin complaining about their children. Now, I do realize that this is likely not ever meant in a derogatory way; nor is it an expression of these parents’ true feelings for their kids. They probably just feel comfortable venting their frustrations to me, and unloading their feelings about their children’s antics and behaviors. Sometimes, these parents may even use humor in their ranting in order to defuse conflicts with their children when they later interact. That is actually a positive approach to dealing with many family situations.

Honestly, though, I have never really known how to respond to this manner of complaining simply because I don’t share these feelings about my son. My husband and I were no less than tortured for years by the many circumstances, and seemingly unending losses, surrounding the building our family. When our child was finally born and ready for us to adopt him, we were so overcome with emotion and filled with joy that we didn’t even have words. Although perhaps it will be hard for some to believe this, my husband and I used to “argue” over which of us wanted to get up with our son for the next middle of the night feeding. No, I am not kidding!

Sometimes, we would resolve to getting up together and sharing in this late-night ritual because we knew it was a special, treasured time that would all-too-soon be gone. And, it was. For our son began growing—sometimes in faster spurts than others—and never stopped. He has continued to grow up and fill out. We also know that once he reaches his destined height, he will continue his growth emotionally and spiritually.

We never can turn back the hands of time.

Speaking of hands… In reference to her children’s rapidly growing bodies over the years, one woman in our fellowship group said:

“One day you go to hold their hand and you see that it is actually—a hand!”

The talk continued, round the dinner table, with every member contributing toward the “kids these days” conversation. It seems that at every stage of my child’s life, I hear something from someone about how I should prepare for what lies ahead – what lies “in wait” (cue the Evil laugh–heh heh heh–here). I have already passed many of these supposedly dreaded stages – the terrible two’s, which is the year of public meltdowns and tantrums; the threshold three’s, which is when your child is older yet not old enough; the ferocious four’s, which is the year of independence wars; and the stage I’m in now ….. the fighting five’s, which is a year that will bring more I-can-do-it-myself battles. And through this all I wonder: Just when will these behaviors drive me to the brink of, well—complaining?

I do recognize that all of the behaviors observed and described by child development experts, and many parents, are categorized as general attitudes and behaviors that will likely be seen at some point during a child’s second year of life, third year of life, etc.; as well as in varying degrees of frequency and intensity, within that given year. However, I truly do feel as though my son and I do not fit in with the: My-Kids-Drive-Me-Nutty Club simply because… well, he doesn’t.

From the moment I brought my son home, and as I have watched him grow, I can honestly say I have enjoyed every age/stage/phase/and “fad” that has shown itself in his development. Initially, I did think I would have a hard time “Saying Goodbye to the Baby Years,” especially since my son is an only child.

Yet, it seems that as he grows, my son only becomes more wonderful—more adorable and fun to spend time with; more intuitive and sensitive; more curious and inquisitive; and more helpful and loving. So, I honestly can’t complain when the complaining wheel begins turning around my social and professional circles.

As I wake up each day to my beautiful little boy, growing big... I look at him, grin, and think:

I can’t wait to hold his great BIG hand!

We're "keeping it under our hats"... truth is, we have no complaints!

We’re “keeping it under our hats”… truth is, we have no complaints!

How do you handle being on the receiving end of parents’ complaints about their children? Do you perceive these “vent sessions” as a healthy, positive coping strategy? Or as having a negative effect on one’s parenting? Do you participate in, or even initiate, these kinds of discussions? Also, do you have tips for dealing with the inevitable growth and moving on of our children? How can we keep our relationships with our kids warm, loving, and strong – without causing them to feel “smothered?” 

We look forward to reading your thoughts!


Celebrating the Red, White and Blue

Happy Independence Day from all of us at Off the Merry-Go-Round! Come celebrate with us, through a star-spangled slideshow below, showcasing some of our favorite patriotic family moments:  (Click on any picture to open a slideshow… enjoy!)