Today I Felt Like a Bad Mom

Empty Spaces 2
Today I felt like a bad mom.

My kids were bored, and I did not entertain them.  I did not take them anywhere or buy them movie tickets or arrange for their friends to come over.  I told them to find something to do.

When I asked them what they wanted for lunch, they weren’t ready to eat.  So when they were hungry, I listed a few ideas that they could fix for themselves.  They wanted me to do it for them.  I didn’t.  I told them I was sure they could handle it.

I didn’t entertain them.  I didn’t serve them.  I didn’t do things for them that they could do for themselves.

And I’ll be honest.  I felt guilty about it.

I wondered if I was doing my job.  You know, my mom job, the constant emotional and practical parenting work that leaves us moms exhausted at the end of every day.

Because the truth is that sometimes I measure my success as a parent by the extent of my weariness at the end of the day.  Sometimes I rate myself as a mother by how much I personally sacrificed to make everyone happy that day.

I mean, if we went to the zoo in the morning, packed a picnic for lunch, hiked at the park all afternoon, stopped for ice cream on the way home, and squeezed in a quick date with friends at some point before I cooked their favorite dinner, then I was the most amazing mom ever, right?  And if my kids were happy at breakfast time and at lunch time and at dinner time and at bedtime, if I made everyone happy all day long, then I totally rocked this mom thing.

But then I thought about what I DID do today.

I gave my kids an opportunity to use their imaginations, to create their own fun, and to manage their own time.

I did them a favor by letting them actually feel a void and then allowing them to resolve that discomfort all by themselves.

I gave them a chance to be independent young men in a safe environment and to gain confidence that they are capable human beings and to rest assured that they are on a path that will prepare them to take care of their own selves and their own families one day.

And at ages 11 and 13, that day is approaching much more quickly than I would like to believe.

Maybe I was actually a really good mom today.  Maybe we moms feel guilty about way too much stuff.  Maybe we’re trying too hard to create happy adults and shooting ourselves in the foot in the process.  Life isn’t always happy, after all, and grownups need to be able to cope with life when it isn’t.

Maybe we are wearing ourselves out while inadvertently teaching our kids to expect others to fill their empty spaces – whether those are in their hearts or their minds or their stomachs.

Yikes.  That’s a scary thought, right?

Ain’t nobody got time for working extra hard just to sabotage our own goals as parents.  There are WAY too many other things to do to keep all the plates spinning.   We don’t want to waste time shaping our kids into the opposite of what we want them to be, mostly to ease our own guilt and to secure their happiness in the moment, and then waste more time trying to un-create the selfish or entitled attitudes that we created.

Plus, it would be nice to salvage a few minutes to read a book every once in a while.

Really, reading an entire chapter in one sitting would be wonderful.

So I don’t feel so guilty anymore.

Maybe today was one of my better parenting days after all, and I didn’t even try so hard.

We can always pack a picnic for the park tomorrow.

Purge

It was a cool summer day, too cold to go to the pool, so my younger son and I decided to bite the bullet and clean out his room. And by “clean out his room,” I don’t mean we revved up the Dyson, sprayed some Pledge, and called it a day. I mean we sorted through every drawer and unloaded every shelf and examined every piece of everything that had been shoved into the closet throughout the past year.

It seemed like such a great idea in the moment. After all, the mess wasn’t really that bad. But it didn’t take us long to realize that the little bit of mess that you could see was the result of a whole lot of mess that you couldn’t see behind closed drawers.

Bit by bit, we pulled everything out of everywhere. We sorted. We purged. He tried on. And when we finally had to stop to leave for an appointment, it looked like Old Navy, Dicks Sporting Goods, and Toys R Us had exploded from a confetti cannon. The shrapnel was everywhere.

I sat in the middle of the chaos – the piles to donate and the piles to sell and the piles to relocate and the piles to trash – and nearly cried. (Admittedly, a bit of an overreaction, but it was that kind of day.) “What have we done?” I thought. “This is worse than before we began! I never should have started this project.”

Sometimes, the mess that we can’t see is much bigger than the mess that we can.

And, sometimes, things have to get messier before they can get better.

The disorder was annoying, but I knew that when we finished organizing, my son would more fully enjoy his space and more easily find the things that bring him joy. But to fix the visible mess, we needed to address the problems that weren’t as visible. We had to face the junk and the clutter. We had to look at it and think about it and physically touch each and every piece of it. We had to make decisions and say farewell to some things while saying hello to the unlimited potential of empty space – instead of falling into the temptation of filling it.

And then, in the midst of the damaged posters and the Goodwill donations and the dress shoes that are two sizes too small, I realized something – that I am unpacking the drawers and the shelves and the closets of my own self this summer. I am facing the messes that I’ve shoved to the back where I could not see them. I am looking at them and thinking about them and allowing myself to physically touch them and viscerally feel them. I am pulling all of the questions and all of the pain and all of the lessons and all of the regrets out of the hidden spaces, and I am forcing myself to sit in the middle of those piles and sort them all out. I am trying to elevate the gifts in my life to a special shelf and to purge some of the heartache to make the space for what is new and what is good.

And you probably need to do this, too.

Because we all have a tendency to push the hard, ugly parts of our lives into the furthest corners of our minds and ignore them, and we all have a tendency to pull the easy, more beautiful things into the light. And then post a picture of them on Facebook.

When the piles finally cleared, my son’s room evoked a new and palpable sense of peace. We had trashed some things that no longer mattered, things he did not want to keep nor need to remember. We had discovered buried treasures that my son dearly values, and we had reminisced about their significance and given them the special space in his room that they deserve. And we had found items that he no longer needs stuffed in the back of the closet, things that were stealing his valuable space, things that he will now pass along to benefit someone else.

Our lives are so similar, filled with problems and messes that we don’t want to face, stuffed with regrets that haunt our days and hurts that steal the empty spaces in our souls. There are mistakes that need to be pulled out of the darkness and corrected, and insecurities and negative influences that need to be thrown out with the trash. There are important life lessons and happy memories that are being smothered by pain that no longer serves us but that we refuse to let go. And there is wisdom that can be excavated from experiences that we’d rather forget, gems that we can’t share with others unless we allow ourselves to dig them up.

Stuffing our hurts into the back of the closet may seem easier, but living in the midst of our messes, learning and growing and facing the things we would rather ignore, creates the healthy spaces that our hearts need to heal and to dream and to change the world in positive ways for the people around us. And if I am openly sorting through my piles, I don’t need to worry about what others will discover behind my closed doors. They will have already stepped over my junk just to reach them, and there will be nothing behind them but empty space – space that is ready to be filled by blessings that are yet unknown.

It’s tempting to envy a house that seems pristine, an image that seems cut from a retail ad, or a soul that seems unblemished. It’s easy to assume that an uncluttered room is actually clean.  But don’t.

Because you may trigger an avalanche if you open the closet.

Just clean your kid’s room and you’ll see.

I See You, Mama, and I Know It’s Hard

I See You Mama

I wanted to write something flowery for Mother’s Day.  I wanted to honor my grandmothers, who were strong, morally upright women, or my kind, resilient aunts, or my mother, who has been a relentless cheerleader throughout my life.  I tried to do it.  I stared at the page, typed, deleted, typed, deleted, while time ticked away.  But the words would not get in line.  When I tried to write about the glory of motherhood, my quiet thoughts were drowned by a louder refrain:  Life is so stinking hard sometimes.

It’s weird, I know, but I typically write with only a vague sense of where I am going.  I don’t check the map and I don’t chase the words.  Ideas approach, and some are shy and scuffle away, and some unpack and make themselves comfortable.  Then words push and shove their way to the front and, if I’m gentle, they allow me to sculpt them like clay.

So far, they haven’t failed me.

So maybe this is what I’m supposed to write this Mother’s Day.  Maybe I’m supposed to say to you that life is hard sometimes.  Like really, REALLY hard sometimes.  Maybe I’m supposed to say to you that Mother’s Day is nice, but it is not enough.  Maybe I’m supposed to acknowledge that you may be cherishing a new grandchild this Mother’s Day or you might be grieving the loss of your own mother this year or you may be celebrating joyously with all of your children in a few days or you may be spending Sunday on your knees, praying that your child will be walking a better path by the time the next Mother’s Day rolls around.  Maybe I’m supposed to say that I see you, that I hear you, that I know that motherhood is fun and rewarding but also the greatest challenge of your life.

Maybe I’m supposed to tell you that when the waves are crashing against your family and they are so high and you are so afraid, I know that YOU are the one who battens down the hatches and selflessly fights so hard to keep that ship afloat.

That’s what you do, Moms.  I know it.  I SEE you.

Not just on Mother’s Day.  On every day.

When you feel like you could vomit every minute of the day and your insides are being karate chopped by tiny knees and elbows, you are the one who drags herself to work so that your coworkers aren’t inconvenienced and the family has insurance.

When you smell like baby puke and your shirt is wet because you forgot to grab a nursing pad and you wonder if you will ever feel like your cute self again, you are the one who sacrifices yet another shower because the baby won’t stop crying.

When you feel like a completely inadequate parent and wonder if your child will not go to college because you are swaddling him wrong, you are the one who reads another book or attends another parenting class or calls on your mom squad for help, even though you are probably doing just fine.

When your toddler throws up all over everything in the middle of the night, you are the one who is gagging while washing the sheets at 3 a.m. and scrubbing the carpet when you would rather just sell the house tomorrow instead.

When your preschooler is throwing the mother of all fits in the checkout line and you have $200 of groceries piled high in the cart, you are the one who refuses to buy the Milky Way despite the glares of  customers who have forgotten that preschoolers are  little monsters with cute faces.

When a person your kids love drives you within a minute of insanity, you are the one who remains calm and composed so that those important relationships can flourish.

When you are so worried about paying the bills that you feel physically sick, you are the one who makes sure that your children feel safe and secure and unaware of the gravity of your concerns.

When you are so tired that you can barely stand but your child has an important project that everyone forgot, you are the one who runs to the store to buy the glitter glue for the finishing touch.

When it is cold and wet and you want to curl up with a book by the fire, you are the one who slogs through the mud to sit in the pouring rain to cheer for your kid who’s playing soccer.

When you feel broken and empty and unable to give one more thing, you are the one who digs deep to find an internal spring of love and kindness and compassion.

When you are sure that your head will explode at the thump of one more bottle flipping onto the ground, you are the one who redirects your kid’s attention to his equally annoying spinners.

When you are overwhelmed with guilt because your kids have exceeded the pediatrician’s recommendations for screen time almost every day of their entire lives AND they don’t eat enough vegetables, you are the one who packs everyone up for a healthy picnic and a hike at the park instead of going to your book club.

When it’s clear that your child just isn’t cut out for the band or the basketball team or the drama club, you are the one who cheers just a little too loudly and gives her a standing ovation from the crowd.

When your heart is pained because your child has been treated unfairly, you are the one who grits your teeth and calmly advises him even though you would possibly derive more satisfaction from punching someone in the face.

When you are emotionally exhausted from constantly fighting for your child’s unique needs to be met, you are the one who refuses to settle and takes more time off work to meet with his teachers about the accommodations outlined in his IEP.

When your child’s skin is so hot and she is so sick and she breathes those germs right into your face, you are the one who pulls her in closer knowing that you will be taking some sick time in just a few days.

When your child’s teacher calls to tell you that she cheated on a test, you are the one who says, “Thank you for telling me” when your internal mama bear wants to scream, “I know you are wrong because my child would never . . .”

When your child or another loved one is in the hospital and you really aren’t sure if everything will be okay, you are the one who holds your kids tightly and tells them that you will get through this together.

When your faith hits a rough patch and you question who God really is, you are the one who loads everyone in the car to go to church and models a commitment to spiritual growth even through adversity.

When you know the family vacation is more work than fun for you, you are the one who makes all of the reservations and packs all of the snacks and stuffs all of the suitcases and then handles the complaints because you bought the wrong colored Gatorade and you didn’t grab the right bottle of hair gel.

When your teenager’s attitude toward you is hurtful and disrespectful, you are the one who suppresses your tears and takes the phone and the car keys, knowing this will make the next week like hell for you.

When your daughter cries and questions her decision when you leave her at college, you are the one who hugs her and reassures her she is doing the right thing and then sobs for five hours on the drive home.

When your child disappoints you by doing something you never ever thought he would do, you are the one who sits down with the principal or pays for the rehab or visits the jail cell and offers that son or daughter the purest and most sincere love and grace.

When you are hurting deeply because your child rarely calls or visits, you are the one who waits with a broken heart but with arms that are always wide open.

When you cry because you miss the innocence and dependence of your kids, you are the one who remembers that your job was never to maintain little children at all but was always to raise strong men and women who would leave you.

Yes, motherhood is an amazing journey of incredible highs, but it is also a journey that is peppered with the most gut-wrenching of lows.  The emotions are extraordinarily sharp on both ends.  We idealize motherhood and spend a lot of energy projecting the bright spots in our journey to others, so it is easy for really good moms to feel alone and insecure when times are tough.  But the truth is that you are probably your most impressive when you FEEL like you are at your worst.  Because those are the times when your ability to handle motherhood was really put to the test.  And you didn’t quit.  You may not have showered.  You may not have fed your kids vegetables.  You may not have said exactly the right words.  But you did not give up.

If you are a mom, I hope that you are honored this Mother’s Day.  I hope that someone buys you some flowers, and I hope your kids write a nice note in a pretty pink card.  I hope that you celebrate the special women in your life, and I hope that you are reminded to congratulate your fellow moms every single time you see their kids accomplishing goals, sharing their talents, or, most importantly, just being good people.

But if you really want to honor special women this Mother’s Day, look for the mom who is tired.  Look for the mom whose son or daughter is struggling.  Look for the mom who is nursing a sick child or the mom who is grieving a loss or the new mom who is just now adjusting to this mysterious new identity of mother.  Look for the mom who has to fight every single day for the rights of her kid.

SEE HER.

Thank her.

Love her.

Remind her that she is doing the most selfless and important work in the world.

Then jump on her ship with a bucket, and help her keep that thing afloat.

 

I Think I’m Addicted . . .

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Hello, Friends!  I’m currently working on a Mother’s Day post (and about ten other posts that are awaiting attention), but there is something I wanted to share with you while those are under construction.  Remember this post about how to influence your kids when they think your advice is, well, so 1980’s?  I’ve heard from many of you in response to that post, and now I’m a bit obsessed with sharing some daily inspiration with YOU.  As much as I would love to blog every day, I can’t do it, but I can give you a few quick minutes of my mornings.  And who said the quotations I’m sharing are just for the kids?  I’m realizing that they brighten my own mornings and reaffirm my own values as I choose them each day.  Trust me; reaffirming your core values daily is VERY, VERY important.

I suggest that you take a few seconds to check the Still Chasing Fireflies FB page daily for a quick hit of wisdom.  Here’s a taste of what you will find from previous Still Chasing Fireflies FB posts.  Share the ones you love with your friends!  (And if you’ve been liking these on my personal page, hop over to the Still Chasing Fireflies one and make sure you have “liked” it so that I can post them in one place.)

Thanks for viewing the slideshow, and watch for that Mother’s Day post coming soon!

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A Letter to My Son on His 13th Birthday

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Dear Gavin,

Thirteen years ago today, you entered the world just a little sooner and a little more quickly than expected.  It seems like yesterday, and it seems like so many years ago, and the details are vivid and blurry at the same time.  I remember how you snuggled into a warm ball of folded limbs in my arms, how I studied every inch of you, from your fuzzy blonde hair to your teeny fingers and tiny toes.  I remember how you turned toward your daddy’s voice in those first moments, how we knew that you had been listening from the cozy cocoon where you had grown.  I remember how my anxieties melted away when I first held you, how I realized that mothering is both innate and mysterious, a bit frightening but surprisingly comfortable at the same time.   When you were born, my life, my purpose, my legacy – everything – it all changed.  I became a mother.

Before you were born, no one had ever depended on your dad and me for survival, so parenting was both exciting and intense.  The early days were messy and stinky and busy, exhausting and sometimes very long, yet the years have passed so quickly, like sparkling comets shooting through the sky.  I am in awe today as I look at you, a boy who is closer to being a man I have not met than to being the baby with corn silk hair who wrinkled his nose and squinted his eyes to make us laugh.  It is impossible to record all of those memories, all of the milestones and parties and vacations, the field trips and sporting events and spontaneous funny things that you have said.  But you should know that those memories are like jewels to me.  They are gems stored away in the treasure chest of my mind, riches that will not be broken or taken, buried or lost.

Gavin, things are changing between us, just as they are supposed to change, because you are growing up.  It is the sweetest and most difficult transition for a mom.  But you should know that your dad and I are incredibly proud of the young man you have become.  You are smart.  You are ambitious.  You are confident but humble, a leader but a team player, too.  You are a good friend, a caring grandson, a hard worker, and a young man of faith.  You aren’t afraid to stand up for what you believe.  You are funny and compassionate, sincere and loving and kind.  I don’t know exactly what you will do or who you will be five years from now, but I know that the path you are charting is GOOD.  I know that you will be a blessing to the world around you, and I know that you will reap many rewards in return.

I believe in you, Gavin.

But I am afraid for you, too.

It’s not that I don’t trust you or that I expect you to stumble at a fork in the road.  It’s just that I want to protect you, but I can’t always save you in the ways that I once could.  When you were younger, I could stop you before you ran into the street or grab your hand before you touched something hot.  I could redirect you before you risked just a little too much.  I could steer you toward the people whom I trusted to keep you safe.

But now you are in middle school, and you are meeting new people, people I don’t know, and your world is expanding beyond the fences I created.  You are facing problems that aren’t always visible to me, decisions that can change the trajectory of your life.  You are maturing, managing your own self, becoming your own amazing person, and it is heart-wrenching and incredible and agonizing and glorious all at the same time.

There are so many lessons that I want to share with you as you become a teenager, Gavin, lessons to tuck deep inside your soul so that they are not just things you know but things that are as much a part of who you are as your lungs and your freckles and your bones.  I want to talk to you about how “greatness” is so much more than what this world suggests.  About how failure is a part of living a full and meaningful life.  About how the people you spend time with will influence you, just as one cinnamon candy will flavor all the other candies in the dish.  About how you will always find what you are looking for, so look for the good, and about how happiness is a choice that you can make each and every day, whatever your circumstances.  About how the problems on the surface are rarely the problems that need fixed, so invest in scalpels rather than band-aids if you want to find your peace.

Maybe these are lessons for fourteen or fifteen or sixteen.  I’m not sure, Gavin, but let me teach you this.

I once believed that the moths that flutter around our porch lights were attracted by the glow, but scientists say this is not true.  They believe that moths navigate their course in the darkness of night by calibrating their flight against the position of the moon.  The moonlight is the moth’s touchstone, the constant that allows it to orient itself and fly in a straight line.  This is effective as long as the moth is not distracted from the moonlight, but the moth’s best instincts have been sabotaged by the glitter and gleam of artificial lights.  A moth that flies too close to a lightbulb or a flame becomes disoriented and loses track of the moon.  Its straight path deteriorates into a never-ending circle as it expends all of its energy, unable to get back on track.  Eventually, the lost moth becomes exhausted, often landing on and dying with its artificial moon.

When a moth loses sight of what will safely and steadily guide it, when it is distracted by something that is closer and brighter at that moment, it inadvertently creates its own demise.

Whatever you do, Gavin, do not lose sight of your touchstones.  They will guide you safely through the darkness until the sun rises once again.  Don’t exhaust yourself or lose your way by following something that shines just a little bit brighter than what you know to be true.

I try not to worry, Gavin, but it’s just a part of my job as a mom.  I fret about the test you have today and the track meet you have tomorrow, the college and career you will choose six years from now and the wife you will marry in a decade or more.  But I am confident that you will be ready for all of those things when they come.

I worry more that you will become distracted, that you will forget that this home, that our love for you, will always be a place where you can be safe and real in a world that will test you with its artificial glow.  This will always be the place where your truth can be rediscovered, where your bucket can be refilled, and where your spirit can find rest, even when you are all grown up.  This will always, always, always be your moon.

You are someone special, Gavin, and your dad and I are so lucky to have the privilege to walk the journey of your life with you.  I cannot wait to see the man, the husband, and the father that you will become.

But if you can slow down just a little, I will be fine with that, too.

Happy 13th.

Love Always,

Mom

mom and G crop

Pretty Please?

Hey, Fireflies!

I have a brand new post that I can’t wait to share with you next Tuesday.  It’s a letter to my son on his 13th birthday . . . Let’s just say that you may want to throw a box of tissues in the cart when you are at Kroger this weekend.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you . . .

Until then, I’m asking for a HUGE favor!  Please click here to visit the Today Show Parenting Blog where my recent post “How to Influence Your Kids When They Keep Getting Smarter and You Keep Getting Dumber” has been published.  I feel like this post has the potential to get some attention, but the more that it is “Voted Up,” the more likely it is to get noticed by the editors.

You can visit the post on the Today Show Parenting Blog and click “Vote Up” to help me.  The “Vote Up” button is right ABOVE the post.  Please feel free to share the post on your Facebook page if you feel compelled to do that, too!  I will let you know if anything exciting happens!

Thanks, as always, for sharing in this journey with me!  You have no idea how grateful I am.

~Mary Ann

P.S. A few weeks ago, a producer from New York City contacted me to discuss my writing.  His company creates some pretty amazing shows for channels like TLC and National Geographic.  How cool is that?!?  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a perfect match, but I believe that all of this writing is going to lead to SOMETHING fantastic someday – I just don’t know what!

 

How to Influence Your Kids When They Keep Getting Smarter and You Keep Getting Dumber

Quote Intro

My kids think I’m stupid.

I knew this day would come.  I mean, I used to be that smartass kid myself.

I thought that I knew everything about everything because my age (almost) ended with -teen.  I thought I had the answers to life’s hard questions despite hardly having lived at all.  I thought my parents, who paid for everything and provided everything and fixed everything, were the least smart people on the entire planet.  And I had evidence.  I mean, I got straight A’s in middle school.  What could they possibly know that I didn’t?

(And then when I moved out, they studied really hard and became GENIUSES almost overnight!  I’m not sure why they waited so long . . . )

So now my kids are the ones rolling their eyes when I offer advice, sighing with distrust at everything I say.  How could my knowledge of unclogging a toilet or writing a check compare to their knowledge of sports stats and texting slang?  Seriously.

Yes, my kids think I’m stupid.

But here is something I have noticed.

They think Abraham Lincoln was smart.
They think Michael Jordan is smart.
They think the Beastie Boys are smart.
They think Dr. Seuss was smart.
They think Benjamin Franklin was smart.
They think John Cena is smart.
They think Yoda is smart.
They think Steven Spielberg is smart.
They think Albert Einstein was REALLY smart.
And they think Lebron James is a genius.

Basically, they think everyone is smart except me.

But here’s what they don’t understand: I AM smart.  I’m so smart that I can make them think I’m dumb while I’m outsmarting them.  I’m smart enough to realize that I can trick them into learning the values I want to teach them by teaching those values through someone else they trust.  Like Doc Brown from Back to the Future or Beverly from The Goldbergs.

Dumb parents everywhere, listen up.  Let me share with you my little secret – the Quote of the Day.

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Every morning, before my kids head off to school, I scour the Internet for a quotation that feels right for the day.  Sometimes it shares deep wisdom about life, friendship, hard work, perseverance, love, joy, faith, or success.  Sometimes it’s funny.  Sometimes it is a line from a movie we just watched or from a favorite television show.  Every once in a while it is a Bible verse, and sometimes it specifically applies to something that is happening that day, like if my kids need encouragement for a test or a track meet.  The quotation for the day is quickly recorded on two post-it notes, three if I want to be reminded of it later myself, and stuffed into lunch boxes before the kids dash out the door.  If one of my kiddos is buying lunch, then I stick the post-it somewhere in a folder or book for them to find later in the day.

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I know what you’re thinking.  Her kids don’t read those things.  They probably toss them in the cafeteria trash can or hide them under an apple or granola bar so that no one else will see.  How embarrassing.

WRONG.

How do I know this?  Because whenever I forget to pack one, they ALWAYS tell me.

Sometimes we talk about them over dinner.  Sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes their friends ask to see them at lunch.  Sometimes my kids reflect on them on their own.  Sometimes I stick them on the refrigerator as a reminder, and sometimes we discuss them when we unpack their lunchboxes after school.  Sometimes I see one from several weeks ago tucked into a folder or marking a page in a book. Cha ching.  If they read it more than once before tossing it, that’s even better.

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I hope that sometimes those words of wisdom, not from their stupid mom but from someone brilliant, like Charles Barkley or Will Ferrell, change their day.  I hope that enough of those carefully chosen words over all the days and all the weeks and all the months of school will help to shape their lives.

Remember the days when you could stuff a sweet note into your child’s lunchbox, and he would treasure that little scrap of paper love all afternoon?  Once you hit the tweens, those days are over.  But don’t be fooled, moms and dads.  Your kids still appreciate your influence.  They still want to know that they are loved, even as their growing independence pulls them farther and farther away.

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They want your attention; they just don’t want a lipstick kiss from their mother on a heart-shaped napkin anymore.

Because, well, moms are dumb.

But it’s okay, mom.  You’ve got backup.  Because Homer Simpson is really, really smart.

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**Maybe you want to pilot a Quote of the Day routine with your kids in the last quarter of the school year.  Let me help!  I included a few quotations above to get you started!  Watch the Still Chasing Fireflies Facebook page for more each week!  If doing this in the morning seems overwhelming to you, make them all on the weekend instead.  Five minutes and you are finished!**