From the BlogSubscribe Now

A Bitter Cold Day in January

Kissing Noah Goodbye, Audrey Imfeld, NILMDTS photographer.

It was sunny and gorgeous, like most days in Colorado, but it was January and a bitter cold front had brought in single digit temps overnight. Forecasters promised warmer days, but we wouldn’t see them for a while. The day had finally come for us to leave Children’s Hospital of Denver, a place our family had called home for an inordinate amount of time.

Months earlier when our son Noah was only 7 weeks old, we took him to an outpatient Neurology appointment, one that ended up turning into a 5.5 month hospital stay. Because we had been there so long, we accumulated some extra things, including gifts and well wishes from family, friends, and even strangers around the world.

My husband took a few bags out to the parking garage and the plan was for me to meet him out front after the car warmed up. An Arizona girl, I truly believe winter should be a destination, not a required season.

I bundled our son in a beautiful fisherman’s knit onesie and matching hat, and tiny soft blue Ugg’s sent from Australia, and then wrapped him in several blankets…my attempt to somehow stave off the cold. My husband is from South Dakota where it’s too cold to steal cars in the winter, so he came back up to the room to help with any loose items, leaving the car idling at the hospital entryway. The staff, nurses, and doctors on duty gave us final hugs as we made our way down the hall, grateful, yet wondering how we could finally be headed home.

I didn’t bother putting our then 7 month old son in his car seat as we headed across town. No. I held him tighter to my heart than a seatbelt ever could. We lived less than 5 miles from the hospital, and only had one stop before we got home…I knew nothing could hurt him.

We parked our car at the mortuary and made our way into the quiet lobby. A woman who knew we were coming met us there to receive Noah’s lifeless body. As we handed Noah over to her, my husband and I both collapsed in heaps on the ugly floral couches, grateful to the cushions for collecting tears and softening our guttural cries. We were going home, but Noah would not be coming with us.

To say I’m unconventional is an understatement. I’ve never been a fan of brands, labels, being boxed in, or being told what to do or how to do it. When our son was hospitalized for 5.5 months, I had to learn to live outside the box of traditional parenting. And when he died and the hospital told me his body would be put into the morgue and then transported to the crematorium by the mortuary’s staff, I said, “Ummm, no. My kids isn’t going to spend any time in a morgue. We’ll drop him off. Thanks.”

As you might imagine, no one had ever told the hospital such a thing. I mean, who walks out of a hospital with their dead person?

*This is a segment for a piece I’m submitting to a storytelling platform. I wanted to share it here with you first, because you’ve always been LOVE and SUPPORT like no others and putting this stuff out there gets scarier as I get closer to book proposal stage.

31 Sure Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Kids

free photo: pixabay user/sasint

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to counseling.

If you didn’t raise your hand, it’s not because your parents were perfect or that you actually have your schtuff together. You either didn’t raise your hand because: you’re lying; you didn’t hear the question; you were raised with strict religious, intellectual, or spiritual shaming messages that counseling is for the weak or faithless; or, it’s just that your parents probably didn’t believe in counseling because their parents didn’t believe in counseling because their parents didn’t believe in counseling, so, like a helluvalotta other things, they passed that belief onto you.

It’s not our faults. It’s theirs. It’s always “theirs.”

But every generation has the opportunity to write its own story…every generation, collectively and on individual scale, is responsible to make peace with the past and create a healthier today and tomorrow.

And if you’re a parent, one day, when your kids encounter conflict, especially if they’re off to college and possibly for the first time hear they’re actually designed with “critical-thinking,” all their problems will be because of you.

That’s right. It’ll be your fault…you’ll be the “them,” and that kind of sucks. But it doesn’t have to be all that bad!

So, how does one generation screw up the next? When are we going to start owning our schtuff long enough to see our part in the mess? And what can we do to deal with and let go of our schtuff in a healthy and timely fashion as not to project our sludge into the future generations but cheer them on to explore and do it differently and better than us?

Here are 31 Sure Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Kids, in no particular order:

  1. Know everything and make sure your kids believe you’re the authority on all the things.
  2. Shut down questions with, “Because I said so, that’s why…end of discussion.”
  3. Forget you were once a kid, of all the ages your kids are and will be one day.
  4. Believe you have nothing to learn from a kid, or anyone else, for that matter.
  5. Multi-task time with your kids with something you have to check off your to-do list.
  6. Never let your kids see you sad or disappointed or anything other than happy happy joy joy.
  7. Forget that you are figuring it out, too…all of it.
  8. Demand immediate submission and obedience. 
  9. Believe, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” is something kids need to memorize, but not something you have to live out in front of them.
  10. Do things because that’s just how you’ve always done them.
  11. Overcompensate for the lack of whatever thing you think your childhood was missing.
  12. Tell your kids HOW to believe and WHAT to believe in, and DEFINE what their faith should look like.
  13. Let your fear of death and eternity be your filter for everything.
  14. NEVER model authenticity or vulnerability…get yourself together, dude!
  15. Never tell them you are sorry, by God, you’re the freaking parent! Parent up, YO!
  16. Diet or “cleanse,” constantly exercise, own a scale and use it often, and pinch your muffin top in the mirror in front of them, but tell them they are beautiful.
  17. Tell them never to talk to strangers, and model the part where you don’t make eye contact with one.
  18. Demand perfection in every area, especially: manners, appearance, grades, performance, hygiene, human interactions.
  19. Use God as your scapegoat by cherry picking scriptures and whatever your pastor said, to back the way you’ve chosen to “discipline.”
  20. Abolish all empathy from your parenting game.
  21. Model intolerance, first for yourself, then especially for “others.”
  22. Live offended…of everything and everyone, especially when your kids think differently than you.
  23. Teach them to believe the worst about people.
  24. Use blanket statements, stereotypes, and generalizations when talking about people.
  25. Drive like you own the road and tell those people in the other cars just what you think of them, out loud.
  26. Make them eat their veggies, but you don’t have to since you did your time as a kid.
  27. Have people over only when your house is clean.
  28. Project onto your kids what you assume they are feeling, thinking, experiencing.
  29. Forget that the back of your phone and computer are today’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
  30. Tell them they have to pick a “real major” in college because you know it’ll financially help them in the long run, even if you hate your life, but have a padded bank account.
  31. When they come home from their first year of college and tell you they learned their family of origin is dysfunctional, tell them, “Hey, I put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.” And then change the subject and discount what they’re saying as stupid, 18-year old rebellious teenage stuff…cuz, what could they know, right?!

 

And this list could go on…

We’re all figuring it out. The point of every generation is to not only teach the next, but to learn from them, too…not hold on for dear life to the lessons of those who have gone before them. Our great greats and greats and grandparents and parents did a lot of things right, and they also had some things wrong, big and small. Same with us. And same with the next. It’s not rebellious to do it differently when hate or ignorance isn’t sustainable.

Let’s posture ourselves for learning and see what happens.

 

Do You Suffer from Paralysis by Analysis?

photo: pixabay user/publicdomainusers 17917

My husband will press buttons on his keyboard…

…buttons or tabs or keys he may not know what they are there for, but he presses them to find out what they do.

You guys, the thought of this has me over here breathing in a paper bag! [Read more…]

When Did We Give Up Our Ability to Think Critically?

Preschool

I can still hear his voice in my head. Science says our cells and muscles carry memories, maybe that’s what it is? Either way, my dad and I had a good relationship and even became friends near the end of his life.

But I can still hear him saying,

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

“Because I’m the dad, that’s why.”

“End of discussion.”

“Period.” [Read more…]

It’s a Beautiful Day

Kissing Noah Goodbye, Audrey Imfeld, NILMDTS photographer.

Kissing Noah Goodbye, Audrey Imfeld, NILMDTS photographer.

Eleven years ago, it was bitter cold in Denver, Colorado. 2 or 3 degrees, if I remember right. The chill is still part of my memory, though most of me felt numb.

Jason went out to the parking garage of Children’s Hospital to pull up the car and let it warm up for a few minutes. I stayed behind on the 4th floor where I bundled up our 7 month old son, Noah, for a short drive across town. He had only gone outside one time during his 5 month stay at the hospital… [Read more…]

“How Do You Like Nashville?”

People ask me how I like Nashville. Here’s the scoop: I’m not sold yet.

I haven’t been here enough to know. We moved here last August to a 2-bedroom Airb*nb we planned to stay in until the first of November of 2016. During that 3 month time the plan was to get the kids settled into a school rhythm and then I’d work with our realtor to find a house to live in more permanently. Our things have been in storage at my dad’s house for 2.5 years now since I ran away from home after my mom died we sold our house in Colorado. [Read more…]

I Choose Life

1978

Me and Bobby circa 1978-ish

Oh my, God! I just did one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I took a baton that felt prematurely passed, and I’m going forward with it, because retreating isn’t an option. Stopping and raising my fist to the sky and screaming, “WHY?!” won’t alter time or the impending outcome, it won’t make this pain disappear or life suddenly make sense.

So I’ll embrace the pain, kind of walk through the side ache, so to speak…and I will press on.

This morning I soaked my Dad’s t-shirt for the last time with tears mixed with deep grief and appreciation that he has been my Dad on this earth. [Read more…]

I Had a Dream

typewriter

Right before waking up this morning, I dreamt a friend and I were standing in the middle of a four-lane road with cars flying by in either direction. We were discussing the vital importance of practicing the act of writing for 20 minutes everyday, no matter what…

And then I woke up

Prior to waking up and prior to standing in the middle of the road, where I was, incidentally, holding a vintage typewriter under one arm, I had been at a beautiful gathering of writers and journalists who were sitting at tables together, sharing and listening. [Read more…]

Speak: Contemplation

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

Speak love. Speak it with, and without, words.

I’ve been contemplating many things for quite some time and the more I keep it in, I feel I may implode.

Why have I held these things in rather than go with my usual mode of verbally processing my thoughts to whomever may be in the room or on the other end of the phone? To be fair, my husband would attest to me processing these with him over the years, and each time he reminds me, “Adrienne, THIS is the content of your book. Write it. Write it down. People need to hear.” I love him and need him to say this to me, especially since writing it down is part of the equation: In order NOT to implode I must write these things down and get on with living.

So, again, why have I shared these thoughts I ponder day in and day out with only a few?

Open confession: I’ve feared segments of Christendom. [Read more…]

5 Minutes a Day

I’ve been pondering what I want to be when I grow up. Or, ahem, now that I’m an adult. It requires stripping my heart naked and heading back to the mud of childhood where my curls were ringlets and my belly round and everything I ever said and did was cute, because: toddler.

Cheeks rosy. Throw head back for laughter to leave the lungs and fill the room. Pudgy hands crash together and again. And again. And again.

“More! Again, Daddy! More!”

Chasing, building, looking, exploring, balancing on anything and everything considered a balance beam. Eyes full of wonder. Seeking the knees of my Mom or my Dad, the safe space where my arms and their legs, once joined, were pillars, strong towers, the safest known place unless legs encircled around their waist and my head tucked into their neck and shoulder crook.

The smoothest ride without a care in the world is in the arms of a loving parent.

What is it I want to be? What is it I want to do? Why was I made and why am I here and how can I be of help to others because many a year has passed where I’ve more than helped myself.

What is it I wanted to be all those years ago? Was there something specific? Is it there I should be looking or forward to what I want to be or right here to discover and unfold the treasure?

And now my legs are the pillars for my little guy, and my hand and arms and shoulder and ears a source of comfort and strength for my daughter. How did I come to this age where adulthood is my label but youth and naïveté fill this bottle?