Archives For Parenting

I have been told by several of my well-intentioned female friends over the years that spa days are necessary. I will never argue that a day of pampering doesn’t feel amazing, but I generally feel guilty spending money on myself in an effort to relax and recharge.

Last week I played a little sand volleyball. Anyone who has known me for more than a handful of years knows that I love playing that sport, even though my vertical jump and reactionary speed are all but nonexistent these days.

Perhaps the only thing I’d rank higher in terms of recreational enjoyment than my love of sand volleyball is my love of sleep. Again, all of my friends know (and tease me about) this. I’ve required a restful night of shut eye ever since I was a child.

Whereas some people can survive on five hours of sleep a night, I require more like nine in order to function. The good news is I’ve never been much of a partier/night owl so catching extra those zzzz’s has rarely been an issue.

Put it this way: If I had to take one survival item with me on any of the survivor-type reality shows, I’d be hard pressed to think anything would be more useful than a good set of ear plugs.

Why do I spill these seemingly unrelated personality quirks? Because one person cares about, dare I say honors, all of them more than anyone else. My mom.

I’m at a stage in my life right now where I have an equal amount of friends who still have their moms around as compared to those who do not. And every time I learn about another person, especially a woman young or old, learning to live without their mom, it makes me appreciate even more all the ways mine has supported and nurtured me.

When my mom learned about how late I would be playing sand volleyball last week at a sports bar incredibly close to her and my dad’s home as well as my work (but extremely far away from my own home that I share with my loving and loud family), she offered up a simple question, “Would you like to just stay the night at our place after your games?”

((record scratch))

WOULD I?! I thought.

“Well, yeah, if you don’t mind. That would be awesome.” I replied.

Spa Home

Here are all of the reasons why I have no shame in my spa game at mom and dad’s place:

  1. Their house – thanks in large part to my mom – feels like a page out of a magazine, where wind chimes are singing their melodies while soft breezes are blowing and time takes its time. I’ve never known it to be messy or disheveled, which incidentally are the two words I’d use to best describe the 15 hours of my average waking day.
  2. Snack time at 10 p.m. Guys, my mom had a sandwich prepared for me as I walked in their front door after my game. But she waited to put on the lettuce and tomato because she “didn’t want the bread to get soggy.” At this point, we might as well have been John and Ray Kinsella in her Field of Dreams kitchen with me posing the question, “Is this heaven?” and her answering, “It’s you reliving your childhood.”
  3. Fresh towels. I showered before going to bed and wrapped myself in ultra soft comfort to dry off. As I took in a deep breath of gratitude, I wondered how my mom keeps her towels feeling and smelling so wonderful. Towels in my own home, even freshly washed and straight out of the dryer, feel scratchy and smell like where you don’t want to be.
  4. Open windows. Three out of the four people I share my own home with prefer air conditioning approximately eight months out of the year. The other four months are basically the dead of winter in Nebraska. As I pulled down the sheets of the perfectly made bed that magical evening at mom and dad’s house, and collapsed into total comfort, I felt the fresh outside air snaking its way into the room on an unseasonably and refreshingly cool evening in July.
  5. Peace and quiet. Not once did I have to threaten teenage boys to take away Fortnite if they didn’t stop yelling during their games. Not once did I have to tell their sister to turn down YouTube. Not once did I have to nudge my snoring husband. Not once did I hear the dog barking. Not once did I move after I fell asleep.
  6. No group consensus required. I ate when I wanted. Fell asleep when I wanted. Took up as much room as I wanted. Woke up when I wanted.
  7. Freshly prepared breakfast. Cut up fruit, baked blueberry muffins, and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Yes, I am the youngest child.
  8. Full toilet paper rolls. No additional explanation needed.

It wasn’t until I was a mom myself did I realize how hard the gig can be. As with most things in life, experience breeds appreciation and understanding.

My mom has told me many times that she doesn’t know how I do it. The full-time job, the shuffling activity calendars, the coaching, the rushing around, the holding it all together, the everything. And I only need one night with her to realize that all of the “stuff” I do pales in comparison to what she does…which is to make every person who comes into their house truly feel as if they are home. And can exhale.

Thank you, Mom. For this. For everything.

Written by Heidi Woodard

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I keep stealing glances at you when you’re not looking.

You’re still too young to be mortified by your mother’s behavior and I am savoring every last second knowing that. Realizing your adolescence phase is right around the corner makes me want to cherish your little girl phase even more.

Jaycee supergirl

I realize that stopping you from growing up is not only impossible, but irresponsible as well. Part of my job as your mom is to let you go eventually.

I’m supposed to let you become more independent, more aloof, more at bay. And far less reliant on your dad and me.

I’m supposed to be your eternal compass, guiding you and your behavior in the right direction for your one, special life.

I’m supposed to be your parent first and your friend second.

And yet…

There is a large part of me who doesn’t want you to change at all from who you are at this very moment. Caught in between childhood and young adulthood.

Jaycee sleeping

I love that you are almost 9 years old.

It caught me by surprise to think about how this will be your last single-digit year birthday. Having experienced your brothers getting older before you has taught me that, as each year increases, so too does the space between us. Not in a bad way…just in a life moves on way.

My wish this year on your birthday, as I watch you blow out your candles, will be to not let the next 365 days fly by as quickly as the last 365 days did if I can help it. My other wish will be to let you know these things about your childhood self.

I love watching you ride like the wind on your Barbie scooter. I will miss it when that wobbly back wheel finally falls off.

Jaycee scooter

I love complaining about and then subsequently doing school science projects with you. Soon you will outpace my level of academic genius. Until then, even I can handle baking soda and vinegar reactions.

I will miss holding your hand when we walk, when we rehash our days, when we fall asleep.

I love your competitive drive. I love watching you play sports at a pace that doesn’t consume all of your energy or free time. I know, again from experience, it won’t always be this way.

Jaycee softball

I love how you sing with reckless abandon, making up notes and verses as you go. And how you don’t dance like no one is watching; rather, you perform as if everyone should be.

I love that you don’t yet have a cell phone stealing your attention away.

I love that you consider yourself beautiful just the way you are.

Jaycee field day

I will miss the mischievous look in your eye as I watch you climb to the top of every swing set, scale every rock wall, and balance atop fences.

 

Jaycee climbing2

I love that you still like to show up the boys with your natural born ability and aren’t worried about having to show off your body in an attempt to gain their attention.

Because I have lived through the transition of childhood into adolescence twice before with your brothers, I must tell you that this phase you are in is both fabulous and fleeting. Think of it like the weeping willow tree whose branches you swung on for so many years.

Since last spring when that tree was unexpectedly uprooted by the tornado that ripped through our tiny park, I have walked many times by the vast empty space that its majestic frame used to consume and the reality hits me.

You are my final trick-or-treater.

My final hide-and-seeker.

My final almost 9-year old.

I couldn’t be prouder of the young lady you are becoming. But please forgive me for wanting to hold on to now for just a little while longer.

Jaycee firework

Written by Heidi Woodard

“I hope Coach Kim remembers the stickers,” my daughter said as she spilled her thoughts from the back seat of the van on our way to school.

Glancing at her stoic expression from my rear view mirror as she gazed out the side window made me smile. It was not the first time, and I imagined it wouldn’t be the last, that she mentioned those stickers.

 

I wished her a Happy Monday, kissed her goodbye, and drove away with a full heart knowing we would reunite to talk about our days roughly eight hours later.

Not having much time to catch up on our daily happenings when I returned home from work and she from school, since I am notorious for always running late, we gathered our gloves and bottled water and found ourselves back in the same van with a different destination: the softball field. The same softball field where we’ve gathered every Monday night for over a month now with her softball friends.

Back when I was asked to coach my daughter and her teammates in their newly-formed 10U softball team, I was hesitant to agree. Who was I to be offering up coaching advice after stepping away from the game for so many years to raise my own kids? Who was I to be dealing with opposing coaches, league officials, parents, and other adults who may or may not be involved in the game for the right reasons?

Over the years, I watched my fair share of baseball, basketball, and football from the sidelines. I observed all the time and effort my husband gave (and continues to give) coaching our children in different sports and I wasn’t sure I had it in me to deal with ALL OF IT.

But then I thought…why not me? Why not now? I know I want this to be about the kids before anything else. I know I want to be involved in my daughter’s extra-curricular activities. So I recruited two outstanding assistant coaches and committed to the adventure.

I wrote my own mike-matheny-inspired-letter-to-the-parents and distributed it our first meeting together. Hands down the most important thing to me is open communication with the players and their parents. Second most important thing is motivation.

Which brings me back to those stickers my daughter’s been thinking about.

One of my assistant coaches is a former standout pitcher and current collegiate softball pitching coach. My other assistant coach is a former stud middle infielder and an even studlier grade school teacher now.

In our earliest lessons, they talked to the girls about the importance of snapping through their hips when they’re delivering pitches. Knowing the attention span and interest of their audience, they explained this concept further by saying, “If you place a sticker on your follow-through hip, your catcher should be able to clearly see it after you deliver the ball. If the catcher can’t see your sticker, you didn’t follow through enough.”

I’m positive my own daughter’s commitment to improving her pitching motion grew in direct proportion to the amount of time she patiently obsessed over awaited the arrival of her glorious sticker.

Today, en route to practice, I’m thinking of all the things I could say to the team about technique, endurance, and hard work.

“I just hope it’s not Thomas the Train or anything,” her voice interrupts, breaking my concentration.

“What?” I respond.

“Or any character from that show,” she goes on. “The sticker. I just don’t want to wear Thomas the Train or anything like that.”

Am I grateful to have taken on this opportunity? You bet I am. It will remind me about what’s important in life. Growing, giggling, and getting better at something while having fun.

Written by Heidi Woodard