The Flip Side of Parenting...Looking Back

My goal with this page is to share with you some of my thoughts and experiences of parenting. Tim and I are blessed with 4 children biologically, 1 child through our son's marriage, and 1 child through our heart. Their ages range from 16 to 24. Parenting is by far the hardest job on the face of the earth, hands down! When you're in the middle of it, you wonder if it's possible that there is a flip side, but trust me, there is and you will get there. For me, this is the flip side, the time when I get to look back at some things and share them with you. I hope to share with you some more serious matters in regard to raising kids along with some humorous things that have happened over the years. I hope you will not only laugh with us but learn from us!  Welcome to our world with kids.

Teach Your Children Well
Bev Smith
June 18, 2010

Most of my adult life I've received a lot of advice from folks who were both my age and those older than me. Some had experienced life a little bit more than me. Others were at the same place in life as I was. Regardless of the stage of life that folks found themselves in, they were more than happy to give advice on any given subject when it came to parenting. It would be advice on anything from whether to feed babies formula or breast milk, which school to send your kids to, curfews, driving restrictions, dating, summer jobs, to discipline. You name the subject matter, there was usually someone who was ready and willing to give their opinion on the matter. There was a lot of different advice given, sometimes on the same subject. But one thing stood out in the advice arena. They all tended to agree on this one thing - enjoy your children now while they are small and at home because they grow up so quickly.

It's really difficult to appreciate those words when you are a mom at home with 4 little ones. Sometimes, it's hard to believe that you'll even get the 3 year old potty-trained, much less to college! Now that I'm on the flip-side of parenting with most of my kids grown and away from home, I can easily understand what those folks were telling me in reference to enjoying my children. It is true. You blink and they're grown. It really does go by so fast.

I don't want to imply that their being grown is a bad thing though. It's not. It's what Tim and I worked many, many years toward. One of our jobs as their parents was to teach our children how to eventually be independent of us, how to leave home and be okay, both physically and spiritually.

At the same time, that's a scary thought when you're a leaving home. You begin to question what you've done, how you've raised them. You wonder if you did your best with the knowledge and wisdom that you had at that time. (You know, hind sight is always 20/20.) You wonder if they will be prepared for what they will encounter. You know for sure that you haven't been able to teach them everything that you want them to know. How will they survive without you? Those are the kinds of questions that nightmares are made of for a parent.

When I think of my parenting skills sometimes as a younger mom, I thank God that my children survived! Contrary to what you may think, (ha) I would not have won the award for the most soft spoken, patient parent. I do hope, however, that I learned through my mistakes and became a better parent as a result of them.

Have my kids who no longer live at home made mistakes since they've been gone? Of course they have. Does the one left at home mess up sometimes? Of course she does. That's not the issue. Mistakes will happen for sure. As a parent of older children, the question should become something like this - Have I taught them enough to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and get back on track when they do make a mistake. That's the important question!

Kids, even grown kids, aren't perfect. They mess up sometimes just like adults do. When moms and dads jump in and "fix" their children's mistakes, even though it's out of the tremendous love that they have for their kids, they handicap them. They are robbing their children of the benefit of learning from their mistakes. Let me encourage you to use those opportunities as valuable teaching tools. Let them know that the world as they know it has not ceased to exist, that things will work out in whatever area they are having difficulty, but they must work to make it work out. Then, teach them how to pick themselves back up. Allow them to learn from the mistakes that they make. They'll be wiser and stronger because of it and your chest will stick out just a little bit farther with pride, the good kind, as you watch them get back on the path they need to be on. There's no greater joy.

To my children - I'm thankful to God that He in His wisdom gave you to me and your Dad. You have all been and continue to be a joy in our lives...even in the rocky times. We are so very proud of the young men and women that you are. I thank God that each of you shine your lights in your own individual way. I thank God that when you fall down, you do what's necessary to get back up. Always try to look at those times as blessings. Remember that sometimes you just have to get a skinned knee before you can strengthen your heart. Stay on the path...


Put on a Happy Face
Bev Smith
June 21, 2010

Let me set the scene for you. The time was about 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning and our 3 oldest children were returning to school after the Thanksgiving holidays. Their ages at that time were 13, 11 and 8. They were all 3 sitting in the back seat of our van. You see, I had become very tired of listening to them argue about where they were going to sit in the van and I finally decided that I was going to solve that issue. They were all moved to the back bench seat of the Toyota van for the remainder of the calendar year. Our youngest daughter would ride in the front seat with me and the middle bench would remain unoccupied!

On this particular morning, we were on our way to school and as I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw complete unhappiness on 3 faces. I, being concerned, asked them what the problem was. They informed me that they had been out of school for 5 days and were not at all thrilled about going back! When my urging for them to cheer up didn't work, I softly began singing, "Bright skies are gonna clear up. Put on a happy face." as we drove down the road. The further we drove, the less softly I sang as I tried to encourage the kids to smile. My attempt at cheering them up wasn't working.

As I turned into the middle school parking lot, still no luck. I did not have any happy campers riding with me that morning! So, I proceeded to roll the windows of the van down and continue singing the song. Only this time, it was just a wee bit louder, well, maybe a lot louder. "Spread sunshine all over the place and put on a happy face!" Needless to say, my 13 year old and 11 year old were trying every way known to man to get me to stop. Everyone would be able to hear me and then when they got out of the van everyone would know that that loony woman was their mom! Nothing could be worse for a child in middle school! When I told them all they had to do was smile, they couldn't get smiles on their faces fast enough.
Oh, by the way...They also couldn't get out of the van fast enough! :)


Sometimes Watching is the Hardest Part
Bev Smith
July 5, 2010

I was on my deck early one morning, around 7 a.m. when I saw 3 adult robins and a baby robin in the very back of my back yard. The baby robin was hopping along in the grass and two of the adult robins were "escorting" him. The third robin was standing about a third of the way up my back yard, looking around as if he were watching for any potential danger to the little one.

I realized after just a few seconds that this baby was being taught "how to leave the nest" by the adults. He could not yet fly. He could only hop. After some researching, I understood what was going on. You see, when baby robins first leave the nest, they hop to begin with for several days in order to become stronger so they will eventually have enough strength to fly. This process can take several days. Makes sense I guess. I'm sure those little guys can't go straight from sitting in a nest to flying.

This, as you can imagine, is a very dangerous time for baby birds. It's during this time that they are so vulnerable to a number of different predators including my 2 cats, Bubba and Hershey. When I saw the young one hopping around in the back yard, I actually brought my cats inside for a while until I felt that the baby was hidden well enough that it wouldn't be easily noticed by my cats.

I watched this little bird off and on for the entire day. I could hear his little chirp and would see him hop under the row of huge Leland Cypress that we have across our back yard, otherwise known as the Smith Bird Condos. They're tall and wide and a terrific home for a lot of birds.

After being under the huge trees for just a bit, he would then hop out and chirp loudly for long periods of time as if to say, "Here I am! Can't you see me? Come feed me! NOW!" He did not appear to be a happy little fellow to say the least.

At times, I would see one or two adult robins with him, but for the majority of the time, especially as the day continued on, he would be alone in the big back yard by himself. I was afraid for him. I worried that "something" might try to harm him and that his parents wouldn't be able to get to him quickly enough. During the course of the day, I saw one of the adults fly over and land right behind him, hop over him, then sort of flutter a little distance away from him. The adult robin then turned back, looked at the little one and chirped as if to say, "That's how you do it. Now it's your turn." But the little bird would just sit, and chirp, then hop some more. It was hard to watch. I knew this step in the growth process was necessary for him to get to the next stage but it was still difficult to watch. Maybe it was just the "mother thing" in me. I wanted so badly to go out there and help that baby bird. But, the only thing I could do was to make sure my cats stayed away. That was it.

As the evening drew closer, the baby bird began to gain some courage. He would hop out a little bit farther from underneath the Leyland Cypress. I saw him resting about 1/4 of the way up my back yard as the sun faded. The adult robins who were watching from a distance were not comfortable with his being so far from safety. When he would step outside of his safety zone, two or three of them would come flying in to coax him back to where they knew he needed to be to stay safe. They would land beside him, the two of them, and escort him again back to safe territory. It was really one of the neatest things to watch. He was being taught what he needed to do by those who knew how to care for him best. The one thing they could not do for him was fly. That was something he had to do on his very own.

I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. Some of my dear friends will have children "leaving the nest", going off to college or moving out of the house, for the first time in the next few weeks. From one who has experienced it a few times, I can say that watching them leave the nest can be a very difficult thing to watch. Your role of being an active, engaged parent in the daily life of this child that you love so much will change. Don't misunderstand me. There will still be opportunities to parent but they will, more often than not, be from a distance. They will be from the standpoint of giving advice, not specifically telling them what to do. After 18 or 19 years of this child being taught, it is now his time to take what he has learned and apply it. Now is his time to fly.

But just as that young bird struggled when he was learning to fly, most all kids leaving the nest will probably struggle too. Growth and maturity doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. When your role as a parent has been filled the way God intended, you can have confidence in the fact that you've taught them what they need to successfully, over time, step outside of your safety net and fly. Yes, watching is probably the hardest phase of parenting that you'll experience, but when that child finally takes flight and soars, the joy that comes with it is immense.


They Moved To Guatemala and Left Me Here!
Bev Smith
July 12, 2010

Kids are resilient and as a parent, that is much to be thankful for! Our youngest daughter had band practice one afternoon after school when she was in middle school. She had told me about it a couple of weeks earlier in addition to bringing a note home from Mr. Dowdy, the band director reminding the parents. This wasn't typical. They usually practiced only during school hours so I made sure that I wrote it down in my planner to remember. This was in preparation of the middle school's upcoming end of the year concert.

The day of the after school practice had arrived. It was scheduled for 3-4:15. I was sitting at my computer working on some things, kind of like I'm doing now, and at about 3:10, the thought came into my mind that I needed to tell my older daughter to go and pick up the young one at 4:15. Well, that thought stayed in my brain for about 100th of a second. At 4:45 that same thought came back into my brain along with a feeling of panic and from my mouth, the words, "Oh my stars! I left Mikayla at school!"

As quickly as I could, I jumped up and drove to the middle school. The band door was open and there she was, sitting alone, quietly reading a book in the band room. Mr. Dowdy came out of his office and I began to apologize over and over to both him and Mikayla. Even though I felt horrible, he assured me that everything was fine. She had attempted to call several times but had only gotten a busy signal since I had been on the computer the entire time. (Note to readers: That was during the ancient days when we used the phone line to get "on line".) So, after trying numerous times with no luck, she just decided to wait. Mikayla told the band director that we had probably moved to Guatemala and left her here!

I think it's fair to say that the youngest one of our family wasn't scarred for life because of my forgetfulness. As a matter of fact, if I recall correctly, she took that ball, ran with it and used it to her advantage for a while after it happened. Just realize that as a mom you will make mistakes, forget things that you never think you will forget and probably not be nominated for the Mother-of-the-Year Award. That's okay. Hopefully, it will help your kids realize that you aren't quite as perfect as they once thought you were. Most of the time, they will bounce back and love you in spite of your mistakes. I'm living proof.

Love you Mikayla!

P.S. I'm glad I didn't scar you for life.


The Easy One
Bev Smith
July 28, 2010

Today, our youngest child, Mikayla turned 17. She'll start her final year of high school in about 10 days. Kids come in different shapes, sizes, genders, personalities. If you have more than one child, you quickly realize that children from the same 2 parents can be very different but at the same time, you wonder how that is possible! Regardless, nothing is any more true than that with my four biological kids.

Mikayla has pretty much been an easy kid for the most part, pretty self-sufficient, one who marches to the beat of her own drum, both figuratively and literally. She's a self-motivator, a non-complainer most of the time, a no-nonsense kid with her dad's dry sense of humor. She came into this world as the smallest, physically of my 4 biological kids but hit the ground running and hasn't slowed down since! At times, I wonder if she keeps us young or is adding to the "making us old" bit.

The neat thing about her as well as my other kids is that I not only love her (I kind of have to do that!) I also like her.

She's my only child to get a penny stuck in her throat when she was 3 years old and have to be taken to the ER by ambulance and into surgery to have it removed! She my only one to be hospitalized for an intractable migraine last fall. Those 2 events probably added a few years to the "making me old" bit. She's also my only one to threaten to "tell daddy on me" when she wasn't happy with something that I had done when she was about 3 or 4. I told her bigger sister to tell her that that just wasn't how things worked. Even though there have been a few bumps in the road, for the most part, she has been an easy one.

She loves Audrey Hepburn, dinosaur stickers, the old TV show - Boy Meets World and playing the bass drum in her high school marching band. Her greatest love probably is reading. Even though her spare time is little now, if she has any, that's what you will find her doing.

Mikayla asked for a Bible for her birthday, an ESV Bible. Being a Christian as a young person in the world that we live in today is no easy thing. The world for the most part has forgotten about their Creator and that has definitely trickled down to the young folks. I'm thrilled that she is not ashamed of who she is, spiritually, but works to let her example speak about the One she serves both at school and at work. I am also thrilled to be her mom.

A Very Merry Unbirthday To You...Yes You!

You Must Win

Bev Smith
August 4, 2010

When my kids were preschool age, there were days when it seemed like all I did was correct them. As a matter of fact there were times when I would get to the end of the day and try to think of a pleasant, fun experience that we had had and some days I had a really hard time coming up with even one! I'm sure you've had some days like that too.

On this Wednesday in particular, it had been one of those days...fussing, arguing, time outs, paddling. You name it. If it was of a negative nature in reference to behavior, it happened with the kids on that Wednesday. We all had dinner and had gotten dressed for Wednesday night Bible class. We arrived at the church building and I walked into the Bible class that I was co-teaching and with a huge sigh, relaying some of the difficulty that I had experienced that day to my co-teacher, Mary Jo. I told her that I not only felt like I had been at war all day but that I was exhausted! Mary Jo looked at me and with a gentle voice said, "But you must remember, you have to win." That happened over 20 years ago but I have never forgotten what she said.

It is true. As a parent, you must win. Your children must know who is boss...who is the authority in the house. I believe that at almost every age until adulthood, most children believe they know what it best about any given matter and sometimes it coincides with what mom and dad think is best and sometimes it doesn't. What they are missing in the mix of things is the life lessons and the experiences that you have gained over the years. Most kids aren't privy to that because of their youth. That usually only comes with time.

When you were blessed to become a parent, God automatically put you in the role of being a teacher. Your responsibility to both your children and to God is to teach them diligently what is best. Teach them diligently when the days are calm and easy-going and teach them diligently when it seems that you're at war all day. The reward comes not just when your children show their respect for you and your authority but more importantly, when they show their respect for God and His authority.

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