I have no idea how to navigate this part of motherhood. Anybody with me?
Here's an illustration. Last week, my 14-year-old son came home from school with a stomach ache. Despite this, he stuck to his usual routine of raiding the cupboards and sitting down to an after school "snack" that would feed a family of four.
I went about my usual routine as well, preparing for a 10 mile run. So I'm in my bedroom pulling on my little running shorts when I hear retching and cursing coming from the bathroom. Mom panic sets in. I run to the hallway and call to my son through the closed door, "Are you okay?" Is he sick? Is he bulimic? Is he dying? (Yes, the thought crossed my mind.)
My poor baby. Flashbacks of his childhood scrolled through my mind. My smallest newborn, the third child to join our family, seamlessly filling his place. The rambunctious three-year-old with a mischievous smile, running away from me through the entire building each day when I picked him up from preschool. The nine-year-old tough boy who broke his shoulder doing parkour at his birthday party. He never even cried.
Now, he is 14 years old and moaning from a tummy ache. This stoic child, who pierced his own ears and nose (a story for another day...grrr) never shows pain. Yes, he must be dying.
Wait, I'm not only a mom, I'm a pediatric nurse. "Honey, open the door so I can help you."
Jordan thrusts the door open and glares at me. "Go away!"
Gasp! My heart squeezes. I didn't expect my baby to yell at me. My mouth is agape. I close it. Then, my hurt turns to anger. "Don't yell at your mother. I'm trying to help you."
"Leave me alone! I'm puking!"
That little jerk. I take a few steps forward, assessing the situation. He looks healthy enough to me. He's strong enough to be yelling. "Fine. Take care of yourself. And stop swearing. I don't want to hear those words coming out of your mouth. I don't care if you're vomiting. Use self control."
Why tell this story? Because it demonstrates my feeling of loss for my place as a mother during the teen years. My teenagers don't want me to hold the bucket for them while they puke anymore. They don't want me to wipe their tear-stained gooey faces with a wet washcloth. Ok, so maybe this is a blessing. But if I'm not helping them, then what is my role? Am I just supposed to walk away and let them fend for themselves? That's seems sad and neglectful. If I walk away, how will I know if they survive?
I went on my 10 mile run, which was glorious. The whole run I was planning the Instagram I would post--maybe a selfie, the sun glaring over my shoulder, my mile splits texted across the screen. Until mile 10 when I got a text from my husband telling me to call him as soon as I got home.
Gasp #3. Jordan! I'd forgotten all about the kid. Something must be terribly wrong. I dial my husband's number and hear Jordan moaning in the background. "I'm driving Jordan to the Emergency Room," he says. "Something isn't right. I found him on the bathroom floor, writhing in pain."
Mom guilt sets in. Here I am on a long run, leaping through fields of daisies (well, not quite) while my son is dying. Visions of patients that died suddenly and unexpectedly cloud my reasoning. I should've been there for Jordan. But he pushed me away. What was I supposed to do???
This is my struggle. How do I parent teenagers that refuse to be parented? They push me away and don't follow my advice. I'm at a loss. This entry will not end in wisdom. I don't have an epiphany to share.
For now, I pray for my kids, talk to them even when they don't appear to be listening, and rely on the years of parenting when they still thought my husband and I had all the answers. I also try to think of how God, our Heavenly Father, "parents" us and try to model that with my children.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities...As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:8,13
BTW, turned out Jordan had appendicitis. He apologized to me for being mean during the puking episode. I forgave him.
Hmm, without the assistance of his parents, the appendicitis could have been fatal. So he did need us even though he didn't realize it. So I guess even when the kids push us away, we shouldn't go too far.
Meeting my readers and chatting with people who share my love of books is one of my favorite parts of being an author. This Saturday, September 29th, 2018, from 1:00 - 4:00 PM, The Bookstore at Fitger's in Duluth, MN is hosting a book signing for my novel, Bittersweet Goodbye.
See the autumn leaves in beautiful Duluth on Lake Superior, and visit historic Fitger's. Hope to see you there! www.fitgers.com
Our baby girl, our oldest child and only daughter, is moving to college today. She'll only be 30 minutes away, but still. I'm gonna miss her. She's also turning 18 in a couple days. Does she have to become a grown up and move out all at one time?
It's funny. There's a deleted scene from my Bittersweet Goodbye manuscript which I'm ironically living out today. When I wrote the scene, ten years ago, I struggled a bit putting myself in the mother's point of view. I looked to my own mom for an example to model the character, Lydia Chapman, after. (I love you, Mom!) Growing up, I remember coming downstairs first thing in the morning to be greeted by the aroma of coffee brewing and my mom sitting at the kitchen table in her bathrobe, her Bible and devotions spread out on the table. I decided to start this day as my mom and Lydia did--rising early and doing devotions before helping my daughter get ready for her first day on campus. Tears!!!!
Here is the deleted scene. It hasn't been edited so it's rough around the edges.
At 5:30 in the morning, as the glow of the sun stretched across the horizon, Lydia Chapman sneaked out of bed and tiptoed downstairs to the kitchen. She methodically put a piece of bread in the toaster and filled the tea kettle with water. Her morning ritual of breakfast and devotions was especially important today, and she had to rise extra early to allow time for it. Today she would send her firstborn to college, and her heart ached at the thought of it. She needed God’s strength to get through this day. Lydia had a close relationship with her daughter and she couldn’t imagine her not living under the same roof. Lydia mourned the late night talks they would no longer share. She found herself grieving Audrey’s childhood. It seemed like just yesterday that Audrey went off to her first day of kindergarten.
Lydia remembered it clearly. Young Audrey was dressed in a pale yellow jumper that had a bright orange sunshine stitched on the front pocket. Audrey had referred to the jumper as her happy dress, and she’d picked it out special for the first day of school. Knowing how excited Audrey was to start school made it easy for Lydia to send her off. The other mothers were kissing their kindergartners goodbye at the classroom door with tears in their eyes, but Lydia’s eyes were filled with pride. Her daughter’s joy was contagious and as Lydia watched Audrey skip into the classroom and greet her teacher with a big hug, she knew Audrey would do just fine without her mommy there to hold her hand. Lydia had dreamed of the wonderful experiences in Audrey’s future. She felt confident that her daughter would grow into an intelligent and radiant young woman.
And she had. Audrey had by far surpassed all the expectations that Lydia had for her. Not only was she a straight A student and an excellent athlete, but she was also kind and sweet and funny. She had a charisma that people were drawn to. But more than any of that, Lydia was thankful for the relationship she had with her daughter. They had always been close and could talk more like friends than mother and daughter. Lydia was afraid of losing that closeness now that Audrey was moving out of the house.
But Lydia tried not to show her fears to Audrey. She wanted Audrey to chase her dreams, not to be held back by an overly attached mother. So she took advantage of quiet moments like this to express her fears to the Lord. She always felt better after casting her cares on Him.
Soon Lydia was jolted by the sound of Audrey’s alarm clock buzzing to life. Audrey continued to slumber despite the grating sound. She must have stayed out late last night, Lydia thought to herself as she bounded up the steps to turn off the alarm. Who will wake her up in the morning when I’m not around?
Lydia switched off the alarm and jostled Audrey. “Wake up, honey. It’s time to get ready for school.” Lydia frowned, realizing this would be her last opportunity to say those words to Audrey. Thank goodness she would still have Darcy at home. “Wake up, honey,” she repeated. “I’ll start the shower for you.”
Lydia hummed as she turned the shower faucet on, remembering the day, many years ago, when she taught Audrey how to adjust the water temperature by herself. Where did the time go? She walked to the linen closet in the hallway and pulled out a fluffy pink towel and matching wash cloth. She set them on the vanity and returned to Audrey’s room. The sun was high in the morning sky now and Lydia pulled open the blinds to let the sunshine pour in.
Audrey finally sprang to life and moaned as she covered her head with her pillow. “Mom, that’s too bright,” she whined. “Close the blinds.”
Lydia ignored her request and continued to hum, more loudly now, as she began straightening the room.
Audrey removed the pillow from her face and sat up clumsily, squinting from the bright sun. “I hope my roommate won’t be this annoying in the morning.”
Lydia paused from her tidying and put her hands on her hips. “I hope she will be. How else will you ever make it to your morning classes on time? Now get in the shower; you’re wasting the hot water.”
Lydia, although using a stern tone, was actually enjoying this mother-daughter exchange, for it fondly reminded her of all the past mornings that this same confabulation had taken place.
(End of scene)
Mommas, hug your kids. They grow up too fast! And hug your moms too!
My sweet little Chloe Grace, me, my amazing mom, and my beautiful grandma. I'm so blessed to have such wonderful ladies to learn life from.
Thank you to all my friends and family, and to my new reader friends <3, for taking an interest in Bittersweet Goodbye. It's been so fun getting feedback from you. I love learning the character you connected with, the character you love to hate. The scene that made you cry. Your speculation on "who done it".
Interacting with my readers has been the most rewarding part of releasing this novel. So here are answers to commonly asked questions. Feel free to leave a comment with more questions. I never tire of discussing the characters of Bittersweet Goodbye. Who knows? Your feedback may help to shape their future...
Is Bittersweet Goodbye based on a true story?
No. The story is 100% fiction. It was incredibly difficult for me to create tragedy in Audrey's (the protagonist's) life. Not having suffered an assault or some of the other difficulties my characters experienced, I agonized over whether I was doing the characters justice. I questioned why I was creating a fiction story--entertainment--using heartbreaking circumstances that my readers may have suffered.
Ultimately, I prayed (and continue to pray) over the story. I concluded that God wants this story to be told so that others can experience hope through this fiction story. My favorite author, Karen Kingsbury, refers to her books as Life-Changing Fiction. Truly, a fiction story can change a life. After all, Jesus taught in parables.
100% fiction? Really? The main character sure sounds a lot like you.
Let me clarify. The story events are fiction. Admittedly, the main character is similar to me in many ways. She comes from a Christian family and attends a small church in Hastings, MN. She falls in love with a boy in youth group. She likes to run, and even runs for Bethel University. Oh, and she's blonde.
OK, that's a lot of similarities. But Audrey is a way better runner than I was. :) I purposely kept her similar to me so that I could get inside her head. I needed to make her believable. I did the "write what you know" thing. The secondary characters forced me to get inside the head of different personalities. Writing from the perspective of a young man was...interesting.
The novel I'm currently working on has characters with different backgrounds and attributes from myself. It's been a fun challenge, and sometimes I'm shocked at what the characters do.
Could someone really be as naive as Audrey?
Um, that attribute takes after me as well. So, yes. My high school friends could probably attest to that fact. ;)
Will there be a sequel to Bittersweet Goodbye?
A sequel is in the works.
When do you write?
Whenever I have free time and/or I feel inspired. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with plot ideas, so I turn on my PC and click away. I've jotted scenes on sticky notes at work (I hope my boss doesn't read this), and I've scribbled a bit of dialogue on a worship folder in church (Sorry, Pastor Scott. It only happened once. Maybe twice.) My favorite time to write is on vacation--when I'm relaxed and feeling inspired. It's funny, I remember where I was while writing certain scenes.
The scene where Trevor, the hero, stormed over to Audrey's house and demanded answers from her--I wrote late at night while lying on my bedroom floor, sipping a glass of Door County Cherry Wine. I'd come home from my sister's house after watching an episode of The Bachelor. I must've felt inspired for Trevor to find his true love. You know, since that's what happens on The Bachelor. Haha.
How long did it take you to write the book?
One or two years to write the story. Then about seven years of editing and learning the craft of novel-writing. Of course, I wrote pretty much only when I felt inspired since I thought of it as a hobby. Don't worry. The next book is well underway. You won't have to wait nine years.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book?
Write every day, even if it's not good. Writing takes practice!
Read. I feel most inspired after I read.
Connect with other authors. Read blogs by other authors. Read books on writing in your genre. Have your work edited by a professional.
I'd love to chat more about the characters of Bittersweet Goodbye. Drop me a line.
Hi Reader Friends,
Happy New Year! I hope 2018 is treating you well so far. I, for one, am very happy to welcome in the new year as I have exciting news to share.
My first novel, Bittersweet Goodbye, will be released March 2, 2018!
The book will become available for pre-order -- both paperback and ebook -- in a few short weeks.
I'll share one little teaser...Bittersweet Goodbye is a tale about:
When loving means letting go.
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Host a Facebook party to share this life-changing opportunity with friends and family. Contact me for more information on becoming a Compassionate Entrepeneur. Just leave a comment below, and I will get back to you soon!
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I'm floating on cloud nine! The editor loved my short story. That's the best news a writer could possibly receive (besides a publisher begging for a book contract)!
After meticulously making revisions the editor suggested, I jumped online to research magazines and contests. I submitted to a contest that seemed a perfect fit for my story. And now I wait for the results.
I do realize that with hundreds or thousands of submissions by excellent writers to this contest, my chances of placing are slim. So I need to decide if I should simultaneously submit elsewhere OR work on another project.
So far, I've done neither. Instead, I've been studying the craft of writing by reading some really great books. I couldn't put down Jodi Picoult's book House Rules. So good! Then I picked up The Summer Kitchen by Lisa Wingate. I love her books because the endings often take me by surprise.
Meanwhile, ideas for my own novel in progress are tumbling about in my mind. I suppose writing those ideas down will keep my mind off of the waiting. And who knows? Maybe that novel will be my greatest masterpiece.
May you find happiness in the current project of your life! I'd love to hear about it!
I recently heard a published author say he always knew he'd be published one day. It wasn't a matter of "if", but "when" he'd get published. It worked for him, so it can work for me!
I'm bound and determined to get my short story manuscript published! Whether it be on this website, e-publishing, or by other means, I will publish this short story. I sent my manuscript off to an editor, and now I await the dreaded, yet anticipated, feedback.
I'm confident. The story is good. It's heavy on the sap, yet it's a balance of funny and sad. With hope sprinkled on top.
But I've learned first hand that writers need a thick skin when it comes to critiques. I expect nothing less than for my manuscript to be marked up with red ink to the point of being unidentifiable. I must keep in mind that the criticism is constructive.
So after I've dried my tears, I'll make myself some hazelnut coffee with a generous douse of vanilla creamer, and I'll get to work polishing that story. I can't wait to share it with you!
I love running. I've run 5 marathons, and 2 half-marathons over the years. It should be old hat by now. But I've never been as excited for a race as I am for the Minneapolis Half-Marathon June 1st, 2014 -- because I'll be running to support a cause.
Prasana is a little girl in India who was rescued from human trafficking. She is cared for by an organization called As Our Own. I, along with a group from my church, am raising money to support her through this organization.
Human trafficking is a problem too big for me to wrap my mind around. I'm happy to have an opportunity to do something to help these girls. Please consider praying for Prasana and As Our Own as it continues to bless the lives of countless girls and women. For more information or to donate money, click on the button below. To donate for my team, search "Stacy Boatman" or "Team Berean" by May 31st, 2014. Or sign up for a race in your area!
Time to get today's run in!