Insider Tips from Dads on Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Click here to read about the history of Father’s Day.

Fathers are an important influence on a child life, no matter the age. Time is the greatest gift a father can give his child. Here’s the story of four outstanding fathers who share the joys of being a father every day, but especially on Father’s Day.

Darwyn & Jacob

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”
– Harmon Killebrew
Darwyn leads his seven-year-old son Jacob by example in both his work and personal life, just as his father Leon did. He cares about role modeling a strong work ethic. “I want Jacob to know he can do many things if he’s determined, tries his hardest and pushes through adversity.”

Darwyn is self-employed and struggles with balancing work with the demands of a young family. “From my own dad, I learned that hard work does pay off in building a solid business for years to come. But, sometimes hard choices and sacrifices are required.”

Darwyn understands his son needs him to be there for him. So, he arranges his schedule to take him to athletic practices, play with him after work and go on hikes together. Jacob knows he matters to his dad; Darwyn follows through on his promises by showing up and telling him he loves him.

The two of them bond over sports and watching action movies. And, Jacob is always up for trying new things and giving them 100 percent. He’s taken up golf and baseball, often making his dad chase a long one down the street. He helps Darwyn fix things around the house “so we don’t have to buy new things every time something breaks.”

Jacob learns from his dad by watching him and spending time with him. He’s seeing how to treat others with respect, to own up to his mistakes and fix it for the next time and to be nice to his teammates on the baseball field, understanding everyone is there to learn the game.

The greatest lesson Jacob is learning from his dad, “Everything will fall into place if you know and serve the Lord.”

 Jim & Trenten

“The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them.”
– Confucius
Jim values time with his 12-year-old son, Trenten. “I hope he now recognizes the amount of time we spent together and the priority he is in my life.” The two share hunting, travel and dogs in common. The specific interest gives them time together to enjoy it while also talking about school, sports and life. Jim especially likes traveling with Trenten. “It’s amazing what I can learn traveling 8-10 hours in a vehicle with him.”

Jim learned a lot from his grandpa who spent time fishing and talking about farming and school with him. “He passed away in 1986, but there are many times I wish Trenten was able to meet him.”

Trenten, who comes across as shy, is described as funny and smart by his dad. Jim’s now speaking to him about growing into a man. Trenten’s learning not to make promises he cannot keep. He’s been taught his word is the only thing in life no one can take away from him. Trenten has seen that by working hard things will fall into place. He knows the world does not owe him anything and that he is capable of doing anything he wants, if he sets his mind to it.

Jim, a banker, teaches Trenten about money. “I like to present him with options so he understands real costs. Everything is about choices. For instance, if he buys something, what is he not able to do since he spent his money.”

At this age, Jim urges Trenten to have fun and find something in life he’s passionate about. “He will spend the rest of his life working and worrying. I also encourage him to make friends with everyone. One never knows when someone you meet might be in a place to help you out one day.”

 Michael & Noah

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
— Billy Graham, Christian Evangelist

Michael and seven-year-old Noah have rituals, like the donut shop. Every Saturday morning, they head out to eat donuts while talking and laughing. Usually they leave with some for the girls back home-mother and younger sister.

They have other notable rituals. Their daily drive to school starts with a prayer followed by a game of guessing what types of trucks will be in the gym parking lot as they drive by. They celebrate their appreciation of superheroes like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers with Friday night pizza and movie nights, mom and sister included.

Their shared enjoyment of music has them singing and dancing along to Christian Hip-Hop songs. They play catch football and shoot hoops and enjoy watching NFL games. Noah has attended a Nebraska Cornhuskers football game, his dad’s favorite team, but has started rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes, to get under Michael’s skin.

Michael knows it’s during these shared activities and rituals that he will get honest feedback on what Noah is going through. Michael loves talking to his son. “Noah’s laugh and sense of humor are infectious.”

Michael wants Noah to know he works hard to be a great role model to him. Like his father, Bill, demonstrated, Michael wants to show Noah how to be a good husband by showing affection for his wife and doing nice things for her. “I let Noah be part of this process too. He has good insight and it’s a great teaching moment.”

Michael’s greatest wish for Noah is to know who he is and to love others as Christ loves us. He’s also teaching him:

  • We control how we react to situations.
  • There are consequences for choices made (good and bad).
  • It’s okay to fail, do your best.
  • Protect and lead your family.
  • God is the ultimate Superhero.

 Ken & Alex

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”
– Jewish Proverb

Ken’s son, Alex, at age 22, is a young adult. Much of the way Ken parented was role modeled for him by his father, Lee, who was “an extremely kind and respectful man with a very strong work ethic. He was a leader who taught me how to overcome adversity and take responsibility for supporting my family.”

Ken strives hard to role model ‘integrity’ for Alex. “I want him to do things with honesty, the right way and live by the Golden Rule.” He wants nothing more for Alex than for him to be happy and to live a fulfilled life-on his terms.

“I want him to make the most of his life doing what he desires and knowing that he can, and more likely will, make adjustments along the way.” Ken also knows that if Alex chooses to be a husband and father, he will need to compromise and serve others to experience a fulfilled life.

Ken’s done his best to prepare Alex for adulthood by teaching him to:

  • Be accountable for his actions. Take responsibility and own it.
  • Be a good role model for others.
  • Be appreciative and thankful for the blessings he has in life. Much of what one attains in life comes through the help of others. Do not take people for granted and express your genuine gratitude. Be willing to give freely of oneself without an expectation of something in return.
  • Have fun. Life should be enjoyed. It is up to you to discover your own passion and create your own happiness.

Through the years, Ken and Alex have created a bond and enjoyed life through sports, household and yard projects and business ventures. They share an obsession with Louisville Cardinals team sports and watching sporting events on television and at games.

The two have painted many home interiors together and enhanced yards through landscaping. They have created and implemented business plans, some successfully, others not.  They’ve jointly discovered their passions, had fun and felt a sense of accomplishment.

Ken feels he’s raised a genuinely good and caring son who has a “great head on his shoulders and makes wise decisions.” He’s proud that Alex has “stayed out of trouble” and shown he knows the difference between right and wrong. “I feel confident Alex has an extremely bright future ahead of him, both personally and professionally. It has been fulfilling and rewarding to be Alex’s father. He has brought more joy into my life than I could have hoped for. He is an incredible son whom I love so much.”

  A Dad is

Respected because he gives his children leadership.
Appreciated because he gives his children care.
Valued because he gives his children time.
Loved because he gives his children the 1 thing they treasure most-himself.

Happy Father’s Day to fathers everywhere.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. June 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes That Stuck for a Lifetime

Origin of “Were You Raised in a Barn?” Quote

I rushed through the laundry room to close the garage door. One of the men in our house habitually leaves the door open while unloading vehicles. The heater or air conditioner senses the rapid air change and comes on. This makes me crazy. Aloud I said, “Were you raised in a barn?” The question startled me. I hadn’t said that in decades. That quote was dormant in my brain. Funny how it just popped right out my mouth at that time.

I often heard it growing up in a North Dakota family of 11.  Leaving the door open in North Dakota is a big deal.  Sub-zero temperatures chill the house instantly; sometime snowflakes blow into the foyer. Asking “Were you raised in a barn?” makes a point, especially during winter months.

I began to wonder. What other sayings or quotes did I hear as a child that I’m  using today? I asked  Midwestern followers. The findings are below. I thank the many who shared.  I understood most quotes and also remembered hearing them as a kid.  Each brought a smile as I recalled memories associated with the quote.

Hope they do the same for you. Here’s what a follower called the quotes:

“Stupid Things My Parents Said That I Now Say”.

Child Rearing &  Development

    • rooster“A rooster is going to come poop on that lip!” Parents said when I was pouting.
    • “Don’t make me come back there.” When kids fighting in car.
    • “Right is Tight; Left is Loose”-when opening or closing something-mostly jars.
    • “People die in bed!” Said  if I was sleeping or napping too long.
    • Grandpa would grab me by the back of my neck and hair and say “Do you know how a rooster looks when he looks over a log?”
    • “If you had a brain, you’d be dangerous.”
    • “Hit the hay.” -Meant get to bed.
    • “Get the lead out!”-Meant hurry up.
    • “Cool Your jets.” -Meant slow down and be patient.
    • “You’d lose your ass if it wasn’t tied on.” I lost everything, always, but not that.
    • “Go ask your father.”
    • “Have you asked your mother?”
    • “Don’t let the sun shine up your keester”…as in get up and out of bed.
    • “Slow as molasses in January”-when not moving fast enough
    • “Don’t make me stop that car.”-Usually when we were fighting in the backseat.

Moms as a Teacher Quotes

    • Mom would say “Weight broke the wagon down.” She would use this when we would say, Wait, we aren’t ready to do X yet. I don’t know if that was a school teacher thing with the play on the spelling of Wait/Weight, or not?
    • “It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.” –meant-look on the bright side it could be worse, I guess.
    • Mom would say, “to make it stretch” when adding macaroni to a hot dish to make the pound of meat go farther
    • “There is no sea to it, it’s all dry land.” Mom would say this to us when we would say, See. Again, it may have been a school teacher thing playing on the spelling of see/sea.
    • Mom used to say “You are a poet but don’t know it, but your feet show it – they are long fellows.” She would say this when we rhymed words.
    • “Back to back, they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other.” It makes no sense and I can’t think of when she would say that to us.

angelFaithful Quotes

    • “This too shall pass.”
    • “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”
    • “It’s a sin!”
    • “Sweet Jesus Come to Mama!”
    • “May his soul rest in peace.”- every time we passed a hearse or cemetery.

Random Quotes

    • “Help yourself. If you go away hungry, it’s your own dang fault!”
    • “The almond is the king of nuts. ‘Almonds have it all! Therefore, they’re the king of nuts.”
    • “Were you born in a barn?”
    • “We look like a bunch of gypsies.” When taking the whole family out for a family drive
    • “Cracked a korny”- when telling a joke
    • “It was quite the shindig,” referencing a great celebration or party.
    • I remember Mom always yelling upstairs asking “What do we do with the hallway light?”  My usual response was “Leave it on so mom has something to complain about.” I think she meant, “turn it off.”
    •  “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

11Preparing You for the Workplace Quotes

  • “Problem…solution.”
  • “A function of getting the right answer is asking the right question.”
  • “Haste makes waste.”
  • “Practice makes perfect.”
  • “Don’t let the grass grow under your feet.” Get out there and get to work.
  • “Wait 3 days before acting on major life decision.”
  • “Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail.”
  • “Keep your nose to the grindstone.”
  • “Simmer down”-meant settle down
  • “Calm, always be calm.”
  • “Practice 10 times before giving a presentation or speech.”
  • “Get on the stick!” -Meant hurry up.
  • “Do you think I’m made of money?”-when I asked for school trip money
  • “Finish up and call it good.”-when I obsessed about project perfection

Relationship Quotes

  • “You made your bed, you lie in it!”
  • “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”
  • “Take care of each other”
  • “Think enough of yourself and others will think enough of you”
  • “Thanks for the visit.”  “Tenks for da wizit.” I still say it to this day after an especially pleasing chat. Then I tell them about my German-Russian grandpa. I just said it to my boss last week.
  • “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

000Fashion Quotes

  • “Like something out of VOGUE”-when someone looked beautiful or “like Aster’s plush horse” or the “cat’s meow.”
  • Boys get hair cut they were “going to get their ears lowered.”
  • “It fits like a glove” When trying on something for size.
  • “They’d even look good in a gunnysack”…when someone would look good in anything.

Bathroom Quotes

  • “Don’t eat too many prunes or you will get the trots.”-meaning diarrhea.
  • “Clean as a whistle” or “smell like a rose” when you got a bath
  • “A site for sore eyes”-when bathed
  • What did you think of supper? Ehhh, “It’ll make a turd.”
  • “Cut the cheese” when passing gas or “pull my finger” and the person would fart

All-Time Favorite Quote Learned While Living in the Deep South

give-me-some-good-loving“Give Me Some Good Lovin'”

To this day, my son dips his head and lets me kiss it.

Yup. I’m hoping this quote is the one that sticks and gets passed on.

 

 

What quotes or sayings do you remember from childhood? Add them below! Such great language memories.

 

©Copyright. December 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

20 Lessons a Kid Taught Me

What Our Children Teach Us

20161127_111708-copyAlex celebrated his 22nd birthday on November 27th. He’s preparing to graduate from college on December 10, 2016.  It’s been a reflective and joyous time for our family.

The lessons  I shared when the following article was first published in 2001 remain relevant today. I’m a lifelong learner. It is phenomenal to be taught by my kid. It’s even better to look back and recall memories while learning from him.

Enjoy this post, perhaps recalling lessons learned while raising your kids.


In my 40 years of life, my six-year old son Alex has been my greatest teacher about life and on how to break old patterns, behaviors and habits. He’s taught me to have fun. I’ve laughed more. Life with him is less serious. I try to live in the moment. I want to capture the sensation of experiences, big and small with my kid.

20 Lessons My Kid Taught Me

Alex taught me it is more than okay, it is awakening to:
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  1. Run wildly in the rain pretending to score a touchdown on the wet lawn.

alex-in-red-paint

2.  Finger paint with polka music in the background.

3. Make up silly rhyming stories and giggle endlessly at one’s own creativity.

4. Build blanket forts and eat lunch underneath them.

5. Wrestle on the bed using self-titled moves, like the mashed potato masher and the rutabaga rumble.

6. Dance to The Beatles in the family room on a Friday night.

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7. Eat ice cream for breakfast and eggs for dinner.

8. Be completely open and honest and tell it like it’s felt.

alex-reading-2

 

 

 

 

9. Read books on the front porch with a flashlight.

10. Lie on the golf course in the dark and star gaze.

alex-at-beach-2

11. Build large cities, surrounded by volcanoes, instead of sand castles at the beach.

12. Ask why?

13. Say, “I’m really MAD at you!”

14. Thank God during nighttime prayers for the chocolate shake at bedtime.

15. Belly laugh at the priest’s jokes in church.

16. Wear clothes that don’t always match.

17. Lie on the floor, build corrals and play farm. Let the cows share a pen with the pigs and the chickens share with the horses.

18. Make up new rules for family board games.

19. Walk to the pond and feed the turtles and ducks hot dog buns.

alex-christmas-cookie-with-mom

 

 

 

 

20. Tell your parents, “I love you!” once a day.

Make a list of lessons you’re learning from your kids. If they’re still young, put the list away. Pull it out at one of life’s significant milestones, like graduation or a wedding. Did the lessons stick? Do your kids still follow their own teachings? It’s a great reminder of the joy of parenting. It also captures language and events that might have been forgotten.

Share this with others learning from their kids.

Copyright. November 2016.  Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved

Version published Momscape.com 2001

 

Are You Raising A Brat? 10 Ways to Avoid It

A mom of two elementary school aged children reached out to me recently seeking guidance on raising good children. Her note ended by asking, “What is the secret to not raising a brat?” That’s a term I hadn’t heard in a while. I thought she must be doing a lot of things right already. She’s concerned about coaching her children to be good citizens. Few parents would have the courage to even consider asking this question.

parents-weekend-usd-2015-10-24-15-029She is right though. Our son, soon to graduate from the University of South Dakota’s (USD) Beacom School of Business, has never been a brat. He’s also an only child. Some would use that status alone to label him “a brat.” It doesn’t fit him. Never has.

I thought about this mom’s question for several days. I wondered if I was qualified to give parenting advice. I am a parent. I am also a child. I observe other parents and their interactions with their children. I listen to teachers and support staff describe child behavior in schools. I’ve read extensively about parenting. I decided I’m qualified to share how my husband, Ken, and I raised a son who has never been labelled a “brat.” Maybe our approach to parenting will guide her, and others, in raising their own good children.

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Raising a Brat

Parenting is not easy. We were hardly perfect. We understood our individual “being raised” experiences influenced our parenting Alex. We were in our 30s when he was born. Both our mothers stayed at home with their children. I was raised in a family of 11. Ken’s family had 4. Alex was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. All of this made us who we are as parents. Sorting through our 21 years, I consider these to be the  10 Ways Not to Raise a Brat:

  1. Choose the right partner. Parents who share similar parenting values and who support one another in terms of setting boundaries and household rules will more likely have better behaved children. The kids will know both parents will give the same answer and likely discipline in similar ways. There’s no pitting one parent against another.
  2. Thoughtfully consider when to become a parent. Life isn’t always planned. But, when one feels ready for the responsibility of parenthood alex-toddler-2-copyand welcomes the role, one will more likely cherish being a parent rather than resent it. You can’t take parenting back. It’s a lifetime commitment. Children need to be nurtured, not dropped into life to survive alone. Make the time for your children. Show them they matter and that you feel blessed to have them in your life. If you aren’t ready to do this, or simply can’t, consider whether you are ready to become a parent.
  3. Say “No” and mean it. It is always easier to give in than it is to say “no.” Parents need to stand by convictions. Kids are smart. They push limits. If you back down, your word is no longer good. You’ve shown you’re easily manipulated. Set limits and stick to them.
  4. Plan a Family Centered not Child Centered Life. It was, and is, our belief that a child should fit into one’s life not become the center of all’s life. As a simple example, I refused to remove breakable household objects when Alex was born. Instead, I taught him to respect these items and that there were consequences for not following through with that lesson. Of course, we latched cabinet doors with dangerous items. But removing breakables. Absolutely not.
  5. Place Higher Priority on Morals and Values Over Material Goods. My background taught me many lessons on being frugal and setting priorities. I role modeled these while raising Alex. For example, part of me wanted a designer nursery and designer clothing for him. The practical side of me, however, understood how little those items would be used in Alex’s lifetime. Instead, we started a 529 College Savings program and bought consignment furniture and clothing. We made trade-offs like this continually, placing greater emphasis on experiences than material goods and savings over spending. I helped him, when he was  a middle school student, create flyers to hand out to neighbors advertising his lawn mowing skills. He also paid us for the gas to support his early business. Of course, we could afford to pay for it. But where else do you learn that there are costs of doing business?
  6. Expect Good Behavior. Set the bar high. Despite what one sees in restaurants, church and other public places, it is not cute when a child acts out or is disrespectful. I wonder about a child’s future when I see parents allowing children to throw food in restaurants and then smile at adults who look at them wondering how they are allowing this to happen. It speaks volumes about the parents and their ability to guide their children to adulthood. How one’s children behave reflects parental values and maturity. We worked hard to make sure Alex behaved in public places so all there could enjoy the experience.
  7. Respect All, Always. Listen. Compromise. Ken and I continually stress the importance of ‘listening’ as a skill. We work hard to model that to Alex, even to this day. Following close behind that is compromise.
    Practicing listening skills
    Practicing listening skills

    Even as an only child, he was taught that he didn’t always get his way. Life doesn’t center around one person. It’s a give and take. Admittedly, this was sometimes challenging to teach because of his status. My thinking, as the only woman in our family of three, was that I was raising someone who may one day become a husband and father. These life lessons/skills are critical in those esteemed roles. Respect is another trait we value. Ken is especially good at role modeling equal respect for service workers and corporate executives. Referring to adults as Mr. and Miss, though some call this antiquated Southern etiquette, is applauded in our household. It’s an outward sign of respect. We value it.

  8. Work for What You Want. Ken and I differed on this concept often. Sticking to our parental core values on this topic was by far the hardest in raising Alex. I had to work for everything I’ve owned, even my education. We were in a position to offer Alex financial assistance with more than I received. He was very aware most of his peer group was given vehicles, allowances, vacations, spring break trips, etc. without working. At age 14 we required he get a part-time job. It taught time management, money management, work habits and how to get along with others in the workplace. I also knew it could teach him about how organizations were managed and places he’d like to work, or not work. I have no regrets about requiring he get a job. He’s had a job ever since. He’s also graduating debt free, which is to be celebrated.
  9. Appreciate What You Have and Receive. If you work for what you have, you appreciate it more. You have a better understanding of what it takes to get it and value it more too. Unfortunately, parts of South Carolina are quite poverty-stricken. Alex has seen those areas as well as been in third world countries. Our goal was to expose him to sites like this to develop an appreciation for what he has. Instilling the concept of appreciation and thanks has been drilled into him. He left home knowing a note of appreciation or thanks was expected when a gift or act of kindness was received. Not doing so would immediately stop future acts. It’s just that important in our house.
  10. Raise a Graceful Loser and a Humble Winner. I can still recall the feeling
    Graceful loser at state high school tournament
    Graceful loser at state high school tournament

    and sights of Alex’s first soccer match at age four. He scored every goal. The team won. No, he didn’t take his jersey off and wave it above his head as he circled the grassy field. Instead, after each goal, he mildly accepted congratulations from teammates and got back to the business of playing the game. I was breathless. That level of maturity and composure as a competitor escaped me. I played to win and to celebrate the win. That day I learned from him. I learned the value of how to become a humble winner and a graceful loser.

The Child Spoke

I suspect this young mother who asked me “What is the secret to not raising a brat?” would get different responses from anyone she asked the same question to. I was curious about how Alex would answer. I sent off a text. His reply, “Let consequences happen instead of intervening.” Enough said.

How would you answer the question? Comment below.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. October 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Faith Tested by Birthing Trauma

boyBirth announcements bring joy and smiles to most. Families high five and hug, celebrating the newest addition. Almost instantly social media announces the good news. Well-deserved “congratulations” pour in.

Labor and delivery is a medical procedure, yet to most families it’s also a celebration.

However, not everyone experiences a healthy pregnancy or a normal delivery. Some barely make it out of the birthing process alive.

Kristin fought for survival during and after childbirth and now shares her remarkable story of trauma and faith. Be forewarned. It’s emotion-provoking.

Early Pregnancy Days

Kristin and husband Mitch decided to leave their family planning up to God who blessed them with a pregnancy within a month of trying. Their decision was not unusual, considering she’s the daughter of a pastor, so faith was always part of her life.

24 weeksKristin was scared when she learned she was pregnant. The fear of the unknown was quite real. But once the first 9 weeks of nausea, fatigue and morning sickness passed, she felt the excitement of growing their family and the anticipation of joining the world of motherhood. Fortunately, she had a completely normal pregnancy with no concerns. She used this time to read pregnancy and parenting books, completely understanding that there is no way to really plan for the way one’s life changes when a baby comes into your world. She and Mitch also attended labor and delivery classes to get information on the birth experience and what to expect when bringing their baby home. But no book, blog or class could’ve ever prepared them for what they experienced at week 33 and beyond.

Abdominal Pain & Ambulance Ride

Kristin went to the emergency room (ER) at 33 weeks with extreme abdominal pain.   After several tests, she was told she was experiencing pre-labor contractions and given a steroid to help the baby’s lung development, should he arrive early. After a night in the hospital, Kristin went home on modified bed rest and took Nifedipine, a high blood pressure medication.

The pain reappeared exactly one week later. This time though she also was lightheaded and faint; pain radiated up her chest and into her right shoulder. She knew something wasn’t right as she dozed on and off throughout the night. At dawn she awakened Mitch and asked for help to the restroom. When he saw her colorless face and that she could barely move, he immediately dialed 911.

Rushed to Operating Room

What happened next felt like an out-of-body experience to Kristin. “Like I was on the outside looking in.” She recalls being poked and prodded and hearing EMS workers discussing difficulty finding a vein or a pulse. She remembers the blaring firetruck and ambulance siren sounds as they made their way to the hospital. And, she remembers praying, “Dear God, please just let this baby be healthy.” Today she still recalls the look on Mitch’s face as the door of the cramped ambulance closed. He was scared.

A team of nurses greeted the ambulance and rushed Kristin inside desperately trying to find the baby’s heartbeat. She saw the fearful look on their faces and knew something was terribly wrong. After painfully rolling around on the exam table multiple times so the nurses could get a heartbeat, it was found beating at 30 beats per minute (bpm)-well below a normal baby’s heart rate of 100+ bpm.

The doctor, who’d taken good care of her in the ER the previous week and whom she trusted, rushed in and immediately directed the nurses to prep her for an emergency C-section. Again, Kristin felt like she was in a movie. “This wasn’t really happening to me, was it? This wasn’t in our birth plan! Where is Mitch? I can’t do this alone; I need him by my side to protect me.”

Kristin saw Mitch out of the corner of her eye being told to put on surgical scrubs. She grabbed for his hand while hurriedly being wheeled into the operating room (OR). Code Pink was paged overhead, meaning an emergency concerning an infant, including a medical complication or abduction, was happening. Mitch knew it was for them, and he was now forbidden from the OR.

Not Breathing

Their baby boy was born not breathing at 6:09 am on Sunday, March 4, 2012, weighing 4 pounds and 12 ounces and measuring 21 inches long. He was greeted by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) staff and given CPR and a shot of epinephrine to get his heart going. His APGAR score was zero.

Kristin’s first memory after delivery was being surrounded by a team of fetal medicine doctors explaining to family what had happened and what HELLP syndrome was. She heard them say that her abdomen was full of blood when they took the baby out. Unable to find the source of blood, another incision was made up to her belly button where they found her ruptured liver-the source of her upper right quadrant pain. The only cure for HELLP syndrome is delivering the baby.

post birth mitchMom Holds Son-10 Days Later

Kristin spent 9 days in the hospital, two in ICU because of a risk of seizures. She was given several blood transfusions and there was concern her liver would rupture again. On day three she was transferred to another hospital better equipped to provide surgical services, if needed. Her baby remained in the NICU where he was born for 10 days on oxygen and with a feeding tube. The doctors were amazed at his speedy recovery and nicknamed him ‘Superman’. Later, he officially was named Owen William.

Because her body had gone through a tremendous amount of trauma, it was extremely difficult for Kristin to care for Owen. She was under medical care herself and unable to be physically present in the same room as her newborn, making breast-feeding impossible. She felt guilty about not being able to provide for her baby as originally hoped.

A great deal of scar tissue resulted from the emergency C-section and from digging around her abdomen trying to locate the source of her bleeding. Three months after Owen’s birth she was hospitalized again for small bowel obstruction. After a week’s hospitalization where the medical team hoped her body would heal itself, she had surgery again. “I remember holding Owen in the moments just before surgery and feeling scared I might not make it through.” She remained hospitalized another two weeks post-surgery. “I was devastated to be separated again from my then 3-month old son.”

The years of abdominal pain and bloating, fatigue and other physical ailments post birth don’t compare to the emotional toll the experience had on Kristin. “Being separated from Owen during the first hours and days of his life was devastating. When I switched hospitals, I remember feeling so anxious and worried about not bonding with him because I wasn’t able to hold him or even be in the same room as him. It was heartbreaking to me that others were able to hold and feed him before I did the first time at 10 days old.”

PTSD

Kristin exhibits symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Certain triggers cause flashbacks to Owen’s birth. Driving by his birthplace or hearing ambulance sirens cause a racing heart and emotional breakdown. Owen’s birthday, which should be reason for great joy and celebration, triggers flashbacks. Even the weeks before cause considerable anxiety. While she craves more detail about the moments leading up to Owen’s birth and the weeks thereafter, Mitch has repressed the memories. “In my mind, it was the hours and days I lived through that I don’t remember, and it’s difficult having those unknowns and questions.”

Because hers wasn’t a normal birth experience, Kristin often feels isolated and finds it hard to relate to other moms. Joining a group for stay-at-home moms was less than fulfilling. Mom talk about pregnancy, breast-feeding and  more children was hard to hear. When she shared her birthing journey, there was often dead silence in the room, making her feel awkward because no one knew how to react to a story they found super depressing, only causing her to feel more isolated. Being around pregnant women, baby showers, birth announcements and newborns is a struggle.

She saw a counselor post trauma and found it beneficial but still feels isolated when random triggers hit her. “I wouldn’t expect anyone to understand my thoughts or feelings when they haven’t gone through what I did.”

1 and Done, But Wait…

Kristin and Mitch will never experience pregnancy again. Blood tests after delivery discovered several blood clotting disorders, which automatically put her at a higher risk for miscarriage or birthing complications. All medical professionals have warned against another pregnancy, though it’s absolutely possible. “There is no way we would risk that now that we have Owen. The thought of him growing up without a mom makes me sick.”

Their early marriage family plan was disrupted but Spring 2016 finds them in the adoption process, which brings all great joy and hope.

Message to Pregnant Women & Obstetricians (OBs)

Kristin admits that even though she was academically prepared for pregnancy and childbirth, she was unprepared for their reality. Before pregnancy she was unaware of any type of clotting factors in her genetics. In fact, she was the healthiest she’d been in her entire life when she became pregnant. She tells pregnant women that no matter how much you plan; it may not go as planned. Additionally, she asks them to trust their bodies. If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out. “If I had to do it over, I’d have listened to my body and gone to the ER sooner. But when it’s your first pregnancy and everything is new, you don’t know what is “normal” and what’s not.”

She advises OBs who have patients with HELLP syndrome to run a complete blood workup on them looking for blood clotting factors such as Factor V Leiden, MTHFR, or Lupus anticoagulant, which is what she has. She adds that patients with rare blood clotting disorders should be followed by a hematologist.

Faith & Family

This experience tested the faith of every member of Kristin and Mitch’s families, including them. In her unstable condition, Kristin “prayed without ceasing” and trusted that the God who allowed this to happen to her and their son would be the same God who would reveal His healing powers and get her out of it. Understandably, when she was re-hospitalized, she was angry at God. “For any Christ follower who’s gone through tough times, it’s a normal progression to question God and His goodness. For me, this was a necessary step to work through to get me to the place I am at today.”

Kristin hopes that their story will be used to bring others to know God. “Because the God that I serve is the same God who didn’t let me die; He kept me around for a reason.” Admittedly, Kristin doesn’t know the reason yet, but today she’s focused on finding that out and sharing her testimony with others. She counts herself in the group of people who need to “hit rock bottom” or be on the “brink of death” to let go of control and give it over to God.

family photo Mitch
Leah B Photography

Owen Today

Though there was concern about brain damage or developmental delays because he was without oxygen and not breathing at the time of birth, today Owen is a completely typical boy. He has one speed and that’s ‘full on’- always physically moving with a mind going a million miles a second. “We joke that it’s because of the steroid and epinephrine shot he received when he was born.”  No one would want him any other way.

Kristin & Mitch Today

They live differently today than before this birthing experience. Their faith was made real. Neither takes life for granted and each avoids fretting over little things. “Stupid arguments are just that-stupid.”

Kristin knows she’s a different mom than she may have been had she not had gone through all this. She owns her over-protectiveness of Owen and still struggles with feelings of guilt about her body putting him at risk. They’re both doing their finest to be the best parents they can be and to enjoy every moment while Owen still wants to “hang out with them.”

And, they cannot wait to see how God will use Owen.

Neither can we!

Click here for more information on  HELLP Syndrome.

  • H(Hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells)
  • EL (Elevated liver enzymes)
  • LP (Low platelet count)

How did you react to Kristin’s story and faith journey? When has your faith gotten real?

Leave your comments below.

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WOWT TV Story Aired May 31, 2016 in Omaha, NE

 

©Copyright. April 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Police Wives Cry Too

officer down imagePolice Officer Jason Moszer died Thursday, February 11, 2016 after being shot while on duty. He started with the Fargo, North Dakota (ND) Police Department in November 2009, where he protected, served, and gave the ultimate sacrifice. His death is the first of a Fargo officer in more than 130 years. Sadly, he is one of 10 officers killed in the line of duty in the United States in the first month and a half of 2016.
Our sympathy and condolences to his family and fellow officers.

Jason’s family requests that donations in his memory be directed to Lifesource, 2225 West River Road North, Minneapolis, MN 55411.

At times like this our hearts, thoughts and prayers rightfully go out to all affected. But do you ever stop to think of police officer spouses and families on a daily basis? Do you wonder what their thoughts and fears are? Do you consider how they cope with the ever-changing culture of public servants? Maybe you should.

Two police wives-both married 30+ years and from the adjoining states of North and South Dakota-share their stories. Much gratitude to them, their officer spouses, and their respective families for decades of service and sacrifice.
To protect their identity and for their safety, they are referred to as Wife A and B.
Feel free to leave your words of appreciation and comments below.
Wife A
Early Days
I’ve been married to a law enforcement officer for 33 years. In 1982 he joined the Air Force and began his career as part of the Security Police. During his 10 years of service, he held multiple positions in different locales from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Turkey, where he secured a small base in Ankara. I remained stateside pregnant with our first child. During his 15 months in Turkey our first son was born and it literally took 6 months for him to meet his son through photographs-cell phones, video conferencing and texting didn’t exist then.
Family Threatened
August of 1985 we moved to Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB), South Dakota. He had many changes at Ellsworth, as did our family. Our daughter was born. He was selected to work a special drug task force with OSI (Office of Special Investigation). Of course he was thrilled and I was apprehensive. Our son was 3 years old and our daughter was an infant. Much of the drug task force was undercover work so his appearance had to change-full beard, long hair. He certainly didn’t look military anymore. I think he was enjoying the uncivil look after spending several years in the Air Force. This was dangerous work and took him to the underworld of drug dealings on the Indian Reservations as well as motorcycle gangs. The hours were terrible. As you can imagine, it was not an 8-5 job. He continued this work for about 2 years until our family was threatened and he decided it was time to move on. Our next assignment took us to Hawaii. He spent about a year at Wheeler AFB as a Sergeant in charge of patrol units and then spent another year on Hickam AFB in the Investigation Unit, which would be similar to a detective in the civilian police departments. We left the Air Force in 1992 since our son passed away in 1991 and we made the decision to move closer to family.
Joined City Force
He started with a metropolitan police department in 1994, the same year our second son was born. Of course, being the new guy meant lousy hours and days off but by now we were used to it. Being a police officer means you sometimes give up family time and miss events like school concerts, sports, church with family, and birthdays and holidays. I’d done it for 10 years and learned to adjust to being alone, getting the kids to school/daycare, helping them with the homework, or maybe just trying to keep them quiet since dad was asleep during the day because he worked at night.
He has worked mostly patrol with a 5 year stint as a traffic investigator where he investigated hit and run accidents, serious and fatal crashes. This again meant call outs in the middle of the night and he itched to return to patrol. He’s been doing that ever since.
Changing Police Culture
Over the years there have been changes to police departments and to the public’s perception of them. New recruits are taught to be softer and kinder, which is a much different attitude from when my husband became a police officer. I remember when people had a healthy fear of the police, but they also respected the police. Sadly, I do not see that anymore. I also feel that getting a little too close or personal could put the officer at more risk. As a spouse, it makes me angry when I see people chant “death to the police” or spit on them, or when they are criticized for their actions. The general hatred for police is very disturbing and honestly, at times, keeps me awake at night. Police officers should be able to protect themselves without question. Now we have police officers being killed for hesitating and others being charged with murder. This makes no sense to me.
Worrying & Understanding
I learned early on that I couldn’t sit and worry while he was at work. We talk about the dangers of the job together as a family and we all understand the reality that something bad could happen. He has been hurt on the job, bit by humans (which included HIV testing) and dogs and while in the process of arresting a kid high on drugs almost lost his thumb in the ratchet of his handcuff. He was hit while in his police car by a drunk driver and now has a permanent back injury. Of course, there are many more bumps and bruises from fights and arrests. It upsets me even when I think of how some of the general public feels about our officers. They risk their life to protect us and this is how we treat them.
Time Numbs
Obviously, in this changing world, his safety is always on my mind. The sheer thought that police are targeted just because they are police officers makes me angry and hurt. Offenders and protesters have no idea what these officers go through each day and what they see. They have witnessed violence at the level some of us can’t even imagine- murders, rapes, suicides, mentally ill, and domestic abuse. They also might sit with any lonely, elderly person just to visit. The list is too long.
Overtime, I believe he’s become numb to the things he’s witnessed. Very little bothers him anymore. I believe if he became emotionally attached, the job would’ve eaten him up. Coping with the stress of the job becomes a family affair. He needs to be able to come home and talk about his days and, as a wife, I need to listen, even if it is unpleasant. Sharing his job with family helps all of us cope.
Children Affected
As the kids grew through different stages of their life, their attitude toward their dad’s job somewhat changed. In grade school they thought having a police officer as their dad was cool. In junior high and high school they were more appalled. He would always tell the kids, “I always know what you are doing.” They felt they couldn’t get away with anything. Now that they’re adults, they have more respect for their dad and for what he does. They understand the dangers; especially in today’s society, but they also know their dad is an experienced police officer and he is ready for all situations that arise. It gives me comfort and peace as well, knowing that even in a deadly situation he will always do the right thing. Our son has also considered a career in law enforcement. Advice from his veteran office dad is to get some real life experience first and then consider a law enforcement career. At 21, he’s much too immature for this very important community role.
Coping Skills & Friendships
Developing coping skills is an important part of being the spouse of a police officer. Friendships with other law enforcement families and spouses are important as these individuals know what we deal with on a daily basis. It is important to have the network.
Wife B
Educator to Officer
I married an educator 30 years ago who was offered a full time law enforcement officer job when teaching jobs were scarce. We were excited and naively never considered how dangerous the profession is. He soon loved his detention officer job; however, the shift work was a huge adjustment. We had a very active young son and together he and I had many outings to the park and zoo and visits to family members as my husband slept during the day so he could work safely at night.
Work opportunities came along and he became a patrol officer and earned various training certificates. Along with the change came more stress and fear for me. Will he get injured? Will he be safe? Will he be able to train new officers? Will the new officers be safe from his training?
Despite Variety, No Painless Law Enforcement Jobs
Thereafter, he was thrilled about an opportunity to join the dive rescue team. He loved the water and was excited to become a certified diver. All I could think of was that his job now entailed locating drowned individuals. Our sons loved the idea of him being on the dive rescue team and had to have their own snorkel and mask just like their dad. It certainly was not exciting for me to help him recover from the experience of finding a boy close to our son’s age. The drowning victim’s family was grateful that their son’s body was recovered but I was not grateful for having to help him deal with his own personal recovery.
It was exciting when he was offered a full time training officer opportunity. We were back to a Monday thru Friday schedule with an eight hour work day. Honestly, it was an adjustment for the boys and me to have their father around after 5pm and on weekends, but I had no more worrying about him taking calls in his patrol car.
I got to relax my fears and worries for a few years. Though he loved being a law enforcement instructor at a technical college, he missed the excitement and challenge of hands-on law enforcement. And now that our sons graduated and there was less activity in the household, once again, he was back on the road as a patrol officer.
We are older and hopefully wiser, but that does not make it easier to adjust to 12 hour shifts. We see how our city has grown and changed over the years; however, the changes became very real when he went back to being a patrol officer dealing with the activities that go on in the community. My worries, stress and fears greatly escalated as he began patrolling again.
As the grandchildren appear and the activities and events start up again, it’s not as easy to miss out on the special occasions. We are fortunate that another advancement opportunity appeared and he is back to Monday thru Friday with 8 hour a day.

Changing Times
Things have changed throughout my husband’s law enforcement career but a spouse’s worry for her husband and co-workers and their families never ends. I’ve had the stress of attending my husband’s co-worker’s funeral. Dealing with the reality that it could’ve been him never leaves my mind. As my husband starts his job as a supervisor in the detention center, my stress and worries don’t go away. They only change in the direction of inmates not cooperating.
Gory Details
When he came home from a long 12 hour shift, I would ask if it was busy and his usual response was, “No not really.” We rarely spoke details about the calls he answered. I really didn’t want to know the details as it would make me have to realize how dangerous his job really was. Sometimes I would overhear him talking to his friends about the exciting and interesting things (at least they thought they were) he had to deal with.
It’s not exciting to help him recover from finding a family that was murdered by their son. It’s not exciting to hear him toss and turn as he tries to sleep from a long day of stressful work. It’s not exciting to help him heal his sore body because of diving into a snow bank so he wasn’t run over by a car sliding on the ice.
Retirement Near, Can I Breathe?
It’s pretty clear that my husband’s law enforcement job won’t get less stressful; it seems to only increase as the years go on. My worries now come from seeing his aging body trying to make it through an 8 hour stressful day. It has me looking forward to his retirement. We deserve to enjoy some stress free years. I need to breathe.

All those in law enforcement deserve to breathe. Remember to thank those who serve and those who stand by them.

©Copyright. February 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

For more information and support log on to:

National Police Wives Association

Wives Behind the Badge

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Navigating Decades of Depression & Anxiety

Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. (National Institute of Mental Health) More than 1 out of 20 Americans 12 years of age and older reported current depression in 2005–2006.(Pratt LA, Brody DJ. Depression in the United States household population, 2005–2006. NCHS Data Brief. 2008(7):1–8.)

Here One Brave Follower Shares Her Struggles With Anxiety & Depression. If you have a story you’d like to share, contact me. Linda

depChildhood Illness Shakes Family of 8
I am the youngest of six children raised by a RN mother and draftsman father. At age eight, I suddenly became ill with three debilitating autoimmune disorders: Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and Raynaud’s phenomenon. These diagnoses changed my life forever and disrupted our family dynamic. Today I know these factors are the root cause of my lifelong struggle with depression.
My mother was my lifeline and I developed an unnatural physical and emotional dependency on her to the detriment of my siblings. For example, my sister who is five years older than me had challenges with anxiety and demonstrated symptoms of hypochondria to get attention from our Mom. For many years, Mom and I left home every three months for three days at a time to get me non-traditional treatment at an osteopathic clinic. Thankfully I was able to keep up at school with the help of some amazing teachers.
I missed out on many events, both at school and at home. At family holiday gatherings, I was typically on the couch or in my room. I was spoiled and everyone knew it. We weren’t wealthy so soda pop and cookies were rare, but since I was underweight, my parents bought me any food I requested, hoping I’d eat it and gain weight. One of my brothers was observant enough to understand this and often asked me to request certain food for him. I did.
Because there were no identified treatments for my condition, I was left to battle the challenging symptoms and the accompanying barrage of viral and bacterial illnesses with the aid of my constant companion, my mother. Antibiotics worked for the bacterial infections, but I more frequently had viruses that couldn’t be treated. There were no pharmaceuticals at that time for my autoimmune conditions. There probably are today.
Junior High Challenges
I spent junior high with low self-esteem and a very small circle of friends because I’d become extremely self-conscious of my condition. While my health had improved by this time, my self-image was framed by the previous years of illness, residual health challenges and a telltale facial butterfly rash. I was isolated by the illnesses and only had friends when I wasn’t sick. I’d developed an unhealthy belief I was defective and unworthy. All of this was exacerbated by depression and anxiety challenges that I’ve since learned are associated with autoimmune disease. I was never able to physically participate in gym class activities from second grade forward and without participation I didn’t develop any skill and had physical limitations in my hands and elbows. I missed a lot of school, but kept up enough to get good grades. I was never diagnosed with depression because at this time depression and anxiety conditions were rarely discussed or treated, especially in children. It wasn’t until I was in college that a general practitioner treated me for anxiety. I was given medication I took when I felt I needed it. Even at this age, I continued to lean on my mother for support.
College Obsession for Perfection
In college I became obsessed with the one thing I thought I could control in my life – my grade point average (GPA). Achieving that meant I was good at something, but the resulting stress I placed on myself to get a 4.0 required my taking anti-anxiety medications. Unless I got 100% on all tests and papers, I felt I failed. I beat myself up for less than perfection. This causes depression. I studied a lot. I did date some, but studying and grades were my priorities and certainly there was no play before all studying was complete. I lived at home so I didn’t have the same social experiences that those who lived with other students had. I did start college in the dorms, but I had to work food service to pay my room and board. I had a full class schedule so I went to class and studied and tried to have fun, but I couldn’t handle it physically and got mononucleosis (mono) so I had to withdraw from school to recuperate. That was a real low in my life. I finally felt like I was gaining my independence and my health, once again, prevented me from doing so. I lived at home for the rest of my college career. I was very capable socially with adults, as I spent a lot of time with my parents and their friends. I didn’t do as well with people of my own age. I was unpracticed and self-conscious.
I was anxious and depressed all through college but not enough not to participate in life. I had goals and hope for my future. Good grades gave me the self-esteem to muster through and to enter graduate school.
Never Good Enough
Following graduate school, my measurement of self-worth shifted to achievement in my work and resulting job titles. However, there was never sufficient evidence to convince me I was good enough. The unfulfilled expectations of me resulted in heightened levels of anxiety and depression. At this point in my life I was married (and beginning to feel trapped in the marriage) and working at my first job. My depression led to hyperventilation. I didn’t know that was what was happening. It wasn’t like you see in movies. I couldn’t detect a breathing issue. I just felt like I was going to pass out. After being passed around to several doctors, I was sent to a neurologist, who diagnosed my depression. This is when I was put on an antidepressant that I took for many years. The number, shape and colors of the antidepressant medications changed over the many years to follow as hyperventilation and other symptoms of anxiety and depression escalated. Remember, talk therapy was not mainstream then either. In fact, I didn’t experience this until after my divorce.
Debilitating Hopelessness
A marriage, subsequent divorce, and later the death of my mother, and two reductions-in-force (job losses) resulted in a deepened state of hopelessness and heightened anxiety. My low point was after the second job loss. The first lay off was as bad as I thought it could get, but the second one exceeded the first. I didn’t have the energy or hope to go on. The depression and anxiety became debilitating. I couldn’t do anything but sleep, shake and cry. I ended up in a psychologist’s office and admitted I didn’t want to live. I wasn’t suicidal per se, but I simply had no hope for a future. She referred me to an inpatient depression program. It really didn’t help me. What I needed was a job. That’s the only way I could regain a semblance of a life. Somehow I could quit bouncing my leg and get myself together for interviews, and I did get a job that I really didn’t want because I didn’t want to move out-of-state. At this point I was on some pretty powerful medications, but I still wasn’t doing well emotionally. I was living in another city, feeling all alone and out-of-place. I was alive and going through the motions, but was not myself at all. New and more pills were prescribed with abysmal results, but I battled on…..barely.
Suicidal Co-Worker Saved Me
Miraculously, I was able to rejoin a previous employer and return to my home, but the anxiety and depression remained prominent. Because I was back in my home and in a familiar city, I was better emotionally but still struggling mightily to get through a work day. My biggest challenge was short-term memory issues caused by depression. With what I attribute to serendipity, I subsequently hired a vibrant young woman who later disclosed her past suicide attempt while taking antidepressants. Her mother, an RN, was desperate to find an effective alternative treatment. What she discovered was an amino acid protocol, the results of which literally save her daughter’s life.
Because of the honesty of my co-worker and the success I’d seen her have on the amino acid protocol, about 18 months ago; I made a successful transition from traditional antidepressants to amino acid treatment. While my results haven’t been as dramatic as hers, which I attribute to my auto-immune disease and the many accumulated years of depression and anxiety, I am functioning much better than I was while taking anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs, and without their many undesirable side-effects. Today I take no prescription anti-anxiety or depression drugs.
Gratitude and Hope
I feel grateful for finding a treatment that more effectively manages my depression and anxiety without the many unpleasant side effects of traditional drug therapy. I am exercising, traveling, following a healthy, gluten-free diet, and functioning better at work than I have since my second job loss.
Being open and honest about my struggles with depression is not easy. I chose to share my journey, hoping others who personally suffer, or are close to someone who suffers, from depression and anxiety will find hope.
I wish you well.

Resources for those needing more information.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

National Institute of Mental Health

National Institute on Aging

©Copyright. February 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

Letter to 1-Year-Old Son From Dad

The Delights of Being a 1st Time Dad

It’s amazing how you can love someone you’ve never met.

I realized on January 26, 2015 how much more fun it is when you do meet. That day my life changed forever when our son David was born. I’ve been smitten by him ever since and here is what I’d like to say to him as his Dad-a first time dad.

infantDavid,

You looked straight into my eyes when I first held you and I can’t imagine what was going through your mind. I was in pure bliss.

I was able to get a taste of your personality immediately when you were in the nursery lined up next to five baby girls who were perfectly swaddled and there you were, with the blankets kicked out and sprawled all over just like Daddy. I couldn’t have been more proud.

The delights of being your dad have all come in phases related to your development and interests.

The first was when we realized you were a very good baby. You were a great sleeper and rarely cried outside of being hungry. You did spit-up a lot, but over time even that became a source of laughter as you managed to stain nearly every piece of clothing I own. Shower time was always a favorite as you were mesmerized by the water, yet loved to get wet and watch the water go down the drain.

The rolling stage was next. You first rolled over at 4 weeks so we were always nervous but excited to watch you enjoy your new, yet limited freedom. You also started to smile a lot, which makes any new parent feel as if they’re doing something right, even though it was probably just you peeing.

You then transitioned to the almost-crawling stage. It looked more like an awkward army crawl, but it was the first time we needed to house proof. Only outlets and pictures on various furniture pieces could be reached, but it made you smile.

Then you crawled and our adventure had officially begun. Watching you follow us around like a little puppy was a hoot. We transitioned to a house that appeared like a prison with many gates. Our possessions crept ever higher. For the first time, I experienced the stage fright associated with someone staring at you while trying to do what had always been private.

You first learned to walk while pushing your bright red Ferrari F430.david red truck It allowed so much freedom between pieces of furniture that you spent most of your time on your feet. Not surprisingly we spent most of our time running after you saying ‘no’. I think the Ferrari developed your love for the color red as you became fans of Elmo and anything red with wheels. We just sat and smiled as you were so proud to push your car back and forth across the living room from one of us to the other. It was during one of the these sessions that I removed the car and you took your first actual step.

You knew that something big just happened! You held your first step and looked at your mom with the excitement that you figured it out. The next morning you took 3 steps and have never looked back. What we thought had previously looked like a prison, now looks much more restricted. Our possessions crept ever higher and the Christmas tree looked stunning from the halfway point up where your mom started the ornaments. Christmas was the first holiday where you were moving well enough to chase your cousins around and you loved every minute of it, as did we.

Recently you turned one. It was a party for you and a reflection for your mom and I on how happy you’ve made us. In writing this its become apparent that the delights in being a first time dad are the same delights that every first time parent has. The rolling, crawling, walking, and talking are nothing out of the ordinary except for the first time its my child and that makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for being in my world. You’ve changed it, in every good way.

I love you David!

Dad

David's familyNathan is a native North Dakotan, raised in Dickinson. He graduated from North Dakota State University (Fargo) and is a financial advisor for Edward Jones in Bismarck where he and wife Amanda raise their son. They are joyful followers of Christ who enjoy going for family walks when it’s nice and playing indoors in forts with David when it’s not. Nathan and Amanda look forward to traveling with David as he gets older so he has an appreciation for all that this world has to offer, especially the great structures, museums, and natural wonders.  His first trip, however, will be in March 2016 to meet a mouse named Mickey.

Do you write letters to your child(ren)? What a great tradition to start for each of their birthdays. My husband Ken writes one every month on the same day to our college aged son who looks forward to going to his mailbox  to collect it. What a great way for your child(ren) to hear your voice through the written word and recapture who you were long after you’re gone. It’s not too late-start a writing tradition-today.

Share this post with others to encourage fathers to write letters to their sons-of any age.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. February 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

An Adoptee’s Voice 54 Years Later

(Shared by Susan-a follower from Florida)
Half-a-million adult adoptees were seeking or had found their birth families according to a late 1980’s survey. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998). In a study of American adolescents, the Search Institute found that 72 percent of adopted adolescents wanted to know why they were adopted, 65 percent wanted to meet their birth parents, and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they looked like. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)
Susan was no different. Here is her story 54 years later.baby

THE BEGINNING
I was adopted at about nine months old by loving, gentle parents who fought to conceive and maintain pregnancies. I had an older brother, Bill, who was adopted at six weeks old and a younger sister, Lisa, who was about 18 months old when she joined the family. None of us were previously related.

I always knew I was adopted. My first recollection of this awareness was when I was in 2nd grade and my teacher asked, “Who in this class was adopted?” and my hand flew up. When I looked around, there may have been one other person, but I was never bothered by the fact. I asked my mom how she told me and she claimed she didn’t really remember. She thought she’d used books from the library that talked about being chosen and not coming from her tummy. I just always knew I was adopted. I had nothing to compare it with and didn’t know what it felt like to not be adopted. All I knew was that I was very much loved.
I was born in Ohio in 1961 and it was considered a “closed” adoption: neither party was privy to information about the other. The Ohio laws have since changed and anyone born before 1963 is free to search.
CHILDHOOD CURIOSITY
As a child, I was curious about my birth mother and fantasized that she was a wealthy, blue blood type person-someone like Crystal Carrington from susans adoptive family labelDynasty, a popular TV show at the time. I was very open with my mother. In turn, she was always a bit defensive, confusing me with her instructions not to go alone if I ever searched for my birth mother. Now I know she was trying to protect me. She believed that as a young, college educated adult, I might feel obligated to help my birth mother out if I saw she was struggling. Even though I assured my mother this was not a consideration, I felt she was withholding something from me. I’m not sure if I learned then, or if I knew sooner, but I was adopted from the county welfare department, as was my younger sister Lisa. Our origin was the source of my mother’s uneasiness. At this time, I was just curious and never felt a pressing need to search because my curiosity mostly was about my nationality. I didn’t search.
PREGNANCY CHANGED EVERYTHING
It wasn’t until I was married, living in California and pregnant with our first child that I seriously began looking into my birth background. I had an unsatisfied need to know what genes I was passing on to my children. In the past, when it came time to fill out paperwork at clinics, I’d answered questions about family history with, “I don’t know. Adopted!” Now it was about to affect another generation. If I could find  anything out, I desperately wanted to.
During the pregnancy, my mother came to California from Ohio to help me wallpaper the nursery and I kept peppering her with questions about this. She finally had enough and exclaimed, “Damn it!” which I had NEVER heard her say. My persistent questions really upset her. So much so that she shared with me all she knew, which was only my birth mother’s last name. Immediately I began the search, starting at the hospital where I was born and then calling the Cleveland welfare department.
SHOCKING NEWS
My goal was to know my heredity and disease history, but that’s not what I found out. I opened a can of worms that couldn’t have been further from my ideal birth mother image. The information was so upsetting that my husband Dave convinced me to put it all aside until after the birth of our son and deal with it later. It was great advice since my hormones were all whacked out from the pregnancy as it was.

It wasn’t too long afterwards though when I dealt with the information I’d received. I discovered I was the youngest of my birth mother’s five children, all adopted. The two oldest girls were in and out of foster care before their permanent homes. One brother died at birth and another I know nothing about. I learned I was taken to the welfare department straight from the hospital and that none of us had the same father. Our birth mother had psychological issues and was in and out of hospitals. She ended up dying in her 40’s in the hospital before my search began. To be truthful, her death was a relief because I didn’t have to make the decision to meet her. It was made for me.
SISTERS SEARCHING
I’d gathered all of this information from a wonderful social worker at the welfare department. As it turns out, my oldest biological sister, Judy, started her birth background search within a month of me inquiring about my background. I truly can’t make this stuff up!  Judy and I started exchanging birthday and Christmas cards, all through the social worker who understood we’d have some initial trust issues. Soon Judy and I were exchanging addresses.

About a year after Judy and I connected, I got another call from the social worker. She told me my birth sister, Jane, had made an inquiry to her background. So again, we made our introductions and became birthday and Christmas card friends. Judy and Jane are both lovely, decent women with terrific families. We have met a couple of times and I am glad they are in my life. We remain in contact and social media has allowed us to stay up to date with one another.
TO THOSE ADOPTING

I was always open with my parents about my findings because I knew they were just as curious as I was. I certainly have a better understanding of my mother’s apprehensiveness. I know she never felt she would be replaced. My brother never searched for his birth parents because he always thought it would hurt our parents. I never felt that way. Lisa, my youngest sister and only remaining family member, never searched for her birth parents either. She chose not to have children. Maybe that’s why she never chose to look into her background.
My advice for couples considering adoption is to find out the things I never did: Heredity and diseases, even if only on the birth mother’s side because these are important when you have children. I’m still curious about that part of my history.
Finally, I would say to people adopting-love those children. Discipline them and be open with them. Let them know they’re wanted.

Family is who you are with. My wonderful childhood is something I would never change. Nature vs. nurture is an argument that will continue….both are needed.
susan portraitSusan and Dave and their very spoiled rescue yellow Labrador, Jackson, recently moved to Florida in search of a more relaxed lifestyle on the beach after 20 years in Atlanta, GA where their three children were raised. Susan grew up in a modest house in a small suburb of Cleveland, OH, attended Ohio (Athens) University and worked in radio in Ohio before marrying Dave whose career took them to Los Angeles, CA, Charleston, SC and Minneapolis, MN. She volunteered in her children’s schools, substitute taught and worked as a paraprofessional in an elementary school Physical Education department. As an empty nester, she’s also worked part-time retail jobs.

CONSIDERING ADOPTION?

Each year nearly 120,000 children are placed for adoption. If you’re considering adoption, Here are some resources to explore. Share this story with those you know considering adoption.

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Adoption Agencies by State

Adoptive Families

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Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. January 2016. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

I Spent New Year’s Eve With a New Man

A new man ended 2015 and started 2016 with me. It was the first time he invited me to spend the night. He made me dinner and showed me his city. He unloaded my vehicle upon arrival, had linens laid out and noticeably had cleaned his home in anticipation of my visit. During my stay, we shopped, cooked, talked, laughed, recalled past New Year’s Eve events and chewed a lot of sunflower seeds while watching endless college bowl games. Occasionally, he’d flip the channel and let me see New Year’s Eve programming from Times Square. We toasted the beginning of a new year and he taught me to play Phase 10-a card game.

The man I spent New Years with is our 21-year-old son, Alex. It  was my first aaaovernight at his home and it was memorable not only for the ringing in of a new year but also for his hospitality. Admittedly, I was a bit tepid about encroaching on his space for the first time-sleeping on his bed, using his shower, eating his food and following his house rules. The truth is thinking about the role reversal on the drive there far exceeded the reality of it. Once the door opened, it was quite natural.

For the most part, I checked my “mother role” at the door and entered his home as a guest. Okay, I did offer some non-solicited advice on cooking and, when he wasn’t looking, I took a couple extra swipes with the dishcloth at the oven top. And I might even have reset the coffee table and opened the blinds. But, don’t tell him! It’s just not that easy switching from mom to guest so abruptly. When he asked me to get him a beverage from the refrigerator, I knew the role shift wasn’t that easy for him either. We all fall into natural roles like mom and son. But I did want him to know during this visit I was also a guest and he was the host. It’s one of those things you learn over time-how to host guests. With more practice, I’m sure I’ll do better as a guest and he will continue to excel as a host.

I left my man’s home feeling proud and blessed that our son has matured into a person who can fund his own home, keep it clean, furnish it and even host his parents for a holiday with graciousness and charm.

It was a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a very special start to 2016.

I’m already waiting for the next invitation. This time I’ll leave the dishcloth, oven top, coffee table and blinds alone. Promise? Maybe! I’m still his Mom.

Do you recall the first time you spent the night at your child’s home? Can you relate?  How? Comment. Share.

 

©Copyright. January 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.