Let them fall…

“Did you see this BS?”

That was the subject line of an email from my Dad…so I knew there was something good in the email to follow.

He shared an article from the NY Post and I saw the headline immediately: Everyone makes school’s cheer squad after parent complains 

Sigh.

To sum it up: a girl didn’t make the cheer squad. Her mom was very upset…went to complain and POOF! Her daughter is now on the squad. In fact, there will never be tryouts ever again…everyone will make the team automatically.

Cue eye-roll.

We are failing our children when we act like this.

We are teaching them that it’s okay not to work hard.

We are teaching them not to practice…because you’ll play anyway.

We are teaching them not to study…because you deserve an “A.”

We are teaching them not to be in the extra effort…because you will make the team.

We are teaching them if they don’t get enough playing time…don’t worry, Mommy will talk to the coach.

We all want the best for our children. We want them to succeed in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the stage…you get the picture.  But, they’ll fail in life if we are constantly pulling on the puppet strings.

My dad was a boys basketball coach for YEARS. Before the season would start, he would have a parents meeting. He would say the same thing every year: “Once this season starts, your sons are mine. I’m the boss here. The second you come to me and complain that he’s not playing or you question my decisions, your son is benched. No questions asked.” My Dad stood by that. There were parents who hated him for that but guess what? All of his athletes RESPECTED him. They worked hard. They put in the extra effort.

I believe 100% what my Dad said…and that’s how my husband and I are with our children.

You want to make the team? You better work your butt off. If you don’t? Mom and dad aren’t going to chase down the coach and demand answers.

You didn’t get enough playing time? Maybe you need to rethink the effort you’re putting in.

You didn’t do well on a test? Maybe you need to study a little more.

Here is a list of everything our children are entitled to:

 

(Yep – nothing)

Rewards must come from hard work…not handouts.

I’m not trying to sound like I’m standing on a pulpit and telling other people how to parent. Lord knows I’m still learning.

But let’s be real here – the parents who fight their kids battles…who argue with the coach…who demand more playing time for little Susie…well, you’re the ones who are making it not fun anymore. You are the ones ruining youth sports. Sorry not sorry.

We don’t want our kids to fail.  But experiencing failure is what makes us great.

Let them fall.

They’ll get up.

And they’ll respect you for it later.

 

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That dark place…

Kate Spade.

Anthony Bourdain.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone was shocked when we learned about their deaths. We heard things like “they had it all”…”they were always so happy”…”never saw this coming!”

Then we were reminded to call the 800-number to talk to someone. People posted very sweet messages on social media letting everyone know that they are there if anyone needs to talk.

I wish it was that simple.

I wish the fix was that easy.

But sadly, it’s not.

After my son was born 7 years ago, I hit a wall and sunk into a dark place.  It happened so fast I had no idea what was happening. I would cry uncontrollably over miniscule things – like finding a Goldfish cracker on the floor after I swept. I never slept – even when I was exhausted beyond belief, I still could not fall asleep.

The worst was I thought I was a horrible mom because I wasn’t all gaga over my son like I was my daughter. Talk about an awful feeling as a mom to have. I knew something wasn’t right.

I was diagnosed with Postpartum depression.

At the time, family & friends didn’t help.

I was told things like “Oh you’ll snap out of it”…”You’re just emotional because of all of the hormones”…”You’re too strong, you’ll bounce back”…”This should be a happy time”…”Maybe you just need some fresh air”…”You have nothing to be sad about! You have it all! You’re so blessed!”

The more “advice” I got, the crazier I felt.

If someone handed me a card to call a 1-800 number, I would have ripped it up. I was in a deep, dark hole – the last thing I wanted to do was call a number and talk to a stranger…someone who knew nothing about me.

My doctor prescribed some medication…I tried it…but I didn’t like it.

I was irritable…tired…moody…angry…sluggish…incredibly overwhelmed. I have never in my life felt like that.  I was so angry at myself because I was just given another one of God’s greatest blessings…and I felt like I didn’t deserve him.

I didn’t know I had a clinical illness.

I didn’t know that I wasn’t alone.

I didn’t know that postpartum depression is more common than most people realize.

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a friend who went through it too…that I started to heal. She got me…she’s been there…so she listened.

She didn’t give me a pep talk.

She didn’t say anything cliché about being strong.

She was there.

She listened.

She validated my feelings.

She made me feel normal.

She brought me back to ME.

After the birth of my fourth child this past October, I started to sink back to that familiar dark place. This time I knew the cause: I was in and out of the hospital with a dangerous infection that led to a longer hospital stay and then wearing that wound vac for months. I was feeling lower than low.

This time, I knew something wasn’t right…but I knew I was still NORMAL.  I knew it was not character WEAKNESS.

So I talked to someone.

I screamed…I shouted…I cried uncontrollably.

Again – there was no pep talk. I didn’t need one nor did I want one.

I needed my feelings to be validated.

And they were.

 

 

 

 

 

Now that we have your attention…

A lot of people are talking about Iowa this morning.

American Idol winner and Clarksville native Maddie Poppe captured the world with her unbelievable talent, grace and personality. I mean come on…how can you not love Maddie??

A friend of mine from back home in PA (yes, if you’re from Pennsylvania you just say PA) said to me that she loved when AI showed Maddie going back home to Iowa. “You can just tell the people there are genuine and nice.”

Yep. It’s true. Iowa nice.

Well now that we have your attention a little more America, I want to share a few more pictures. Because we need your help. In the beginning, every news outlet talked about them…but then, just like the ribbons on the trees, everything started to fade.

So I know people are coming off the high of the Royal fairytale…we’re analyzing everything from the dress, hair and flowers. And then there’s the social media phenomenon trying to figure out if it’s “Laurel” or “Yanny”. I’m sorry…but there is something much more pressing.

jake3

This is Jake. Jake Wilson. He’s been missing for 45 days now. 45 days. As a mom, I can’t even fathom how it feels to have a child missing…especially not knowing what happened. Was he taken? Was is hurt? Is he being kept somewhere against his will? Everything is unknown. This picture is more important than any “exclusive” Royal wedding picture. This is someone’s son…and he’s been gone for 45 days.

elizabeth lyric

This is Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook. They’re cousins. They were abducted in a neighboring town. Their bodies were found miles away.

They were murdered.

Their killer…has still not been found.

So while an American woman became a real-life princess and she certainly looked gorgeous doing it…these are the pictures that I would love to see flooding social media.

So now that we have your attention America…we need to fight for these kids.

Our voices are all they have.

That $50.

Raising money for PREVENTION is tough.

There I said it.

As a society, we do a really good job responding to a crisis. When there is someone in an immediate need, we always step up. It’s something I will always admire about our community.

But prevention…that’s tricky. You can’t see it. People don’t think there’s an “immediate need.”

I’ve been planning a Dancing With the Stars event to raise money for Family & Children’s Council.  It’s something different…something I have seen in many other cities across the country that is unique and fun.

“Tickets are $50.”

“That’s a little steep…what do we get for that.”

That was a quick exchange I had recently. And I get it. $50 is a lot…money is tight…you may have to get a babysitter…will there be free food or drink? All things that would pop into my head too.

We need that $50. Every child in our community needs that $50. This is why.

Recently, a 10-year-old girl was taking part of our Take Charge of Your Body program in her school in Black Hawk County. (It’s our sexual abuse prevention program). In the middle of the presentation, she started to cry. Glenda, our Sexual Abuse Prevention Coordinator, pulled the young girl out of the classroom to talk with her. It was disclosed that she was being sexually abused by her father since she was three-years-old. In fact, her father was forcing her to watch pornography. He told her “do you see that man and girl? That’s what fathers and daughters do.” She thought this was NORMAL because that is what she was taught. Our TCOYB program taught this girl about what is appropriate behavior and what is not appropriate. And because of our programming, that young girl is now in a happy, healthy and SAFE environment.

The money that we get into FCC to support our programming is what helped to empower this young girl to use her voice and get into a safe place.  That’s what we do.

So yes, people may get annoyed by my endless posts trying to sell tickets to “another event.” But it’s never about THE EVENT. It’s about what the event allows us to do….keep kids safe.

I can assure you – that $50 is not going to pay for the venue. It’s not going to pay for the food we’re going to give you.  It’s not going to pay for the drinks we’re going to have. It’s not paying for our local stars’ time. It’s not going to pay for my salary. It’s not going to pay for our office rent.

That $50 is going to make sure we do everything we can to help a child safe.

Every child.

From every neighborhood…from every side of town….from every family.

$50.

That breaks down to $0.96 a week for a year.

How much would you pay to keep your own child safe?

 

Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day.

It feels different this year.

I had so many medical problems after Aria was born, I honestly didn’t know if I would be around for this Mother’s Day. I remember when I was in the emergency room I looked at the nurse and said: “I have four children at home. Please help me. They need me.” She touched my hand and said, “Stay strong momma.”

Stay strong.

It’s the mantra of moms everywhere isn’t it?

There are moms to babies in heaven.

There are moms who are watching their children fight for their lives in the hospital.

There are moms who have children missing.

There are moms who have children who are being bullied.

There are moms who have children who have taken their own lives.

There are moms who never got to hold their child.

We are in this amazingly sad, crazy and beautiful sisterhood together.

We have so many sleepless nights.

That’s because we worry about the health of our unborn child…

We rock the fussy baby to sleep…

We check under the bed for monsters after the toddler has a nightmare…

We lay with the grade-schooler because he just wants to have time with mommy…

We wait up for the teenager because there is no better sound than that front door opening…

We feel helpless when the baby has colic…

When the toddler skins both knees…

When the grade-schooler is getting bullied…

or when the teenager has their heart broken for the first time.

We wonder if we’re making the right decision when it comes to daycare, school and sports.

We wonder if they’re eating enough vegetables, brushing their teeth properly and getting enough sleep.

We wonder if they’re being kind, respectful and genuine to others.

We wonder if others are being kind, respectful and genuine to them.

We wonder if they’re eating alone at lunch or have nobody to play with at recess.

Morning, noon, night and middle of the night…we worry.

We worry because there is no greater love than the LOVE a mother has for her child.

So yes, on Mother’s Day, I want a break.

A break from worrying.

So let me sleep in a little…

Do the laundry…clean up the house a bit…make me my favorite foods.

Do all of that so I can surround myself with the four blessings God gave me…

I want to be FULLY PRESENT with them…

Because God knew they still need me…and I need them.

Happy Mother’s Day.

xx

 

 

 

“REPEAT AS NEEDED”

I often tell people that right now, in this moment, I have the most important job of my entire life: I advocate for children….for their happiness…for their safety.

It’s a blessing.

But it also keeps me up at night.

I wonder if I am making a difference.

I wonder if people are truly listening when I say how vital it is to INVEST in a child’s safety and happiness rather than waiting for a crisis to happen.

I wonder if people are willing to come from behind their “white picket fence” to realize that EVERY child matters. And although your home is happy, healthy and safe…that is NOT the case for every child in our community.

I wonder a lot of things.

But God always steps in with a message when we need it the most…and today was no different.

I received a package in the mail from a young woman who has been an inspiration for me for quite some time. Inside was a beautiful handmade bracelet from an adorable shop in Independence called PolkaDot Bear.

It was the index card inside this package that empowered me and made me tear up all at once… madi

On the backside of the card it read: Amanda, you know the drill. Repeat as needed.

This is EVERYTHING.

It’s the mantra every woman needs.

It’s something we ALL need to hear.

It’s something we ALL need to say to ourselves.

It’s something we ALL need to shout.

Thank you to my dear friend, Madi for reminding me of WHO I AM.

Sometimes it takes someone else to write it all down on paper for you to realize it all yourself.

We need more people like Madi. People who take the time to let someone else know this: you matter.

Go out and be like Madi today and every day.

Make it a point to go inspire someone.

xx

31 Days.

This is the most important blog post I have ever written because it’s the one I need to get “out there” the most.

31 days.

Jake Wilson has been gone for 31 days.

31 days of not knowing where he is.

31 days of not knowing what happened.

31 days of not sitting at the breakfast table.

31 days of not being able to hear his laugh.

31 days of not getting a hug from him.

31 days of not seeing his smile.

31 days.

This is Jake Wilson.

jake3.jpg

It doesn’t matter that you’ve shared it 10 times…100 times…or 1,000 times.

He’s still not home.

31 days.

He’s our son…our grandson…our brother…our nephew…our friend…our student.

We don’t give up on children. We need to help bring him home.

We are the village.

Say his name over and over. Share his picture over and over. There’s no such thing as sharing “too much.” This isn’t about US. It’s about Jake Wilson…he is still not home.

So I will continue to share his name…his picture every single day. If that’s too much for people, then they can unfollow me.

#bringjakehome