Monday, December 12, 2011

Motherhood: Helping Our Children Love Themselves. And Cocktail Parties, Lots of Makeup and Running!

Thank you for your supportive words regarding my motherhood mention in my last post.  Many of you asked me to share in more detail and I've been meaning to get here for a few days but just haven't found the time.  Truth is, things are much better but I've surely learned a few things in the process:

  • Kids need to feel safe sharing things with us or they will bottle things up and this will cause them stress.  It depends on the kid of course.  Some, like my oldest daughter, are more private than others.
  • I'm definitely harder on my oldest than I think I will be on my younger two.  I think this is normal.  My standards are pretty high and I can sometimes be too hard on her.  If I'm not careful, I'm just one big nag of a mom and she can end up feeling like she can do nothing right.  
  • There is a fine line between helping your kid see things for themselves and telling them HOW to be and think.  I really try to be more of a facilitator and guide in helping my kids learn and think for themselves but this is much easier as a teacher than when dealing with your own children.  
  • Every difficult situation we work through with our children is a learning opportunity.  I'm thankful for some conflict and difficult times NOW because it will only help make them stronger for LATER.  I'm glad that we are not the family that just seems so perfect on the outside and where we never need to talk about anything because everything is so seemingly perfect.  This would be easier, yes, but I'm thankful for these moments where we can work through things together.  
  • You can never overdo it when telling your kids that you love them.  
  • It is so important to find moments to praise our children and catch them in their efforts and hard work.  I try not to praise them as a person but more so their choices and actions.  Instead of saying "You're such a good girl or a good boy", I say things like "I really love the way you folded your clothes! Thank you".  I don't want them to judge their self worth off of how good they are.  I want them to always feel worthy of love and feel self confident even when they do make bad choices.  This is tricky. I'm probably not making sense here as I am typing rather quickly and my time is running out.  
  • Positive self talk is SO IMPORTANT for all of us.  Athletes, mothers, children, self.  So much power in how we talk about our self.  I am smart, I am beautiful, I am a good friend, I am worthy of love, I am a child of God, I am funny, I am fast....these things are so POWERFUL in BEING what we want to be.  I can't stress this enough for my children.  We've really been working on saying these things before we go to sleep at night.  
So, what was it exactly that happened that shook me up so much?  
Well, my neighbor found a note that my daughter wrote to her friend.  It basically said "I hate myself.  I hate me."  Repeatedly.  My heart is in my throat as I type this because it was so painful for me to see.  Such an awful feeling to think that your child is hurting and not loving themselves.  But thankful that I saw it and was able to sit down with her and as a family and talk about things without having to even let her know we saw the note.  Truth is, kids at this age might say things like this from just something as simple as getting in trouble at recess or making a mistake.  They are learning to experiment with words and discover the power of them.  They don't always know how serious it comes across to adults who love them.  

At the same time that we try not to give too much power to certain actions and words, the word HATE is not typically allowed in our home when we talk about others.  I take it very seriously when they tell their brother or sister that they hate them.  Such a strong and ugly word.  Until now, they've never used the word on themselves.  

How did we deal with this?
After feeling like a huge weight was on my heart and thinking through it, I called the family together for a family meeting.  It was perfect timing really because we just ended family movie night.  It was a needed family time.  I had been stressed all week and really hard on the kids.  Very little positive reinforcement and way more nagging and pressure on them to do a better job at things, etc.  So, it was the perfect time for some compliments.  We took turns passing the "talking object" and when we got it we gave a compliment to someone else.  Each person took turns saying thank you and then passing it on to someone else.  

Compliments were a perfect gateway to talking about loving ourselves and others.  Short version:
I reminded them of the importance of using kind and loving words with people and how horrible it makes others feel when we use mean and ugly words.  I talked about how when we tell someone that we hate them, it is like saying that you wish they were gone.  It is like telling them that you don't love them and that they don't matter to you.  At this point, my oldest daughter got a little emotional and assumed she was in trouble for saying that to her sister earlier so she jumped off the coach and screamed because she thought she was in trouble.  This act out was a big warning sign to me that something was going on with her...she definitely had some big emotions bottled up.  She'd been expressing signs all week.  Inattentiveness, so hyper, overly emotional, etc.  I should have picked up on the signs earlier.  

After explaining to her that she wasn't in trouble, I talked about how the way we talk about ourselves is much the same as what we say to others.  I said that when we say we hate ourselves, it hurts us.  Somehow, this triggered something in her and she shared her recent feelings of hating herself.  She explained that she felt different at school and felt like she didn't have any friends (making friends with kids her age isn't always easy.  Much easier with kids 3 years older), how she has been feeling bad about how she treats her best friend and she said how she gets too "crazy or hyper".  She also told me that she lost recess from being too loud in the line for lunch....Woah, losing recess for a first grader is definitely cause for major STRESS.  And feeling different.  I had no clue! 

After doing some repairing of feelings by assuring her that she is wonderful and great despite these things, we had a brief talk about the power of self talk.  I used the bucket metaphor which isn't anything new and certainly not all my idea.  Lots of teachers and therapists use it.  Basically, I explained:
  • When you say bad things about yourself like "I can't.  I'm no good.  I hate myself.  Nobody likes me.  I'm stupid...." you are filling your heart bucket up with gross, smelly black stuff that you don't want to be around.  Nobody else wants to be around it either and before you know it, it is so stinky and heavy and black that your heart is heavy and sad and you feel awful about yourself. And when you say these things to others, you are taking away from their buckets or filling them with YUCK. 
  • When you love yourself and fill your brain with positive thoughts like "I love me.  I am beautiful.  I am smart.  People love me.  I CAN DO THIS!  I am kind.  I am loving.  I am a good friend." these things will BE!  You are filling your heart bucket up with brilliant color and love and beauty.  You want more of it and you will feel good.  Others can sense this positive self worth too and when you think thought of love and positivity, you are a person that others feel good around.  
  • You ARE WORTHY of LOVE.  Even when you make bad choices. We all make bad choices sometimes.  WE need to love ourselves and others and just keep picking ourselves back up and trying to improve on the things we can control.  

Party Party Party
On another note, this weekend was our first time to host a cocktail party in our home.  We shipped the kids off to Grammy and Papa's and invited some friends over.   It was a good excuse to put on a sexy dress and get all dolled up.  I don't do this very often and it was fun!  I went on a 13.5 mile run with Nicole and Stephanie before the party so I was LUCKY enough to have Nicole here to do my hair and makeup.  Pretty amazing woman.  She's definitely a talented artist.  One of the best makeup artists around and I felt so special to get her royal treatment.  It was fun doing something I usually don't do.  My normal makeup routine is a bit of mascara and maybe some blush and eyeshadow so it was like being someone else for the night.  Thanks Nicole!  If you are in the area and looking for a good makeup artist for a wedding, special occasion, or even makeup lessons, Nicole is the person to see.  She's worth every penny.  Check her out at Powder Inc. 

Mr. and Mrs. Runninghood.  Gosh, I love this man.  
My house may be small but it worked out well for a party because it is open.  This was a trial run and now I know we can invite more people next time.  

Way more makeup than usual but hey, it was fun for a change up!   

Running Running Running
Training is going great!  I was at 59.2 miles last week but that was with no long run since I raced the 5k.  Hoping for 65-70 this week.  Officially training using the Run Faster plan by Brad Hudson.  I feel really strong and thinking it is time to start pushing myself just a bit more with the pace but still staying smart and listening to this body of mine.  Big focus is EATING lots of good carbs!  And balance of course.  My goal is to keep my shape without getting to scrawny this time around.  Strong strong strong.  That is my word for this training cycle.  Strong!  



  1. gotta tell you with my 15 year old(first born) I wonder if I was too hard on him. He is TOTALLY rebellious, hence he's the only one not homeschooled because I just might hurt him :/ This is a very hard thing to balance!

  2. Holy Cow...hard to recognize you all fancied-up! Looks like you had a great time and you looked great. Perhaps you should have your makeup done the day before a big race :-)

    Thanks for this post. It will be one I'll read and re-read. We always need help and thoughts and motivation in dealing with our kids. My daughter's 10. And boy-howdy, some days my heart aches for her. Just reading this now, it reminded me of a couple of things I need to do more of. Playing more games. And complimenting actions...that's such a good one.

    I have found with her, those American Girl Doll books, about emotions, body, everything have been such a great place for her to go. She reads them over and over, and sometimes I swear they become like a training manual. And sometimes she asks about things she reads in them. I highly recommend those books for girls but I know everyone is different.

    Thanks again for your thoughts. As someone of very little words, it's nice to see it written down. Have a good week!

  3. You've done the best you can I'm sure Nora. And I'm certain you're an amazing mother. At some point we just have to say that we did the best we could and not blame ourselves too much or it will eat us up. Love to you NOra! I can only imagine how hard it gets when they get to be teenagers. I'm soo not ready for it anytime soon. Not sure I ever will be.

    J.L, Thank you so much for reminding me again about these American Girl books. I think someone else mentioned these to me friend Stephanie. I will have to get them because she loves American Girl. So thankful for a community of mothers to learn from . xo

  4. I have an 11 year old daughter (the oldest) and she has definitely been tough. She seems older than she is, but does some impulsive things that just make us shake our heads. We spend a lot of time talking, trying to get her to talk, facilitating talking with her friends etc....but it is overwhelming sometimes. we also have found that she loves horseback riding and have steered her down that path. she loves it and that has given her some self worth and something to feel good about. Sometimes no matter how much talking that you do they need something of their own and she has found it.
    you and Mr. Runninghood look adorable. glad that you had a great time!

  5. Thank you Rene. So agree that she needs to be plugged in with something that she loves. We are really trying to support her in her love for gymnastics, art and acting/performing. So important for them to have the niche.

  6. I was taken aback this was coming from someone so young! I can only imagine how sad you were to hear this. The talk you had with her was perfect and beautiful and I hope she takes it to heart. Life is far too short to hate anyone, most of all one's self.
    Stunning lady! Glad the party was fun!

  7. Thanks Marcia. She's an old soul. Always has been more mature than most kids her age.

  8. That was a great post! I think all moms need to use some of these tips every once in a while. As a working mother, we can all get stressed over nag our children. But we just have to continue to give positive self talk to them as well. I think you handled the situation perfectly! I hope everything is okay with your daughter. I know it will be.

    BTW: you looked beautiful at your cocktail party!

  9. Man. What a tough thing to deal with. I have high standards for my boys and sometimes I find myself saying "this is unacceptable" several times throughout the day. We've recently had some behavior issues, which started working themselves out when I started changing my approach.

    Also, you look like Olivia Wilde in that last picture. Gorgeous!

  10. I am bookmarking this post... I will NEED it as our kid(s) starts to get older.

    LOVE your makeup. She did a great job.

    And I posted BELLY PICS on my blog. :-) Well, it's a belly animation. I'm getting BIG!

  11. The family meeting sounds like it was JUST what everyone needed. I hope your eldest is feeling better now that some things are out in the open. It can be hard to be a kid!

    You and hubby look great! It's so fun to play dress up now and then. I am terrible with makeup - wish I had a handy friend nearby!

  12. Great post all around. I am so grateful that you were willing to put yourself out there and share the personnel family story. Self worth is so important and it is amazing how young children can begin struggling with this. I am so glad you caught it and that everyone was able to learn from the experience.

    Great job with the trainin and you look gorgeous in your party dress. How fun!

  13. Thank you for this post Amanda! While my oldest is just turning the corner to 5 he is starting to explore with the power of words. So much so that I was concerned a week or so ago. This post was so helpful!

    You are one stunning mama! Looks like the party was a lot of fun :)

  14. This is a great post. My 8 year old can be pretty hard on herself and I am often too hard on her too. It is so hard being the oldest in a family. I was the oldest in mine and yet I still see myself doing the same things to her that happened to me. Everything you said is so poignant and important to remember for adults and kids alike. Thank you. :)

    BTW, you look beautiful and your eyes are AMAZING!! Glad your party was fun.

  15. What a wonderful mom you are to take the time to process all of this and help you daughter work through it. As she gets older, I am sure that she will look to you for emotional encouragement (instead of her peers) since you are laying such a good foundation. I don't have any horror stories of myself when I was a kid, but it sure would have been nice if my parents had been as "in tune" with my feelings as you are with your daughter's. Everything you said really applies to all of us. I need to change some of my (supposed to be funny) mantra when I want to slow down or take a walk break is "No, FAT ASS, keep going!" ... I certainly wouldn't say that to anyone else, so why say it to myself?! Anyway, awesome post on that. Also, you look beautiful all dolled up - but you also look beautiful in all of your pics - it is fun to get all dressed up and made up though :) Thanks for sharing!

  16. GORGEOUS!! Nicole is very talented, but she has a beautiful canvas to work with! :)

    Ah, holiday parties, love them. excited for our first this Wednesday. Your training sounds like it is going so well, will you and Nicole try to train together on long runs?

  17. I wish my little one could stay that age forever....I do try to surround her with uplifting activities. Growing up is so hard and I feel like it is even harder now than when we were kids. You're an amazing mom! She is very blessed to have you. Speaking of look gorgeous!!

  18. I am very impressed with your family talk and with your analogy (I am going to have to use that one on my daughter!) It is so hard to handle kids not loving themselves! Thank you for all of the great reminders, I need that wake up call. You look absolutely beautiful for the party!

  19. Such a great post!!! I've been looking forward to this one. Just done work and off to a band concert but I will be back to read this again tonight!

  20. You look stunning in those pics, Amanda. Love the makeup, not over the top, but enough to show off your gorgeous features. You need to frame the last one.
    Oh, and your hubs looks like he is the happiest man on Earth AND ready for action (oops, did I just type that?).

    Grr, I can only imagine how that note made you feel. But it is nice to had something to work with, as it seems like that talk made a difference. I sense some anxiety in my son and it worries me at times.

    Don't be too tough on yourself. Nagging has its place at times. I believe kids need to see that we are upset sometimes. Petru talks about "my worried or upset face" sometimes. You are a great mom, and your kids are lucky to have you there with them full time:)

    Oh, and awesome running, Amanda. Yes, strong!

  21. You can never tell your kids that you love them right. I will be back for another comment. You are such a good mom, Amanda.

  22. when i have kids, i'm coming to you for advice.

    and ooohhhheeee foxy lady, you clean up nice beautiful girl! you two are quite a handsome couple.

  23. rawr! Look at that sexy momma! Looks like you had a great party. I love having people over my house for get togethers.

  24. Great post and advice, Amanda. You're an awesome mom!!!

    And a HOT one at that too. Wow. Smokin'! I am loving your eye makeup!

  25. Hey girl..
    I'm behind on blogs, as usual. Before I write much, did you get my email with the new blog buddy? Thank you so much for being sweet and understanding!

    Ok, you look stunning. Simply stunning! I hope you get dressed up and decked out more often, I bet the hubby went nuts later on ;). I would love someone to do makeup for me, I have never been good with that stuff.

    Oh gosh, the things I could say about "the note" - but it'd be about 40 novels full and I think you did an excellent job with the situation. Raising girls is tough and I think sometimes they do and say things just to "fit in" as all their friends are doing it. I know I really had a couple trying times in middle school with my daughter...but she turned out pretty ok! :) You are an amazing mother!

  26. I love the way you handled this situation - with sensitivity and restraint. I tend to deal with things like a bull in a china shop. You gave your daughter the opportunity to open up and that allowed you to gt to the heart of the matter. I'm going to share some of the insights you used with Josh - he may be 22 but there are things here that he would get lots out of re self-talk.

  27. First of all you look awesome all made-up ready to party!

    Thank you for posting about your children. While no one wishes for another family to have challenges it is always so comforting to feel we are not along as we face challenges in our own families and that it is OK to talk about.
    I love the bucket approach. I was devastated this weekend when my 5 year old started saying "I don't like you like me? could you like me? am I pretty?" I am fairly sure she is repeating things she has heard because of the way she was saying it and didn't really understand but it was certainly a glimpse into issues that are probably not far into our future. I can see we will have our work cut out for us making she has healthy self-esteem and loves herself.
    Thanks again

  28. OK-back and reading this again. Really really great mom you are! I know that sounds cliche and old but it's SO true. "The way we talk about ourselves is much the same as what we say to others" Love this!! My heart just hurt over this situation but also a peace that YOU are involved here and would know how to address the situation... "They are learning to experiment with words and discover the power of them. They don't always know how serious it comes across to adults who love them." This is really true I think. Anyway, as always, just super impressed with you as a mother:)

    Yes-I may have told you once or twice how HOT you looked in those pictures-ha! Really such a beautiful lady you are. Even without makeup, your facial features and dimples-gorgeous but SO fun to accentuate those and get all done up sometimes!! Nicole is AMAZING.

    Training-you are doing so awesome! I could yap on this for paragraphs about how great I think this training cycle is going to be for you!! OK-off to work. GREAT post.

  29. Looking HOT at your cocktail party. Have you read the book "Have you filled a bucket today?" by Carol McCloud? I am a school counselor, and we used it with all classes k-6 in various ways. It was eye opening.
    I'm the oldest and my parents were harder on me than my bro who's 6 years younger. I survived!

  30. Wow. This post broke my heart a little. I was thinking your daughter was a teenager (because that's the kind of stuff I think I went through at that age) but I was so saddened when you mentioned she was in first grade. That must be a terrible feeling as a parent. I'm so sorry you guys are dealing with this, but like you said - be thankful for trials and tribulations because they make you stronger and bring you closer together. She is very lucky to have a supportive set of parents.

    And hot mama! You look fantastic.

  31. wow. thanks for sharing your story in this post. i think that loving ourselves for who we are and feeling of worth is something that so many people struggle with and its important to realize. you are inspiring to me for knowing exactly what to do! your daughter is lucky to have you and i know it probably meant so much to her to be able to SEE exactly how much she is cared about!

  32. You are such an incredible mother! I hope that one day I am half as good of a mom as you are. I would be heartbroken too if I read that. I hope everything is okay.

    You clean up so nicely! ;-) I love your dress and your friend does amazing make-up. Wow! I love the house and how open that space is. It looks beautiful.

  33. Love the makeup. It's nice to get dolled up once in awhile. I used to do make up like that almost daily for a sales position I held (and it helped...I think) but now I go days without anything on my face.

    My heart broke over the story about your oldest. My oldest has recently started a diary. I've done my best to respect her privacy so I haven't read it, although I keep wanting to because she always seems to make it apparent she's writing in it when she's upset so I know that it's probably filled with 4th grade angst. I remember having some dramatic hate thoughts around that age that now seem ridiculous but it seems to be pretty common. Can't agree with you more though that showing our children how to fill up their buckets is such a great thing to do.

  34. Great pictures of you all! Glad the party and the family time both turned out well!

  35. OK back again.
    I really love this therapist side of you. I think you should be a school counselor (some day)!
    The heart bucket is a great metaphor. I need to think in these terms and explain to my kids that way as well. It is so clear to me that you care for your kids and others deeply. Your daughter will be alright :)
    so true: "I'm thankful for some conflict and difficult times NOW because it will only help make them stronger for LATER. " I heard someone say that you should pray your kids get caught stealing early so you can deal with it when they are young. I agree. These things are character building. It's easier to learn in the little stuff- but to them it's BIG.
    I am rambling now. Hugs to you!

  36. wow Amanda - you clean up good! :) Gorgeous as always!

    The must have been so hard to read the note - sounds like you handled it so well. I know your daughter will appreciate such open dialogue as she gets older. Great job mama!

  37. Wow, this was a heart wrenching post for me to read. It is hard to imagine what I would do in the situation but I think you handled it very well. Is there anything harder for a mom than to see than her child in pain. Thanks for sharing!

    Love the fancy look!