Raising Children is like being pecked to death by Chickens

I read that title on a sign in a friends house when my oldest daughter was three. Her boys were a little older, elementary age, and I remember laughing so hard when I read it. It was forever etched into my mind. There have been many days over the last 16 years that I either said that statement out loud, or wrote it as my Myspace, Facebook or Twitter status. Some days are harder than others. Some stages are harder than others. Some kids are harder than others. But at the end of the day, us parents, we are all just trying to keep our heads above water.

I had a circumstance this weekend that has just left me kinda raw in my emotion, so I thought that it was a perfect time to write it down. Not to call anyone out, or to name names, but to tell you all that it’s TOUGH out there, and we gotta have each other’s back. We also gotta be real, face the harsh realities and truths, no matter how much we don’t want to.

I want to share this for many reasons. I want to share it because I don’t ever want anyone to think they can’t talk to me. I want to share it because I don’t ever want anyone to think things are perfect here at the Rhynes. I want to share it because we have to start telling, sharing, bonding, and standing firm in our raising of these kids. IT TAKES A VILLAGE. I don’t want to do this alone. I don’t want to feel as if I am barely holding my head above water. I want you to tell me when my kids have screwed up, and then I want you to hold my hand and tell me about the time yours did and how you handled it. What I don’t want to do is embarrass my child. But if it does, then that is okay too. It wouldn’t hurt to have a little shame this day and age.

This weekend one of my daughters PAID her friend to get her a disposable vape pen….. Let that sink in a minute. She manipulated her friend, who would do anything for her, to buy a wanna be jolly rancher flavored stick with FIVE percent nicotine. Why? Because all of her friends at school do it and she just wanted to have one too. I CANNOT EVEN WITH THAT STATEMENT. I am beyond irritated. Not even mad really. Just aggravated. I know that I did things growing up. BUT DANG, I raised mine NOT to. I talk about it ALL the time. About not fitting in, being born to shine, their freaking bedrooms are like Hobby Lobby isles with inspirational “be you, be awesome, I am woman, Child of God” crap. And yet here we are. And don’t you know that little princess of mine lied to me too, she denied that like Bill Clinton denied his under the desk friend when I was in high school. Right in my face denied. (side note- my Ellerbe Jr High English teacher, Marsha Lambeth would murder this blog for my speech, punctuation and terrible flow) But y’all, she bold faced lied to me. With a sweet innocent blue eyed pink lipped face. I knew it in my heart. I didn’t want to though.

Luckily the way the bust went down, I knew who else was involved. And that leads to the beautiful part of my story.

I shot a quick text to the other mom. The person my kid said she was “holding” it for. Told her one of our two was the owner, but mine wasn’t budging. I got a call about 10 minutes later. Her baby folded way quicker than mine. (our end result, I hope is, that she gives me some lessons on how she made that happen so fast) I called mine in and gave her another chance, and she folded, now that she knew I knew. MAN I didn’t want to hear that, not from that mom or from my kid. NO PART of me wanted to accept the fact that my child had done that. And I could have very well taken her first answer as gospel. Grounded her, and forbid her to hang out with this friend because there was an influence there. And y’all, I WANTED to. God kept tugging and nudging me, and I waited about an hour before I sent that mom a text. I know that when she got mine, she was likely feeling the exact same as me. “Not my child, that was her child”. She won this round LOL, it was mine. But we both won, because we together, found the truth, and handled our children. We didn’t accuse, we didn’t deny, we found the truth, we punished our kids for what they did wrong, and we talked to them and each other.

Somewhere in our culture there has come this shift, where teachers and elders are wrong, and kids are right. Where parents accuse other children, teachers, or leaders for their child’s wrongdoings. This shift is ruining our kids. It’s ruining us. It’s making us be ruled by these sassy, smart mouth, know it all kids, that literally know nothing. It’s awful! I want my babies to be perfect. Oh how I wish they would do no wrong and make me look like the best mom on the planet. BUT they are kids, they are supposed to screw up, and we are supposed to catch them in it, punish them for it, teach them right, and then laugh about it when their kids act stupid. We can’t do this if we feel we are constantly in competition with one another to be the best mom of the best kids. We gotta be honest guys, we gotta be willing to push harder, to share the hard stuff, to have the hard times, and to hold each others hand through it all.

It’s Gotcha Day!

October 5 will probably forever be my favorite day on earth. It’s the day my entire world, view, and life changed, and that change is forever. Three years ago on October 5th, I got out of bed at about 5am and told Matthew I couldn’t take it anymore. You see, the day before, I met the most beautiful, tee tiny little girl that I couldn’t get off of my mind. I didn’t know why, and he rolled his eyes and huffed a very disgruntled sound at me and went right back to sleep. Little did he know, in about 12 hours, he was going to have the same feeling!

I got a call on October 4th, asking me to take a baby that was in the hospital. She had been in NICU for 3 weeks. She was almost ready to come home and they wanted her here, she was tiny, a preemie and I was a nurse. I immediately said yes. Which is a NO NO. I always get details and call Matthew and discuss prior to giving an answer when DSS calls. I said no, then yes, then no, then yes, until the worker said, “I’m confused, which one is it?”, I said yes and hung up the phone. My heart was racing and I had no idea why. I didn’t tell Matthew until dinner, and he was livid. He said “I don’t know what you are thinking, we don’t want a baby, we never said we would take that age. You better call her back, we are not doing that, and if you bring her home I am not doing a THING!!! I will not change a diaper, I will not make a bottle, I will not hold a screaming baby, I am not doing this” (that part still makes me giggle when I think about how ragged she runs him on a DAILY!).

I went to the NICU on October 4, 2016. I told the desk who I was and they pointed to a room. There in a clear bassinet was the tiniest little baby all wrapped up. A head full of dark hair. I didn’t ask anyone a thing, I just picked her up and we snuggled into the rocking chair. The doctor came in after a few minutes and told me to hold her close and to let her lay on my skin, she needed to bond. OH MY MOMMA HEART!!! In that moment I knew that I loved that kid more than life itself, and no matter what happened, and how long she was in my house, I would ALWAYS be a part of her. She didn’t weigh enough to come home, and I was crushed to leave her. I came home around 7pm, and I did nothing but look at her pictures until 5am the next morning. I couldn’t take it anymore, and I went back for some more snuggles.

We came home on October 5th. I had my mom take the girls to cheer because I couldn’t leave her. When they got home and walked through the door and saw her, they all were in tears. Our girls loved her just as quickly as I did. Matthew just stared at the TV LOL. I asked him if he could hold her while I showered after the girls went to bed. By the time I got out of the shower, he was hooked too. She has had him wrapped around her tiny little fingers since.

Three days after I got Dillon, I called my sister in law and swore her to secrecy. I had gone into a store, and there was a book that was titled “You Belong Here” by M.H. Clark, I was in tears, and had bought it. I told her that I knew in my heart that this was my baby and she was meant to be mine, and I didn’t know how that would happen, she had family, and she had siblings, and she was wanted, but I knew she was mine. She told me that if I believed that was God’s plan, that we would claim it, in His name, until the day she was. And that’s what I prayed, for two solid years. There were lots of ups and downs, and even in my wanting for her, I prayed so hard for her parents, and for their success. I know, to this day, that was the right thing to do. And had that been the plan for her life, God would have seen me through it.

Last year, the day before Thanksgiving, we signed the paperwork for Dillon to become an official Rhyne. It was a beautiful day, but in all that happiness for us, I was crushed for her parents. This whole thing has taught us so much about life and people. Dillon is such a blessing to our lives. Her whole story is not mine to tell. It’s hers, and her birth parents. This is my tiny part in it. God not only gave me Dillon, but he gave me a love for her family, and a task, to be transparent and an advocate for open adoption. Dillon will always know where she came from, and how much she was and is loved. She has a huge family, and they are always welcome in our homes and in our lives. I can give Dillon the world on a silver platter, but she will always have a space that I cannot fill. I believe in ALL of my heart and soul, that she will be a better person and she will live a better life, knowing who she is, who ALL of her is, every part. What she decides to do with that information will always be up to her. For now, we are going to learn it together, we are going to take it day by day, and we are going to love with all our might. We are going to do our very best to see things through the eyes of Jesus and not our own. We know that there is a plan for this wild girl of ours, and we can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

Happy Gotcha Day Dillon Ruby Rhyne, aka Dill Pickle. Thank you for opening our eyes to a world we never knew. Thank you for filling our house with giggles and screams, with sleepless nights and fun filled days. I love everything about you. The headstrong attitude you got straight from your tummy mommy that keeps me on my toes ALLLLLLLL the time, your silly personality, that you get from your Daddy Steve, the love of life and people you get from your big sisters, the snuggles and tenderness you get from Daddy and the smart mouth you get from this mommy. You are all of us, good and bad all wrapped into one dynamite package. I cannot imagine my life without you in it. Thank you God for unexpected blessings.

Who Stole the Joy?

Life has been busy and it’s been a while since I have had time to sit and write, I am in all reality too busy today, but I decided enough was enough after the fourth conversation this week with someone overwhelmed.

I can’t figure out if it’s our age, our generation, our world, or if this is normal, but lately, it’s hard to find joy. I spend most days running on fumes, and not doing a great job of anything at all. Matthew and I have felt very alone in that, but lately God has placed people and conversations in my path that have shown me that it’s not just me. It’s not just us at our house. What are we doing so different that has changed our outlooks?

Matthew and I are very glass half full kinda people. The last few years our glasses are half empty, and that outlook in itself is enough to drive us over the edge! We talked Sunday night, and we were both like, we gotta figure out how to change our outlook, our lives are full of blessings and we are missing them because we are seeing everything as a burden. I just wonder what changed, where that shift happened, and if this is just a phase of life, of parenthood, or if this a reflection of a world that revolves around high speed internet, social media lifestyles, and keeping up with the Jones’.

Whatever it is, we gotta figure out a way as a community, as friends, to fix it! I wonder if we need less extracurriculars and more Sunday dinners. Less homework and more playing catch in the yard. More BBQs at the neighbors house instead of snapchats and text messages. I can’t help but wonder if we feel so empty because we fool ourselves into thinking we are connected to everyone with our phones, but in all reality, we are connected to no one. You ever see people in the store, and you just say a really friendly hello and walk away? Because there is no reason to ask questions, “how’s your family” isn’t needed because we know, we see on Facebook. I think social media is great, and coming from a girl that LOVED encyclopedias, Google is my lifeline, you would giggle at the number of things I look up in a day. Knowledge at our fingertips is such a blessing. I just can’t help but wonder if the flip side of that is killing us, our lives, our connections, and crushing our spirits all at once.

No real point in today’s blog. Just wanted you to know if you are missing your joy here lately, and you are overwhelmed at this stage, you aren’t alone. And if you think we need a good old cook out in the park, and a basket for the phones to go in at the entrance, I am down any time!

Thankful for second chances

The Rhyne house had lots of kids this morning going in two different directions. It has been a whirlwind of a weekend. A whirlwind that will forever be etched in my memory, as full of fear, love, tears, laughter, thankfulness, and gratefulness.

Sometimes I worry about sounding like a “bible beater” because I have so much I want to scream on rooftops. I also worry, because there is always someone in the crowd that likes to point out all my shortcomings. I have learned over the years, that I don’t so much care about those things any more. God loves me for my shortcomings. He made me just the way I am, and He loves me this way. He has a purpose for my failures, for my fears, for my screw ups. I don’t really know how folks make it day to day without Him.

This Monday morning as I am finished with the drop offs, I am overcome with emotion. I am so thankful for this busy weekend. I am thankful that God can see the future. That He is all knowing and in control always. I am thankful that He is in the business of saving lives, spiritually AND physically. And oh how I am praying for the precious life He spared. I am thankful for diapers, pull ups, and dirty clothes, for toddler tantrums and midnight snacks at 9pm. I am thankful for kitchen dance parties and late night giggles. I am thankful for friends who know how to feed a crowd. I am thankful for preteens/teens who are willing and wanting to sit down and talk about the good, bad and the ugly.

I am thankful for my girls. My children never cease to amaze me. They are always willing to jump in with two feet and no life jacket to whatever I bring through the back door. They live a wonderful,cushioned life, but they often have front row seats to lives that are so opposite. Lives that they can only imagine through the stories they hear. Yet, they have a way with people that us adults could only dream for. They open the fridge, the snack cabinet, their rooms, and they love with all they have. From 19-3, my kids are incredible, and more helpful that they will ever realize.

I am thankful for our open back door that brings in new faces or old faces. Other peoples children don’t cease to amaze me much either. Kids are so loving, and forgiving, and trusting. They can handle so much more than we give them credit for. And every once in a while, one wraps their arms around you so tight it takes your breath, and you know, that just for a second, your arms are what they need, and what is right in their world. And that, that makes for a thankful Rhyne momma this morning.

I am thankful for God, who pushes me out of my comfort zone. He always lets me know what to do and when to do it. Sometimes words come out of my mouth before I think them, and *most* of the time, it’s Him pushing me in the direction I need to go. If you don’t have a relationship with God, and your life is just happen stance, I feel sorry for you. You are missing out on an assurance, on joy in tragedy, on a peace that surpasses all circumstances. I am so thankful today for those things in my life, and pray that I can pass that knowledge on to all who will hear.

What people “Post” to be

I saw someone post on Facebook how social media affects everyone’s view on how it should be. Like we are all just constantly comparing ourselves to others. It got me to wondering what folks think about us. If you know me at all, that is not something that crosses my mind often. I am fortunate to not have a care in my bones about what other people think. If you know my daddy, he gave us a good Keller bloodline that is slam full of self esteem. I laugh all the time when Matthew or the kids catch me off guard in a picture. I am like woahhhh, that is NOT what I look like. I love me most days when I get ready and do that last look in the mirror. I always say that’s why I have trouble loosing weight. Most people have body issues when they loose weight, they see the bigger them in the mirror no matter what, I am the total opposite, now that I am thinking that outloud on paper, that’s probably not my best quality.

One of my favorite memories as a mom was when Kinnley was about 3. I was at my aunt’s house. She is ten years older than me, and my best friend on earth. She had three kids at the time, the youngest just a few months older than Kinnley. The two older boys were in the room playing with one of those old plastic phones that had the rotary dial, wheels and eyes that moved when you pulled it by the string across the floor. They were fighting tooth and nail over that toy. She said a few things, and they didn’t listen. All of a sudden she stood up, grabbed that toy, opened the front door and threw it right in the yard. I literally wanted to kiss her! I told her she had always been my role model, and of course this was still true with parenting, and so often I felt like I was failing because some days I just couldn’t not yell, and I just couldn’t be patient.

How often do we post the bad, the ugly, the rough. Are we posting what we “pose” to be? I just wanted to jump on and let you know that we Rhynes are a HOT mess over here. Dillon eats cereal four times a day. Tatum is the most spoiled person on earth, and thinks we are all just here to make her life great. Parker rarely comes out of her room, and Kinnley has one foot out the door. Matthew is a great husband, I am so so lucky there, but he is still a man, and he is so nice and silly with everyone else all the time, we usually get the grumpy him. And me, oh my me…lol. I yell, so loud I cannot believe the neighbors don’t call the law sometimes. I throw stuff. I totally stick my face in my phone and straight up ignore my kids. I don’t do laundry, at all. I hate cleaning and cooking. I am late for everything. I was my wedding and will be my funeral. And my worst flaw, I forget EVERYTHING. Ask my husband and kids. I remember nothing. Not conversations, play dates, birthday parties, church functions, dinner, to buy toilet paper. If we missed your party, your birthday, your baby shower, whatever your function may be, it’s because I forgot, and more than likely forgot to tell my family, so when you ask them about it, they are clueless. My friend Hannah knows this wonderful trait of mine, and when her kids have a party, she so kindly in the middle of her prepping for the party, calls me to remind me to come. I post the good of all of us, our happy times, our sad times, but rarely does the majority get to see the hard of things.

I just wanted to let you all know, in case my posts always seem like we have it together, we totally do not. We are just winging it. Like I think most of you are. My goal in life is not really to have it all together. I just want to live and love. I would love if my kids didn’t have to go to therapy as adults as a result of their childhood. I want people to know that we loved them, (even if we forgot to go to their parties), regardless of who they are, where they live, how they looked and most importantly to this Rhyne crew, what color their skin is.

If you are constantly comparing your life, your looks, or your lifestyle to others, let that burden go. God made you and yours EXACTLY how he wanted you to be. He made you in HIS image! What an amazing honor. I pray that as you scroll today. You just smile at others, and be thankful for who and where you are.

Raising tiny disciples

I did a month of daily posts on Facebook in May for foster care awareness. I enjoyed it so much. A few people learned a lot and enjoyed it too, and a few suggested I write a blog. I laughed, but in all honesty, I have always wanted to blog. I have so much to say about so many different things. So I signed up for one, and I have sat on it for almost two months, just wondering if I was crazy and just wasted my money. Then today happened.

I am very verbal about raising kids and how tiring that is. I remember Kinnley being little in the grocery store once having a full out toddler meltdown, and some older lady smiling at me saying “one day you will miss this, enjoy them when they are little”. That was the first of many times I have heard that since being a parent. I said to her, what I always say when people say this to me, NO, I will NOT miss this, I may miss her, and I may miss this season, but I will NOT miss this. She didn’t know how to respond to me, and most folks don’t, I kinda take that as a compliment. No one will ever convince me that I will miss those parts of parenting. It’s exhausting. They literally suck life out of you, you spend most of your day pouring yourself into them, and some days they give very little in return, especially when they are little. It’s funny how they can make you want to jump off a bridge sometimes, and then they fall asleep, and they are so freaking cute, you almost want to wake them up to play with them.

Crazy, that parenting thing…I wonder often if that’s how God feels about us, like does He watch us and think, today is the day they are going to do what I say, or do what I have taught, or notice what I have put in front of them, and then we don’t, and I wonder if He is exhausted with us, and then He looks at us in our quiet time, and thinks…Man how I love them. I know He knows what we are going to do, so probably not, but it is hard for me to imagine He doesn’t get annoyed with us…

Foster care is like that too, and adoption. I LOVE Dillon Rhyne, aka Dillon Pickle, if you read my Facebook posts. Some days she runs me ragged, just like all of them do. Sometimes more than others because she is a challenge all on her own to absolutely no fault of her own. Yesterday I told Matthew sometimes I wonder WHAT WERE WE THINKING!? We didn’t plan any of our girls, they were all surprises. Dillon, we literally chose, we willingly did this again, ON PURPOSE. Today I got reminded of why.

She is now old enough, and mature enough to go out of the nursery and into a Sunday school class. She has two teachers that are spectacular for that age group, and they amaze me with what she learns and talks about from class. Today they learned about kindness. They specifically talked about an older gentleman from our church (that I happen to adore), and how he was moving in with his son because he was older and needed someone to help him, they talked about having a special prayer for him. MY BABY, my sweet almost 3 year old wild, crazy, headstrong, beautiful little girl piped up and said “bring him to my mommy’s house, she will take care of him…..” she went on to throw in some toddler tales and jibberish, but y’all, SHE GETS IT!!!!! She knows that even though I am crass, and I say more than I should, and sometimes my filter is broken, and sometimes I am just flat out tired and ill as a hornet, I will take care of her, and of you, and of yours, and of theirs, because that is what this HOME does. WE LOVE, in the ugly, in the hard, in the middle of it all, we LOVE.

So when I am exhausted, and ready to throw it all away and lose my mind. I know that even in those times, they are still seeing the good times, and the purpose. We adults have a big task at hand raising these kids. We over complicate things. I don’t sit them down and talk to them about being a village. We don’t feel special, we don’t feel like we deserve an award, or even recognition for anything we do. This is just our life and the way we feel called to live it. We parents are always teaching, in all we say and do. And even in the mess of it all, and the poor job we feel we are doing, they see us, they hear us, and they get it….