Riding the Roller Coaster of Parenting

IMG_9543Today is Ash Wednesday, and our family certainly took advantage of Mardi Gras and Shrove Tuesday by indulging in food and fun over the past few days. We surprised Katie Ann and whisked her away to Orlando to celebrate her 20th birthday. This is not something we normally do, believe me, but she was on a wild ride on the roller coaster of life over the past few months, and we wanted to show her how happy we are with how she’s handled things and that we recognize how hard she’s worked academically and personally. So, we met Katie at a restaurant near the airport, supposedly for a surprise luncheon for someone else, and told her that we had packed a bag, so she should grab whatever else she needed because our plane was leaving in two hours time! Needless to say, there was a lot of screaming, and many happy tears were shed. While it was a wonderful, joy-filled weekend, there was a lot of introspection for me…

Princess Belle and girlsMany years ago, we took our own princesses to meet the princesses they idolized. Our girls were so little, unaware of the bad things in this world, and unable to grasp the concept that not every girl becomes a Disney princess. I’m sure that, like many young American girls, they never thought about ever having days of darkness, despair, loneliness, heartbreak, or even insecurity. Those big, bright eyes, looking at the beautiful fairy tale princess could not have imagined a world where people can lose hope, lose faith, and lose themselves. 

 

This past weekend, as I watched the dozens (and dozens) of girls in their princess dresses, with big eyes and wide smiles, I longed for a return to those days.

Those were the days when my girls rarely felt like a fish out of water,
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were unafraid of monsters in the closet, 
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and believed nothing could solve problems better than a big bear hug.
Pooh breakfast Pooh and girls

Those were the days when they knew, without a doubt, that with a smile on your face, a song in your heart, a heart full of inspiration, and perhaps a little bit of pixie dust, all your dreams could come true.castle Amy girls (1).jpg

Of course, my girls are still pursuing their dreams. When life knocks them down, they get back up. When there’s sorrow or heartbreak or despair, they put on those smiles, shake the real dust off their hands and start over. And as a mom, I’m so proud of them each time they do that, but my heart still pines for the days when we thought there really is a happiest place on earth where all cares can be forgotten, where the real world doesn’t exist, and where we don’t have to return to the rat race of daily life. I know that the trials and tribulations my girls have faced are just the beginning for them. As they enter adulthood, they will be faced with problems that will feel like it’s them against the universe. And I want them to know this…

My girls, no matter what, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how dark it seems, no matter how broken you feel or how intense your pain is, your dad and I will always be there for you. 

We will help you catch whatever is thrown your way.IMG_7687.JPG

We will ride the roller coaster with you.IMG_9675

We will always remind you that life can be magical if you let it.IMG_9473

And that, when you’re ready, we’ll smile and wave as you climb to new heights and make all of your own dreams come true.IMG_9468

What I was writing about a year ago this week: Ashes and Chocolate

Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).

 

 

 

Oh, The Places You’ll Go (to borrow from Dr. Seuss)

Dear Katie,

1999 scrapbook15Where did the years go? It seems like just yesterday, I was being rushed into the operating room, Dr. Joe assuring me that everything was going to be okay. You’ve always had a way of doing things like that to us: changing the plot just when we thought we were all on the same page. You were due on March 3, 1999, but apparently, you weren’t ready yet. On March 2nd, Dr. Joe told me that you would not be making an appearance for at least another week. Of course, you do always try to be punctual, so whether my body was ready or not, you were determined to come on March 3rd. And you did.

 

July 4thIt didn’t take long to realize that you had a strong will and an aggressive, but at the same time, sweet personality. You always seemed to be at odds with yourself: shy but gregarious; strong-willed but obedient; inquisitive and skeptical but trusting; outwardly radiant and happy but inwardly scared and insecure. As Winston Churchill said, you have always been “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

 

We watched you go from a smiling, confident toddler to a timid, hesitant little girl. And I began to worry. Tests showed that you are a genius, a child far beyond her years in intelligence but one who suffers from a severe lack of attention and focus. We were told you were an Einstein who would never succeed in school. Over the years, you curled into yourself like the potato bugs that amazed me as a child. We helplessly watched, praying for the right words, the right path on which to find you. What we couldn’t know, didn’t see, was that you were forging your own way. The student who was predicted to never understand math and be a poor reader has mastered Calculus and rarely looks up from a book. The girl who has a hard time opening her mouth in a crowd is a lector at Mass and a key player in school productions. The child we worried would always be a follower is president of one of the largest clubs in school and edior-in-chief of the yearbook.

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DSC03407.JPGYour father and I thought we would spend your life watching out for you, steering you in the right direction, worrying about your every decision. But you’ve taught us to have faith, in God and in you. While we saw dark clouds and ominous skies, you, to quote Louisa May Alcott, were “not afraid of storms, for [you were] learning how to sail [your] ship.” While we saw a path that led into a dark and scary forest, you saw “two roads diverged in a wood,” and you chose the one that “made all the difference” (Robert Frost). As we held our breath and waited for the floor to drop out from under you, you held fast to your dreams, closed your eyes, and took a leap, many leaps, challenging yourself to take the harder class, go for a lead in the play, run for the highest office, and venture into places others dared not go. And you did it all with grace and joy.

Over the past two weeks, we have seen you accept one award after another, smile as the accolades piled before you, and shine for the world to see. On Thursday night, as you march across the stage, know that you can keep marching. No matter what obstacles you face, you will overcome them. No matter how rocky the road is ahead, you will persevere and succeed. Remember that Daddy and I are always here for you. We love you. We know that today and every day is your day. “Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”

Love, Mom

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What I was writing about one year ago this week: A Season for Changes.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  According to Harvard Psychologists: Parents Who Raise “Good” Kids Do These 5 Things from Curious Mind MagazineYou’re Going To Miss It on Beauty Beyond Bones; and 11 Simple Changes I Made to Improve My Writing Habit by Michelle Zunter in The Huffington Post.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

 

Not a Thing Could Come Between Them

img_0909Growing up, I was always jealous of my friends who had sisters. They had a built-in best friend, confidant, support system, and roommate. My closest childhood friends, two sisters who lived down the street, shared a room from the time my friend, Cindy, was born until the older sister, Jane, graduated from college. Even when they could have separated themselves from each other, they chose to live together on campus. Of course, I remember many times when they were at war and once when Cindy and I taped a line down the middle of their room; but even today, they are the best of friends.

img_0907My mother and her sister, Debbie, are also best friends, talking often, getting together for dinner, day trips, and visits with family. My Aunt Debbie was the closest thing I ever had to a sister since she and I are just fifteen years apart. It’s a cherished relationship, but it’s not quite the same as having that sisterly bond. I grew up longing to be a sibling to Laura, Mary, and Carrie Ingalls, or one of the Walton girls, or a member of the March clan.  After all, I was named after Amy March.  Why did she get sisters, and I didn’t?  Oh to have two or three sisters, that was a dream that I couldn’t get enough of. And I’ll be darned if God doesn’t work in funny and sometimes frustrating ways.

I’ve spent the last 18 years witnessing  firsthand the phenomenon that is sisterly love. I’ve been told by many people that having three girls, not two and not four, but three is the roughest scenario. Two are always on one side, and the third is always on another. Throughout their lives, my girls have been able to go from the best of friends to the worst of enemies in less than ten seconds. Our youngest, Morgan, laments almost daily that she doesn’t know what she will do without Katie next year when our middle daughter goes off to college.

Those same days, she can be heard telling Katie, “I can’t wait until you’re gone!”  Really?  I shake my head and ask myself if this is really what I imagined all those years ago. I don’t remember the Ingalls girls, or Mary Ellen, Erin, and Elizabeth Walton, or Jo and her March sisters having the same daily arguments and struggles with their sisters that my girls have. Okay, maybe the March sisters, but Jo and Amy did have very strong personalities.

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And that, I believe, is the monster I deal with. I have two daughters who are very strong-willed and have quite similar overbearing personalities. I’ve often wondered if Katie feels crushed between them as the middle child. How different her life will be next year when she is on her own. And how quiet it will be here. There won’t be any more morning img_0914arguments because Katie is running late for school. Again. There won’t be any accusations that someone wore someone else’s sweater without asking or, God forbid, that they came down wearing almost matching outfits. There won’t be fights over who didn’t clean up her mess or left the cap off the toothpaste.  On the other hand, there won’t be those moments when one cries on the other’s shoulder; when one runs into the house, past me at lightening speed, because she has to share big news with her sister, or when the beautiful sound laughter wakes me late at night during a spontaneous sister slumber party.

Irving Berlin’s words sure ring true in our house:

Sisters
Sisters
Sisters
There were never such devoted sisters

Never had to have a chaperone “No, sir”
I’m there to keep my eye on her

Caring
Sharing
Every little thing that we are wearing

When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress and I stayed home

All kinds of weather
We stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two diff’rent faces
But in tight places
We think and we act as one

Those who’ve
Seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us

Many men have tried to split us up but no one can
Lord help the mister
Who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister
Who comes between me and my man

As the song says, sisters should be devoted to each other, share, care, and let nothing come between them.  They are there for each other to celebrate milestones. They comfort one another in sadness. They have fun together, and they care deeply about each other. No matter what happens, they know that they are there for each other.

I don’t think I will ever fully understand the relationship between my three girls. It rips my heart out when I hear them tell one another that they hate each other, and it brings me to tears when I see them cuddled together on the couch, sharing a bowl of popcorn while they watch a favorite show. God does work in mysterious ways. He never gave me the sister I longed for, but he made me the mother of sisters; and somehow, I think that’s even better.

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Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner.  Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale as well as Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms, her collaboration with the authors of the blog, Y’all Need Jesus.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)