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Do you know where your teens are tonight – yep

My twins, age 16, individually texted me yesterday asking if they could have their friend Tyler over, to spend the night. I was in downtown Portland with my friend Michelle at the First Thursday Art in the Pearl event, and they were at Rosemont Ridge Middle School tossing a Frisbee with their friend Tyler on that warm, summery evening.

One of my twins had also tried to call me but my phone was pretty much out of juice when I realized it. My friend Michelle smiled at me and said, “I’ll be your new best friend- check this out, it’s an automatic iPhone charger.” Home sweet home- 1c6e432bf357fd42c63429d7e892c312

Magic. So, there I was, with a phone that worked, so I called my sons back.

Then came the question.

“Can Tyler sleep over?”  IMG_9438 - Version 2

Now, in normal circumstances, this may not seem like a huge deal, this question, my kids asking for a sleepover on a lazy summer night.

But two days before this, my husband had said no more sleepovers for a month, as he got frustrated during the last sleepover with a different friend; they had been in our backyard on our trampoline and had had a hard time falling asleep. Both my husband Chris and I had to tell the kids a couple of times to go to quiet down, once at 1 a.m., 1:30, 2 a.m. My husband got tired of it and grounded them for a month.

A month is a long time, but a month is a really long time in the summer.

So, the kids do what they usually do when they want something.

They ask me.

They’re 16, not 6.

My husband and I usually try to back one another up, but I don’t have a hard-nosed response to questions from my kids. I try to take circumstances individually.

When my twins asked me about the sleepover, I asked them what their dad had told them about future sleepovers, and they didn’t answer directly. Chris had made it clear to me that he wanted no sleepovers for a month, but I wasn’t comfortable with this. It is summer and I want our home to be a place where our kids can bring their friends.  But, I still needed to talk to my husband about it so I told my boys that I’d call their dad, again grateful to my friend’s charger. (My twins should be grateful for my friend’s charger!)

When my husband answered the phone, he was watching a movie with our youngest child, age 11.

“Hi Chris, the twins want to have Tyler over for a sleepover; I know you said you didn’t want sleepovers for a while, but it’s Tyler and Tyler’s a great guy, and he’s a good influence on our boys; he’s a strong Christian and we need to help our kids be surrounded by good kids. Can we make this exception to your month long ban?”

My husband wasn’t moved by my argument.

I don’t want chaos, I’m tired of the chaos, I’m tired of the interruptions, and I’m tired of no sleep.”

Though I acknowledged that those were valid issues, I had my counterpoints based on my parenting philosophy, and added that I never signed on the dotted line regarding the month-long ban on sleepovers.

IMG_6649 - Version 2“It’s summer, Chris, I think we need to reconsider,” I reasoned. “Our kids want to be in our home, to have their friends over. Yeah, it breaks our perfect pattern of a non-chaotic life, and there might be some interruptions and it might be noisier with an extra kid, but life is messy. Our kids want to be home,” I emphasized.

Welcome to parenting, welcome to real life, welcome to having teenagers. Our kids could be out partying or just hanging out at Wal-Mart or staying out till all hours of the night, but they are not. They want to be with us, to have their friends over, they feel comfortable here.  We should be honored. Teenagers will not go to bed at 9 pm. That’s just not the way it works.

I believe we need to think of our home is a ministry, as an outreach, as a place of belonging and security. It is a place where there is love and we can be real and we can be ourselves, even if that means loud. Our home is not ours to hoard but instead it’s ours to share.

When my husband and I were first married, we were involved in youth ministry at our church. Kids came over to our apartment all the time to hang out. It’s what kids do. I reminded my husband of this, and that we have to at the same time view our kids that way, with purpose, as a ministry. I believe that if we don’t help our kids hang out with good kids, they will find others. Kids will find community.

Yeah, it’s messy and tiring and chaotic, but that is part of our parenting calling. But, our home is our ministry and it is our gift and it is our calling. Home- somewhere to go-32c8ffe6217e5167b72984aecb37d1b6And it is a place where our kids go and belong.

We have friends whose kids never get to have friends over because of the hassle factor. They just don’t go there because of the interruptions and the mess it creates during and afterwards. No doubt, it gets messy, but isn’t the best part of life messy?

So, with some prodding, we allowed the twins to have their friend Tyler over that night.

Yeah, it’s an interruption and yeah they’ll keep you up and yeah it’s chaos but family life is messy and opening up your home to kids is oh so important. They want to be in your home with their friends, how cool. Make your home that kind of place. Stock the fridge with food, offer them popcorn and ice cream and homemade cookies. Sit and be there with them, ask them questions, care. Be glad your kids want their friends in your home, be glad that your kids see your home as their home, and a place to gather.

I had texted them before returning home and also asked if I could bring them some ice cream home and they said yes, Tillamook Mud Slide, please. And, I did ask them to definitely keep in mind their noise level with their dad needing some rest, and I asked them to not sleep on the trampoline.

When I walked through the door, Tillamook Mud Slide in arms, they were quietly playing some x-Box games and hanging out. I offered them ice cream and I hung out and talked with them about how they are doing.

It felt relaxing and welcoming and nice. But, sometimes it is not. It just feels good to have my kids home with their friends. Or alone.

I’ve heard that saying from the past, that question that asks, “Do you know where your kids are tonight?”

Yes, I do.

They are at home. Our home. Their home. With their friends. Kids Home Quote- blog 7-8-14 - f3fd46abe848b667fefe175540a587d2

Home. A place to be. A place where there is love and acceptance and fun, and where our kids can bring friends to hang out. Home.

Posted in Kids, Life, Ministry, Moms, Motherhood, Outreach, Parenting, Writing.

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The art of breakfast- It’s what they remember

I love making breakfast for my kids during the summer and on Saturdays off during the school year, and when their friends have spent the night. Crepes are my specialty; crepes smothered in whipping cream and Nutella IMG_9356or sprinkled with lemon and powered sugar or in the summer, topped with fresh Oregon strawberries or raspberries and whipped cream. IMG_9392

I love gathering with my children, with the table nicely set with my good German porcelain and the pretty containers for the lemon juice and the Nutella and whipping cream and strawberries and plenty of napkins. And we say a prayer to thank God for our meal, and it is pure joy. It’s a great way to start our day together before everyone goes his or her own direction. We have grounded ourselves together. IMG_9389

When my kids write me Mother’s day cards and birthday cards, they thank me for making me crepes for them. They remember the crepes. Of all the things I do for them, they talk about the food I craft for them. From scratch. Wild. And my kids friends talk about eating crepes at my house and the my tell their friends  when they are spending the night that their mom makes crepes and their friends want to eat breakfast in the morning with our family. And while I am making them, the house is filled with the aroma of butter and fresh thin pancakes frying on the stove top and that is what they wake up to. And it makes me feel good, if I do nothing else I day long, if I’ve made homemade breakfast for my kids.

But crepes are a mess to make. My kitchen turns to shambles and greasy butter flies everywhere and the batter splashes in nooks and crannies of the stovetop and my kids eat the crepes in minutes then dash off to do other things for hours and there is still the mess.

IMG_9382But it’s oh so worth it.

My husband on weekends when he is home used to never join us for breakfast. He’d eat his granola with cold milk and take off into the yard or to the garage to get his work done.

“Takes too much time. I have too much to do,” he’d say to me about eating breakfast with us as he meandered off.

But I said to him, this is an important part of life, taking the time to have this breakfast together; it’s so simple, yet so profound. This art, making breakfast for my kids; it reaches the kids in ways that I cannot explain but it just does. Crafting crepes is an art. It cannot be measured with the word “Accomplishment” and “check it off your list of things done today.” Art is not a check-off list. Yet, like good art, it’s what matters in the end. It’s one of the things that our kids remember.

Sounds so simple. It is.

My kids once in a while get to go to their grandparents’ house, which is about 15 minutes from our house. Their grandpa makes a mean pancake and they say, “Grandpa makes the best pancakes,” and when I make pancakes, they tell me they are not as good as grandpa’s. That is what they remember about grandpa and it is fabulous. And we tell grandpa this and it makes him feel good. He has a secret recipe and he’s proud of it.IMG_9358

My husband is starting to recognize the importance of our weekend and days off morning breakfasts together. One day recently, it just hit him. He began sitting down with us to join us eating breakfasts together. And, he also began making pancakes as well. And bacon and buying good syrup to smother on top of the pancakes. It takes him away from his weekend projects for a few hours in the mornings and it is a mess and he only has so much time off and I totally understand that.

But, he realizes now that it is important to share that time with our kids.

Now, we argue over who gets to make the breakfast on a Saturday morning.



Posted in Art, Family Life, Home, Life, Moms, Motherhood, Summer, Writing.

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