It Takes Effort

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I recently spent a week in New York city with my two youngest boys…ages 14 and 16.  Some may think, wow, what fun…but for me this was a huge undertaking as most of my bucket list places consist of beautiful scenery, old fabled lands, and cute little out of the way shops.  So when I called my boys at 10 am to get out of bed, yet again (a bit frustrated I might add) I decided that we would need to do something or I was going to go stir crazy watching them be lazy all summer.IMG_2040
Me:  Hey guys, how about we plan a short trip, I have always wanted to go to Prince Edward Island, what do you think…are you up for a road trip?
Son # 1:  Ummmm…..(respectful hesitation)….ok
Son # 2:  I don’t think so, I am not really interested in that….
Me: (screaming inside)
Me: calm….well, neither of you seem very excited, why don’t you pick the location then, I really think we should do something…
Son # 1:  What about NEW YORK!?
Me:  Screaming inside thoughts…IMG_1723.so expensive, so busy, scarey, dangerous, so expensive….etc….
Me: Well, if you want to go to New York then how about you research it a bit and then we can plan something….
And so the beginning of our trip began….son # 2 thinking it would be just so much more awesome to have the house to himself for a full week….no one telling him what to do, he could wear whatever he wanted etc…decided he was not going to come along.  Son # 1 was on it. Finding hotels, looking up touristy things, found the pricing for the New York 3 City Pass!  I was so proud of him.  Son # 2….sorry…you are coming!
The truth is, I could probably write and write and write about our trip.  The amazing sites, smells, people, clothes, shops, buildings, history, horn honking, miles of walking, boat tour, bridges, food, etc…but what I want to focus on is this.  When your kids are driving you the MOST nuts, that is when you need to sit down and put all the idiotic things they do aside and choose to see all the amazing things about them rather then the things that are driving you bonkers.
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It takes effort to do this.  At least it did for me.  I was allowing all the negative noise overshadow the good parts of who they are. Even though son # 1 was super excited and on board, I had to force son # 2 to come (that was even a bit frustrating but I chose to just keep telling him he was going to have fun on our trip to New York)  I never once said, “you have to come”, I just kept saying, “It is going to be so much fun with you there, or I think you are going to have a great time etc..”….and that was the best decision of the summer.  The times that I reflect on and quite frankly tear up when I look back, are the times we spent laughing at dinner, spitting our drinks out laughing so hard!
The times when they were just being so silly or when they were being so grown up, like our first experience on the SUBWAY…they handled it like they had been taking the subway their whole lives.  Or the time when my feet were so sore after walking all day and they were so concerned about me.  The time we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and they didn’t want to but did it because I did want to and ended up loving it!  Now, when asked by people what was your favourite part of the trip….walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the faves….they relive the story over and over as if it was the most awesome thing.  I just stand back and smile because I LOVE seeing them so happy.  The time we couldn’t find a bathroom so we ate cake for supper because you had to buy something in the restaurant to use their bathroom and the cake was the only thing I could afford.
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 The times that I watched their faces as they experienced things they have never experienced before…the looks in their eyes, the silly jokes they told, the amazement that was all over their faces.  The hugs, the laughs, the expressions of appreciation.  These are my take aways from this trip that have caused me to see how amazing those two boys are, despite their inability to change the toilet paper roll, put clothing in a laundry basket, flush a toilet, or brush their teeth.  Don’t get me wrong, those are important things but those things should not overshadow the amazing things about them.  Spending the time with them in an environment where all the pressures of raising them to know what to do, how to clean a room, how to care for a pet etc…was just what we needed.  The time we spent together was priceless, the trip was fun, and we reconnected in a way that was so special, I have a renewed love for them and for that I am eternally grateful! Talk to me in 3 months, I hope I have learned my lesson and will still be able to see them for who they are and not for what they are not willing to do when I tell them to do it!!
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On a closing note, I think you can relate this life lesson at any stage of parenting.  Sure your kids will love you, they will hurt you, they will ignore you and will decide they know more then you…they will!  Learn from it…don’t give in, stay strong, and do not let those times be the defining moments of your life with them.  See those moments for what they are, deal with them but in dealing with it, focus on the greatness that is in them and when you are trying to discipline or encourage or raise them up….try to do it knowing they have so much to offer and part of your responsibility in raising them is to to help them see the greatness that is in them as well!
P.S. If you are planning a girls weekend away to NEW YORK, I am totally in!! 😉
Yolanda Vanleeuwen
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My name is Yolanda Vanleeuwen, I was born in ‘71 and wow...what a life I have had. There are so many facets to who I am but for this adventure I will share that I am a wife to my husband Cor for 21 years, a mother to 4 (YES 4) teenage boys, and an entrepreneur for just 10 months! I look forward to sharing my insights with you in respect to what it is like owning a fashion forward business while raising four teenage boys grow into who they were meant to be.

Yolanda Vanleeuwen
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