Thursday, October 9, 2014

Courage to Embrace Your Child's Individuality

As a mama of three girls ages 2, 5 and 8, there’s a lot I’m still learning. In fact, every day is a wild journey of discovery about my girls and myself. One thing I do know for sure: we are all different.

That may sound obvious but it’s a big deal. It’s something I have to constantly remind myself as I navigate the waters of parenting. Each one of my girls is a masterpiece – uniquely wired and created by God. 

It's tempting to get caught up into what other people think about our kids - how they should look or behave or think or act. I have been that mom. It's been a journey for me to learn how to celebrate each one of my girls and embrace their individuality.

I know that my oldest, Meilani, feels wholly alive when she has a colored pencil or marker or paint brush in hand. She’s also a planner. She loves to know what’s on the agenda for the week. She loves to set up her room for friends to come over and have every stuffed animal, every Lego creation in its place. I also know that my sweet girl sucks her bottom lip when she’s nervous or thinking hard.

I know that my middle daughter, Giada, is a snuggler. She thrives on hugs and tickle time and cuzzling before bed. She loves to be active. She spends more time standing on her head than she does sitting right side up. She loves gymnastics, basketball, soccer. She also loves to make new friends. She’s the girl you want with you on a long trip to a new place because she can win over any stranger.

I know that my youngest, Zayla, oozes joy and passion. She’s a whiz at puzzles! She scrunches up her nose when she smiles and erupts with contagious giggles. She is independent, needing to buckle her own seat belt or serve her own dinner.

My girls recently lost their dad to cancer. We anticipate seeing Daddy again in heaven one day and gaining a greater understanding for the heartache we now endure. As a family, we are learning how to grieve both individually and collectively. Recognizing that each of my daughters is unique proves important now more than ever. 

My oldest doesn’t like to cry in front of people while my middle little needs someone to hold her close when those tears come. When my 2-year-old misses her daddy, she is comforted by pictures on my phone and videos with his voice. They each have their own unique grief journey. It's different from mine and other kids who have experienced something similar. These are all things I’m learning.

I believe part of our job as mamas is to lean in close, to listen to what our kids are telling us with words and body language, to get to know what pushes their buttons and what makes their hearts beat. I believe a large part of our job is to embrace their individuality and teach them to be themselves, bravely, in light of that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Hi Mamas!

Mark your calendars today for our Fall 2014 meeting dates. We have some fun activities and meaningful topics planned. Be sure to invite a friend!

Registration is $35 for the year, which includes all the supplies & goodies offered during our meetings as well as a welcome package from MOPS international, their monthly magazine and special gift to encourage you to BE YOU, BRAVELY this year as you mother. Sign up today right here. We also do have childcare classes available!

August 14 - Jump Around event at Aerosports Trampoline  - All Families Welcome! (Come register for the MOPS season, bring a friend and reconnect with other mamas!)

September 11 - Be You, Bravely: Facing your Mama Fears (speaker: Dorina Gilmore)

September 25 - GAME NIGHT: Fun competitions forging new Friendships

October 9 - Courage to Embrace your Child's Individuality (speaker: Cori Schmidt)

October 23 - Be You, Creatively: CRAFT NIGHT (speaker: Emily Hope Baker)

November 13 - Courage to Balance Work & Mothering (speaker: Noelle Golling)

November 22 - MOPS Holiday Boutique (Host a table selling your own goods or come shop & snag some fabulous gifts for your family & friends!)

December 11 - Be You, Generously: CRAFT NIGHT (Creating Christmas Crafts & Gifts)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Navigate Transitions with your Mama Heart

This time of year my mailbox fills with invitations for graduations, birthday parties, weddings. My Facebook newsfeed crowds with prom photos, teacher appreciation events, and my personal favorite, Mother’s Day gatherings!

May marks the end of the school year for many.  May speaks of a closing season. May hints at summer days to come. May is a month of transition.

In high school, May was the month our yearbooks arrived. I was always on the yearbook staff, and we had the privilege of paging through the books first. We got an early glimpse at the layouts, the photos, the funny and memorable frozen in time from the past year.

I remember spending hours cutting out pictures and copying down quotes for friends. We used it as an excuse to tell people how much we admired them or to jot down favorite memories with them from the year. We would sign with cute sayings like “K.I.T.” – Keep in Touch – or “2 Cute 2 B forgotten.”

This time of year is always bittersweet for me. It’s a month full of celebrations, but also goodbyes. When I was younger it was about saying goodbye to my school friends. I would often be returning home to be with neighborhood friends or during college years I would be starting a new job or internship.

As a mama, it’s different. I have to help navigate these transitions for my kids. They, too, have to say goodbyes to friends and teachers at school. Our whole family has to adjust to more time together and being in each other’s space more. Siblings are forced to remember what it’s like to play together. 

Transitions can be tough.

Every summer our family heads to Haiti, where our family feels called to serve and bless and be blessed. We must say goodbye to our California friends and family every year. It’s hard. We shed some tears. Our hearts long for those we love the most. Yet, we have the unique opportunity to return to a place we have built relationships.  My girls look forward to their summer days – carefree and unbound by schedules – to jump rope and dig in the dirt with their Haitian friends from the orphanage next to our home.

My challenge to you is to embrace transition. Expect it. Carve out time for yourself and your little ones to adjust. Don’t be surprised if they have some days of irritability or acting out. Plan some down time to reminisce about the past season, the highlights of the school year or that dance class they took.

My girls love photos; I take lots of them. This is another way I help them navigate transitions. We go through photos together on the computer or we make special photo books to help us remember the people and the places that have become meaningful to us. When we travel we take a few of these photo books with us. 

I also give my girls blank books. They can use these like a journal to document their new adventures. If they can’t express themselves in words kids can draw pictures. I challenge them to draw or paint one picture a day. I found this helps them when they are missing friends or having a hard time embracing a new place or season.

In our home, transition is the new normal. How about yours?
Dorina Lazo Gilmore is the Coordinator of the Bridge MOPS group in Fresno, California. She and her family serve in Haiti each summer with the non-profit Christian Friendship Ministries & The Haitian Bead project.