Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Bobby Vee

We can all have an impact on someone else at anytime without ever knowing it. Two people who came into my life only long enough to make a difference are Bobby Vee and his daughter, Jenny.
For those who don't know, Bobby Vee is a singer whose biggest hits were in the 1960s. He still tours and still sings an outstanding concert.

He came to our community in December for a Christmas concert. He sang with a sixth-grade choir from one of our middle schools. My daughter belongs to that choir. Singing is her passion and she hopes to be a professional singer one day, so she was pretty excited about this opportunity.

I wanted to share with Bobby Vee her pleasure at being able to sing at this concert, so I sent an email to his website (www.bobbyvee.net.) In it I thanked him for the opportunity he was giving these kids. I didn't realize at the time what an opportunity it was for all of us.

My husband and I were able to meet Bobby and Jenny before the concert. I was very impressed with their attitude. They didn't treat meeting fans like just part of the job, but truly seemed to be enjoying themselves.

When I introduced myself, both of them mentioned the email I had sent. They told me how much it meant to them. That comment alone made my night.

What they didn't realize is that I have recently conquered a chronic illness. After many years of not working, I am writing again. More importantly, I have always wanted to make a positive impact on others. (Check the title....Can I Change A Life.) Being away from writing for so long has left me wondering if my words can influence anybody. Bobby Vee and Jenny showed me they can.

If that was all they had left me with that night it would've been more than enough, but there is more.

The concert was memorable. I realized the staying power of Bobby Vee's music when he would announce the dates various songs were released. Often they were the year I was born or shortly after...yet to many of them I knew every word. That just isn't true about most artists.

I love writing, but music is my passion. Many things have happened recently to make me realize that I need to get back into performing (I'm an instrumentalist) and this concert was one of them. Music runs deep in my soul. Listening isn't enough; my drive is to perform again. Nothing I've experienced can beat using music to reach into a person's soul and enhance a life. I buried that desire deep inside because I haven't known what to do with it, but I left that night just knowing that I can't keep the music inside of me anymore.

My husband was also influenced. After the concert he said he can't remember the last time he had so much fun. Fun is the key word for that night...Bobby and his family and band members get on that stage and have such a great time together that it's impossible not to join in.

Ever since that night we play a lot more music in our house (including, of course, our new Bobby Vee CDs.) We're planning a trip during spring break to Branson, where we hope to catch several concerts. This would not have happened if Bobby Vee had not performed here in December.

After meeting him and his daughter, I am guessing they make a positive impact on people wherever they go. I hope one day I can do the same.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Is It Really So Bad To Be A Mom?

"909 women in Texas recently told researchers they find taking care of their kids about as much fun as cleaning their house, slightly less pleasurable than cooking, and a whole lot less enjoyable than watching TV."

I still can't believe I read that. It's in the February 21st edition of Newsweek.

I'd love to hear from other moms. I find this statement incredibly sad. It's not that I think parenting is about having fun, but hanging with people you love generally is pretty enjoyable.

The woman who wrote this article is selling a book. I very much hope that she is presenting things in such a way as to sell her book and that it is not representative of the general public.

My blog is intended to be about people who have changed my life. My daughter has enhanced it greatly. As just one example, she has brought music back into my life. Music is my biggest passion (other than God and family.) Just being around her makes me happy. She is off of school on Friday and I can hardly wait. The only thing I don't like about summer vacation is that it means she's advancing one more grade and is that much closer to going off to college.

I realize that juggling kids and jobs is stressful. It's also more stressful to have more than one child. My sister raised three kids while working. It seemed she never got everything done. But she never lost sight of what was important...giving her kids all her love. They are all grown and two are in college, and she misses them every day.

The writer of the Newsweek article, Judith Warner, talked about all the things she did for a child and how they stressed her out. She talked about being proud that she could "get in three hours of high-intensity parenting before I left for work" (and another three after work.) No wonder she was unhappy. People forget that the best way to help your kids is show that you love them. Parenting time shouldn't all be "high-intensity." It's so much more important to share hugs and cuddles, always letting your kids know how much you love them and that you will always be there for them.

No, my sister wasn't really into high-intensity. She was into being with them and talking with them. She helped them with schoolwork, but it wasn't important to her that they be #1 in their classes. She just cared that they did their best.

All of her kids went to college and one has graduated. They've done well academically. None of them was ever in trouble. They never did drugs and still drink very little. Even better, they all seem to have lives they enjoy... and isn't that our goal for our kids?

For each one of them, growing up is full of special memories. They all know their Mom and Dad will always be there for them, and each of them has learned plenty about giving love. My niece and nephews are a delight to be with.

A houseful of kids, a stressful job, and not enough time to do anything...would my sister do it again? You bet.

When raising your kids, don't lose sight of what's important...being there.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Teenage Influences

As you can tell by the title, I'm the mom of a teen. She's a great kid (and I'm not at all prejudiced, right?) Seriously, though, she's a good student, has a sense of style I envy, and is full of compassion for others.

A couple of my friends have shared their struggles with their daughters. The biggest struggle so far has been grades. (Yes, I realize we're a lucky group.) In all cases the teens are bright but don't turn in their homework. Funny thing, teachers tend not to give students good grades when they don't do the work.

My friends see how well my daughter does and ask for advice. What can I tell them?

Much as I like to think I have influenced my daughter, the reality is that I'm just lucky. My daughter is highly motivated to get good grades. Once she got a C on a test and she was just miserable. I've had to talk to her about accepting what she gets as long as she does her best. She understands what I'm saying, but I'm pretty certain that her next C will make her feel just as badly as her first one did.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately because she has undergone a major attitude shift. It's a shift for the good. She has always been a loving, caring person and she expects the same of others. This tender-hearted thinking has caused her a lot of pain from bullies and other classmates.

This year she has met some truly nasty kids. The worst that has happened to her is that a boy in her class pretended he was going to kick her in the face. He was on a table and she was sitting in a chair when he called her name. As she looked up, he swung his foot out towards her face. He barely missed her. He then said he should've done it, but didn't because he'd get in trouble. He then proceeded to call her names that would've made her feel awful a year ago.

Later that evening my daughter shared the story with me. I was pretty shook up. I kept imagining what would've happened if he had misjudged and actually kicked her. It didn't bother her at all. None of the bullying this year has bothered her. Her attitude was basically along the lines of "What a jerk!"

Through the years we have talked about bullies and how to handle them. We have talked about how bad she feels when people make fun of her for any reason. I've tried to teach her to consider the source when she's insulted. In other words, the people who are nasty to her aren't worth feeling badly about.

For some reason she has finally internalized those lessons. I asked her why she's so much stronger this year. Maybe I was even patting myself on the back a bit as I wondered what I'd said that finally hit home with her.

It turns out that I didn't to anything. Avril Lavigne gets the credit. My daughter has been listening to Avril a lot and taking in the things her music says. (I've written a weblog about her, including information about her various songs, at http://www.avrilfanmom.typepad.com/momsguide). Needless to say, I'm now a pretty big fan of Avril Lavigne.

I'm glad my daughter has chosen to listen to songs that help her become stronger. I'm grateful to Avril for singing songs that tell girls to be strong and to be themselves, and to sing them in such a way that teenagers will listen. I feel lucky beyond belief that my daughter chose this influence instead of getting into the darker music that's out there.

My only concern is that if the luck runs out, I'm not sure what I'll do. I can only hope that the close relationship my daughter and I still share will continue. I will hope that if the time comes that she really needs my influence, I will say and/or do the right things.

In the meantime, I'm humbled. I've also learned that what my husband says is true: if I had the choice between skill and luck, I'll always take luck.