Tag Archive | children

There Comes a Time – Better late than never – Mamalode


Sometimes, my brain fails me. It betrays me. I was so happy when I received the email letting me know this piece, There Comes a Time in the Life of Every Mother, would be up on Mamalode in September. Somehow, that bit of news was lost in the fog that often fills my mind. While sifting through old emails this afternoon I came across that email . . . I was happy all over again to find it, but saddened that I’d misplaced the thought of it for so long, especially since the subject is so precious to me.

Click the link . . . It’ll make my heart smile!

There Comes a Time in the Life of Every Mother


1911- H. J. Haverman



If I were to say, “Cherish every moment.” Would you be offended?


Lately, I’ve noticed a trend among newer moms, many of whom seem to be banding together and bonding over something some of them seem to be annoyed and insulted by, and I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around it.

I’ve seen it on blog posts, on Facebook, and on Twitter, it’s a thing now to be angry at a certain something being said by moms who have already been there, done that, and thrown away the stained t-shirt.

It can be said in different ways, but the gist of this offensive comment is this – cherish every moment – Somehow this has become an affront to mothers with young children. They don’t want to hear it, is it really such a dastardly thing to say?

I’m trying to put myself in their shoes, because the truth is, I’ve been in them before. Admittedly, it was a while ago, but I certainly haven’t forgotten how it felt to walk in them. How it felt to pace the floor with a crying baby in them or chase after an energetic toddler in them.

I haven’t forgot how it felt at the end of the day when I could finally slip them off for a while. I haven’t forgotten any of it, because sometimes, it really does seem like just yesterday I was wearing them.

When my kids were little the same sort of things were said to me, cherish every moment, they’ll be grown up before you know it, make the most of every minute; and other such sage words of wisdom from moms who managed to survive parenthood. There were even moments I was relieved to hear it to be honest, because there were days I really needed those words to remind me there was indeed a light at the end of the diaper strewn tunnel I was living in.

I respected those words, I held on to them and I tried my best to heed them. One day I was standing in line at the grocery store with four little house trolls all vying for my attention in one way or another, not cherishing the moment at all and listening to some woman remind me how fast time flies, and then the next, I was that woman. I was the one standing in line behind a frazzled and tired young mother just wishing I could tell her that the moment she was in was going to be nothing more than a speck of a memory in what will seem like such a short, short time.

Now, when I find myself wanting to offer up what I thought were kind and comforting words to a young mother, I bite my tongue. What if she doesn’t want to hear it? What is she finds offense in it? It makes me sad because truly, there is no offense intended.

I’m not trying to be condescending or make light of the struggles they may be going through. I’m not making the assumption that they don’t already cherish every moment, or that they in fact need to be told time passes quickly and that in what will seem like the blink of an eye, their children will be grown and those mommy shoes will be tucked away in the back of some closet of their minds.

In some ways, I want to say it because I remember and sometimes long for those days again. I say it because it’s true, and if I could have stretched out those moments and made them last a little longer I would have.

It’s not meant as an insult, it’s never meant as a condemnation of some sort. It’s not meant to mean anything other than what it means . . . cherish every moment. Maybe I say it to comfort myself, to assure my own heart I made the most out of every day I had with my young children. Maybe I say it because time is still going by so quickly and every second I spend with my children now is all the more precious to me. I don’t want it to move so fast and it still is.

Moms need each other . . . it doesn’t matter at what stage of parenting we’re in, we belong to a sisterhood who should be encouraging, building up, and protecting each other while we cherish every single moment. The day will come we all walk in similar same shoes at some point . . .

Seems like only yesterday sometimes

Seems like only yesterday sometimes

Today became yesterday
before I knew it had passed,
I pray my sweet memories
of each moment will last.
When tomorrow arrives
I will cherish the day,
for I know that it too
will pass quickly away.
In the midst of a moment
precious memories are made,
we wrap them in love,
in hopes they won’t fade.
We gather them up,
tuck them safely away,
inside of our hearts
to look back on someday.

Crystal R. Cook

I wrote this little poem years ago, I recall just how I felt when I sat down to pen the words to a page. I’d had a moment of heartbreaking realization, time is fleeting. I could not believe how fast my children had grown. They were still babies then really, now those mommy days have passed , some days it truly does feel like it was only yesterday.

Time really is fleeting.

On our way!

Shoebox poem . . . Ya know something? I kind of miss these days every now and then.


I was on my way
with children in tow
when all of a sudden
I heard something blow.

A diaper exploded,
and that big poopy mess
started making me gag
I hate to confess.

We were wiped up and powdered
and again on our way
when screams rang out,
“Oh, what now?” I begrudgingly say.

“He touched me again.”
was my sons reply
and his eyes welled up
for his crocodile cry.

“Get over it” I said,
“don’t touch him again.”
“I didn’t do it!”
“You know it was him!”

“That is enough!”
I commandingly yell,
we are gonna be late,
what on earth is that smell?

Oh no, not again,
how can this be,
why can’t this baby
ever just pee?

Again wiped and powdered
and now in the car,
I couldn’t believe
we’d gotten that far,

but where was my purse?
Wouldn’t ya know,
right on the table
will we ever just go?

Purse in hand
and kids all buckled,
I did it at last
I think with a chuckle,

“Okay troops,
we are ready to go!”
Hey . . . where are the keys?
Does anyone know?

Crystal R. Cook ~ circa sometime around ’98

Mothers – Remembering who you are.

Picasso - Mother and Child

Picasso – Mother and Child

I remember well the first time I left my son; it was only for a short time. But in that short time I went from feeling euphoric joy to terrible anguish. I was gone all of ten minutes. I knew he was safe in the arms of my mother and yet I found myself weeping before I made it home. I held him and kissed his precious forehead vowing I would never leave him again. In the early stages of parenting I felt terrible guilt if I even considered leaving my children, it was unfounded and unnecessary, but you couldn’t have convinced me of it then.

Fast forward and three more precious babes later, and you’ve got a mom who doesn’t mind hopping into the car for a few trips alone to the store. Ironically, when I do get out for the occasional shopping day I usually end up looking at things I know they would love. When in the company of others, the topic of conversation inevitably steers toward all things children. I must admit I miss them when I am gone. I like being with them . . . most of the time. I can now say without the weight of unfounded guilt, it’s okay to take some time for myself when I need it.

Everyone needs a little respite now and again. Sometimes we need it from our kids and sometimes they need it from us. Truthfully, there are times I think they need it more than we do. There is nothing wrong with breathing a sigh of relief as you listen to the silence surrounding you when the kids are away from the house.

As a stay at home mother of four fabulous kids who are now  no longer little, I can say without hesitation or guilt, I look forward to those fleeting moments of solace. I can’t take it for too long though . . . I need to hear the life and laughter they bring, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice every now and then to have the house all to myself. For most parents at this stage, their nest is emptying. My little birdies have yet to all take flight, they are still learning to spread their wings.

As mothers we need time to ourselves, many of us won’t admit it though. I know from experience if I am tired or overwhelmed I am not going to be the most patient or nurturing mother I could be. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact it was okay to be away from them for a short while. Once I did it though, and all of the awful things I had imagined happening didn’t happen, I realized it felt good, a different kind of good, a need to get used to, kind of good, but good nonetheless.

Once we become mothers we tend to forget we are so much more than mothers still. We are women. We are wives and friends and daughters. We need to keep those parts of us alive and well if we are to be whole. The day is going to come when our children become people and begin to spread the wings we’ve watched grow, we have to know who we are so when they take flight we know we still have purpose and relevance in life.

I think I would be doing my kids a terrible injustice if I never took a bit of time for myself . . . If I don’t know who I am then they will never really know me either. The older they get, the more I realize they are watching me, learning from me. I want them to learn how to be everything they can be. Long ago I put so many pieces of who I was up on a shelf so high I could no longer reach them. Ironically, my children are the ones who pulled them down for me; they are the ones who reminded me I was more than I thought I was.

I remembered I was a wife, I remembered I was a writer and an artist, I remembered I was an individual, and in the beginning these things terrified me, but as time passed I began to cherish these parts of who I once was and began incorporating them into my life. I will always, always be a mother, no one ever told me it wasn’t all I could be, if they did, I certainly didn’t heed their words. When my children are out and about or when the night has come and they lay safe in their beds I treasure the time I have to get to know myself again.

It took me a long time to reach the realization that it is not only okay for us to steal away now and again, it is vital. Spiritual and emotional healing is found in moments of solitude, we have to tend to the woman within, the one which will remain once the children have grown. She needs to be nurtured just as our children do.

Stealing a few moments in time to sit in quiet reflection, read a book, nurture a talent or simply take a nice long shower can only make you a better you, and in turn, a better mother . . .

Crystal R. Cook

Sir Wetsalot . . . A rainy day writing.

Since children’s stories seems to be my theme for the day, I thought I would share one written with children. My children. My kids are all talented and articulate weavers of words, I read to them while they still nestled in my womb. I’ve always encouraged them to read and write and create.

The following tale was written on a rainy, stay home day when my children were in elementary school. Four bored, runny-nosed house trolls need to be kept busy and entertained so we decided to write a story.

They had so many ideas, we settled on our theme and they ran with it, each adding their own adorable voices to what would become one of our favorite memories. What I thought was going to be a miserable day turned out to be a pretty great one.


Sir Wetsalot and the Knights of the Changing Table

Sir Wetsalot and his knights had many grand adventures protecting the kingdom of Cry-a-lot. Their faithful service never went unoticed by the king or the good people they protected. Their deeds and heroics were recorded so future generations would be reminded of their courage and sacrifice. The tale you are about to embark upon is one of the most famous and remarkable stories ever told of the brave souls we proudly called, The Knights of the Changing table.

Our story begins on a stormy night in the kingdom of Cry-a-lot. The wind howled as the knights gathered at the changing table. The King himself had called them to this secret meeting to discuss his fears that somewhere, someone was plotting to steal his most precious belonging, the golden rattle, Exloud-in-ear. The symbol of peace and harmony for Cry-a-lot was in danger and he feared life as they knew it would come to an end if they did not take measures to stop whatever fiend plotted against them.

As they thought of what to do, they remembered the day the King pulled Exloud-in-ear from under a mountain of rubbish and stone. Many had tried before him but none of them had the heart of a true king. The moment the golden rattle was freed the kingdom cheered and proclaimed him ruler and king. Their villages prospered and the evils they had come to fear seemed to vanish.

They were not sure of the exact nature of this new threat, the Kinghad heard rumors of a plot to steal Exloud-in-ear but that was about it. He decided to send out his most trustworthy spies to gather information and find out who was behind the dastardly plot.

As the spies packed for what they thought could be a long journey they heard a noise outside, they listened carefully but did not hear anything so they continued packing. They had lollipops and plenty of bottles filled with juice, they had their blankies and teddies and of course their spy gear. As they packed the last items they heard the noise again. This time is was even louder.

They rushed to the door and peeked out into the dark night, they could barely make out something in the distance, it looked like it was coming closer. They reached into their bags and pulled out their bottles, they aimed and squeezed, covering the intruder with orange juice and apple juice. Wet and unhappy, it disappeared into the city.

They immediately ran to the King and told him all about it. They were sure it must have been whoever, or whatever it was that wanted to steal Exloud-in-ear from them. They made plans to set a trap and catch the thief, they got to work right away. They started to grow sleepy though and their eyes began to close. One by one, they all fell fast asleep.

When they awoke, Exloud-in-ear was gone! Everyone began to panic, it took the King a long time to calm his people. He called on Sir Wetsalot to help him. Now Sir Wetsalot was very smart and very brave. The only thing that ever slowed him down was a full diaper. He came up with a new plan and quickly put it into action.

A fake Exloud-in-ear was made and placed on a table in the middle of the kingdom, it’s gold paint twinkled in the sun. The King, Sir Wetsalot, the Knights, the spies and all the people hid and waited. They waited, and waited and waited. Just when the sun was going down they began to hear noises. They watched nervously as something approached.

The table began to shake and the fake rattle fell to the ground. No one dared move closer to see what was happening. They listened to the rattle sounds growing softer and softer until they where gone. Now it had the fake Exloud-in-ear and the real one! Everyone in Cry-a-lot was sad. The King began to cry, he would not speak at all. He just sat there in tears and sucked his thumb.

Sir Wetsalot could not stand to see his king like this and valiantly went after the rattle. It was pretty easy really, there was a trail of cookie crumbs for him to follow. As he bravely skipped along the path he heard the familiar sound of the golden rattle. He very quietly crept toward the sound. He could not believe what he saw.

There sat his little brother, slobbering all over Exloud-in-ear. He was so mad he started screaming . . . “Mommeeeee!” Sir Wetsalot smiled as his mother took the rattle from the baby and returned it once again. After a quick diaper change and a snack he was on his way back to Cry-a-lot.

Everyone cheered and gave him a heroes welcome when he returned! The King took his soggy thumb from his mouth and jumped for joy! Peace and harmony returned to the kingdom and everyone settled down for a nice nap. While they slept, Sir Wetsalot’s mommy added a safety gate to the entrance of Cry-a-lot and turned out the lights.

Crystal, Wilson, Matthew, Angela, & Michael Cook

Teach the children well.

Teach the children well.
“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” John F. Kennedy

There is among us a group of individuals who hold the future in their hands. They mold the present into what will one day become our past. Few are willing to take on such an awesome task, such a mighty responsibility. We call those few teachers.

Teachers become a part of every student they reach out to. They leave an imprint that remains with them their whole life through. There are many teachers whose lessons still resonate within me and I still go back to those memories every now and then and gain strength from them.

I remember the names of some, can recall the faces of few, but the ones I remember most are often faceless and nameless in my mind’s eye, for they have become something more than a faded memory to me. Those teachers did more than simply teach.

They grasped for the potential they saw within me. They gently pushed me toward success and I knew without a doubt they were pleased when I achieved it, I knew they still had faith in me when I did not. They incorporated values, pride in oneself and good work ethics into everything they tried to teach. They gave boost to low self-esteem, a pat on the back and a smile for every effort made.

Unfortunately, I remember all too well teachers that approached each day with the unspoken expectation that their students would fail. Too many of their students did fail; they failed to learn from a teacher who failed to teach. I do suppose in some small way I learned something from those teachers. I learned lack of enthusiasm and empathy would only lead to an end I did not desire.

“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.” Kahlil Gibran

I remember teachers who thought sarcasm and ridicule would teach. I remember teachers who lectured and yelled. I remember teachers who told students they would never amount to anything. I wonder if they ever did.

“Do not train children to learn by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the particular bent of the genius of each.” Plato

I have fond memories of teachers who taught with kindness and understanding. I remember teachers who said good job and nice try. I remember teachers who turned a failing grade into the opportunity to learn. I remember teachers who told their students they could do anything if they tried. I imagine many of their students were able to reach out and touch the stars.

“The job of a teacher is to teach students to see the vitality in themselves.” Joseph Campbell

Teachers are one of our greatest resources. They do not always receive the gratitude, the accolades and the credit they deserve.

Children are another of our greatest resources. They do not always receive the praise, the attention and the credit they deserve.

Teachers are human. They have bad days and buttons that can be pushed. Some days, they may not want to be where they must be.

Children are human. They too have bad days and buttons that can be pushed. Some days, they may not want to be where they must be.

So many of us were inspired to become who we are because of the role one good teacher played in our life. I became a writer because a teacher believed in me. She showed me a path I’d not known existed. Though neither of us knew where it would lead, she pointed out the possibilities, she help me envision what might lay in wait for me. I am still on that path and in some small way she is right alongside me.

A teacher must be on a continual quest for knowledge else they cannot guide and teach and inspire. A teacher must learn to adapt in a changing world. They cannot teach today’s children effectively if their methods are cemented in ways of the past. They must maintain the core elements of their curriculum, yet have the ability to incorporate them in different ways for different children.

“You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails.” Anonymous

A teacher must remember each student is an individual. Not every student is equal. They all learn differently. They all act and react differently. Some have disabilities, some are gifted and some are right there in the middle. Some require a strict approach, some require a sensitive one. Some need a bit of both. Not every student is equal.

“There is nothing more unequal that they equal treatment of unequal people. ” Attributed to Thomas Jefferson

A teacher must recognize the uniqueness of each student, seek out their strengths, their talents and passions as well as their weaknesses.

“Expecting all children the same age to learn from the same materials is like expecting all children of the same age to wear the same size clothing.” Madeline Hunter

If a teacher truly wants the respect of their students they must first model it by giving it.

“The secret of education is respecting the pupil.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Respect is learned and then earned.

“Great teachers empathize with kids, respect them, and believe that each one has something special that can be built upon.” Ann Lieberman

Teachers have a direct connection to who their students are and who they will become.

“Treat people as though they are what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being.” Goethe

My goal, my dream, was to be a teacher. I never made it to the front of a classroom, but nevertheless, I became a teacher. I taught my children the faith and the values and the morals they need to have and then I built on the knowledge their teachers imparted to them. I tended to the seeds they’d sown, but just a seedling cannot grow without sun and water and care, a student cannot learn without praise, encouragement and time. Next to a parent, a teacher can be the most influential and guiding force in the life of a child.

“I put the relation of a fine teacher to a student just below the relation of a mother to a son.” Thomas Wolfe

Every action a teacher takes, every word they utter and every mood they have, whether it be for a moment or a day, will affect and impact the lives of the children they teach. A child should never leave a classroom feeling a failure. A child should never leave a classroom with guilt or fear or shame.

“Education . . . is a painful, continual and difficult work to be done in kindness, by watching, by warning . . . by praise, but above all example.” C.B Neblette

A student should walk away knowing even if they failed, they have the opportunity to succeed the next time. They need to walk away knowing their teacher believes in them. They need to walk away and want to come back.

“Nine tenths of education is encouragement.” Anatole France

For every seemingly troubled child, there is an underlying reason for their every action, whether it be emotional, mental or physical, there is a reason. Children are born with the innate desire to learn and please. The child labeled problematic was born with the same desire; something or someone along the way robbed them of it. A good teacher can help find what was lost. Some children may seem unreachable, even unteachable, but those are the ones who often have the greatest potential to learn.

“A child miseducated is a child lost.” John F. Kennedy

Sometimes a teacher will see the fruits of their labor as they watch the growth and change their influence has made. Sometimes though, they may not. There is a certain Chinese bamboo tree that once planted, seemingly does not grow. Initial growth takes place deep below the surface for many years. Before the first signs of life can be seen the tree has grown a strong root system that will sustain it as it begins to grow above ground. Within a year it sprouts from the earth and grows to be one of the strongest and tallest of the bamboo trees. There is no way to know which student will be like that bamboo tree. Just because you can’t see growth, doesn’t mean it is not taking place.

As parents, we entrust the most precious and valuable things in our lives to teachers. We trust they will provide the care and nurture required in our absence. We must do our part to teach them to respect and honor their teachers as someone of great importance in their lives. I valued my children’s teachers, they were role models partnered with me in shaping my children’s futures. I only asked they value my child and all the children in their charge. While teachers mold the future for their students, they are molding their own as well.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams

Crystal R.Cook



Holding Hands With Joy


Acceptance is the greatest gift we can give to those who may be different in some way. I was fortunate to have learned early in life to accept those who were not just like me, I was also fortunate to be accepted by them in return.

My mother taught me well, I played with children who were different and they played with me, I never knew others shunned them or judged them until I was blessed with a life changing event, a moment in time which cemented my resolve to help and advocate for those others would not.

I’m not certain just how old I was, perhaps twelve or thirteen, right around the age I felt I was too old for Girl Scouts but wanted that last badge. My girl scout troop was invited to a place called Hope Cottage. It was a home for physically and mentally disabled people. It was an emotional day for all of us; it would be years before I grasped the full meaning of all that transpired during our visit.

From the outside looking in, it was a building like any other, nothing fancy, maybe even a little run down. When we stepped through the doors, we entered into a world we never even knew existed. As I looked around, I noticed a young man, sitting alone. He seemed to be having the most wonderful conversation with someone only his eyes could see. Not too far away sat another boy, rocking to melodies only he could hear. A girl, older than me judging by her size, was seated in an adult sized high chair of sorts, being spoon fed by one of the care givers.

Her name was Joy and I will never forget her. As our guide was introducing us, one of the girls in my troop noticed Joy had on a rather large diaper peaking just above the waistline of her pants and began to giggle and whisper about it to her companion. They were both taken from the room immediately. Joy just smiled an innocent, unknowing smile and turned back toward her meal.

Our guide explained Joy had been shaken when she was an infant and even though her body continued to grow, in her mind, she was still the playful baby she’d once been. One of the girls in my troop began to cry and was taken from the room as well; Joy looked toward the door and with a mouthful of oatmeal said “Hug?”

Suddenly the room began clapping for her! “Good word Joy!” She beamed, she absolutely beamed. I couldn’t help but smile even as a tear fell from my eye. I was asked if I wanted to leave, but I didn’t, I couldn’t.

I remember looking around the room at the drawings decorating the walls. Some of them could have easily been drawn by toddlers while others were amazing works of art. It was as I looked upon one of these portraits, a young man whispered, “That’s mine.” I smiled as I told him it was a beautiful picture. I had no idea then it was his, a glorious work of art created by a boy who lived his life somewhere along the autistic rainbow.

Joy began to cry as the oatmeal was being wiped from her chin, I found myself by her side offering words of comfort. Her big baby hand took hold of my arm, the woman firmly said “Be soft Joy.” She was. She smiled at me; she truly was a beautiful baby.

Before I knew it, we were being rounded up to leave. I think part of me did not want to go and the other part of me wanted to run and never come back. I experienced many emotions in the days and weeks to come. I felt sadness, confusion, pity, perhaps even anger.

Soon, my sadness faded as I realized they were not sad. I’d not seen frowns on the faces of those children, I’d seen beautiful smiles. My confusion vanished with the help of my mother’s wisdom. I realized I had no right to pity them; they did not want it or need it. Any anger I may have felt was fleeting, it was more of a helpless type of anger. The sort you feel when you think you should be able to change something you know you cannot.

Years later I drove past the run down home and saw a mansion. I looked past the unkempt grounds and the peeling paint and saw a mansion. Through the window I saw angels. I have always wondered if they were the children who resided in the cottage named Hope or if they were the care givers who kept watch over them. Maybe they were all angels, simply here to teach us and touch our lives.

That day changed my life forever. Maybe it was that day, as I looked into the eyes of Joy; God decided he would bless me with children who would require a little more than most. Children who would hear melodies I could not. Children who would live in a rainbow of colors I would not always be able to see.

I often think of the young girls who laughed and I hope they learned something from their experience, I hope they took something home and taught it to those who should have taught it to them. I think of the girl who could not stop her tears from flowing and I hope she found peace and understanding.

Our world is made up of more than color and social status, more than what we see with our eyes, we have to look with our hearts as well. We owe it to our children and their children’s children to make the future a place where all are accepted and never will there be a need to ask if children should be exposed to angels . . .

I will never forget that day. I will always be thankful I was given the opportunity to stand among angels, holding hands with Joy, in a place of Hope.

Crystal R.Cook