Mothering… The Struggle is Real

I’m not in a good place today. It hasn’t been a positive mothering day, and I’m currently locked in my bedroom with the left over ice cream (I didn’t even put it in a bowl!) bawling my eyes out. Why? Oh for many reasons. One, however, is that I feel alone. Even though I have a very supportive husband. He isn’t here when the kids are at their worst. And so although I may send frantic text messages to him during the day threatening to run away, he doesn’t see what happens on these bad days. So I sit… all alone… unable to reach out.

Why is it so hard for mothers to reach out? Why is it so hard to admit that we are struggling? Why can’t we call up our friends, or maybe even our family members and vent about our disobedient child and our mothering struggles? Maybe you have your own reasons, but I don’t because I feel judged. I’m aware that this feeling could totally be me, that my friends and family are not judging me at all. But I don’t see enough support for mothers to have that hope that I can venture out and describe how completely lonely I am, or how I feel like I’m a complete failure as a mother. I don’t always see enough love for mothers who struggle, so when I do, I fear the same judgment they receive.

Something about how fast our fingers can type on an anonymous internet and how slow our minds are to censor creates  a very threatening atmosphere. If you’ve ever read an article about a parent being raw with their struggles, you’ve probably read the comments that follow. Sure there are many that are encouraging and loving, but there are just as many who bash and beat down. They judge a person based on 5 paragraphs of her life. They say wicked things going as far as to say they don’t deserve to be parents. As if the parent themselves haven’t already beat themselves up over and over again because of the struggle. These people are ruthless. ***I have my comments on moderation only. No bashing allowed here.

What would happen if mothers felt comfortable and felt they could go to their online life and seek support for the struggles they are having? What if a mother did lose it and hit their child, then come looking for help immediately after**… and what if we actually helped? What if she found the courage to seek forgiveness, to get professional help, and became the mother she always wanted to be by receiving love from fellow struggling parents? Unfortunately many are met with criticisms, generalizations, hate, and judgment. They are told that they aren’t good mothers because they aren’t perfect.

Sadly it doesn’t always have to be from strangers on social media. Sometimes the reason we sit alone in our struggle is because we’ve heard our friends, and probably even joined in the bashing of another mom. We’ve heard our friends talk about the boy with the bad behavior and how the mom should have done this or that. We’ve heard the judgment in their voices as they give the reasons why the child is so ill-behaved. We may have even been the instigator of the conversation… until we realize we have a kid just like that. But then who can you go to? The friends who saw fault in the other boy’s mom? Nope, we sit in silence… all alone… and continue to struggle.

We hear a friend rant about the behaviors of all those imperfect children and we think in our minds, “What if they knew about MY child!?” And we instantly close ourselves off even further.

Whether it be online or face to face, it’s hard to find rest within a mom’s struggle. It’s sad that our ice cream is a more warming environment and brings more comfort than a friend’s shoulder to cry on.

But can I offer some repose? You are NOT alone. Moms struggle on every block. Kids misbehave. Kids can be rotten for entire days at a time. And God loves your child more than you can even comprehend. I know it’s hard to believe. In the midst of the biggest fit you’ve ever seen, God still loves. (and I’m talking about Mom’s fit, too).

I found myself sitting with the ice cream carton in one hand, a spoon in another, and tears pouring down my face as I cried out to God asking, “Why isn’t my love for her enough!?” Feeling lost and alone, God was right there. As I prayed, He comforted. Don’t you know God says the same to us? We all mess up, we all throw fits, we all go in a direction God never intended for us to go. If only we understood His love for us. So, since God won’t give up on me, I won’t ever give up on my child. And I’m not giving up on trusting there’s support out there.

If you’re struggling, and “Strong willed” doesn’t even come close to describing your lovely child… come sit by me! If your non-judgmental friends suggest the “glitter calm down jar” and you immediately envision your child throwing said jar… come sit by me! If you are getting ready to down your 3rd pint of ice cream this week all alone in the corner of your bedroom… hiding from your children… come sit by me. You’ll find no judgment here!

Just remember, just as not every child is the same, no mother is either. Some children don’t sit still, or calm down with a mother’s hug. Some children don’t feel love as easily as their sibling, throwing mama for a massive loop… and some moms can’t handle as much as others. Some moms are laid back and able to handle their iron-willed child (seriously, what is stronger than strong willed??), and some moms crumble in stressful situations. We don’t need your condescension. We need someone to hold us up; to push us along when we grow weary; to carry our burdens when things have gotten too heavy. So, come sit by me. I promise to be careful when talking to my friends. I promise to add one more comment in the encouraging column. And I promise to keep praying!

If you need someone in your corner, email me. I’d rather you have some support than reach for the ice cream! (Save the ice cream for making it another day!) I’m saving you a seat by me! Email me @ thePastorswifeslife@gmail.com 

**Before comments come pouring in, please know that I personally do not hit my children. However, if you have, or you’ve come close… I’d rather you reach out than do something that would harm your children, or add to your struggle. Take a deep breath, and contact someone for help.

Do you Enjoy your Children?

Of course we love our children. It’d be hard to find a parent who will come out and say they don’t love their children. Even those who lack in basic parenting skills, still love their children, even if deep down under the piles of turmoil that has been heaped on them. So I’m not asking “Do you LOVE your children?” I’m asking, “Do you ENJOY them?” I find that during the challenging parts of parenthood, there are moments I wouldn’t want to share my answer to that question. However, if I’m honest with myself, I’d have to sometimes answer no. I do not enjoy them. It is in this moment that I realize it isn’t THEIR fault, it is mine. The issue may appear to be a behavior issue. It may manifest itself in a period of time when the terrible twos are roaring their VERY loud head. It could be a feeling you have when the toddler and the baby (or the multiples) decided to stay up all night AND cry all day. And outside of those situations where your teenage or grown kids are choosing to be the troublemakers and not the peacemakers (despite what you’ve taught them), the root of the issue isn’t them, it’s us. It’s me. It’s you. So what can we do? How can we enjoy our kids when the bad behavior seems to outweigh the good? How can we truly enjoy our kids when they choose turmoil over peace? Is it even possible to enjoy your kids while you discipline and slowly count to ten… a million times… just to maintain the skimpiest glimpse of sanity. I believe it’s possible. I believe it takes discipline on a parents part, but is very doable.

Children are a gift from the Lordthey are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from God so why wouldn’t we enjoy them? And maybe this is the point where I should clarify that I am not suggesting we grin and smile and ENJOY the fits of the toddler, the misbehavior of the tween, the rudeness of a teenager, or the reckless behavior of the grown child. I’m suggesting that over all, we need to seek to enjoy the gifts God has given us. This also may be the point that I should admit that I struggle with this at times. I mean, let’s be completely honest here, kids can be annoying. Their incessant questions, their absent-mindedness (or is that selective hearing?), their bad habits, their WHINING…. I better not go on! But every 2-year-old will ask you why, then why again, then again, and again… it’s part of their development. Every 6-year-old will venture out to see if they’re old enough to get away with a little more. It’s part of the independence they’ve acquired through school. Every teenager will push and argue, they’re forming their own opinions as they learn to live apart from their parents. And every child will whine… I have NO CLUE what the developmental reason for this is… but EVERY.CHILD.DOES.IT!!! (perhaps it’s to build up a parents tolerance!).  If we allow these natural occurrences to keep us from enjoying our children, we have a bigger issue than the annoyances themselves. And I find myself asking God to help me enjoy my kids. I know they are a gift from Him, they are a reward from Him. It reminds me of when I’ve given gifts to my children only to see them toss the gift to the side never to be played with. It hurts. And it hurts God’s heart as well. So, now that I’ve made you feel bad… not really my intention, but if you’ve ever found yourself saying (even if just to yourself) “I don’t even enjoy them!” you’ve immediately felt guilt for even having the thought. I do. It’s a cycle I’m quick to try to remedy. I’m frustrated over their behavior, so I feel I dislike being around them (I’m not sure I like the opposite of the word, enjoy… so semantic people, bear with me!) then I feel guilty for having the thought, knowing that I need to enjoy them… It is a real indication that a change needs to happen. How can I honor God, and the gift/reward He has given me. May I share some of my ideas with you? Not because I think I’ve mastered this, yet. But because I feel it works for me as I battle these challenging parts of motherhood.

  • First, I immediately ask for forgiveness. I pray that God will help me work through these emotions, and forgive me for looking at His gift in this manner. For me, it is a sin. I am not exhibiting godliness, but selfishness. So I ask him to forgive me. Then I ask Him how to get out of this funk I’m in. Most of the time, I’m not able to do anything until I do this number one step. My heart will not change without God’s help.

 

  • I begin to search the scripture for words of encouragement. I remind myself to take captive every thought and bring them into submission to God. So I search for scripture that will remind me of God’s will in my parenting. Scriptures like…

Psalms 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (read it and remember that God created your children in this same way!)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (If He gave YOU the gift of children, he prepared you beforehand to be able to raise them! I promise!)

(there are many more… but for space sake… I’ll move on)

  • I begin to search for podcasts that will speak to the challenges (and solutions) to parenthood. I get my Bible out, and study alongside the speaker. Hearing that I’m not alone, is a comfort. But learning how to deal with it, is empowering. I use Oneplace.com (it’s an app for Android, too) And there are many preachers that post their past broadcasts. Focus on the Family, or Jim Daily’s “Focusing on Parenting” are very good, but sometimes I just put “Parenting” in the search and find something. You don’t have to agree on everything in order to gain a small nugget of encouragement to fuel your parenting journey. And if I can’t find what I am looking for, I will google things and try to find Christian blogs I can read. *****I am not looking for something that will validate my feelings! I am looking for something that will reprimand me, and encourage me to get back to where God wants me! I suggest you do the same, flattery won’t solve the issue.

 

  • I begin to godly discipline. If it’s bad behavior that is causing my kids to be unenjoyable (I may have made that word up… but I really don’t like the true opposite of enjoy… so…), then I need to teach them the right behavior. It is our job as parents to raise obedient children.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope;

Proverbs 1:8-9 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

And my point…. Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
When we discipline properly, we are teaching our children to be delightful. Not just to us, but to those around them. I warn my children. I start off my telling them that I’m sorry that I did not discipline enough (to which they quickly forgive me, don’tcha know!) And I explain that I’ll be cracking down on behaviors to which they know they should be having and are not. I remind them of my expectations for them, and outline where we’re falling short (not getting the morning routine down, making us late… or putting shoes away so we can find them when we leave, or how to be kind to a sibling… whatever the issue may be). Then I follow through. The first week is hard. They are in more time-outs, I am taking WAY more deep breaths. They are losing out on privileges, I am chanting “Yell less, love more” to myself while rocking back and forth in my closet… but it needs to be done, and it’s beneficial to us all.

  • I let them be annoying once in a while. Like I said, kids can be annoying. As children learn the social norms to behavior, they will often do annoying things. It’s part of their learning process. They repeat themselves, they chew with their mouths open, they get overly excited about things that seem unimportant to us. But, I refrain from being annoyed. I may correct them (“Please eat with your lips closed.” “Please stop repeating that phrase.” “Let’s not stand so close to my ears while chewing gum.”) But I do it in love, not in irritation. I don’t allow myself to reprimand them, belittle them, or show them my annoyance. I correct; I teach them the right behavior… and leave the room if I’m struggling more than I want. (I’m human! I DO get annoyed… but in order to choose to enjoy them, I take my thoughts captive, and I allow them to be children.)

 

  • I go to bed earlier. Let’s face it, we’re a better version of ourselves when we have our beauty sleep. It is much harder to have patience when we’re sleep deprived. I can do this now that I have children who sleep through the night. It’s much harder when you are up all night with babies, and up all day with kids who don’t nap! Grab rest when you can. Ask your spouse for help. You’ll be a better parent for it.

 

  • And Lastly… for now… is CHOOSE to enjoy! Look at your gorgeous, smart, energetic, and amazing child and see him/her as the gift she/he is! Watch them when they play, laugh at their silliness. Join them as they jump in rain puddles, and laugh when they giggle at their own made up joke. Watch them as they interact with their siblings and realize this child of yours is AWESOME! If you have to, go back to sweet baby pictures or remind yourself of funny things they’ve done in the past week, month, year. Hug them tight, tell them how wonderful you think they are, and remind yourself that this reward from God is one of the biggest blessings you’ve ever been given. Pray over them, praise them, marvel in them, and be awestruck! Be intentional about finding things to enjoy. Whether it be the moment they are quiet listening to a book, or coloring nicely at the table, or studying for a test at school, make it intentional. Then remind them how much you love them. Tell your child that they are the best gift you’ve ever been given. Then when you collapse in bed at night from the exhausted day that comes along with being a parent, do not allow yourself to dwell on the rules they broke, or the attitudes they had. Instead count your blessings. Just as you began your day in prayer, end it just the same. Praise God for the thoughtfulness of His gift. Thank Him for the blessing.

I write just as I come out of this. Like I said, I have not mastered this. And I don’t always enjoy every moment. But I love my children, and want to honor God with the gift He has given me. I believe I am not where I need to be when I choose not to enjoy them. So, today, I’m choosing to enjoy them! I’ll gaze at them and thank God for my quadruple blessing. And I’ll start the day tomorrow doing the same. Feel free to add some of the ways you choose to be intentional when it comes to enjoying your children, I’m open to more suggestions!

Until then… Enjoy those kiddos of yours!

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Just Do IT!

My girls recently asked for “Little House on the Prairie” dresses. We searched and searched for dresses, knowing that I was not a good seamstress. After realizing I could not make the “Laura Ingalls” collars, or the perfect Pinafore (which I looked up the technical term for those, so I wouldn’t call it an apron), I started looking for something simpler. I googled “easy to make girls dresses” and I read read and read some more. I spent a full week in research. I read every blog, pattern, and comments section. Finally, I took the girls to pick out their fabric. I found a pattern in one of the books, however, it was $14!!! So we passed on that and decided to research more.

The fabric was bought, it sat in the Hobby Lobby bag. And it sat. And it sat some more. I stared at it as I read more and more blogs on how to sew. It sat while I watched youtube videos learning how to do a basting stitch. It sat while I googled what pinking sheers were. It sat while I compared what was best, pinking shears, serger, or a zigzag stitch. (I don’t have ANY clue about serging!!!) The bag of beautiful prints and colors just sat while I stared at my sewing machine and contemplated my plan of action. FOR DAYS!

There comes a point in life when we can’t just research, plan, and ponder without DOING IT! We do Bible studies on how to find God’s will for our lives. We ask other’s opinions, we weigh our hopes, dreams, and gifts all while they sit in a bag unused. We have a huge desire. Our heart aches, but yet we hold back because we don’t think we know what we are doing. We don’t feel we have the resources, the history, the know-how to carry out this calling God’s given.

The great thing is… if He calls you, He also equips you! And that is just awesome! If He calls you to be a preacher, he’ll equip you with the sermons to preach. If He calls you to be a teacher, He will give you skills to teach. If He calls you to adopt, He’ll provide the stamina it takes to go through the endeavor. But you have to JUST DO IT! You’re sermons will not come out of your mouth if you do not open it. Your classroom will not appear when you do not do the work to obtain a job with a classroom.  Adoption paper will not be signed if you do not actually sign them! God allows some things to done on our part. He can line things up just right for the path to go smoothly, but if we just sit and stare at the path, we will go no where… We must JUST DO IT! Then watch how God uses us! Watch and see the wonderful benefits from taking that leap of faith. Move as He leads and dwell in the fact that you are taking every step toward a beautiful masterpiece.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (emphasis mine).

So, I sewed. I followed this bloggers instructions to a tee.  I dove right in. I took my time. I read and reread my instructions, and I trusted even when I didn’t understand what it said.  (read into that… The Bible is our instruction manual. Dive right in. Take your time. Read, reread and trust when you don’t understand.)

I made mistakes. But the fabric (and design) was forgiving. (read as, we all make mistakes, but God is gracious and forgives. His love covers over a magnitude of sin)

And at the end the mistakes were only evident to the creator, the dress blessed my daughter. Her ooohs and ahhhs were beautiful. There are times we make mistakes. God works on us all individually. But when we set out to serve, to do God’s will, we can bless others beautifully. As we learn and grow our mistakes become less and less. But the blessings grow in their beauty.

Just as I should, I needed to learn to do this project. I needed that research. I needed to define terms I didn’t know. I needed to know how to use what I learned… that is a given. But there comes a point where we need to start doing what we’ve learned. Listen carefully for the green light!

So… It’s time to DO. What’s in your heart? What has God been nudging you to try? Is now the time to dive in? JUST DO IT!!

There is a long list of things I did wrong... but I did just enough right to create the awesome dress for my awesome 3 year old!

There is a long list of things I did wrong… but I did just enough right to create the awesome dress for my awesome 3 year old!

  • I didn’t plan for it to be a halter dress. It was supposed to have cute little buttons on the front, but I sewed the straps right in forgetting my original plan. It is super cute without the white shirt under… but well, it’s winter already here! So long sleeves and leggings for now!
  • I also measured for the bodice, not remembering that my cutie patutie has a much curvier bum than I think the original model had. So we had to tear some stitching and redo to get it on her… once over that curvy bum, it was adorable.
  • I also did not buy quite enough fabric, so it’s a tad smaller around than the original plan. However, I am not sure I would really notice a few inches.
  • Once it was on her, we noticed that there were two straight pins in the bodice that were sewn in. I had to cut tiny holes to free them. Silly me.. just proves how much more I need to learn!
  • I already had the thread, and the ribbon. So my total for this dress came to $8.09 (look for Hobby Lobby sales, and use your coupons!)
  • Thank you to Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom for a set of instructions and pictures I felt I could really follow. I learned so much doing this project and I couldn’t be happier! Please visit her awesome blog and try a few crafts of your own.

I have one more to make for Lil. I’m hoping it will be easier and with even fewer mistakes. I can’t wait… neither can she!

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Think about such things

The world tells us to think positive. It tells us to keep our heads held high; to dwell on the good things. And on this, I’d like to agree.

Not always do we wake up with perfect hair, blemish free, and fresh roses to smell. We often times wake before our bodies want, to a mess we didn’t have time to clean up, and sometimes to kids who didn’t want to get up either. Our days don’t go as we planned, and the further we head into the day, the worse it seems to get. But think positive, right? Why is that so hard to do?

I recently listened to a great author speak about comparisons and how as women and as mothers we tend to compare ourselves to others to the point that we feel insecure and down about our actual lives. It’s true. We base our happiness on whether we measure up to others. We stay up late, get up early, set ourselves up for a tired sleepy day because we have to be busy like all the other moms in our circle.

if Sally says she crossed off twelve items on her to-do list when we only crossed off 3, we go to bed thinking of the complete loser we must be.

When we visit Nancy’s for a playdate and notice how clean and orderly her house is, we wake up the next morning thinking about the huge slacker we are for not getting to our messes the night before.

When June serves her kids a perfectly balanced meal, we cringe at the non-organic chicken noodle soup we are slopping up for our brood.

Instead of focusing on the fact that we crossed 3 major tasks off our to-do list while potty training, dealing with night terrors, and a sick husband, we dwell on the effects of the comparison on our lives. Instead of realizing that a clean home ready for company is not the same as a home a family lives in, we park our focus on the pile of laundry we have verses the hidden one they had. Instead of praising our children for behaving at a delicious dinner, we harp on the meal we could have made had we read more recipes.

However, the Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
 whatever is pure, whatever is  lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Think about what is true. Are your circumstances different? Probably!  Think about what is noble. Are you doing righteous things? Being virtuous? Are you a good person? Honorable? Upright? Are you a decent person? Focus on making yourself who God wants you to be. Not who God wants Sally, Nancy, or June to be. Think about what changes you may need to make in order to be the best YOU.

Think about what is right. Are you doing what is right FOR YOUR FAMILY? Then who cares what that family does? Think about what is pure and lovely. Ask God to make your heart pure, to seek Him with the heart He has given you. Make your own home lovely… to you. Are you comfortable? Then you have something to be happy about. If there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

You can praise God that Sally was able to accomplish so much, and that Nancy was able to have you to her wonderful home. Praise God that June’s family was blessed with a wonderful meal. But don’t take that to mean that you are unable to praise God for the things you were able to do as well.

It is said that social media is the  number one problem in this area. But it doesn’t have to be. It is OKAY to find the positives in your day (the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things) and to focus on that. You don’t have to snap a picture of your messy living room and post it for all to see… but you can snap a shot of that awesome marked up to do list to remember the day THREE THINGS WERE MARKED OFF! Thinking of the positive things in your life is not “being fake”. I never look at a cute kid in a minion costume and think, “That mom is SO fake! As if her kid is ALWAYS this cute!” No, I smile, maybe I hit “like”, and I move on.

If you’re mantle looks awesome for fall, take a pic… who cares if your floor under the mantle is covered in Legos. Focus on the positives. Look for the good. If you need to write “Wake up, Shower, eat breakfast” on your to do list just to see them crossed off, DO IT! Train your mind to focus on the bests of the day.  (2 Cor 10:5). God gives you joy. Don’t let comparisons take that away. Focus on who you are in Christ… even if that means you aren’t the best housekeeper.

Stay off Facebook if it is tempting you to be downcast because you compare yourself to everyone else. Stop cruising pintrest if you feel “less than” because you don’t feel you measure up to the Pintrest Goddesses. Or choose to find your inner genius in what you ARE good at, and praise God for blessing you with that talent. And if you must… snap away, share, and smile at your accomplishments.
God made you YOU. Not me, or her, or her over there! YOU. And he loves you. That is something that has no comparison!

With that, I share my fall decor. It may not be YOUR style… but it’s mine. And I love looking at it. I love how it makes my home feel, and how it sets a warm tone for my day. And THIS particular time, there is no littlest pet shop animals littering the floor below… THIS time! But even if there were, I’m happy about THIS part of that room! What are you loving about your home? Your life? Your blessings? Think about such things!

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A Visitor in the Classroom

I do not come from a homeschooling family. In fact when I decided to do it I got a few “Are you really going to do that?” and “Well, you won’t do it forever will you?” I believe the more family know, the more they see that it is a reasonable decision. (well, at least that’s what I tell myself). So I know that the unknown was uneasy to some. And the idea seemed ludicrous at times. But I stood confident in knowing that these were MY kids and ultimately OUR decision. And each day I see them achieve, learn, and rise above I am confirmed in that decision. As each year passes I learn to dismiss those comments that disagree based on their lack of knowledge, and continue to press on.

However, there are days when my mother comes to visit and she is sitting in my living room the entire time my kids act up, run around crazy, refuse to listen, and I begin pulling my hair out in the middle of a math lesson. I try with all my might to teach simple predicates (on no sleep, mind you) while trying to calm a screaming toddler, while jostling a sleepy baby, all while being very self conscious about my mother watching it all. What is she thinking? Is she questioning my decision? Is she wondering if my kids ever learn anything? Is she concerned for my health? Does she sit wondering if this is how every day goes (which it doesn’t… but so far this year, every Friday is the same scenario). These days are the days where I stress myself out with the worry of what THEY think.

My mother does not judge my parenting. She sees my kids as they are… kids. She knows they are smart. She knows how it is to parent 4 children. My stress and self-conscious behavior is not HER fault. She has never accused me of being a poor parent, A lousy teacher, or a horrible disciplinarian. She may wonder how any work gets done in a home full of such chaos, but she’s not judging my methods. (at least I am almost 100% sure she’s not!) But still I sit there and pray that the kids would be perfect, that they will have all the right answers. That the younger babies will behave so I can show off my master teaching skills. I secretly want my mother to sit back and think, “WOW! She is the BEST mother EVER! She is so patient, and creative, and her kids are the best students I’ve ever seen!” But instead she sees me throw a stuffed dog across the room in frustration. She sees my kids goof off, scream, and misunderstand every word I say. She sees us skip art and social studies because well, I was just too tired to do it. And I finish thinking, “I’m pretty sure if my mother did not approve of homeschooling before now… ”

So, today as I finish up my weekly progress reports, I see that my kids are right on track. They are learning all that we have covered. They play catch up better than anyone I know! I make notes on the previous week, what works and doesn’t work. How we may need to tweak the schedule, and how I feel I did as a teacher. And as I finish up, I pray over my newly set goals and I realize that those goals are not to please my family. They do not need to be set to please my husband, sisters, or mother. My goals are to follow a calling God has called me to.

Just as I sat and stressed over a visitor seeing the realities of homeschooling, I need to sit and focus on the one we invite in each morning. “Jesus, please be present in all we do. Teach us what we need to learn today, guide us to make right choices, lead me as I teach, comfort us when we make mistakes.” 

Seeing my mom in the room helped me to not scream and give up. Fridays are our hardest days. And they have been my worst day as mother and teacher. Yet having someone in my room observing, keeps me on track. But isn’t Jesus present at all times? Shouldn’t my behavior, motives, and mind be set on pleasing HIM. To run my day in such a way that if I saw it through HIS eyes, I’d feel I did well? So easy to forget, but we have a permanent resident in our hearts that guides us. He is watching. Are we who we want HIM to see? And when we don’t know the answer… just as my mom looked up “compound subject” for us when we drew a blank (talk about EMBARRASSING!) We can always stop, drop to our knees, and ask.  Is there really any other way to parent?

Thank you, Mom for not judging us. Thank you for not reprimanding me when I lost my patience. Thank you for being gracious with my unruly children. For loving us no matter how big of a headache we must have given. I appreciate your love despite my downfalls as a parent. And Jesus… DITTO!!! You judge our hearts, but guide us when we make mistakes. Thank you for the little patience I did have, and for your grace when I lacked. Thank you for loving my unruly children, and leading them even when they give ME a headache!

You’re presence is highly desired in all we do! You are ALWAYS invited! (Mom, you, too!)

mom

The time has come…

Well, it’s happening. I didn’t think it would, but it has. I feel I’m doing pretty good, but then there are times when I shed a tear or two. I covered my decision in prayer, I felt 100% sure. I STILL cover it in prayer and I STILL feel 100% sure, but it saddens me. I’m sure it’s masked by another issue I’m noticing, but it is coming out in this particular form…

I am getting the baby itch! I don’t want to HAVE another baby… but I want to have another baby! I don’t want to be pregnant, or deal with a newborn again, but I’m itching to hold a tiny adorable little baby in my arms again. To cuddle in the rocking chair, to smell newborn hair. To kiss tiny toes, to hear tiny little snores.

But in reality, the issue isn’t that I want another baby… because honestly I don’t. The issue is that I don’t want my existing babies to grow up! It’s odd, really. I love that Z-man is growing to a young man. That he is so close to running to the store for me (and when I say close I mean maybe in the next 2 years). I love that my Lil’ Jewel is turning into a young lady with her own ideas and creative mind. I love that my Rainbow is growing away from the terrible threes and into the Fabulous fours! But then there’s the “issue” of the baby. He’s daily outgrowing the name “baby”… and I’m struggling big time.

When Z was 1, I was expecting Lil. When Lil was 2, we were planning on #3. When my Rainbow baby finally came along, we only waited a year again before the baby came… so we are approaching a new path in our lives. Once baby turns 2 (which I am giving up the idea that I can keep him from doing that), there are no plans for another. There will be no plans for another, and there will not be another. This is our family… now we grow up, not grow out.

Baby clothes will be sold. Baby toys are sorted out into garage sale piles. Diaper-free home has a count-down (this is VERY exciting!). And although I DO look forward to our lives together as we grow older. I still want my baby back. My current baby talks in full sentences. He undresses himself. He has opinions, attitudes, and a great sense of humor. The child he is morphing into (right before my very eyes) is amazing. But he’s big. And he’s independent (although he is still pretty attached to mama… and I love it!), and he isn’t stopping. He’s still growing, maturing, and getting further from the stage.

Heidi St. John over at thebusymom.com said it perfectly, and it really has been burned into my mind this week… “It’s impossible to grasp the brevity of the life we live.  I wonder, if we knew how fast the time goes, if we would stop longer, linger more.”

And as busy as life can get with a boy growing into a young man (I’m not ready yet to admit he’ll someday be a man), a girl growing into a bright young lady, a toddler emerging into a budding preschooler, and a “I-uncha-mama” kinda baby it is easy to rush through thinking, “I’ll take time to enjoy them this weekend, or over the summer, or when they have christmas break”. But instead, I want to stop and linger. Lay with a child and listen to their dreams. Ask a few more questions. tickle a few more ribs. Munch a few more cheeks. I can’t miss this. I can’t spend my time wishing they were still babies while I miss them growing into the person God created them to be. There are so many important “in-between” moments.

And, I’m with you Heidi St. John… She closes her “Move On” blog post (you can find it here) by saying, “I want to soak up the seasons of my life in such a way that it pains me to see them pass.” I’m moving on. No more babies. I’m okay with that… but I’m having a little growing pains in the process, and I’m okay with that as well.

Now, for my fab four… it’s okay to slow down a bit… help a mamma out!

Stay at home moms vs working moms

I recently spent way too much time reading a few articles on “What not to say to a Stay at home Mom” and “What not to say to a working mom”. They ranged from not mentioning that stay at home mom’s aren’t “working” moms to working moms not asking “what will you do with your education.” One side saying they do more work in the home than they ever did working before kids, as they run kids from one activity to another, plan meals, do laundry, attend playdates, bathe, feed, teach and care for their bambinos 24/7. While the “other side” claims they do all that PLUS work! The arguments gave me a headache. I was angry with the article claiming that by staying home with the kids you teach children that education is not important for a mom. (I won’t go into my HUGE rant right now about how my college education is being put to use every day, and that this choice to stay home is not a wrong choice just because I am not making money in my degree field… that can be for another blog). I was put off by the claim that because a woman chooses to work it means she loves her child less… I’m sure they are working AND loving their child, one does not negate the other. However, the thing that really irked me (and even challenged me some) was the true competition seems to be who is busiest. Is our worth really based on who does more? If you decide to sit on the couch while your husband sits in a chair and watch the kids do meaningless dances and magic shows, and cartwheels all night instead of running a child to dance, tee ball, soccer, and worship practice does that make you less of a parent?

It seems to be that SAHMs want to keep a running tally of all they did in a day. Made breakfast- check, bathed, dressed, and dolled up the kids- Check. Then ran 12 errands, going to 3 playdates for each child’s age group, met with the leader of the free world at noon, ran home to get the kids to sleep so that a gourmet meal could be cooked and homemade treats were made for teeball practice- Check, Check, check, and check check. While working moms scream their list of getting everyone on the bus in time to run through starbucks because well, caffeine is needed when you never sleep because you have to do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, running around AFTER putting in an 8 hour day.

Its all about the to do lists. Never truly about the kids. We validate ourselves by our to-do lists. And how many check marks are there.

I’m not buying into it. I stay home for this…Image

I have 4 kids. Each gets one class. The baby has a baby class, the 3 year old has a class with her age group, the 6 year old does dance, the big boy has basketball… one class. I don’t run them from one to another to another filling our days with stuff. We do playdates (ONE). We go to church, we homeschool, we do activities and field trips… but not all at once. And my decision to stay home is because I want this time with THEM… not in the car, not watching them play sport after sport, not going going going. I enjoy sitting on the bed for an hour listening to them each take turns reading. I enjoy doing nothing and watching them play. Our tv isn’t on, our computer isn’t open, we just play. And if our evening get fuller with activities, it’s okay because we had all day to spend together. I don’t stay at home because I hate my degree… I choose to spend this time I have with them… with them. And what I choose is just that… what I chose.  It was not a choice made to make a point to working moms, or to make a political statement, or to judge someone else’s choice… it was because I wanted to choose them. Those 4 gorgeous babies up there! I want to teach them, raise them, challenge them… not make them busybodies so I could keep up.

Being busy is not our goal. It’s not how we determine if we are doing it right. staying busy does not keep your status quo up. The total items on your to do list does not make you a better person… what you choose to do with the days we’re given does. I choose to live life with them. They will be gone soon, and my list will get longer just because that’s life… But while we can, we’re going to sit back and soak them in.