You ever stare at yourself in the mirror and wonder, what the hell happened? I wish I could pin it to something specific. One moment you are cruising along and doing well and then KAHBLAMMY!
I get that this parenting journey isn't easy or perfect. I get that life throws curve balls. But to go from one extreme to another, for seemingly no reason at all, that is when the logical part of my brain throws a fit. LITERALLY! I like to know the why!
I readily admit there are certain times of the month that hormones mess with me. Lack of sleep or sickness can easily throw me off kilter, but all that is understandable. I didn't realize that I was looking for someone or something to blame for my lack of self-control. I am an adult and I should be able to act like one, but... there are some days I don't! There are some days that I just suck and feel like giving up.
Normally, I can feel it building, but not always. I've tried counting to ten, retreating, meditating, or phoning a friend! Cheerfully, I can say, this has worked some of the time. As a parent, it's hard to get the you-time when you need it. Methods for chilling out and restoring balance are wonderful. Exhaustion makes it hard to use them, however. Mental exhaustion is just as real as physical. It sneaks up on you!
You see, when you are a mom, there are a lot of variables to your day. A lot of people are depending on you for countless reasons. The nurturing mentality oozes out even when it's to our detriment. The amount of responsibilities, worries, details, tasks, and demands that are placed on us or that we willingly take on are incredible. We don't even realize all that we are balancing. Even our subconscious is overworked.
Every year I hear about women doing more and more incredible things! We throw around slogans about Super Mom and talk about how we want our daughters to be able to do anything and everything they want to. We have seminars about empowerment and vision. Don't get me wrong; I am all for equal rights! But just because we can do something doesn't mean we should, right? And definitely not all at once! I need to be okay with my workload and not try to mimic all the Pinterest moms I admire.
I am still learning that I have a lot to learn: about myself, about priorities, seasons, and saying no. Too much of a good thing, striving until exhausted, people-pleasing, volunteering for one more thing - these are things you learn to stop most often by failing. I've had pretty great examples, but they weren't perfect! So, I am here to admit it. Aloud and unproud - no excuses -I lost it! Ugh!
The day before was amazing. I made pancakes with my kids, remembered to kiss and appreciate my husband, cleaned the house, homeschooled the children, and it was all Instagram worthy! And then today happened...
I wish I could blame it on the kids, my spouse, or even hormones, but nothing was different from the day before. My kids were fairly well behaved. It wasn't rainy and miserable. My husband said he loved me and told me he didn't have that long of a work day, so he would make supper. Yes, I married a good one! Then KAHBLAMMY - I was short tempered with the kids! I could see the bewilderment in their eyes. Maybe I felt overwhelmed by the little mess that had accumulated in the one day since we had thoroughly cleaned it, but really there is not excusing my behavior even if I couldn't pin down why. I was angry! I slammed a door and dissolved into tears, feeling like a total failure.
Talk about a roller-coaster, a great day followed by a suckfest! I justify my actions a lot by my circumstances. Did I get enough sleep? Did my spouse show me any appreciation or love for that basket of laundry I folded and put away! Were my kids kind and obedient? Was the weather too hot, cold or rainy? I didn't get my needed ____ (sleep, caffeine, chocolate, wine, etc.)! The list of excuses goes on and on. The fact was - I blew it! So what now? Hand in my kids? Delete my social media accounts because I am a not a supermom with endless patience for baking, crafts, sewing, and board games? Waaaaahhh! (Can you hear my pity party?)
If you are feeling like a bad mom, you are not alone! I had myself a good cry, thanked God for yet another do-over and went to hug my kids. Maybe you've had a day or 50 like mine? I've had more than I want to number. From one wanna-be-supermom to another, God offers endless redos. We haven't scarred our kids in some way God didn't foresee. It's okay for our kids to see that we get overwhelmed. It's probably the biggest and best lesson we can teach. Moms need to apologize too! Our good days and bad ones will shape our kids, but the potter is still on his throne. He is able to turn our lumpy attempts into useful vessels. Listen hard and you will hear him whisper:
I've got this; I'm good at fixing things. Back off the ledge and we'll start afresh together.
As soon as Fourth of July passes, my thoughts start to shift into preparation mode. I know the shift happens for mothers and teachers way sooner than the students. Summer is still hot and fierce, but the wind of change begins to blow as soon as the last holiday firework smoke fades away. Kids are soaking up the last of the days by the beach or pool while we start preparing.
I am excited! I want to be ready for August and the first day of school. It is probably the cute holiday pictures with sparklers that starts my mind on dreaming up what we should do for back-to-school pictures. We have done sign boards and black and white, so what should we try next? That thought then spirals into more check lists. What school supplies are needed? Did I mention that I love paper? Yes, that is me in the back of Staples smelling that paper. Come on! You got to love that new paper smell. New pens, folders and highlighters....oh yes I love office supplies! Don't get me started on sticky notes and new markers before the children get ahold of them...
We homeschool so I also get to ponder which curriculum tweaks need to be finalized. I have portfolio reviews from last year to send in to the superintendent. This year we have new students, so a letter of intent needs to be brought in for one and fresh preschool supplies bought for the other. Preschool is the best - everything is so colorful and fun! Dropping off forms in person means I don't have to worry that they got lost in the mail! Thank goodness I don't have to worry about uniforms, or drop off and pick ups, but there is still plenty of other things to prep for when you are with your students all day. Ink? Check. Paper? Check. Grocery shopping and meal planning for easy lunches and snacks. They need to be quick, so as to not take too much time away from teaching, yet still be nutritious!
The structure of learning hours before free hours is definitely tantalizing to me by this point (maybe not to the kids quite yet). Summer and the freedom it brings to our family schedule is starting to wear off after two months of blissful vacation. The reality is lazy summer days mean I often have to fight off countless screen-time requests and arrange playdates! I am missing priorities, order and goals. Seasons of rest and freedom are needed! But, by August, I am eager to get back into the cadence of learning and discipline. I love seeing my kids flourish into responsible people who understand play comes as soon as responsibilities have been accomplished. I enjoy seeing true appreciation for the fun times, won through self-discipline rather than entitlement that Summer can breed. They become responsible masters of their time and future. Summer is nice, but life needs balance and mommy needs help.
I hate to shop, but I love Amazon! I can check reviews and order from the comfort of my home. Win! I have my go to things for each school year, but am always looking for new things to help us along this learning journey. Below I will link of a few of my favorites buys that have enhanced our schooling. Please share with me some things that have made your schooling better!
Why is it so much easier to help others find their boundary line than it is to find your own? When I talk on the phone with a friend, it is often clear as day where they should draw a line in the sand. Things sneak up on you and creep in without always asking for permission or consent. In my own life I can feel the line, but not necessarily always see it. I string along countless excuses why I allow my boundaries to be crossed, stretched or moved altogether. More often than not, it is guilt or people pleasing that account for my loss of decisiveness and muddled thinking. The older I get the less it is people pleasing - see I am getting wiser. ;) I might even throw worry in there too as a factor for crossing boundaries, but that isn't as high up on the list as the others.
I am a lot bolder on behalf of other people than I ever am on my own behalf. I love being able to encourage others to rest and feel peaceful. I abhor watching family or friends pushed into exhaustion by other demanding people or life's crazy pressures. I am quick to remind others to take time for themselves and set healthy boundaries in place to allow for recharge. It seems the moment I make space in my own life to breath that something comes out of the woodwork to steal back that room or time. It is such a battle! I know this life is a journey, but I don't think it is meant to be an all out sprint to the finish. To make it the end I know the tortoise approach is wiser and healthier. Stop and smell the roses; take time to enjoy the life you have been given. Intellectually, spiritually and emotionally I know what is best, but I allow the roar of life to drown out common sense and what I know to be right for me.
Life shows us pretty quickly that there are seasons for everything. There are seasons when we need to keep our obligations low and our boundaries high for our sanity and/or health. We also need to take into account the health and care of those we share life with. There are rhythms that we need to adhere to if we are to make it without hurting ourselves or others. Doing for others at the expense of you and your loved ones is not called servanthood, but codependency. Getting the details is an important step before agreeing to take on anything new. Indefinite service will cause harm if not balance with rest. Don't give an answer! You don't have to make excuses or give an answer right in the moment. I heard someone say that they wanted to "fall exhausted into the arms of Jesus" and every part of my being cringed! God, the maker of heaven and earth, rested on the 7th Day, so I am a firm believe in following His example. I think we have forgotten what true rest looks like, however. If you have kids and a spouse it is harder to find true rest. Someone is always pulling at you. Keep in mind what season you are in!
We can't just wish our boundaries into place anymore than a general can get his troops from point A to B without sending out the order. We can't reduce our obligations without saying the word - No. We can not rest without allowing space and time for it. Staying balanced is a constant ebb and flow of decisions and planning. It isn't a one time deal and opportunities come and go, so it will never be flawless, but having some steps in place helps me retain my sanity.
My go to's:
1. Call a WISE friend - In this season of my life, I am blessed to have many friends who are also balancing the wife and mother roles. I am grateful for the telegram app that allows me to share a photo or a laugh, seek advice, empathy or sanity at the push of a button with my group of mom friends. It is good to have people who remind me of my limits and priorities. I am also blessed with a wise mother who walks a few seasons of life ahead of me and is gentle in her wisdom and nearly always available to encourage and/or listen when I call.
2. Just say NO - don't add excuses - So many times I have people approach with requests or opportunities that seem to need immediate answers. I love to help others and disappointing people is hard for me. I am still learning the art of saying NO! If it is at all feasible I want to say yes, but that has bit me one too many times! I tried to put things off by saying I would pray about it. Better, but not best! When I know in the moment that my answer should be no, but I feel like I need an "good excuse" I need to remember - no - is good enough.
3. WAIT & Pray & WAIT - When in doubt - Wait! Then pray specifically and give yourself time to wait for His answer. Not the answer that you feel guilted into or pressured into! A thing can be really good, but if it is not in it's proper time then it can turn bad and quick. I will make mistakes, but slowing down and waiting gives me the chance to make well thought out decisions about my boundaries and obligations. It also allows me to have other wise people weigh in on the examination process.
Tell me what are your some safeguards for balancing boundaries and obligations? I can use all the help I can get. ;)
The time has finally come to slow down, turn inward, and find me again. But, as with everything, there is a pendulum swing and I can take it too far. I start focusing on what I want, need and am entitled to and end up being unhappy, whiny and no one I want to be around. Focusing on what I don't have instead of counting my blessings slowly turns me sour - every time! Instead of balancing life with God's perspective I swing from not caring for myself enough to demanding too much for myself. I am learning (oh so slowly) that I need the Spirit's help to stop the swing from going too far one way or the other on any given day in every area of life. Dynamic tension takes focus and intention!
It is a struggle to retain some healthy boundaries and a sense of identity in this rat race. Keeping who I am with God is vital, because when I start to let my kids, husband, role, passions or job define me I am in trouble. One-on-one my kids can be amazing or moody tyrants and together, mostly they are a cute and noisy circus. My husband is sweet and seemingly perfect one moment and the next I think about hopping on a plane and traveling the world solo. Being a wife can be absolutely maddening, but thank God for those sweet happily ever after moments that keep you hoping to grow old together. Motherhood is fulfilling sometimes and draining others. My passions can seem fulfilling but can place my priorities in jeopardy. One day work is fulfilling and the next I want to quit. My identity needs to be firmly in Christ so I quit returning to life in my own power. When will I learn that I need Him every hour - every moment to get the fullness that I am craving and the sustenance I need?!
Nothing and no one is important enough to allow crowding Him out!
Yes, He created me with strength and ability, but I have yet to learn which battle hill is worth dying on and which ones I should let Him conquer. Just because I can, doesn't mean I should! I am afraid I have been a poor example in strategic warfare to those around me. I have heard His voice in some matters and have been so blessed through obeying His call to drop certain balls so I can do what He is calling me to do better. I took my sweet time getting the message though, and it makes me wonder what I may have missed out on in my delay. I have battled so hard in one area and totally lost sight of others that were way more important! My days always have adequate time when He is in charge. On days I take control I scramble. He is sovereign and that I can rest in. My journey, though bumpy, will be a part of refining me through His grace and for His glory.
Why I am still amazed that on those days when I take my time to invite Him to lead, that things go not perfectly, but way more smoothly? I get, for those type A peeps like me, way more accomplished! My eyes are opened to those special God appointments with my kids, the neighbor or my spouse. How great to feel that high of being a part of God's work! Let's make that happen more! I get peace even in the busyness and confidence in the turbulence. I know it is because I was fortified against the devil and remembering to be in tune with the Spirit that I can do all things through Him. It is not more important to be right, fair, or honest than it is to love. And to love right, you need Him! Simple morning devotions are good by keeping me connected, but now I know there are ways to turn up the juice! So here are a few of my go to Jesus Strategies:
I need pandora blasting worship... like everyday!
I need daily devotions using You version... maybe more than one and with the word being heard!
I need to reach out and pray for my people... keeps me from being too inwardly focused.
I need to ask for honest insight to how I can grow... as iron sharpens iron
I need to speak aloud to my Jesus...yes, He is mine but I will share Him with you
I need childhood praise songs sung in the shower... nothing stirs my heart more - k.i.s.s.
I need to be humble, kneel and shut up so God can stir my heart... posture makes a difference
I need to slow down and trust more... He fights for me so I can just love!
Anyone one of these are great but when I regularly do them all I can understand why Peter got out of that boat. Want to feel the power? Share with me some ways you connect in with the source of all power!
All that other stuff has a season but it will fade and then what will I be left with?
I wish I could say I was one of those moms who prayed constantly for their children, or at least nightly. I like to think that I at least pray regularly. Sometimes I feel my prayers for them have become rote and repetitive. You have all kinds of plans and ideals with the first child, but somehow after the third things start to slip. After a long day, I'll admit, I tuck them into bed and then go fall in mine often without more than a "Night Lord."
Years ago I found a sheet listing ways to pray specifically for your children which even included scripture to back up each point. I have held onto this for years, but rarely got passed the first few sections. It was too wordy and it seemed I was always interupted. Good intentions are all well and good, but carrying around a nice but essentially a useless (for me) paper had to come to an end.
Above, I have recreated the heart of it in combined and shortened prayer topics. I have successfully been able to pray my way through this one - Yay! I am a busy mom so it probably will still not happen daily, but God know my heart and He will grow my prayer warrior skills yet. I have this on the front of my homeschooling binder in hopes of furthering my skills. I will also put the plain pdf below if it would be of use to anyone else.
Motherhood we know is season of long and short. Long days and short years. I am a mother of three; seven, five and a two year old. I see videos of my firstborn as an infant and honestly wonder where the time has gone. Almost in the same moment, I am tracking down the toddler's next mess and wishing for the day when the accidents are no longer so frequent. The two extreme emotions of motherhood - trying to hold onto them and keep them little or hurry them up to independence. Who can decide when they can change in an instant!
Now, knowing there will be no more babies thanks to the hubby taking one for the team, I am finally attempting to find my pre baby self. This season is very demanding and yes, rewarding. I know many wish back the days of when their kids were young and I am sure I will have that fleeting thought as well someday. But my hope is to remind myself, as well as anyone reading, to not wish time forward or backward but be in the moment as best as you can.
The overwhelming amount of home videos, and photos available now can trap you in a place of nostalgia. Looking back on baby photos or other childhood memories either of yours or your children easily bring tears or laughter. I think the occasional trip down memory lane can be healthy, but too much looking back can steal the joy of the moment. Same way too much dreaming of the future can rob you of the joy of today.
Daily, I am trying to find the right balance of devotions, chocolate, coffee, wine, exercise and creativeness that allows me to keep some shadow of sanity and self in this busy season. I understand that by focusing on the long list of things that wear me out... sleepless nights, crying toddlers, whining, tantrums.. I am wishing away this season. When I have this kind of mantra I find myself worn out, bitter about what independence I have lost, and whiney just like them! If I start wishing for an empty nest so I can't travel and do what I want I lose focus on the importance of this season and forget that the next is not even guaranteed. Wish I could say I don't think that way anymore, but that would be a lie.
I am learning to take better care of myself, make wiser decisions and embrace imperfection. I know my body and how many hours of sleep I need. So taking that "me time" at the expense of quality sleep is no longer a wise decision three children into this decade. I have learned to allow the house to be messy and unorganized for certain times and degrees that allow me to keep my sanity. Turn a blind eye for a time, if you will. My children are brought in to help straighten the main areas before dad gets home so he can enter a peaceful place and so mom is not doing all the cleaning up by herself after they are in bed. They also are required to have a clean room for certain privileges to be honored or granted. I have cut back on obligations that split my time.
I have also retained with a desperate grasp a night out each week either with my husband or with girlfriends. If I am lucky I get both! It is hard to keep other obligations from pushing that off the calendar. It is a struggle to leave the husband, my best friend, behind since those days of when it was just the two of us float nostalgically in my mind. It helps to have girlfriends that will remind you that getting out is not a luxury but a necessity when you have a weak moment! I prefer doing new things and so I look for seminars, painting classes, or hiking a new trail with friends rather than the spa or shopping like some women, but you have to find your personal recharge.
I believe life, faith, love and so much more all have a semblance of dynamic tension, so I am very skeptical of anyone who appears to have it all together. Sure we might all have a day or two where we feel like we nailed this parenting thing, but I have yet to meet anyone who has it all together on a regular bases. I know I am a work in progress and God is using my children to teach me great lessons!
So, I would love to hear how other you find your recharge so you can continue to live and thrive in this moment. Let's be real with one another on this journey of motherhood!
I got a job working for Trades of Hope! I get to be with my girls and work from home on my computer as their technical support specialist. I get to bring in some extra income but still be home doing what is most dear to my heart - watching my girls. I feel so blessed and grateful!
It is a year old organization started by my aunt, Holly Wehde and a friend of hers, Gretchen Huijskens. They sell fair trade products made by women all over the world and help women stateside support their families as well, through party sales and becoming compassion entrepreneurs (representatives) in their region.
All of the products go to support keeping children with their families, giving clean water, and getting women into better circumstances. It is a cause I can really get behind having seen my share of women here and abroad who need to be able to support their families in a healthy, better way.
Also, as my girls get older and the company grows I can grow my hours and take on more responsibility, but for now it is the perfect amount of time.
I still get to be mom (my most important job!) but I get to use my brain and get creative doing something I love! I feel really blessed and hope this is the start to a cool career that will work alongside my dreams of homeschooling my children and supporting my husband in ministry!
Wow! It has been 6 weeks, tomorrow, since Keikei was added to our number, making us a family of four! What happened to it just being the two of us gallivanting around?
The first two weeks were HELL! Nursing was so much harder this time. I asked myself on more than one occasion what we were thinking having another, but after a lot of sobbing and lanolin, we hit week three. The boobs healed up and my outlook on things brightened A LOT!
Getting out with the girls by myself is not as hard as I thought now that I have a method. Looking forward to getting my clearance to exercise so I can work out a new routine fitting in exercise each day. How?! I feel hungry all the time - nursing I guess? So, I am hoping the exercise will help me lose the last few pounds of pregnancy weight as well as the little bit more I hope to lose.
It still amazes me that we have two children!? God is too good to us. I am loving them both - Dassa-Beanie with her independence and imagination and Keikei with her sweet smiles and baby smell!
Keilah Abigail was born on May 19th at 2:19 pm.
I prayed for:
shorter birth, less pain and no tearing and to go sooner than my due date!
A shorter labor by 7hrs!
Still had excruciating pain but only officially 7 minutes of pushing!
She was born 8 days early!
She was 1/4" smaller head but 8 ounces heavier than Dassa-Beanie, and the same length. Her belly button fell off at only three days and she is perfectly healthy!
We feel so blessed and content with our two beautiful girls :))
Yesterday I received the LeapFrog alphabet system for Dassa-Beanie along with the Word Whammer and the magnetic alphabet. I know it may seem trivial to some, but I had wanted to get this for our daughter for almost a year now.
She knows her letters from playing Starfall, but she has to be on my computer for that. I almost bought this LeapFrog learning kit for her several times but couldn't quite bring myself to spend the money. LeapFrog is great but not cheap! A fellow mom gave hers to me because her kids had outgrown it.
I am always amazed at how God cares about every little tiny want as well as providing daily for our big needs.
Thank you, God, for showing again how deep your love for me really is. May this journal of miracles help keep that message sunk deep in my forgetful brain. <3
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....