Motherhood, we know, is a 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 whiny 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 basis. 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!
They say that timing is everything. Push too early and you 'have to wait even longer'. Too late and you 'miss the window'. Teaching a new skill is tricky. If you allow your child to develop at their own pace you worry that they will never graduate and leave home. If you push them you worry about turning them into narcissistic, type-A, perfectionist overachievers with a God complex. Which one of those is worse I will leave you to decide. Oh, and who are they?!?
Now, what if there was a way we can find that happy medium. I think that is the only way people who have children can survive - hoping to find the balance/ the line between too much and too little. Will you always find it? No, but you keep on trying.
This week I was encouraging my daughter to stick her face in the water. I had been really frustrated with the regression she had made from the previous summer where she was diving under the water in the kiddie pool to this summer not liking any water on her face. We live in Florida and summers here are either inside with AC or by a body of water by necessity. So I am sure you can understand my frustration as she fearfully repeated, "I can't." I started to insist and suggest things and inside my head, I started wondering, "Have I been too soft on her? Or should I be harder?" I didn't want her to regress further because I was being a harsh parent who demands their kids try to do things. But I don't want pansy-kids who are afraid of everything either! Where is the line of how hard to push?"
Back when our grandparents had children there was less information and advice coming at them. So as a parent then, you were trusting doctors advice or relying on generational example for your 'parenting style'. You either did the same or the exact opposite depending on what home life you had as a child. For most, it was probably that twilight zone of a little of this and definitely not that! So, I start to research how to teach a reluctant child to swim. I love to research! I admit I was confused because her sister is a fish and was swimming early.
Now, in our generation, we have an overwhelming, limitless amount of information from Grandma, the neighbor, strangers in line, the pediatrician, the internet, countless books and I am sure you can rely on opinions from your dearest friend who is a little too comfortable sharing sometimes. From diaper brands, potty training, timeouts, grounding, spanking, sports, education, yelling, silent treatment to cell phones, driving and dating; everyone has a theory on the best way to do it or not do it.
I am happy to report that my daughter took my few suggestions and then pretty much convinced herself with a little nudging and encouragement from those gathered poolside to push herself further. By the end of our time at the pool, she was jumping in the deep end with her swimmies! I didn't push too hard this time and she was all smiles and even took off her swimmies for a bit to try swimming without mommy holding her belly in the shallow end.
I think we can all agree that we all want what's best for our child. I think we can all agree we don't have it all together all the time. I think there are glimpses that something we have said or done to or for our child has worked and in our eagerness and excitement we overshare or advise friends that they should do or try such and such. I think it is important in these moments to remember grace even when you disagree or don't want the implied advice given through 'this little story' of when their kid did such and such. Finding the way to share without pressure or implying judgment is difficult so props to them for trying. Again - GRACE - Use it!
There are methods and theories out the wazoo! Why? I think we all have heard by now that there are different strokes for different folks. Your right way of doing something may be absolutely wrong for me. Even if our children were identical, you and I, aren't. You may be able to have the patience for teaching your child math for instance and it is just better for all involved that I get a tutor for my child. Or maybe I could say the exact same thing as you but your child receives it way better than mine does. A three-day potty training method might have worked for your son, but my son, who is yes older than yours, isn't buying into it. You may think my methods of watching my children are way overprotective but maybe I think you are way too lax. You may think I am too soft and am creating 'the problem' in the first place. I may think you are pushing your kid too hard to be a world changer and the pressure is unfair. Again - Grace!
My goal, in this whole parenting thing, is to do as little damage to my children as possible. I have, yes, accepted the fact that I will damage my children (definitely to the oldest trial child) to some degree and probably down to the youngest child (most likely spoiled baby). I think the important thing to remember is that no matter how confident we seem about our method or choice there is always some little part of us that wonders if what worked with the first child will work for the others. So, if we can stay open to hearing others' ideas (yes with a grain of salt) and remain teachable and humble we will be way better examples to our children of how to put up with 'difficult people' or 'judgemental' people.
At the end of the day, it comes down to trusting that we are only in charge of doing our best and encouraging our kids to do the same in the best way we know how.
And the rest....
NOT MY CIRCUS NOT MY MONKEYS
The line between too much and too little is lost in the haze,
These are the guys I will keep teaching to the best of my ability and trust that the Lord will use my successes and my mistakes to shape them into the people He wants them to be. May I have the grace to make it through rougher stuff than swim lessons. ;)
G R A C E 4 U & 4 ME
The moment has finally arrived!! The last 5+ years, I have spent working as a technical support specialist for a company that had my heart. Then the Lord started calling my heart home and it took some time to find the right people to train and leave my position responsibly. But I have, after two years of saying I was resigning, - actually done it!
The process leading up to it has been an adjustment in my thinking. I know the importance of mothering well (probably the most important job ever for the future of our world), but letting go of the gratification of projects, deadlines, pursuing my interests, and using my talents is a hard one for my type-A personality to adjust to. It feels wrong to replace finite tasks and view-able results with infinite ones that go mostly unnoticed. I know my ego has been hit most. My mind has had to fight off the feeling of guilt (from not bringing in a paycheck, aka feeling like you are 'tangibly helping'), shame (a stay at home mom seems somehow less than, especially in this social media age, because it is mostly invisible), laziness (no deadline, checklists or schedule to keep other than my own) and doubt (analyzing the pros and cons of everything).
I need to stop focusing on the lies of guilt, shame, laziness and doubt and start celebrating my freedom! Let's focus on the good things:
You might be saying, "I work from home or I work and am trying to do all those things too!!" The truth is that I am still a work at home mom. I still have people who require things of me - they are just shorter. ;) I still have lots of tasks to complete! Seems like more than before some days because I actually can get to some of those seasonal things like cleaning the stove and windows or organizing and de-cluttering. By resigning my job, (what SAHM means for me) I have one less ball in the air, less stress, more peace, more time to be in the moment and hopefully enjoy it! For this season I am grateful for fewer demands on my time and for peace by walking in obedience to what God has called me to do.
No matter what your title, whether you "work" or not, find your freedom.
I pray you find a peaceful moment and not just rush to do the next thing.
*And a thank you to my husband who supports, encourages and loves me and our children well!
Okay, to be real... Tuesday are my "Mondays". My peppiness from the weekend recharge is normally winding down and knowing that my husband won't be home until late steals a bit of my joy. There is nothing like knowing you will have help at the end of a long day of endless questions and requests!
I have three kids under six and I so wish more than one took naps! My youngest is one-and-a-half and starting to balk at naps, so my reprieve from hyper-vigilance is fleeting. He is all boy, climbing everything, finding trouble and making messes! I work from home and this has gotten increasingly harder over the last few years due to multiple factors - more children, husband working more, starting homeschool and of course less nap time. Any type of quiet time is hard in our house since we always seem to be in the main room together. Plus, I turn around and see that my toddler took out every possible toy from his room and brought it to the living room while I was dealing with his sister. Peace on Tuesdays is needed!
Mondays I try to attack the housework so Tuesdays I can be more available for my work, but my energy has been lagging lately. I am grateful that God gave me the phrase "Smarter not Harder" last January and I really was diligent in creating space in my workload by training others. If I had not done that, I would be drowning now for sure. This year He has given me the word "Peace" and my mission is to simplify in as many areas as I can, so peace reigns in our home.
When we first moved in ...9 years ago... we painted soothing colors of blues and greens, so I know peaceful decor isn't really what God is getting at, despite the fact that it could use a new coat to freshen things up. I believe He is wanting me to find more peace at home by really being able to enjoy it without my constant mental checklist distracting me. So, I have been utilizing tools to remove the mental checklist into an actual one with prompts so I can just tackle the next thing without taking additional time analyzing what should be next or trying to remember when the last time I changed the filter on the AC unit. (I use my phone's reminders list which allows me to choose repeating tasks with biweekly/weekly/monthly prompts and this has helped immensely.)
I am a type-A wanting to be closer to a type-B. I want the balance of productivity with the enjoyment of beauty.
And here is the big point - when there isn't a prompt, I want to be in the moment with my children. I want to relish their childhood because I know how quickly you blink and that sweet baby becomes an opinionated child. I am not ready to blink and hand over my car keys to a teenager, so I am trying to be in the moment more which can be exhausting. It is a lot of repetition! I enjoy my children one-on-one, but when they all start clamoring I feel like my sanity is hanging by a thread. Raising kids is hard and being able to put the world on pause and enjoy a moment is a win! So, on these tedious Tuesdays, to restore peace we:
What do you do to salvage a day?- or make it through a long one?
I can always use more ideas -Please and thank you!!!
I strive to start my day with a devotion and prayer before my kids are clamoring for chocolate almond milk, breakfast or Doc McStuffin. Sometimes, depending on how late we sleep, this is easily done and other times not so much. I am fairly intelligent and I know that early rising is the Proverbs-31 model of the perfect mom for a good reason. I am here to state that she can have that title because I am proudly a night owl.
It is only a "Monday" if we had too many social obligations over the weekend and we 'let the house go'. Otherwise, I find most Mondays easy, when recharged from the weekend. My mind is normally filled with things I wish to accomplish and I try to start tackling them, but the laundry normally stands in my way.
Folding laundry is not my favorite, but I have learned to turn on a show, or a podcast to make it more bearable. My kids are young, so my type-A tendencies haven't allowed them to learn to fold yet. They do put their own clothes away, but until I can become more relaxed and not care if things are folded the way I like them - I am on my own with the folding. If I don't distract myself then it is easy to have thoughts start spiraling downward because my time seems wasted on monotonous things.
If I can get through the laundry, homeschooling and fit in a little work at baby's nap time, then I might have time to squeeze in the next chapter or re-pot a plant ( I dabble in gardening). It is inevitable that someone's temper gets sour during the day (mine included), so to reset, we turn on the music and have a dance party.... and yes, I tip my blinds so I can do so freely!
I get my best burst of inspiration just as my head hits the pillow... why? Perhaps, because that is the only time my day...err night is quiet!? I know God wired me to be this way, so why fight it? I need a pen and pad near my bed or I will not be able to sleep. I cannot count how many times I have started to doze and been woken with something that God impresses upon me or some fabulous idea I simply must jot down. If you don't it will be fuzzy the next day and that is a sin of lost inspiration. ha ha
Monday fades into Tuesday and I praise God that in the midst of it all.
He helps me treasure a moment here or there, keeps me from losing my cool too many times, orders my day, and through loving friends and family somehow keeps me sane!
Getting any exercise with littles can be difficult, but having it be enjoyable is another matter entirely! Whining can make or break your walk. It is just a fact that kids can bounce off the walls indoors for hours but have no energy to walk around the block moments later. So here are some tips to make walks more enjoyable for everyone involved.
1. Good shoes that don't pinch or cause blisters (think back up shoes too if someone wants to skate!) If you know the shoes they are wearing will give them a blister, just pack some band-aids or back up shoes. A little liquid band-aid works wonders too.
2. Water & Snacks for all! If you are really ambitious you can pack a picnic lunch. I know it seems to take forever to get out of the house, but the extra few minutes to put separate baggies of cheerrios or other dried snacks together will be so worth it. If everyone has there own water bottle, you are less likely to run out completely.
3. A stroller with storage - a double if you have it! Even though my kids are older I still drag out the double stroller because someone always gets too hot or too tired to walk as far as I would like to go. Even if it ends up just carrying the stuff until the kids have enough stamina to make it miles on their own, do yourself a favor and bring it.
4. Avoid anything loud or cumbersome - wagons with plastic wheels, noisy toys, (scooters never last), etc. You know you will be the one who ends up carrying that scooter or the plastic wheels scraping will steal your peace and bring on a headache. No matter how cute - if it is not practical - ditch it! Jackets in summer or objects too big to stick somewhere in the stroller storage also should be left behind, because you know they will be too tired to carry it far.
5. Timing it right - not too hot and no one has to pee! We live in Florida so we have to go early in the morning or in the late evening in the summer time. Noon walks last about 5 minutes tops before everyone including you is dripping and whining. If you can choose a walking place that has a bathroom at starting point so much the better. Look for shaded walks in the summer and sunny ones in the winter
6. Picking a new spot, preferably with bathrooms and water fountain nearby! Everyone likes a change of scenery but be sure that with littles there are conveniences around for their sake and yours.
7. Bring a Scavenger List, play a game or bring a camera. Distraction is the best method for young and old alike. There is Geocaching and now Pokemon Go can take that scavenger hunt up to a treasure hunt. They may go farther than you ever thought possible. Now with smartphones having your littles capture pictures of nature along your trail may distract them too. Be sure you have a quality case on it so you avoid tears on your end. There are little tikes cameras if you don't want to share.
8. Go Fast! When my kids were younger we would lock that wheel in place and go fast! Run or skate behind that stroller. Be sure littles are strapped in and give them a fast ride and you a good workout. This gets harder as they outgrow the stroller but you can continue it for a time if you get the older ones to ride or skate too.
9. Bring a book or audiobook. If they bring a book they can read while sitting in the stroller or if you take a break at the halfway point with a blanket and picnic lunch. You can listen while you walk if you have a speaker with good battery life.
10. My favorite is to invite friends! My kids always walk farthest when they are laughing with friends. The bonus for me is I get a walk and talk to0 with their friends' mother! The little things don't bother you as much when you have a friend to keep you sane.
The more kids you have the harder it is to organize everyone into getting out and enjoying movement, but it is a great example of taking care of your body and your mind. Time in nature is a restoring process to encourage our littles to enjoy. So do your best to keep on moving!
in the moments of motherhood...
i feel like all i do
is pick up after you
i wipe your tush
and feed you mush
read you books
field dirty looks
i said yes and i said no
grrr, just because i said so
refold your clothes
and wipe your nose
sing you to sleep
soothe when you weep
moments to treasure
new heights to measure
so many highs and lows
insanity that grows
do not dare to blink
it's gone in a wink
hoping you do it right
as you pray every night
each day is a test
we hope for the best
good or bad; happy or sad
my babies i'm glad i had
So, lying in bed last night I heard such noise in my head. God kept replaying my thoughts of late in my head. And in the silence of the night, I noticed the negativity that has replaced the joy I could/should have. I found myself trapped in a place I don't want to be...and sadly it is one of my own makings.
I love mantras and my main one that I try to live by "Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands" has slowly been replaced with some deep negative ones...really without my conscious consent.
Honestly, I have been struggling with a bit of depression lately. I have allowed half-truths to steal my joy and rule my mind. I have three children and the youngest is only a few months old, so I can blame it on lack of sleep or being too busy to process life, but truthfully its lack of mental discipline. Perspective is powerful! Instead of seeing things through the happy/blessed filter fresh with God's new mercies every morning, I have allowed a moldy filter full of self-pity/fatigue to brew out nasty leftovers. (Can you tell I drink coffee?)
So, like a play reel, God rolled my thoughts through my mind and challenged me to CAPTURE THE THOUGHT AND MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO HIM.
Thought #1 - I have to stay home with 3 kids all day long; staying home is hard.
Thought #2 - I have to homeschool because I want to see all my kids firsts, protect and shape them.
Thought #3 - I get no little to no "me time".
Thought #4 - I miss my freedom from when it was just my husband and me.
Thought #5 - Being a mom is harder than being a dad.
Now, don't get me wrong. Parenting is hard and there is an element of truth in all the above statements.
Perspective is everything! And we can choose to see things positively (the above thoughts all have negative emotions behind them) or we can allow "truth" to be colored by half-truths.
So....the challenge... NOTICE - CAPTURE - RETRAIN
Truth #1 - I am lucky to be able to be home with my children. Hard could be leaving them! And who says HARD is BAD?! Hard things can produce perseverance and discipline.
Truth #2 - I don't have to homeschool. I can try it and pray if it is best for my children each year as they grow and mature. I will never see ALL my kids firsts but I should treasure the ones I get to be a part of. And God is the only one who can protect them and shape them through whatever they face, good or bad, in life.
Truth #3 - I get to get out once or twice a week by myself for a few hours which is more than some moms. I have a husband who encourages me to make time for myself and watches the kids to make that happen. I have family who watches my kids so I can attend work functions and have the occasional date night. Plus who says "me-time" is a right?! Choosing to be a married and/or be a parent means sacrificing some "me-time"....well if you want to be a good parent or spouse anyway.
Truth #4 - Yes missing the past is normal, but just think how much you would miss your children if they were to not be a part of your present!!! And for some parents that becomes a reality so try to remember that your kids are a blessing to treasure for as long as you have them - tomorrow is not guaranteed!
Truth #5 - Being a dad has difference stresses, like providing for the family (growing expense each year that your kids are alive...rent/mortgage...the lights on...food...diapers...shoes...college...weddings...etc). Dads have to try and balance being there for their wife and kids after working 40 hours or more to provide, while trying to stay healthy and workout (because no wife wants a husband on the verge of a heart attack), and trying to have some "me-time" of his own so he has something interesting to talk to his wife about after being married for 10 years. There are always two perspectives and it is easy to lose your spouse's!!! (TRUST ME I WILL NEED TO COME BACK AND READ THIS PARAGRAPH MANY TIMES!)
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If you notice he lies are short little mantra like statements easily repeated in your head, so no wonder they drown out the truth.
It takes work, aka discipline, to:
notice the lie...
and retrain your mind with TRUTH
Lord, thank you for keeping me up last night and showing me the hard truth about my thought life lately. Thank you for restoring perspective . Please give me the extra energy it takes to discipline my thought life, see truth and choose joy...
We have three children now and I kept on joking that I am intravenously taking my caffeine. Well, now I find it actually exists! Maybe this product can help?! Don't believe me? Click the picture!
We have a smart 5 year old, a sneaky 3 year old and now a baby boy.
I keep hearing that I am in the toughest stage of life. I am starting to believe them!!
Between dealing with the emotions of my 5-year-old who is super smart and testing her boundaries, the silent, sneaky, crafty, ninja 3-year-old who likes to get into things she knows she is not supposed to while I am changing diapers and my son, who is just starting to give me longer stretches at night but poops every other thing and wants to be talked to 24/7 .... I am feeling stretched to say it nicely!!
(Can you say run on sentence!)
Add on top of that:
Trying to keep a house cleaned
Coming up with meals for picky eaters
Cleaning up their messes left and right
Keeping our doctor visits and insurance up to date (researching a new dentist too!)
Doing media presentations for every Friday's CR
Printing off counseling papers and other misc things for my husband
Prepping Sales each week for my TOH job plus other misc assignments
Helping my neighbor with designing a website (I really like helping people with techy stuff!)
Homeschooling the oldest (Kindergarten/1st Grade) while not leaving the middle one out. (Preschool)
And we are left with:
Squeezing in leg lifts while playing on the floor with my son so I can say I did some exercise!
A Bible App for devotions while going to the bathroom so I don't become a heathen...
Chugging coffee so I don't have to start the intravenous drip of the stuff @@)
..Oh and did I mention I try to blog as my sanity break?! - HA!
From the choice of having children, whether biological or through adoption, there are thousands of choices to make.
Here are just a few:
The variations of choices that shape our children seem endless! The same choices that are agonizing for you may be easy for others and vice versa. Who is to say which combination of all these variations will bring about the healthy, well-balanced human beings we hope to bless society with and which ones will set up spoiled entitled brats?
Now, if all children were the same - temperament, learning styles, etc - we could assume that the above choices have the same effect and a right and wrong could be determined. There are countless parenting books that seem to make sense but only contradict the next one you pick up. The Bible has some parenting advice too, but as scripture is open to interpretation even seemingly clear rules seem gray.
It can seem overwhelming when you start to stack all these choices into a list and start googling the pros and cons or even discussing them with friends. If you had great parents you might just try and copy what they did or if you had horrible parents you might go the opposite way. Peer pressure, social media and the government only make it harder to make these choices. Fears start to shape your parenting - fear your friends will think you are too strict or too lenient, fear that others will think your kids are spoiled or lacking in some way, and fear if you discipline too hard the government will take your kids away or if you don't discipline enough your kids will end up a juvenile delinquent.
I can't imagine trying to parent on my own. Single parents are amazing to me! By the time 5 pm rolls around, I admit, I start listening for the sound of the garage door opening, meaning my husband has returned. I also have a mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-laws, and friends I can call to help restore sanity and think out parenting strategies when I am overwhelmed.
Sometimes we have to agree to disagree with what is best for our children too. After all, our children are not going to be exposed to, or go through all the same things as another's children. But instead of letting our choices divide us, we should allow the decision-making process to unite us in prayer for God's direction for each other and be okay when God guides others differently. He places the children and He is trustworthy!
But at the end of the day, I have to come back to the one truth that brings me the most peace no matter what choices I have had to make...
These children are not mine. They are on loan to me by a God who is sovereign and He chose me for them.
So, when we start to feel overwhelmed by fears, we need to recognize who's we are, who's our kids are and trust the Holy Spirit to guide us in our choices.
Replace fears with His love.
We can't go wrong when we invite Him into the equation. AND whatever happens is not a surprise to Him and He works all things for the good of those who love Him.
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....