Gaining Momentum

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsMy oldest daughter was nervous about starting middle school, so we had spent the last few weeks of summer preparing her for this new adventure.  When she got in the car with me at the end of her first day, she was happy and proud and confident.  She did it!  She successfully made it through her first day of middle school.

That evening as I thought back the stories of her day, I realized that I needed to tuck this success away for the next fear.  Someday I will need to remind her that she “made it” before, and she will do it again!  She is proud and confident.  She can do anything.  This was one of those situations where I needed the lesson as much as my daughter did.

I learn so much about life from parenting, and so much about myself.  There have been many situations over the past 11 years of being a mom that I’ve heard myself giving advice or teaching a lesson and realized, This is a lesson for me as well.

We have made it through many difficult stages of parenting: 3 in diapers, 3 in cribs, 3 potty trained, sleepless nights, terrible twos, worse threes, first days of kindergarten, 10-year-olds.  When we were living through these stages (surviving day to day in some cases), it felt as though the end would never come.  Miraculously, it always did.  We always made it through.

The topic this month from Hearts at Home is “Love Your Triumphs”.  When we love our triumphs, and make a note to remember them, we gain momentum to get ourselves up that next hill.  You’ve made it through all that’s come before, you can make it through this next one.  One hill at a time.

You are doing a great job, momma.  Take a breath, look at how far you’ve come, and take the next step up the next hill.

And in case back to school hasn’t tugged on your heart quite enough, here is a precious video from the ladies at Hearts at Home.  Enjoy.


 

The Defiance of a Rule-Follower

Ada is, by nature, a rule-follower.  She knows the rules, expects everyone to follow them, but also knows how to find the loopholes.  She isn’t often defiant because she knows when she’s lost an argument.  She is rational, which really makes her an easy 8-year-old.

However, she is still an 8-year-old.

When Ada has had enough and chooses to no longer be rational, her defiance shows up by choosing to do nothing.  She doesn’t speak, doesn’t move, literally does nothing – as evidenced by this photo:

onetiredmommaShe was mad about something, who can remember, and didn’t want to walk home.  Her choices were to walk or be carried.  She neither spoke nor moved, so I picked her up as she was and carried her.  Just like this.

I suppose we all have days like this – we get mad to the point of silence and refuse to budge.  Hopefully we all have someone who will carry us home whether we like it or not.


 

 

Cultivating Confidence

We are into the school year now, and learning how to swim in this middle school pool we find ourselves in.  Grace’s anxiety was beginning to show as the first day drew nearer as evidenced by her increasing silence whenever school was mentioned.

We went to the 6th grade “Transition Day” where she had the opportunity to meet her two core teachers, see some of the students who would be in her classes (many of whom she knew from elementary school), and practice her locker combination.  And practice, and practice, and practice.  This day was immensely helpful!

One thing we’ve learned about Grace is that she deals with worst case scenarios.  For instance, when she was preparing to take ISTEP for the first time in 3rd grade, she asked what would happen if she didn’t pass.  “You’ll pass” was not a sufficient answer, so we had to talk to her teacher to find out exactly what would happen.  She just needs to know.  So as we drove to school on her very first day of middle school, I ran through some worst case scenarios with her.

Me: What happens if you are late to the bus after school and it’s gone?
Grace: I’ll go into the office and call you.
Me: And I’ll come and get you, and I won’t be mad.  What happens if you are on the bus and you miss your drop off?
Grace: Um…I don’t know.
Me: You’ll tell the bus driver, they’ll call the school, they’ll call me, I’ll come and get you, and I won’t be mad.
Grace: I don’t know what door to go out to get on the bus after school!
Me: I don’t either, so you’ll have to be brave and ask a teacher.  They’re there to help you. All of them.  Most of the 6th graders will be nervous today and have questions, it’s ok.

As she got out of the car and walked in, all of my confidence left me and I was SO worried about her.  Would she be brave?  Would she ask?  Would she get her locker open?  This was the biggest “letting go” I have done so far as a mom.

I realized these opportunities, these little conversations in the car, are chances for cultivating confidence in my kids.  I can’t always be with them, but I can teach them what to do.  They need to know that they are capable of handling their circumstances.  They are brave and strong and able.  I must start stepping back ever so slightly in order for them to see it.

As I waited for the bus to show up – 20 minutes late! – I realized just how worried I was.  With each passing minute I was closer to calling the school to find out WHY the bus was so late.  But it showed up, and there was my girl.  She asked not one, but two teachers which door to use.  Just to be safe :)


 

Doesn’t Play Well With Girls

I’m sitting on my porch, writing on my laptop, watching and listening to my son play with a friend.  Everything is a virtual peeing contest between the two of them.  Inevitably, their playing turns into smacking and laughing, then harder smacking, soon there’s less laughing, now they’re punching, and finally someone stops the game.  And back to racing the matchbox cars.

And then it dawned on me.  THIS is why he doesn’t play well with girls.  Well, more specifically, his sisters.  His sisters don’t play like this, but he expects them to.  He tries to play like this with them.  I’ll let you imagine how that plays out.

Oftentimes, these incidents end with lessons like this…

Me to the girls: Eli doesn’t have anyone to play with.  You need to find a way to include him and not expect him to play the way you do.

Me to Eli: The girls don’t like the way you’re playing, you can’t walk in and destroy everything.  You can try to join in with what they are doing, or you can do something else.  You cannot be Godzilla all over the place.

And Ada just thinks we should get Eli a brother.  Right, because adding ANOTHER child into the mix would certainly alleviate all of our problems.


 

Fruits of the Spirit {gentleness}

Moving through the Fruits of the Spirit, we are now at Gentleness.  I’ve recently discovered Chad’s Bible Encyclopedias.  I’m so thankful for his Bible degree…

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Galatians 6:1

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

Babies need to be treated with gentleness, just notice next time you’re around one how often that word is used with a bigger sibling!  But what about toddlers?  Or elementary-age kids?  Or teenagers?  What kind of gentleness do they need?

Galatians suggests that gentleness should be used when someone is caught in a sin.  I heard a pastor say once that “caught” here isn’t so much like “caught red-handed”, but more like they are caught in a trap and can’t get out.  They need to be restored, it says.  Are there consequences?  Sure.  But the consequence shouldn’t be YOU.  “Psychological and negative relational consequences, such as getting angry, sending guilt messages, nagging, and withdrawing love, usually do not motivate people to change.  If they do, the change is short-lived,” (Boundaries With Kids, p. 58).  This I am not so good at.  I have improved, but ooo do I have a ways to go.

1 Peter tells us that gentleness should be used when sharing the hope we have in Christ.  Maybe our most important “mission field” is at home?  It’s our job (not our church’s) to teach our children about God.  We are constantly modeling love to our kids, whether by word or action.  I believe that how we show love to them is their foundation of understanding it.  God IS love…may I represent Him well. 

Correcting and teaching about God.  Those are…two of my main job requirements I would say.  May we continue to grow in gentleness so that we may do these jobs well.


 

Love Your Failures, and Theirs

Third-Thursday-ThoughtsHow we respond to failure depends greatly on how we define it.  Is it a lack of success (thank you Webster), or is it an opportunity to learn and grow?  Does it label us as “the worst” or does it give us the opportunity to be better?

Love Your Failures

I don’t generally love my failures, because truth be told I have the bar set too high for myself.  I’m guessing most of us do.  I expect to do it well the first time, and then I usually disappoint myself (and no one else, I might add).  I don’t expect other people to do things well the first time though, and thankfully I’ve noticed this discrepancy, so I am working on it!

At a recent Hearts at Home conference, there was much talk about comparing our insides to others’ outsides.  But what if our outsides better matched out insides?  What if we were real and honest about our failures and struggles, and were able to connect with others on a deeper level because of them?  Maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t feel the need to be perfect because we’d realize no one is.  And we can be imperfect together.

Love Your Husband’s Failures

My husband is amazing and wonderful, and not perfect.  Because, again, no one is.  I want to be his biggest fan in the whole world, not the one pushing him down when he fails, or doesn’t meet an expectation.  Sure there are conversations to be had to continue to grow and strengthen our marriage, but that’s far different from pointing out his failures.  I want to love him in spite of them, unconditionally.

Love Your Children’s Failures

This one is not so easy for me, depending on the failure.  If they’re struggling with school or friends, I’m totally fine.  But if they fail at something I’ve shown them what feels like hundreds of times, I get impatient.  Oh Lord, fill me with grace and patience!  I need to treat their failures like I do my husband’s…loving my kids in spite of their failures, lifting them up instead of pushing them down, being their biggest fan in the whole world.  Why is it easier with my husband?  I don’t have an answer, but I need to work on this.  For real, I need to work on this.  I think I let their failures, in some occasions, be a reflection on me.  I should be doing better, I have taught them this already… Then it becomes a pride issue, and is about me rather than about loving and guiding them.  Now we’ve got a bigger problem.  I want to see THEM – how I can love them, encourage them, and help them.


 

Why DO I Blog?

Really though.  Why do I blog?  I can never succinctly answer this question.  Then I read this post on my friend Erin’s blog and my wheels got turning.  Blogging really is storytelling at its most basic level, isn’t it?

I want to tell the story of my life – of a mom of three kids, who finds this all amazing and challenging and rewarding and overwhelming.  A story that includes postpartum depression, a daughter’s anxiety, a son’s anger.  A story that includes teaching them to ride bikes and tie shoes and venture out on their own.

It’s a story that we’re told is the best job in the world.  We’re told it’s the most rewarding job.  We’re told it’s a gift.  I don’t think we’re told the whole story.  Being a mom IS all of those things, and it is draining, frustrating, crazy, mundane.  It is all the things all the time.

I want to tell the WHOLE story, and encourage you to do the same.  I want my story to give you hope, courage, laughter, perspective.  No matter what you’re feeling, it’s ok.  You’re ok.  We’re all going to be ok.

We are all doing the best we can, one day at a time.  We can help each other, or push each other down.  We can lift each other up, or look down our nose.

I blog so that, hopefully, I can help you, lift you up, or at the very least lay down in the mud with you until the rain subsides.


 

Patience in Parenting

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Grace: Mom, Eli said, “What the h-e-l-l.”
Me: Did you say it or spell it? (Does it matter?)
Eli: I said it.
Me: OK.  Well you will not be participating in the sleepover tonight with your sisters, and you’re getting pepper in your mouth.
Eli: I’m not putting one grain of that pepper in my mouth.
Me: Would you like to try that again?

And now to summon up all the patience in parenting I can muster….

Eli silently comes over and opens his mouth for the pepper.  He then goes upstairs, yells, and slams his door.  SO, I went up and made him open and close it calmly and quietly ten times, which is the normal consequence for slamming a door at our house.  He hates it.  A little while later he opened his door and yelled, “Don’t even think about coming up for a hug and kiss!!”  And proceeded to throw things around his room.

I’m telling you right now, all of this praying for the fruits of the spirit might be working.  I could not have stayed that patient had it not been for God intervening last night.

I let Eli be, giving him time to calm down and allowing him to have his feelings.  I then went to his room and said good night.  I asked if he wanted a hug and kiss, and since he had calmed down, he said yes.  And he apologized for his behavior.  AND THEN THE HEAVENS OPENED UP AND THE ANGELS SANG HALLELUJAH! :)

I do not have this figured out, this is not a “look at me” post.  This is a “praise God that I didn’t flip out this time” post.  Staying calm in the face of anger and disrespect is not my forte.  So praise God indeed.


 

The Mom I Want to Be

As I think over the interactions I have with my kids, and the relationship we have, and the mom I am, I have to ask myself, Am I the mom I want to be?  Am I the kind of mom that produces the relationships I want to have with my kids when they are adults?

Today, the answer is probably no.  And that is so very sobering.

As I’ve said, this has been my first summer not working in 8 years.  This has gone better than I had expected, meaning I don’t feel like next summer I need to find a job :)

It has also been a summer of less than stellar interactions with them.  They play outside as much as they can, which I LOVE.  They are all over the block in various neighbors’ yards, having a grand time with their friends.  I just get to sit on the porch with coffee and watch. Until I ruin it all.

It’s time for chores.  It’s time for lunch.  It’s time for supper.  We need to run errands.

I’m the worst.  And I hate all things fun.

I have done fun things with them, mind you.  Movies, swimming, ice cream outings, playdates.  But my worry is that what will linger is that mom isn’t present until she wants to ruin the fun.

The mom I want to be enjoys fun conversations with them, but the mom I am seems to be teaching life lessons or breaking up fights instead.

The mom I want to be enjoys fun activities with them, but the mom I am gets overwhelmed by their constant volume-level-eleven and potty humor.

Maybe right now I’m the mom I have to be, so that later I can be the mom I want to be.  But while I’m being the mom I have to be, I can sprinkle in some of the mom I want to be, so that I’m continuing to build relationship with my children.


 

Fruits of the Spirit {goodness}

In the list of Fruits of the Spirit, goodness is the one that is giving me the most trouble.  Every time I try to define it, I realize I’m instead defining one of the other fruits.  I should probably look in the Bible and see what help it can offer.

“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge…” 2 Peter 1:5 (NIV)

“Good” seems so relative.  What tastes good, what smells good, what looks good, what’s considered good behavior.  All of this is opinion-based.

According to 2 Peter, goodness is part of a sequence of events, as evidence of spiritual growth.  Faith, then goodness, then knowledge.  Peter goes on to add self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and finally love.  “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 1:8.  We should always be growing, and in our growth we cannot skip goodness.

A study of “goodness” brought about three means by which it can measured: if it meets an expectation, if it is beneficial, and if it is moral.

Do I measure up as a mom?  Do I meet the expectations of God, and my family?  (Note: I do not need to meet the expectations of anyone else.)  Am I beneficial to my family?  Do I make moral decisions regarding my family?

I certainly want the answer to be yes to all three of these questions, but of course that just isn’t true.  At least not all of the time.  Hopefully I can slowly make improvements, one day at a time.