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Friday, October 25, 2013


Between the instances where I’m yanking out my hair and enlisting an army of friends to help me in the daily battle of life and parenting, I am so smitten by these kids.  They do things that make me smile and I realize that I AM doing something right sometimes! Little bits of progress are a breath of fresh air.

I got to watch a couple sweet kids for a friend this morning for a teeny little bit and I am proud of how everyone did!  Molli and the little boy (just a bit older than her) played together so nicely.  I let them play in her room.  I didn’t hover, I just listened and peeked in.  It made me happy to hear them playing and talking.  Some phrases that made me smile were:

“Uh oh, this room is a mess, what should we pick up first?”
“We’ll play with one thing, then when we are done, we will put it up and play something else.”
“When you are done with that, can I have a turn?”
“Can we go let the babies play with this for a little bit?”

You guys!  There were words of cleaning up, sharing and taking turns!  I can’t even tell you how happy that made me.  Not only because I think these things are good and important, but because it means I’m being heard.  They are listening to their parents and remembering what to do.  This is greatly encouraging considering the phase we are in with Molli.  She’s listening and remembering what I’ve told her and work SO hard to reinforce in her.  I want her to be a kind, respectful friend and regardless of how it seems sometimes, it’s in her little brain somewhere!

And Gavin… If you don’t know Gavin, you are missing out.  He is a sweet and very fun little guy.  He loves being silly, and he REALLY loves his momma.  He’s a momma’s boy through and through, well, unless Papa or Grammy are around. He wants to be held and tended to, always.  I wasn’t sure how he would cope with a baby in the house, much less in my arms, but he rocked!  He couldn’t leave her alone because he was so excited to see her.  He wanted to look at, touch and tickle her.  He was so gentle and didn’t even seem to mind that she was in my arms and he wasn’t.   What a pleasant surprise! He also cracked me up because in his excitement he wandered around the house shouting, "Baby! Baby! Baby!" (baybeh)

It’s a happy start to this day.  Let’s carry the happiness on all day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

tough stuff

I don’t know if I’m being dramatic, but I am feeling deeply discouraged tonight.  Parenting is so hard.  There are some days when I feel on top of things, more or less, and can go to bed believing that I’m doing things right.  I’m instilling values, facilitating the drive for learning, reading, praying and cleaning together.  I’m making plans for socialization, developing motor skills and creative play.  The gamut of childhood experience is being addressed and I’m tired.  What do I do then when it all feels like I’m failing despite my best efforts?

From very early on, Molli has not been a “by the book” kind of kid.  Myles and I were part of a parenting class and always left feeling more lost than before because the guaranteed solutions for the various issues of infancy through toddlerhood fell short in our home.  We’ve been making things up and figuring things out as we go, praying that we don’t mess everything up. Like usual, once I feel like I have something about her figured out, it changes and new issues arise.  Honestly, it’s exhausting and I am struggling to find answers to the subjective parenting questions I’m facing. 

I have been blessed to stay home with our kids but sometimes there is so much pressure.  It’s the same pressure toward perfection that I’ve always felt and have always fallen short. All of the typical household things combined with raising kids is a lot. I feel like I should be able to do all these things with relative ease but of course, once I feel like things are smooth, it crashes and I am in the dumps about it.  I am no good at this!  I love being home but I have no idea how to not let these things control me.  How do you get a three year old be nice? To share? To obey? To love, be apologetic, sincere, responsible and caring? I want to instill love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control in her but I don’t know how.

We spend all day working on things and I really don’t let things slide.  Back-talking, hitting, not sharing, yelling, refusing to clean etc all get some level of discipline and I feel like the meanest mom in the world sometimes!  Timeout! Nose in the corner! Say you’re sorry! Pick that up! We don’t hit! Yell, yell, yell.  I’m sick of it! And when did I become a yelling mom? Would more spanking help or make it worse? Do I take away her toys until she learns to take care of them and clean them up? I know that I have memories from when I was 3 years old and it would absolutely break my heart if her only memories from this age are of me nagging and her sitting in time out. 

Tonight felt a little like a blow from someone I care about and respect on many levels.  There was a statement made indicating that I am not doing enough in terms of discipline.  It was an innocent statement, not intended to hurt, I know that, but it did.  Somewhere imbedded in those words were an indication that I am not good enough.  I am doing my best but I sometimes feel so lost. The details don’t matter.

These kids are the most cherished, precious part of my life and the investment of a lifetime. When it’s all said and done, I can just pray.  I pray for my children to be spared the memories of my failure and that the things I do right resonate and stay with them in their little minds.  I pray that my actions will reflect God’s loving persistence toward His disobedient children.

This feels like a very “woe is me” post.  I don’t mean for it to be, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  If you have any genuine, heartfelt advice, please share.  We are open to whatever creative methods that might be floating around out there.  I have no intention to raise perfect kids, but I do want to watch them grow up knowing that I’ve done my absolute best, and I’ve sought out the counsel of others who have been though this. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pausing to appreciate

Molli came into my room dragging her sleepy feet and held her purple hippo by the foot as I was finishing getting ready this morning.  Her bed head was charming and her sleepy voice greeted me, “I waked up early today Mommy, the sun is still black.” Obviously the sun is not black, but it’s just rising later so her usual 7:45 is no longer met with glorious sun.  I smiled at her sweet pretence and led her to Gavin’s room where he was waiting to be rescued from his crib.

Excitement overtook him as he saw us enter his room and be began bouncing as well as he can with squeals and shrieks of delight. He handed me his little doggy blankie and acknowledged all the good things he did in his bed.  The projector and mobile were playing their clashing tunes and Gavin motioned to each with a point and a “da!” as if to show me what a big boy he is that he can strike up the band himself.

Following a diaper change, Gavin demanded to be fed immediately, as usual.  Molli slowly obliged but truthfully food is a bore to her.  Unless it’s sweets, she couldn’t care less about meals and generally only participates for the social aspect.  She is totally my daughter.  My kids couldn’t be more opposite in this way.  Gavin devoured at least twice what Molli nibbled on and I set them both free to play for a few minutes, pointing out that the sun was coming up. 

I got Gavin dressed and realized that Molli wasn’t in her room playing.  I looked over and found her sitting quietly on a stool in front of the sliding glass doors that face the back yard.  She was sitting there with her purple hippo just watching.  A gorgeous red and pink sunrise filled the sky and she knew that it was special.  I don’t know how long she sat there but I let her just be. Finally, she turned to me and declared, “God makes things so beautiful!”

All I can do is smile.  She makes me pause and appreciate the beauty that is everywhere.  The other day we were on a walk and she started talking about how much she loved being outside.  She danced around spinning in circles, facing the sky with her arms up and her actual words were, “I love this store! This nature store that God made for me!”  I don’t know why she called it a store, but it made me laugh.  She’s my little hippie child, my free spirit! I’m glad that she knows to attribute all this goodness to God and I desperately hope that she always acknowledges the beauty surrounding her. 


Today I’m inspired to appreciate things a little more.  I appreciate that she sings at the top of her lungs in the car and Gavin sings “la la la la” right along with her.  I appreciate that Gavin still wants me to hold him most of the time.  I appreciate the big toothy grin he gives me and the squishy cheeks (oh those cheeks!) that I get to kiss whenever I want!  I appreciate Molli’s desire to be active but also to sit and read books together. I appreciate the family I have, the home we live in and relationships that are beginning to blossom. I am tremendously blessed!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My beautiful mess

This morning did not start out the way I had intended.  Well, neither did last night.  I went to bed all wound up after a stressful evening knowing we had MOPS in the morning, which meant I had to get the ball rolling first thing. I had a whole list of responsibilities to remember and not mess up. No matter how prepared I think I am, a particularly difficult and sleepless night is always the surefire way to mess me up. Gavin was up for hours through the night upset and inconsolable unless nursing.  Let’s face it, my son is going on 15 months old and nursing will be wrapping up here sooner or later.  We are beyond the nurse all night long stage. So I camped on the couch and didn’t sleep.  (It’s a step above lying in bed annoyed that my husband can sleep through it all.)

I knew exactly how long I could stay horizontal without inflicting morning chaos on the household.  Despite the weird night, got myself ready, bags all packed and set up by the door, and breakfast made just in time to get the kids fed, dressed, and hair done.  Unfortunately, Gavin had different plans.  His plans involved a disgusting load of laundry and an impromptu bath.  Yes, he blew out in a very bad way.  I swear, these teeth need to lay off my poor boy.  They are destroying him and my gag reflex just cannot handle the toxicity of these situations much longer. Have you ever barfed on your baby?  Me neither, but I imagine it would be upsetting all around.  His unusual sleeplessness combined with my anxious noisy mind was a crummy combination. My attitude was still good, but I was in a bubble and not quite myself as we left the house.

We got to MOPS on time, and let me just say, I love this ministry.  It was refreshing to just relax, talk to people and keep my hands busy with something other than cooking/cleaning/wiping etc.  I am a table leader this year, which to me mostly means that I have the opportunity to encourage, pray for and connect with other moms in a unique way.  I did my best to push aside my fuzzy brain and just be with these ladies. Apparently, I at least partially failed because a couple people recognized “the look” and gave me hugs or words urging me to press on.  I got everything done that I needed to do, and in the end all is well.  However, it’s nap time and I’m about to bust out the headphones.  Sleep or no sleep, how about we all just stay put and have quiet.  Better yet, let’s have peace! 

The MOPS theme this year is “A Beautiful Mess.”  Could there be a better theme for any group of moms?! I think not.  I am far from the angelic pristine symbol of womanhood.  I probably fall closer to the “hot mess” end of the spectrum, but I’m mostly OK with that.   As a mom specifically, I’ve come to terms that my idea of what I should be is skewed and I am better off just being Mommy; Messy as it may be.

I do try to keep things neat around the house but really, nothing about me screams domestic diva.  Nothing even whispers it for that matter.  When I think of a beautifully domestic woman, I think of someone with a fully balanced, couponed out meal plan in a pinterest worthy frame displayed in the kitchen and strictly followed.  This is great, I’m sure these families have more than enough veggies filling their tummies and are gluten free blah blah blah. We don’t do a whole lot of perfectly balanced organic meals.  I confess.  We are no strangers of American cheese slices, peanut butter and jelly and bananas.  I’m not proud of it, but I’ve come to accept that I am not a chef.  I do not get any joy out of cooking, and probably never will.  Meat grosses me out, vegetables rot quicker than we can eat them and recipes are not fun for me to try unless I know for sure they will be loved and devoured.  For that matter, if I suspect that a recipe will dirty too many things at once, I’ll probably skip it.  Again with PJ&J, or maybe change it up a bit and make grilled cheese. 

For now, amidst the thrown together meals, cleaning and re-cleaning, dressing and re-dressing, bathing, wiping, disciplining, chasing etc, this is the most beautiful mess I’ve ever seen.  My family is incredible and I absolutely love this life of mine.  I am not perfect, and neither is my family.  We are just as in need of grace as anyone else, but man, these guys rock.  Myles has been a wonderful provider for our family and I am so thankful to have him alongside me.  I have much to be grateful for and my prayer is that my gratefulness will far surpass my ridiculous notions to be great in a way that has no eternal value.  It's about love, and I sure have a lot of it!