Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scary Story: Shopping with Three Kids

I missed my daily window of opportunity to run errands, so I decided to go to the store after I picked up the big kids from school. 

First mistake:  shopping with three kids. I almost always regret this decision. The fear and dread that grips me is only squashed by the cruel reality of not having French vanilla creamer for my coffee in the morning.  So, I lay down the ground rules:

Everybody, stays with Mommy.
Inside voices & inside feet.
The better you listen, the faster we can get outta here.

These are versions of instructions I repeat every time I attempt a grocery shop with the little people...  and it almost never helps. 

Right away, one of the boys is stomping in puddles in the parking lot and not paying attention around him.  My trepidation rises with every step towards the building.  Nonetheless, I promise a snack reward, if we all stick together. 

Placing my two-year-old into the safety seat, I distract him with race car sound effects to overcome any resistance.  My oldest, chats away at my left ear, waiting for my responses. I am having a hard time focusing. The five-year-old stands on the side of the shopping vehicle, throwing it off-balance, or dangles dangerously off the back, stressing me out. Walking with me, he runs ahead, and in the shopping cart, he abuses his little brother.

Of course, this makes the toddler scream.  The chaos virtually erases my mental shopping list, and I can no longer remember why I came here.

Oh yeah, coffee creamer.

After looking away for a second (I know), I turn around to find my third child lying on the cold, hard floor screaming, crying, and trying to breathe all at once.  I rush to him, certain that this is finally the accident that sends us to the emergency room. 

Luckily, only his lip is bleeding, but now I am a useless lump on the floor in front of the freezer section, cradling my son and accepting free popsicles from a stranger.

When I regained the strength to stand up, I put my two-year-old back in the cart and snap the buckle around his waist. I had forgotten that.  Rookie mistake. No more somersaults out of the grocery cart, thank you.

My three kids and I finished our errand in mutual silence that day- they, with their lime-flavored popsicles, and me, with my coffee creamer.  All of us, survivors.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Creating a Mom Community

The worse part of being a stay-at-home mom for me, is feeling lonely.  In truth, I’m not exactly alone, but preschool-level conversations don’t generally count as challenging and thought-provoking in my book.  It’s cute but a little monotonous.

Toddler: Mom!  Mommy!  Mom!  Juice!  Juice! Mommy!
Me: Oh, you want juice? Say, ‘Juice, please.’
T: Juice peas, Mommy.
M: Okay, Mommy will get you some more juice…Say, ‘Thank you.’
T: Tank you.

After repeating these interactions a few times daily, as well as, topics concerning diapers, trucks, and Mickey Mouse, I feel a strong need to express my thoughts on subjects other than re-filling sippy cups. Otherwise, I get a little stir-crazy and too self-analytical.

Being around other moms is not only fun, but life-giving as well. Nobody, but another mom who has been in your sneakers, could quite understand the feelings and struggles you go through in your every day.  Having real, honest friendships with a common goal encourages me to push through the tunnels of doubt and frustration and lead me to the lighter side of parenthood.

When I look back, I don't think any friendships have just happened for me.  Each meeting at the playground or in a school hallway required bravery and an urgency to seek out a connection.  Knowing how fulfilling it is to have a team of moms surrounding me, makes every attempt worth the awkwardness and risk of not being liked.
Looking for your own mom community?  
·         Strike up a conversation at the neighborhood playground or pool
·      Accept an invitation to an existing playgroup
·      Set up your own play dates with new friends
·      Join a church small group of couples with children
·      Find a mom's group, like Birds on a Wire

It’s important to create a community that encourages you along the journey of motherhood.  It reminds you that you’re never alone.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A Messy Masterpiece

Too often, I wait to start things (like a blog post), until I can get it perfect.  I want to frame the words just right, get the house sparkling clean, and make sure I present the best version before I invite others to see it.

But I've been a mom, as a woman,
I'm not going to be perfect- like, ever. We are a continual work in progress.
Imagine that God is an artist (because I think He is).  

Now, think of yourself as a painting.  There's a canvas leaning on an easel, various tubes and bottles of paint scattered around.  Brushes are everywhere: on the table, against the easel, in a cup of water.  Drop cloths protect the surrounding area from splatters. The studio looks and it smells like acrylic, and oil, and paint thinner. 

The painter doesn't wear his Sunday best. He anticipates that painting is a messy job, dressing in his work clothes with proof of his artistic endeavors- stains he wears like a name tag or job description: Artist. Creator.

I'm the canvas.  You're the project.  We're in the middle of a disarray of factors that leads to something...messy, disorganized, mixed-up. Unfinished.

Maybe the mess is your past.  Your bad decisions.  Your unfortunate upbringing.  Maybe the mess is just circumstances going on around you.  Or you just feel like you will never amount to anything. 

Remember this: before there is a masterpiece, there is always mess.  
God always has a plan. Just wait and see.

Trust the Artist to make a masterpiece out of you.  When you feel like a mess, remember that He's not finished.  

You are a wonderful work-in-progress.
For we are God’s handiwork...- Ephesians 2:10
...the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish...- Philippians 1:5