Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don't Wait Until Next Mother's Day

This past weekend may have been the best Mother's Day ever.  It was just perfect (Thank you, Husband).  Rest, attention, family and friends were just the cure for my busy season.  I felt so taken care of and SEEN!  It was all the gift I needed.

But Mother's Day only happens once a year.  What about the other 364 days on the calendar?  That's a long time to wait for our people to celebrate this work and give us a day off!

Don't wait until next year, moms!  Make a point to give yourself breaks, as needed. It doesn't have to be a national holiday to establish periods of rest whenever the stress is adding up.

In the beginning of my motherhood, I never allowed myself to wind down.  I insisted that I could handle it and tried to muster through the workload. I felt guilty for going away for a night or a weekend and leaving my duties behind.  Handing the load over to anybody else just worried me.

Many meltdowns later, however, I learned that making time to just BE, is not a sign of weakness as a mom.  Resting helps us build up strength to keep going.  Taking care of yourself is your responsibility, and if you are finding yourself more and more edgy and impatient, that may be a sign that you haven't let yourself catch up mentally, spiritually, or physically to the busyness around you.

In Genesis, God observed his work and said, "It is good." Then, he rested.  If God thought it was important to establish time to "be," why don't we?

Moms, look around. See what you have done.  Note the clean kitchen counter or the packed school lunches.  Notice the kids' clothes that fit and the stocked refrigerator.  You did all of that!  Your family is taken care of. It's good! 

At some point, though, we have to let things wait until the next work day.  There will always be laundry to sort, wash, fold, or put away.  There will always be a dirty dish in the sink.  There will always be a paper to sign, a floor to sweep, or a pile to organize.  There is always work!  Let's set some limits on how much we take on and when it's quitting time.  Because when the alarm goes off (or the baby cries), it'll be time to work again.

Don't expect someone else to send you on a vacation!  They're not often going to remind you that you haven't eaten lunch or put your feet up for fifteen minutes!  Generally, Mommy's midday meal is hit or miss around here.  Breaks aren't scheduled for me at all- unless you count bedtime, which doesn't always work out we have to decide when to make moments for ourselves.

Rest is your choice. You can take a power nap or sit on the front porch to watch the kids play.  It doesn't matter.

God wants us to "be still."  Quiet yourself to the whirling world outside and shut out the noise. Don't apologize for sitting down to read a book or renting a sappy movie now and then.  Make a morning coffee date just for the heck of it.  

Whenever I have forced myself to get away for a bit, I have returned to my family more prepared to jump in and meet demands with renewed energy.  Because I've slowed down and separated myself from what can be regularly chaotic, I'm able to pick it back up with a little more perspective and patience. It is good.

So, have a little Mother's Day every day! You don't have to wait for someone else to give you permission. God has given us grace and freedom to find the joy in motherhood.  Rest in His care and see what He sees- a job well done.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Five Things I Said I'd Never Do When I Became a Mom...but Did Anyway

Be honest.  Have you created a mental list of things you would and wouldn't do, using other families as real life examples?  Did you find it more difficult than you thought to stick to those aspirations?

Oh, how sure we are of ourselves before we have kids of our own (or more than one child).  How easy it is to judge another mom using a safety harness to keep her toddler from getting lost in the mall, until our little Olympic-sprinter-in-training causes us to think that it's the best invention ever!  Motherhood is really humbling, isn't it?

Here is a short list of inexperienced presumptions I had about parenting, until now:

Five Things I Said I'd Never Do...but Did Anyway
  1. Wear sweatpants in public. I once thought that if I wasn't put together at the bus stop or dressed up for the grocery store, that I would appear a failure as a mother- like I couldn't handle it.  Three kids later, I don't really care.  That's not saying that I don't try to look presentable, so as not to embarrass our family name.  I do promise to brush my teeth and wash my face (at some point). But if you're a mom, I'm just going to expect you to get it.  Some days, makeup and hair is extra. (FYI: You can cheat by wearing yoga pants or a perfectly matched workout ensemble, because it makes it look like you just came back from training for a marathon.  In my mind, this makes you look awesome, because I hate exercise.  Keep it up).
  2. Bribe my kids with candy. I had a friend who packed M & M's for trips to the pool and playground, because that was the only way she could get her preschooler to go home without a complete meltdown.  She was hilarious...and smart. I thought to myself, "My kids just better listen to me and not throw tantrums, or we will have words!"  But when I have had to take a renown screamer shopping with me, I have been known to pull out the gummy snacks for my sanity.  I WILL bring out the lollipops when my children are begging me for cereal with marshmallows or need to go to the bathroom again. It allows me to think for a solid five minutes! No apologies. With some peace and quiet, and happy kids, I may actually remember everything on my list.
  3. Answer, "Because I said so." Listen, we all want to keep open lines of communications with our children, but man, they are persistent little lawyers-in-the-making sometimes, and I am just TIRED of rebuttals!  When "Yes, ma'am" becomes too difficult for them to manage, I have no patience or brainpower to continue the verbal back-and-forths (You are a CHILD, for Pete's sake). This reply will just have to do.  Because I said so.  And because I'm the mom.
  4. Let the TV babysit my kids.  Well, I don't know about you, but I am without a live-in nanny or family member to help manage the multiple requests and household operations that occur DAILY.  There are times when no amount of play-doh, crayons, or building projects will keep kids entertained without demanding my assistance. So in order to help one kid with homework or to provide a home-cooked meal each evening, I may need a "Hail, Mary."   The problem is, with so much going on, I have admittedly forgotten that my three-year-old has been upstairs watching Disney Jr. for more than an hour.  I'm not proud of it. But good gracious, look what I have accomplished!
  5. Raise my voice. "Yelling" sounds so harsh, doesn't it?  Since becoming a mom of more than one kid, I hereby confess that I have stretched my vocal chords on more than one occasion (which is funny, because my high school cheerleading coach always told me that I wasn't loud enough).  I don't like loud.  I don't like being loud.  But I cannot compete with the noise level and my kids' selective hearing on any given day!  I have wondered if there exists some kind of app with a siren or gym teacher's whistle that would get their attention. Let me know if you find one.
I hope this post reminds you that we really shouldn't take ourselves too seriously when the mom season is full of so many variables!  We always have and always will have a lot to learn...and a lot to laugh about!

What would you add to the list?  Leave a comment below.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Why I Started Blogging and Haven't Stopped

I've been blogging for ten years.
One kid. 2005.

When I say that out loud, I think people expect me to be some kind of an expert.  I'm not.  But I love encouraging others to put themselves out there, because I know what a lifeline blogging has been to me.  It was my connection to the outside world.

Everyone has a story, and those stories have a way of connecting us.

Mine started in my first year of marriage.  I started blogging when my firstborn was a baby and I was seeking an outlet, and maybe even some validation, as a new stay-at-home mom.  It was a lonely existence.  My husband was finishing his senior year of college, as well as, supporting his brand new little family (not stressful and exhausting AT ALL).

Two kids. 2009.
I was enjoying my role as a mother but also struggling with feelings of unimportance.  None of my friends had started having babies yet, so I was navigating the waters of motherhood alone.  Some days I embraced it, but most days I was bored OUT OF MY MIND.

And I hated cleaning.  Loathed it.  Waited until the last possible minute to wash dishes or pick up the dirty laundry off of the floor.  Bless my husband and any other friends who witnessed that era of my existence.  I just had no experience.  No training.  Zero strategies.

Overall, I remember those first years of the mom season as me floundering.  Just splashing around like a kid who swears she can swim without arm floaties, but gagging on chlorine-flavored water and grasping for the pool wall, playing it cool.

I was trying. 
Three kids. 2012

And that's where I met you.  In all of that.  The mess and the neediness.  Life's uncertain and proud moments rolled all into one. Over time, I found other moms who could relate.  We were in this together. We became friends.  We watched our families stretch and grow! I found a community through blogging that seriously still exists today (you know who you are)!

For me, sharing my thoughts and experiences
helped me process and solidify lessons I was learning along the way.  I wasn't invisible anymore.

For you, maybe you also need to hear:
  • That you are not alone.
  • That it's okay to learn as you go.
  • That motherhood is hard but worth it.
That's why I keep blogging. For me.  For you.  And for every comment or message that says, "Me too."

Why Do You Blog or Want to Start Blogging?  Share your story!