Challenges in Motherhood

Motherhood is full of challenges.  That is quite an obvious statement, but sometimes the thought still catches me by surprise.

We know for many mothers a majority household responsibilities default to mothers: meals, laundry, schedules, child-related tasks.  For many of us the nurturing side comes naturally, snuggles, nursing owies, making calls to doctors, chiropractors, etc.  Yet not everything comes naturally or easily to us.

Let’s break these challenges down into two categories: internal & external. By internal, I mean the emotional and or spiritual side of mothering, the way we manage ourselves in our parenting.  External is more about the tasks, responsibilities we face as mothers.

My Internal Challenges in Motherhood

Regulating My Emotions

I have found regulating my own emotions to be a big challenge in my mothering as I’ve battled depression.  For me, all the negativity that sits under the surface brews over easily with 3 year old behavior.

It breaks my heart that my oldest daughter seems to have the key to setting off anger in me.  Recognizing that this is about ME and not her has been extremely beneficial.  Taking this responsibility  on myself has helped the damage that my anger does to her heart, when I sin against her I am embarrassed, but not afraid to apologize to her.  I’m willing to discuss with her my shortcomings and attempt to make amends with her.

Help for My Emotions

I have also found a few things that are helpful to my journey of working through this anger, parenting better and regulating my emotions.  Positive Parenting Solutions is one of them.  A few years ago a blogger I follow co-hosted a free webinar with Amy McCready, we ended up using some savings to purchase the GOLD membership.  I strongly recommend this program, in fact I have suggested it to so many people over the years, that I recently became and affiliate. This is not a 100% endorsement of every teaching in her program, as we prefer different approaches to bedtime and toilet learning.  We do support her theory and methods in general.

Amy McCready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Montessori method of education was simply a type of school when I first was introduced to it.  As we decided that homeschooling was the right path for our family, I still felt drawn to the method.  I had to immerse myself in self-study and have found that the approach also aligns with our beliefs and parenting goals.  I am in several Facebook groups on the topic and I love that there is often discussion of working through our own “stuff” and not putting that on the child.  The Absorbent Mind by Dr. Maria Montessori is a book I am reading to help me learn more.

Dr. Maria Montessori

Mothering towards Christ

This has been really hard for me, because I tend to focus so hard on all the external responsibilities of mothering and leading a household.  Keeping in mind that my job is to disciple my children does NOT come naturally to me.  I tend to focus on winning the battle of ___________ versus winning their little hearts towards Christ.

It is so much easier to make sure stuff gets done, than sit down and get eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart with my children about what’s really fueling disobedience, defiance, whining, etc.  While in my head and in my heart I acknowledge that this is much more important than ANYTHING, it is very easy for me to forget in the moment.

Resources for Spiritual Mothering

Our finances are tight, so as much as I’d love to buy and read all the books I can’t always do that.  Sally Clarkson really speaks to my heart and I can never quite decide which book to invest in first (it seems few of her books are in our library system).  The Mission of Motherhood is one book I really hope to get this year, but on the free end of things I listed to her podcast weekly.  I have loved the encouragement from Sally and Kristin particularly their summer series 1o Gifts of Heart.

Podcasts are kind of my theme here as I can listen while doing laundry or dishes, but I also really like The Homemaking Foundations Podcast.  Jami’s heart is in the right place and I relate easily to the tendency to focus on ‘external’ stuff, so I appreciate her honesty.  I will say that while her content is top-notch, you may need to force yourself through the lengthy introductions to the show and description of her podcast sponsors.

My External Challenges in Motherhood

Throwing Routines & Schedules out of the Window

Sticking to routines is really hard for me, which seems funny when you think about that fact that I tend to worry more about external stuff.  A few things fuel this struggle: my personality, mommy guilt and recalling that the heart stuff matters more.

My personality thrives on change & unpredictability, I can’t remember my Myers-Briggs type and I don’t know my Enneagram number.  I bet some of you can identify mine just by reading this.

The guilt of being a working mom, often separated from her kids feeds into this.  Sometimes I just throw caution to the wind and say “let’s bake cookies!” even though it’s 7:45 p.m. Now, while I hope these memories warm my children’s hearts for years to come, it can mean very late bedtimes and tough mornings.

When I have been gone for work and feel disconnected, I’m very likely to throw daily responsibilities and schedules aside to do something fun together.

I’ve really found McKenzie Monroe’s Lovely Home School Course helpful in getting things going and setting up strong routines and plans for our days.  There will always be times when I say “forget it! let’s go to the zoo”  but at least I have a structure to fall back to.

Dishes or Laundry

I cannot do it all in a day. It seems either dishes or laundry pile up, every day.  Although both tasks are “A” priorities in my planner, one of them always falls to the wayside.  Podcasts do help here, but usually I am choosing between one or the other.  A funny little sidenote: I often have a conflict in my heart over using so much water, so I can’t bring myself to do both at the same time.

Family Budget

This has become surprisingly difficult to me as my children grow and we have started homeschooling.  It used to be *so* easy for me to say no to extracurriculars, but now it’s harder.

Being frugal is important to me, I want to manage my finances well for the Lord and for our future.  However, as they grow I’m finding certain things harder to say no to such as zoo and museum memberships, swimming lessons and school supplies (we Montessori so some of our supplies are more expensive than notebooks and pencils!).

We are graduates of Financial Peace University, we are debt free and still quite frugal.  However, it might be time to check out Financial Peace Revisited because sadly, someone stole all of our materials from church.  I do think our library has them too. I think my husband and I need to sit down again and re-assess our current values.  Since we are debt-free and have young kids we are different people than we were 6 years ago.

And you?

What are some of the internal and external challenges you face as a mother?  Please share some resources that help you!

One final word: There is literally no resource as valuable to me as God’s word and time spent with him.  All of the resources I have listed above are wonderful.  The Holy Spirit working in me is the best resource!

 

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Introducing the Simple Start Journal, get yours today!

I am pleased to share with you The Simple Start Journal.  A great way to start your day with the most important things.

Simple Start Journal & Bible

The Simple Start Journal, designed by Kayse Pratt of Intentional Moms. I randomly, perhaps not so randomly, found a pin of hers a few years ago while looking for ways to be better at mom-life.  Her titles and her fonts drew me in quickly.

Kayse is a talented writer, pretty great at designing practical and beautiful printable products.  I’m eager to try out her new products because I know she is gospel-centered.    While she could dominate the world of blogging, she recognizes it isn’t her number #1 priority in this phase of life.  That is a message I need to hear daily.

What Matters Most

A phrase Kayse frequently uses is “what matters most” which I resonate with because in college I worked for Franklin Covey.  It is the place that honed my love of planners and tweaked my planning skills.  Franklin Covey’s #1 Seminar used to be called “What Matters Most.”  Using the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, Hyrum Smith and Stephen R. Covey they crafted incredible presentations to help people focus on what matters most.

So, What Matters Most to Me?

In a sentence, following Christ, serving my family and being healthy matter most to me.  However, it’s always been a struggle for me to keep these priorities at the top, as so many urgent tasks vie for my attention.  The Simple Start Journal is an affordable ($8 printable) solution that really addresses all 3 of these areas.

2 page per day spread, here it is printed on half-sheets and bound.

The Bible Study

Kayse will be coming out with more studies in the future, this one is on Galatians and Ephesians.  You simply write the date (and no shame if you miss a day—just keep going) and read the day’s passage.  Today it’s Galatians 3:1-9, then you make notes on what stands out to you and the Holy Spirit illuminates in your heart.

Next, write out the verses for the day, this is a new practice I began at the beginning of the year with some of Kayse’s Bible Studies and well as MacKenzie Monroe of Bold Turquoise.  It’s such a simple way to get God’s word in your heart and mind as you write it in a journal.

Pray about it, the following space is for you to write out your prayers, prayer lists whatever you need.  Some days, the verses convict and teach me and I ask God to help me get his word in my heart and bring out deeper obedience.  Other days, I write out the list of people I am praying for and often it’s asking God to help me show his truth to my family and those I interact with throughout the day.

Simplify It

Friends, I still use a Franklin Planner, in fact I took a year off trying lots of DIYs, printable and other planners.  I learned the FC system back in 2000. You can teach and “old dog” new tricks, I honestly haven’t found a trick that works better than my Her POV design Compact Planner.  My pages this year started on July 1 and my productivity has increased dramatically from being back to a system that I don’t have to think about.  It’s not for everyone, but I love it. If you have not found a planner you love and use, you can also check out Kayse’s: The Organized Life Planner.

One of the things we taught at Franklin is that you must prioritize your tasks, and we used a system as simple as A, B, C.

A = important, urgent, time-sensitive tasks   A priorities MUST get done today.

B= important, not as urgent, somewhat time-sensitive tasks B priorities SHOULD get done today.

C= less important, not urgent, somewhat ideal tasks.  C priorities COULD get done today, but won’t suffer if they are moved to another day.

I think of my A priorities and start thinking through them and write down my top 3 in the “Simplify It” section.  Often, as boring as it sounds, laundry is on this list.  Sometimes it’s grocery shopping or meal planning, other times it’s a household project and lately “prepare for homeschool year” is on the list.

Work It

The dreaded, but OH-SO-IMPORTANT section, work it is for a quick work-out.  To be honest, I don’t do this every day (yet).  Today I did my Simple Start Journal at the coffee shop, so I’m not doing that here.  But 3-4 days of the week is significantly better than none.

I am 23 weeks pregnant, and out of shape so not every exercise is a good idea for me.  So when a 30 or 60 second plank is on my list, I do a bunch of wall push-ups instead.  If everyone in my house is sleeping, I skip jumping jacks, walk in place and move my arms as if I was doing weights (it gets your heart rate up).

Simple Start

The Simple Start Journal is aptly named.  It’s a simple start to your day, it’s simple to print and it’s a good starting place if you lack discipline in any of these areas of life.  Please check out this resource, as I give it a perfect score for price, ease-of-use and the fact that it is purposeful.  Money well spent.

Simple Start not so Simple

Kayse provides instructions for printing in your download, just follow what she says (and do a test page in case you have a temperamental printer like I do) and bind it up as you like.

Since April, I have been using a Happy Planner for my Bible Study and Sermon notes.

I printed at 84% and used a happy planner punch.  You’ll see double-sided printing eluded me that day when you watch my video.   To be honest, my sanity seemed more important that perfectly printed double sided pages. My kids were also taking a bath while I did this so I really did need to keep it simple so I could keep them safe too.

Do what works best for you.  I then cut the paper down & used my Happy Planner Punch (it was cheaper with 40% off Michaels coupon than the Staples ARC punch).  Here is the video of me putting it together.

 

Get Started

Click over to Intentional Moms Shop as fast as your internet allows and download this fabulous resource.  I’d love to know what you think, it’s really a great way to spend $8 to simplify what matters most and how amazing is it to simply study God’s word, instead of someone else’s interpretation of it.  Diving back in to Galatians has encouraged my walk with God, and I am confident it will be fantastic for you too.

 

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Write 31 Days, Losing My Mind

Hello,

I’m popping in to explain why I am so far behind on this weeks’ posts.

My husband recently took a new job, and it’s turned our lives upside down.  I signed up for this challenge before he had the job offer.  I figured, if I could do it last year, with a 6 week old baby, I could do this.

It turns out, my husband’s actual support (with the kids, household stuff) was a major factor in last year’s challenge.  While his emotional support matters to me, without him being around I just can’t keep up.

I’ve been attempting to write the night before, edit in the morning and sharing socially throughout the day.  Unfortunately, as I attempt to wake at 5am to write, one or more of my children wakes up with me.  One morning, it took me 4 hours to edit a post while taking care of them.  I had thirty minutes to make breakfast, get myself ready and leave for work.

My husband is basically gone Monday-Friday, even though he sleeps here.  He sleeps from 3am-3pm on Sunday then leaves for work at 5:30 pm and gets home at 5:50 on Tuesday morning, sleeps, showers and goes to work.  On Fridays he wakes up early, so I can go to work at 11am.

Last week, he had a 10 overtime shift, and then he got sick.  It was a rough weekend for me emotionally and physically.

That leads to this week, I am also dealing with kids who miss their dad like crazy.  With all the waking up early, very little napping they are struggling to get good sleep.  So, by the time I get all 3 kids to be, it is 10pm.  Three times I have sat down to type, what I feel is the most important post in my series, and FALLEN ASLEEP AT THE COMPUTER.

Obviously, it’s normal to hit the wall many times int eh writing process.  Tonight is the firs night this week that I have any energy when the kids are all asleep.

Another factor that I have been struggling with is the reality that my husband’s work does not pay enough for us to put money in savings, and we really need to save.  We don’t have a car, and could really use one.  Our emergency fund is still a baby one, and I am just tired of that.  I am emotionally ready to push hard on Baby Step 3 (6 months of expenses saved) and move forward.  Being out of debt is a huge blessing, but I just want to start moving forward financially, even if all that means is we have money to cover an emergency.

That being said, I need to continue to work.  Childcare costs take up such a huge portion of the money I earn, that it hardly seems worthwhile.  So, I am working one afternoon a week doing massage, in addition to teaching essential oil classes.

I’ve been struggling between the demands of keeping a home, homeschooling, massage practice, oil business and the blog.  Taking two hours last night (I woke up at midnight, having fallen asleep on the couch again) and some quiet time this afternoon, I realized that I need my focus to be on homemaking and homeschooling/parenting my children.

Yes, I must continue to work.  Yes, I want to continue to work, but in a limited capacity.  I think I am allowing myself 10 hours of work a week, for this phase of life.  I’ve felt so much peace, and way more energy today.

Someday, I might work more, but for now I am keeping it limited.  There is a cost with that (less in savings) but it seems worth it to pour into my family.  I hear a baby stirring as I type this.  So, I’m not quitting write31days, but I may give myself some grace to extend it into November to keep my schedule.

Writing nourishes my soul, and I must continue to do it.  The SEO, the social media may take a back burner to allow me to finish.

Tonight, I’m going to watch another episode of Portlandia (Season 6, on Netflix!! Yay!!) and watch my first “TV” in a month.  It’s not holy, admirable, and probably will rot my brain.  It will however, help me laugh, relax and feel a bit more human.

So, I hope to be back very, very soon with my story on how God had shaped my heart and drawn me closer to his.  Thanks for reading.

 

Making a Difference in my Home

*Trigger Warning*

If you are a mother who struggles with not being at home because of work, or emotional issues (like anxiety or depression) some of what I write here may be triggering for you.  Please skip this post, if you think that might be the case.  I only share, because my experience has been dramatic from being the “primary breadwinner” to being at home most of the time.

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The atmosphere has changed in our home recently, and truth be told, it is because my attitude has changed.

Here are 3 external ways I know the atmosphere has changed in our home:

  1. Obvious decrease in yelling (both kids and parents)
  2. My husband told me, “the kids are not usually this calm.”
  3. The house is much tidier.

Here are 3 internal ways I know the atmosphere has changed in our home.

  1.  I have so much motivation. I’m normally quite a motivated person.  If you saw the list of business ideas I have written down in my planners, you would call me a crazy person and remind me that I have 3 kids.  So, motivation isn’t necessarily different, but the focus of my motivation is different.  I am still avoiding the spider-filled trips to do laundry as much as possible, but I am not avoiding daily household tasks.  I’m still helping my kids to learn how to do them, and I still get annoyed at things I think others should put away.  I’m not a brand-new person with a desire to be a maid, but I’m embracing (not grudging) my current role as “keeper of the home.”
  2. I have so much more peace. This kinda feels like everything to me.  Since I went back to work in February of 2011 when our first baby was 8 weeks old, I have not felt much peace.  I’ve felt duty, determination, guilt, anxiety, hopelessness, shame, desperation in regards to my role as mom and homemaker.  Now, remember that I am a motivated person who loves praise.  Today, I thought about how nice it was not to feel anxious about all the business tasks I hadn’t done yet.  I thought, “what I am doing here with these children and in this home has eternal value”.  I have a long list of blogging tasks, business tasks, videos to make; and I feel PEACE about only getting 1-2 of those tasks done a day.  PEACE, how refreshing you are.
  3. I feel like it’s very easy to see what my true priorities are. Putting that sentence into words was a bit ironic for me.  You see, I am a Franklin Covey girl.  That’s right, a company that technically speaking, no longer exists.  I worked there when FC was at the height of it’s game.  I knew how to use a planner, sell a planner, teach planning, teach goal setting, write mission statements and I still do.  Honey, I know all about how important defining your priorities are.  I could probably give you examples in my sleep.   Somehow, in the past 4 years, I have STRUGGLED to define my priorities, to write a mission statement, to know who I am and what my calling is.  I’ve been really lost.  Suddenly, almost in the blink of an eye, everything just “fits” and “makes sense.”

You may be asking, what changed?

It wasn’t a motivation sermon or a grand spiritual moment.  It was that I woke up one day and my husband had a new job offer.  He accepted and started THE NEXT DAY.  It was quite the juggling act on Monday, let me tell you! Rather, I won’t.  Suffice it to say it involved LOTS of driving and very little sleep.

On Sunday, Amazon called and asked my husband to take a 2nd shift position (6:30pm -5am) effective Tuesday with training on Monday.  In an instant, our lives changed significantly.  Monday, I must have spent an hour writing out ideas of how we could homeschool during the day while my husband slept.  At the end of my planning session, I gave up.  I have no idea how to make this work. I asked my husband to pray for me, because I couldn’t figure it out.

Tuesday came, our day to go to play group, but I had a terrible sinus headache and we didn’t go.  Wednesday rolled around and we just did it.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, laundry, homeschooling, quality time and BED TIME.  Let’s hit that last one again.  You may be the mom who has been doing bed time by herself for years, but this is new territory for me.  3 kids, same circadian rhythms, and one parent.  Not a desirable job, bedtime.  But I am doing it!

My living room is clean, my dishes are almost done, I’m on top of laundry, the bathroom has been deep-cleaned, the fridge has been cleaned out, bone broth is brewing in the crock pot and I am ready to make soups tomorrow with all my amazing CSA produce.

It’s not perfect, and neither am I

I barely see my husband, I have to come up with a new plan for my massage clients, I have still yelled at the kids, the kids miss my husband, and some things are just going to have to wait (true love waits? lol!!).

Yet, I think the fit is right

Now this is an Amazon job, which probably means January 1 will bring another job search.  I’m still taking this as a lesson for my momma soul:  my family really does need me. 

That’s a big deal, I’m not suicidal, but I have thought that my life insurance money may actually be more valuable than a stressed-out me shouting about something insignificant because I’m just spread out too thinly.  I’ve felt almost daily that I am completely failing as a wife and mother and business woman.

I haven’t felt futile at all this week.  I’ve felt certain tasks (dishes, laundry, reminding people to put things back in the fridge) are a bit futile.  But I can see I am integral to this family.

Not just for me

My husband is so creative, and is clearly the fun parent.  He’s been the primary care-giver since I returned to work.  He has his own business and has worked part-time for others, but the “child care” has mainly been on him.  I was SO NERVOUS about him working at Amazon.  I won’t go into the details, but he actually likes the work.

I can feel a difference with me being the “primary” and I’m not sure how to explain it yet, but it’s real and it has been GOOD for us all.

Some of it seems “not so good”

I’m wondering what it says about me that I feel better being the one “holding down the fort”.  I wonder if that makes me a control freak or if I’m just thriving in my skill set.

I’m wondering if things going more smoothly means that my husband and I don’t agree on things enough as parents.

I’m wondering A LOT of things like this, and I think it needs reflection and probably some reflection will lead to some much-needed repentance.

In the end, I think that this change has been God-ordained and GOOD.  I’m still nervous about job security, afraid of messing up my kids, concerned about money, but I feel so much PEACE, MOTIVATION and CLARITY about my priorities, and to find they truly are AT HOME. 

I feel like I am finally, making a POSTIVE difference in my home.

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Free from Mommy Guilt

The Day The Internet Did Not Offend Me

I am saddled with mommy guilt, the Internet often contributes to this burden I carry.  Recently, I had an experience unlike my normal scroll through my newsfeed.1nse.  That is not an excuse, but an awareness that this is one of my battles.  I read something, and wasn’t offended.  For a moment, I was FREE from mommy guilt.

I have often closed my laptop, slammed down my phone and then begun a long explanation to my husband as to why so-and-so said _______ and it offended me.  The other day, I read something, it seemed like  direct attack on my parenting choices.  I read it and thought, “That’s not really how I want to parent.”

Then something amazing happened.  I moved on. No anger, no impulse to start typing all my thoughts on the topic.

Clearly, there have been second, third and fourth thoughts, I mean I  am writing a blog post about it.

That day, I chose not to be offended. It is noteworthy because this is something I struggle with often.  As a sensitive person, I am probably pre-disposed to offe

It’s rare for us to address offense as a bad behavior or sin, but I think God’s work makes it clear that offense has no place in our hearts.

Proverbs 19:11 “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it his his glory to overlook an offense.”

Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Clearly, I am in the wrong when I find myself consistently offended and upset by something I come across online.  That is on me though, my reactions to your words are my problem and my responsibility.  Even when someone purposefully says words to hurt me, my response is up to me.

Holding offenses and anger benefits me in no way, it damages my relationships and it clearly impacts my soul.

So, why this ONE time was I not offended by a seemingly clear jab at my parenting?

I have confidence in this area of my parenting choice. We can never know fully the implications of all of our decisions.  This is why parenting is such a challenge, we don’t really know that our choices will achieve their desired results.  In this area, I feel very strongly that I am making the right choice for my family and I firmly believe that my choice is a reflection of God’s standards.

I was open and vulnerable in a comment, someone made commenting affirming her parenting choice (which I did not attack or bring up).  Based on her comment, I knew our parenting styles differ on this topic and I thought “that is not the kind of parent I want to be.”  That was pretty much that.

Until I realized how spectacular it felt to just move on and not be upset, not feel like our relationship had changed.  It was so freeing!

I imagine this is how our walk with Jesus should be. At times culture will conflict with the teachings of Jesus.  We can (and must) make different choices than those around us.  Instead of explaining all the reasons why we are doing it Jesus’ way, instead of pointing out that our friend’s way of doing it is not what the Word says, we simply live according to his word.  We don’t get our undies in a bundle, we don’t worry what people think about us. We simply follow Jesus and walk in FREEDOM.

My experience was so freeing.  It’s an election year, I will soon have an opportunity to be offended.  I’ll also have the option to not be offended.  I can just walk with Jesus, and treat others with kindness and respect, even if they don’t extend that courtesy to me.

#nomommyguilt

Love is Not: Jealous, Boastful, Proud or Rude

Love Is Not: Jealous, Boastful, Proud or RudeOh, today we get down and dirty as we explore what love is not.  Here is our reference point:

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love Is Not Jealous

I’ve found that I am far less loving than I thought I was.  In my early days in the trenches of breastfeeding with low supply, I discovered the big green jealousy monster was alive and well inside my heart.  I knew of many women with over-supply and personally knew a few who had this problem too.

Except, I thought they had a blessing not a problem.  I was terribly jealous, and I found it a little hard to reconcile my supposed “love” for these friends with an intense jealously.  I’ve heard “stupid is as stupid does”  I think, this logic applies to love.  “Love is as love does.”  What do you think?

If I love someone, it is more than affectionate feelings, it is my actions towards them.  And as Jesus teaches, our hearts define us, not only our actions.

I can look back and see the pain in my sister’s eyes as she struggled with an insane over-supply and feel pain for her.  It is not the result of “time heals all wounds.”  It is the humbling realization that jealousy is sin, and it does not demonstrate love.  It is the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin, and guiding me into truth.

Love Is Not Boastful

Let’s be real.  Every time I am right and my husband is wrong, I want to boast about it.

Every time he is right and I am wrong, I suspect he wants to boast about it too.  He doesn’t.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but he loves me more than I love him.  Daily, his actions reflect a true understanding of love.  I’m a little more sporadic in my true demonstrations of love.  For many years of our marriage, I thought I had to try harder and do better.  The Lord has shown me it is not about being better, but relying on him for what I need.  I need to show love by being humble.  I

Love is Not Proud

Pride destroys intimacy in relationships.  The inability to recognize when I am wrong, or when someone else is right.  My unwillingness to be vulnerable and imperfect before another.  Pride is something I struggle with, yet I am also very aware of it’s harmful place in my life.

I never want to be the parent who won’t admit she’s wrong to her children.  I almost think this is my most important value as a parent.  How can my children ever become people of integrity, with meaningful relationships unless they see me model laying down my pride?

I would estimate that I apologize to my children more than once a day.  Painfully, but freely admitting when I have behaved badly.  When I’ve made the wrong choice and seeking their forgiveness.  I love my children, and refusing to apologize or admit weakness corrodes our relationship.

Love is Not Rude

What is rudeness to you?  Maybe you hate being interrupted.  Perhaps you want to throw my phone across the room when I look at it while we grab a cup of coffee.  You might be sitting on the edge of your couch waiting to see if I’ll reply “yes, no or maybe” to your Facebook event.  You might consider these behaviors of mine rude and ultimately hurtful.

Am I aware of these things?  Maybe, maybe not.  Whose job is it to know what matters to you as my friend?  It is mine.  Loving someone means seeking to understand.  One way to avoid love-corrupting rudeness is to understand what YOU see as rude.

Love is patient.  Love is Kind.

Love is not Jealous, Boastful, Proud or Rude.

It is quite the task to love.  Are you up to the task?

 

Priorities and Goals

My maternity leave is almost over, with that brings the realization that not every goal I have can be a priority now.

Is this hard for anyone else?  Or am I the only one who wants to do “all of the things”?

I want to make my own skin care products, toothpaste, laundry detergent. I want to make perfectly delicious paleo meals three times a day.  To eat at all the RSA restaurants in town, to support the small businesses in our community.  I want to homeschool, I want to take the kids on fun adventures.  I want to travel the world, learn Spanish.  I want to beh a involved at church, and connected to my community.  I want to have a really tidy house, be a super-blogger and a fantastic massage therapist.  I want a great marriage too, oh and be a good friend.

That is impossible.  Somehow, I really have a hard time accepting that all of the things can’t be priorities.  I just can’t be a good mom and do all of the things.

So let me pause for a minute and define my idea of “good mom.”  I can summarize it in two words: love and presence.  With few tragic exceptions, we all love our kids.  It far exceeds the affectionate feelings of holding a squishy baby.  It means choosing to be peaceful and kind when they melt down.  It means more than words, I guess “love” is meaningless if my kids don’t know and accept that love. I want to be a loving mom.

I want to be present, not just physically there, but emotionally available.  You know, turning off my phone, looking into their eyes.  Listening to understand.  Present.  This one is very hard for me, because I want to do all the things.  I’m easily distracted and can fall into traps of busy-ness and lose focus.

It’s almost like a grown up form of peer pressure, to do “all the things,”  This friend does this, this book recommends that.  On, and on it goes.

In an effort to give my self a chance of reaching my goals, I am making three things a priority:

  • Connecting with each child, every day for 20 minutes.
  • Cooking healthy food
  • Establishing a good breastfeeding relationship

These are my goals for this phase of life.  I still have to craft a plan for these goals, I think I have nailed down the breastfeeding plan.  The other two I am working on.

We’ll see how it goes.

Encouragement for Moms

My son is having a really hard time.  I could be that he just turned two, and it is a rough age.  I could be that those last two molars are about to erupt.  Maybe it’s the change from “baby” to “middle child.”  It could be the stress of not being able to nurse as much as he would like.  Maybe it is something else.

Last night he screamed, writhed on the floor and told me repeatedly “no like it anymore.”  I think it was a blanket referral to everything: his bedroom, me, nursing, baby J, snuggling.  It lasted 30 minutes. I felt completely helpless.

Am I not managing tandem nursing correctly?  Was having a third baby a mistake?  No, I know J’s arrival was divinely timed.  What am I doing wrong? Perhaps it is something in our diet.  It could be the medicine we chose to give him over the weekend.

I have no answers.  He eventually let me nurse him (after lots of prayer) and slept for an hour.  He woke up crying and ate a snack.  He took hours to fall back asleep, but he did so peacefully.

I wish I had answers.  I only have encouragement.  I love this:child

 

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, I am striving to treat my children the way God treats me with unfailing love, patience, mercy, kindness. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;Galatians 5:22-23

I yell sometimes, and I am working on it.  When I am upset I do not want others to yell at me.  The golden rule applies to my relationship with my children too. So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7: 12 I want to show them what God’s love looks like, not just tell them.  If I cannot live it out then my faith is meaningless. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? James i 2:14

I want to be safe, compassionate, encouraging and inspiring to my children.  I am not perfect, but I am aiming for these virtues.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5

 

Maybe this is too hard

Maybe this mothering thing is too hard. Last night after I published my post I heard Z coughing. It didn’t sound right so I went and got her, she seem to be having trouble getting air out. She’s never been diagnosed with asthma but it seemed like an attack to me. I called 9 1 1. A few minutes later the medics arrived. They said her lungs sounded clear and it was likely she has croup. We could take her to Children’s ER ourselves, take the ambulance or get her in to the doctor ASAP.  We decided to take her to the doctor in the morning.

C woke up, again in tears.  He says he has scary dreams, he’s had several nights waking up crying.  He keeps saying, “I don’t know what it is dada, I don’t know what it is.”  It breaks my heart.  He is of course, rising before the sun.  I’m really struggling to wake up early enough these days to have my quiet time.  I need to banish the afternoon press pot, or at least make it decaf.

My husband slept in the living room and she slept on the couch. She slept well without any further crying or struggles.  Just to be sure, I was able to get her in to see another doctor in our practice.  My husband took her at noon, it was the first time I didn’t accompany her to the doctor.  That felt strange.

Did you ever have one of those days that felt long, but actually breezed by?

I felt fairly good about the stuff we got done around the house, a few loads of laundry.  I made a chicken in the crockpot, and have bone broth going.  But before I knew it, it was bedtime again.  I really, really feel like I spent my entire day nursing.  It is a struggle to balance the tandem nursing with low supply.  Before J was born, C was only nursing for a minute or two in the morning and before bed, plus if he got hurt.  Now that J is here, he nurses for no less than 10 minutes two or three times a day.

This is so hard for me.  I love holding my babies, and I wouldn’t trade this time for all the complete checklists in the world.  Yet, I struggle to ignore or remove the internal pressure to do things.

Writing every day has been very hard to accomplish, but it has brought me so much inspiration.  I’m excited for my next phase of life, and it is hard to focus on the here-and-now.  That has always been my problem.  Master Yoda could have been referring to me:

All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.

Well, after the kids were in bed I decided to watch “The Importance of Being Earnest”  I had never seen it before, and I enjoyed it.  Most of it, until the very end when I projectile vomited all over my couch, and my sleeping baby.  While my husband took her to change her clothes, I tried to make it to the bathroom.  I destroyed my kitchen and hallway on the way.  Gross.

I showered and went to bed early.  I went to bed discouraged, this mothering thing is hard.

While breastfeeding, I fell prey to the internet.  First Modern Mrs. Darcy led me to this article 10 types of Odd Friendships You’re Probably Part Of  and then clicked over to Why Generations Y Yuppies are Unhappy.  It had an equation in it that makes perfect sense to me

Happiness = Reality – Expectations

I know this already, but I have trouble setting reasonable expectations.  Then I tend to say, “I’m overwhelmed.” to my husband.  Everyday.  I need to figure this thing out, so I can really enjoy these days with little ones.  I trust every older person who tells me that I will miss it, and that it passes by quickly.

How have you turned off your inner critic?

Any tips to share on minimizing your postpartum expectations?

Please, share your resources.  I’d love to learn from your experience.

Yes, I have my hands full

A day in the life.

It’s Tuesday morning, 6:21 am.  I’ve already shut my alarm off twice.  Baby J is still sleeping, but C is awake.  I’m bursting, but want to get some reading in, so I pump.  I got 1.5 ounces!!!  That is the most I have pumped with her.  She wakes up as soon as I finish pumping.

This morning, I absolutely MUST take a shower, because it has been a few days.  My husband has an interview at 11 am which requires 40 minutes of riding/waiting for the bus.  We just transitioned to the m-card and we only have one. So, instead of needing to leave at 9:20 to catch the bus for preschool playhouse, we have to walk so he can ride.  This is great for my metabolism, but it means I can’t waste any time this morning.

Thankfully, my husband is awesome.  I am also grateful that we have fortified corn balls(cereal) so breakfast is easy.  After some Octonauts, breakfast, diaper changes, my husband gets the kids dressed while I shower.  I get dressed, put their shoes on and we are out the door.

Preschool playhouse seems to be a great success and the littles and I had fun at playgroup. After Z gets out of class she initiates another successful bathroom trip. We stay late, because I just can’t imagine trying to rush them when they are having fun.  Of course the compromise here is we will have to eat out, because it’s past noon and I won’t have time to cook before getting hangry.

We start walking home, and I try to decide where to eat lunch.  My daughter has an accident.  It’s so frustrating.  We ate lunch at McDonalds. C falls asleep in the stroller before we arrive.  It kinda felt like a girls lunch, it was fun.  I feel back about the food, but it was $6 and our bellies are full.

We get home and my husband texts that he will be home in a few minutes.  I nurse J again, while the kids snack on leftover dry cereal.  My husband brought donuts home, we eat them.  We eat them even though we know that gluten makes the kids crazy and our bellies bloated.  Sigh.  The kids play for a while and we discover Z has had another accident.  Oh, oh I was angry.

I am so tired and have no motivation (hello sugar and gluten).  We watch an episode of Portlandia while the kids play.  Before I know it it is dinner time.  We have breakfast for dinner.  Eggs, potatoes and leftover ground beef.  I put on make up, nurse J and head to work.

I agreed to take one client for my mom so she can celebrate her birthday with friends.  I grumble to myself about walking alone at night, when two strange men start talking to me while I am waiting to cross the street.  Ugh. I get to work, everyone wants to know where the baby is.  I get ready and wait for the new client.  The client no-shows.  I clean up the room and head home.

Z is brushing her teeth, H is holding J and C is already asleep in bed.  I say, “He no showed, but I am home an hour early.”  My husband says, “and you are just coming home now?”  I say, “I left at 6:35 and it’s 7:35”  He says, “An hour?  It felt like days.”

Z goes to bed and has a few false alarms about using the bathroom.  We know she must be constipated, but don’t want to deal with fake potty trips, so we put the portable potty in her room.  A friend stops by to try on a costume, we talk for awhile.

There is nothing to watch tonight, since Portlandia (Netflix!!) only had 10 episodes for season 5.  So my husband and I start talking, twoh ours later I remember we have to fill out a survey on line for our health insurance.  We need to submit J’s social security number….oh, where did I put that?  I just came in the mail last week.  Oy.

I put J to bed while H uses the computer.  I check on the kids, potty success!  They are both sleeping. I fall asleep.  He wakes me up, I finish typing.

Time to brush my teeth and go to bed.

I would say I had a great day.  I didn’t meet all my expectations or desires, but it was a good day.

 

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