Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fallout From a Blog Post

You all have given me something big to think about.  It sort of breaks my heart.

A week ago today, I wrote a blog post called It Really Is Okay.  I felt an overwhelming urge to write it and it sat like a weight on me that whole day.  I honestly thought, given the busyness of this month, that I was writing what I needed to hear, what I wished someone would tell me.  May is always hard for me.  I feel continually behind and over-booked.  I hoped I was not alone.

So, I posted the blog and moved on with my day.  Since that time, the traffic to that post has been insane.  Because I try to keep up with my traffic statistics, I noticed right away that more of you were reading it.  What I did not expect to find was that this would continue for several days.  At this point, that post has gotten 300% more traffic than an average post on my blog.

Now, you'd think I would be thrilled about that!  I love when I post something that connects with anyone at all! :)

But...

It makes me sad.  

I just keep thinking that we feel awfully alone.  I keep thinking that we honestly believe that we are not doing a very good job.  I am overwhelmed with the realization that we somehow believe that the fact that we cannot stay ahead of the mess our families create at home says something about our ability to love our kids.

How did this come to be?  Can you see how sad it is?  How did it come to be that we believe that it is not enough to be good at some of this, but we have to great at it all?

My best friend keeps a very neat house.  She rocks that.  Seriously.  The woman wears out parts of vacuum cleaners that I do not even know exist.  (I am not even kidding.)  However, she is not a fan of the kitchen. Unless she is cleaning it.  Then she loves it. We all have things we are great at and things we just do not enjoy.

I love to cook.  Love it.  I love to bake and create healthy meals and try new recipes and feel really fulfilled when my family eats well and is full.  I trash my kitchen.  TRASH it.  I hate to clean it.  I have an amazing husband who so loves a good meal that he is willing to clean whatever happened to create that meal.  I am not great at cleaning the house.  I know how to do it.  I am able to do it.  I do not love it.  I never wear out vacuum parts but I promise, I know where my vacuum is.  Well, most of the time.

But, as I sit here writing this I am so aware of the fact that it would deeply shame me if you knocked on my door right now.  My house is not a complete disaster but it is not ready for guests.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Seriously.  Why can't it be enough for us to embrace what we are good at and wash ourselves in grace over what we lack?  Why can't we allow for the places where we make mistakes and celebrate the things we do well?

Because the truth is, we cannot do all things well.  Honestly.  And we are killing ourselves trying to.

We are spending these precious days with our families staring at our shortfalls and striving to do more.  I know because I do it, too.  I beat myself up over things I have missed, chores I overlook and times when I have disappointed my children.  And every time I do this, I am missing what is in front of me right then.  I am missing what I do well.  And all this internal battling uses energy I honestly need.

Yep, the response to that blog post is breaking my heart because it offers a tiny glimpse into what is happening inside our lives.  And maybe I am reading too much into it.  That could totally be the case.  Or maybe we really feel like we are not the mommas we want to be and no matter how hard we try we just keep seeing the ways that we come up short.  If that is the truth, then something has got to change.

But, what will that change be?  How do we help each other with this important thing?  I know how you hate to write comments but really, I need to know.  How did we get to this place and how do we get out?  

Because in my heart of hearts, I really believe that we are doing a pretty good job.  I think there are things we all need some help with, but at the end of the day-shortfalls and all-we are loving on the children entrusted to us...even when we make a mistake, miss an event, eat fast food, and kick that dust bunny back under the couch.

Blessings on your day.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FamilyFire


I recently had a new opportunity presented to me that I wanted to share with you.  Keep reading, I promise I am not selling anything!  :)

Over the past several years, I have been so excited to find myself speaking in new places, to new groups.  I love this work and would speak every, single day, if I had the chance.  As my speaking ministry has grown, I have found myself writing more and I am learning to embrace this new way of empowering and encouraging parents.  

Among these writing opportunities, I have written some articles for the MOPs organization, I have guest blogged for other writers and organizations, I am working on my book(s) and I am continuing to plug away at this blog each week.  Recently, I was given the chance to write for FamilyFire.  FamilyFire is an online site that offers regular encouragement to families.  On their site, you will find articles to read on a variety of topics, devotions to empower your work with your kids and spouse and Facebook "blasts" offering thought-provoking ideas. I love what this site (and their Facebook page) offer to parents and I hope you will take a look.



To see the whole site, please click: FamilyFire. 

To see one of my articles for FamilyFire, please click:  Letting the Crazy Play Out.

To "Like" their Facebook page and keep up with what is happening at FamilyFire, please click:  FamilyFire Facebook Page.  You can peruse that site or comment on the content (which, of course, I would love!).

As always, I will continue to blog here.  Please keep stopping by!  The above links will offer you more encouragement as you seek to make the most of these busy days with your family.

Blessings on your day!  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Noah's Arm, Benjamin's Face and Place to Land

The kids are off to school and I have turned off anything that makes noise in the house.  I am sitting still and listening to the birds and tree frogs singing outside.  It is time to take a breath.  This weekend has been full.

Parenting is unpredictable and I am often caught off-guard at how quickly things change.  Saturday was my reminder.

The day began with a family outing to watch Josiah play soccer.  Watching my sweet, laid-back baby trying to find his aggressive side was exciting, frustrating, funny.  I left early because Noah had a track meet and was going to attempt to medal, his first chance this season and pretty exciting for a freshman.  Watching him run was amazing.  He finished the two mile in his best time yet (10:16, for those who follow such things) and came in third to two seniors from other schools.  Incredible.  He had his heart set on a medal and met that goal.   His coaches and teammates were thrilled that his finish puts him in a place where he may have a shot at competing for State!

So far, so good.  Right?

Even though he was achy, we headed off to another soccer game.  Noah's this time.  And we met up with Mark and the rest of the kids.

I took one look at Benjamin and said, "What happened to your face?"

"Poison ivy." he replied.

All over his face.  And neck.  And some on his arm.  And his belly button.

Not good.

Noah finished his soccer game without an issue and was thrilled to be headed off to a youth group event.  As he climbed into the car with buddies and a parent driver, I felt the need to pray for him.

It's kind of a scary feeling, to be honest.

I waved at my boy and prayed, "Be with him, Lord.  I know we both love him.  I also know he is Yours.  Be with him while I am away from him."

Feeling like I needed to pray for him weighed on me, though.  I reminded myself that I cannot be with him all the time, that he is growing up, that raising a child has an awful lot to do with trusting God... and I went on with my day.

By 8:30 PM, he was texting us.

Noah:  Ow.
Me: Sore from race and soccer?
Noah:  No.  Hurt wrist.
Me:  What?  How?  Are you ok?
Noah:  I think  so.  Really bad.  It is wrapped up but really hurts.
Me:  Cut?  Sprained?  Blood?
Noah:  Can't get a comfortable position.  Going to IHOP.

(Yes, apparently eating is the priority to a 15 year old, even when injured!)

Yesterday, we took him in to the doctor and, you guessed it, he broke his arm.  Again.

So, Sunday was spent running the kids to doctor appointments, thinking through athletic ramifications, dealing with the poison ivy and dolling out ibuprofen.  I went shopping for special soap and creams for Benjamin's face and dropped him off to support a friend who was having a very hard day.

And it was stressful.  And I was worried.

But, I was also grateful.

Because I stood in a parking lot and prayed for my boy and I was a little fearful then but the truth is he is okay.  His arm is broken but he is really just fine.  And yes, it is going to be frustrating but the bottom line is that I have him.  I get to see him smile and listen to his stories and help him manage without his left arm because he is with me.  And maybe I needed to see that.  Maybe I needed to see that this alone is enough.  It is enough to share my life with him... even with a broken arm.

Now, here I sit in a quiet house preparing for new doctor appointments to be squeezed into our already busy schedule.  Here I sit listening to birds and frogs and gentle rain and feeling like we are really blessed.  I am reminded again that parenting requires flexibility.  It demands that I release my white-knuckled grip on what I feel must happen and make room for the unpredictability of life with kids.

And I don't know if you are still reading, this is not my most poetic post, but I am learning lessons through all of this.  I am learning that knowing what will happen doesn't matter nearly as much as being present in what does.  Planning out the ins and outs is not nearly so important as living with the people who share your road.  I spend a lot of time feeling like I make our world go around but in reality, I control little, if anything at all.

And maybe that is what moms need to hear.  Maybe we all need to be reminded that this big work that we do each day is not so much about being in charge as it is about being right there.  It's about dolling out ibuprofen and keeping a cast dry in the shower.  It's about knowing where the hydrocortisone is and where to buy poison ivy soap.  It's about sitting with a child with a broken arm and soothing a child who itches so bad.  And, more than anything, it's about accepting the reality that you cannot keep them safe but you can appreciate the minutes you have.

So today, that's what I will do.  Because being grateful and present feels a whole lot better than feeling stressed and worried.

This life we share with kids is not a check-list to get done.  It is a place to land when the check-list go awry.

Blessings on your day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It Really Is Okay





All day long this post has run through my head.  All day.  So, even though my kids are home and I don't normally write after school, I am going to send this out because maybe you need to hear it.  Maybe I do, too.

My friend.  It's okay.  It is okay.

It is okay:

-when your dinner is unbalanced and has more mac and cheese than veggies and fruit.
-when dust piles up in the corners of those hardwood floors and linoleum.
-when you cannot hear one more story or manage one more tattle without blowing your top.
-when your temper rises and your voice does, too.
-when the laundry piles up and you don't want to do it.
-when they ask you to play and you are too darn tired.
-when your sweet babies are on the computer or video games longer than you would like them to be.
-when you buy store-bought birthday treats because it is too much to ask to bake at home.
-when your children go to bed with dirty feet and mismatched sheets and last week's jammies.
-when you are late and your kids are late and stuff just does not get done.
-when homework slips by and goes unchecked.
-when you pop in a movie for a few minutes needed peace.
-when their rooms are a mess (and yours is too) and none of you get to cleaning it up.
-when their backpacks are full of odds and ends and maybe a sandwich from last week.
-your house is a mess and your sink is full and you cannot seem to get caught up.

It's okay.  It really is.

Because this is just one day or one hard week or a very hard patch and the truth is that none of this matters as much raising kids who know they are loved.  You will find a way, another day, to tend to all this stuff but today, is not that day.

So maybe today, we can let some stuff slide, let ourselves off the hook and take a deep breath.  This parenting stuff is a bunch of hard work and so much of what we stress about won't matter down the road.

But they will.  Our children will always matter.

So take a minute and look at your kids.  Ignore the mess.  Clear the list.  Wrap your weary arms around them and kiss their little heads.  Let them see you smile.  

Because it really is okay.

Blessings on your day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Some Reminders Come in the Middle of the Night





He crawled into bed in the middle of the night.  Climbing over me, he landed between Mark and I, dragging his beloved white bunny behind.  Instinctively, I reached over and lifted the blankets as he shimmied beneath and quickly laid down.  I heard him sigh.  He pushed his chilly feet near my warm legs and we both soon fell asleep.

For the past 15 years, Mark and I have welcomed children into our bed.  We said we wouldn't.  We swore they would sleep in their own rooms.  But, all of those plans flew right out the window within hours of bringing our oldest home.  The bassinet scared him.  He screamed a frightened scream.  And in no time at all, we pulled him close and we fell asleep and all was well in our world.

Most nights, we are alone.  Most nights all our children sleep deeply in their own beds and we do the same in ours.  But, every now and then, someone has a hard night, a bad dream or simply wakes up cold.  And then, in they come to sleep with mom and dad.  And there is nothing in me that minds at all.

This morning, I awoke up to the sound of Mark getting ready for work.  Then I rolled over and found myself face to face with my sweet baby boy.  He may be nearly a decade old, but what I saw was his newborn face.  Awake alone, I watched my Little One sleep.  I listened to his calm, deep breaths.  I studied the shape of his face, the way his long, dark lashes lie on his round cheeks, the tousled, sandy-blond, bed-head hair draped upon my pillow.  And before I my feet hit the floor, I was grateful.  Overwhelmingly so.

In the midst of a busy week, I am thankful for these quiet minutes.  I am aware that this work of mothering can be full of details and distractions and dilemmas.  But finding a minute to actually see my child can help me focus and remember that I am living my life with them and that this life is good.

As he snuggled up against me, he smiled a sleepy smile and I remembered a truth that I need to hold close. It is an honor to be his momma, to be a momma to them all; on good days and bad, when its easy and when it's hard, in the day and the night.


Blessings on your day.
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