Tag Archives: motherhood

Good Grief

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This past week, we endured the passing of another dear family member, the third grandparent lost to us within the past year. In this time of grief, a great amount of family warmth, laughter, joy and memories were shared. The grief was real, and the reality was sad, but the time was good.

Today, as I was dealing with the poor attitude of one of our boys, I endured another time of grief, much less profound. And yet, this grief was also very real.

My son has been testing the waters of parent follow-through. Today, exasperated, I explained to him that he would lose a privilige this evening if he continued to react to others in so poor a manner. As soon as the words left my mouth, I was frustrated with myself for offering so thoughtless a punishment. For, in using this withdraw of privilege, I was offering something costly to both him and me. In that instant I couldn’t help but mentally plead with him, “Please don’t go there.”

But, sure enough, he did. It was not as on purpose so much as out of habit, for he has been in the habit as of late of not following directions. Sometimes, in these moments, I would “rescue him,” by offering a lesser sentence. But I have since realized that this is likely how we came to the place where he has little regard for obedience – for the punishment often did not end up hurting all too much.

And so today, I explained to him that he would have to endure the loss. He was upset and shed tears. Hearing him from the kitchen, I was sad at his loss. And we both grieved.

Sure, this is a temporary loss, unlike that of my grandfather who will forever be missed and live on in our hearts.

But there is real grief as a parent when your child hurts.

But, in the end, this small, temporary grief will be worth it. Someone said this weekend to me that all death leads to life. Plants die and give birth to seeds. Animals die and give nourishment to soil. We die and give way to a new life with Jesus. And, in the same way, the grief of our children, caused to purpose them to better lives as adults, gives way to life with better reason and preparedness.

In my son’s tears, the seeds of obedience spring forth.

And, in the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, “There’s no great loss without some small gain.”

And so, we press on with our kids, giving them “good grief.”

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Anger’s Bitter End

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It hit me yesterday like a ton of bricks.

A small sentence. A minor statement in the book Good and Angry. A dad says, “I had developed bitterness toward my kids.”

It took my breath away as I sat in the realization of it all.

Most everything I do is for my kids. I wake up and tackle the day to help them learn and grow and mature. I cook two or three meals a day, all the time considering their health and wellbeing. I read, read, read to them, bathe them, groom them, manage them, discipline them. I teach and explain and correct, always debating in my mind how to handle the issues in the most God-honoring, for-their-betterment, least-need-for-counseling way. I spend the hours after they are tucked in mulling over the events of the day, preparing for the next. I love my kids.

But I was “keeping a record of wrongs.”

No, I wasn’t tallying whines, hurtful words, complaints, and problems. There was no list of good and naughty, no journal accounts of their offenses.

But, unknowingly, I was starting my day with a tankful of anger, ready to pounce. Because I was full.

Full of no one being ready when it was time to leave. Full of picking up toys. Full of putting away laundry. Full of cooking and cleaning. Full of sibling rivalry. Full of disobedience. Full of anger. Full of thinking it all over. Full of self. Full of guilt.

And full of records.

“They always…”
“They never…”
“When will they learn to…”
“I’m so tired of them always…”

So today, after much prayer, I attempted to see my kids without past offenses. They needed a fresh start to the day. I needed a fresh start to the day.

Sure, they repeated some of their trademark issues, and I repeated some of mine. We are all works in progress, after all.

But, as I leaned on the Lord for strength and resolve, my kids and I were able to relate without as much anger wedged in my heart. And, for the first time in quite a while, I fully and deeply appreciated what Paul was saying to the Corinthians in that famous love chapter, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

Because the freedom and privilege to love lies in the absence of records.

Lord, let me be full. Full of love.

When Mom Calls In Sick…

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When I peeled myself out of bed yesterday morning, I discovered I had gained a headache, a sore throat, and an earache through the night. No matter. I had four kids waiting for me to be mom, so we moved on with the day.

I taught school lessons, made meals, cleaned messes, and started laundry. But it all took so long as I dragged slowly on through the pain. I have given birth four times, with almost no pain meds. I can handle anything, right?

Or so I thought. As the day went on, and aches and chills crept through my body, I realized I was going to need more than willpower to survive. I was going to need prayer and some ibuprofen.

I thought I might be better after a good night’s rest. But alas, today I woke up to an exaggerated version of my previous day’s “gifts,” and I realized I was going to need to get to the doctor. This is one of the rare moments I deem absolutely necessary to call in for back-up.

But “Back-Up” had jury duty.

And not only did my dear hubby have jury duty, he was hand-selected to be a juror. I had advised him to wear a shirt with a don’t-pick-me-slogan, like “Guilty Until Proven Innocent.” I would have gladly stitched up such a shirt for him last night. Hindsight is 20-20.

And so, as my dear husband is text-checking on us, I am sitting in an urgent care facility waiting with my 20 kids. (Okay, I only have four kids, but a two-hour wait with four kids and crawling germs everywhere feels like 20 kids!) Actually, they were well-behaved. (Lots of prayer went into that!)

When we were finally admitted to the exam room, and they had asked the typical hundred questions, we waited yet again. As my toddler walked about the room investigating which buttons she would push to entertain herself, I did the unthinkable. That thing you always wanted to do but never had the guts. Yes, I inflated an exam glove, much to the delight of my toddler.

When we had exhausted the fun of the “balloon,” the doctor was finally in. I didn’t have strep, and I didn’t have the flu. She took one look at my throat and my ears and said I had a severe sinus infection with “bulging ear drums” in both ears. And then she said the word I had waited all morning to hear…

Antibiotics.

Please, get them in me, make them work fast, and restore me to full-on mommyhood.

Well, as it turned out, it took a little while for the meds to make a difference. But tonight, as I started to feel better, it was as if a veil was removed from my eyes.

I surveyed the damage. It was something akin to a tornado that swept through the house. Grocery ads torn and scattered, matchbox cars littered the floor. Socks were strewn about, blankets thrown to and fro, shoes separated from their matches, books piled high, crumbs dotting the counters. I couldn’t believe it.

It’s funny. Sometimes I wonder what I do all day that keeps me running through this house like a “chicken with my head cut off.” Now I know — I’m a grocery-ad-protector matchbox-car-picker-upper sock-hamper-putter-inner blanket-folder shoe-matcher book-shevler crumb-sweeper. That is what I do.

And now I have sufficient drugs with which to do it.

13 in 2013: A Book Challenge

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I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think I have ever even made one. But January is a fresh time for new resolves and goals. Something about it lends to renewed starts and refocus.

So this year I have made a non-resolution to attempt to completely (key word here) read 13 books this year. I love to read but, since having kids, have failed to make completing books a priority. I don’t know if I have undiagnosed ADD or what, but I read a book until it bores me (or another book promises to be more exciting) and then add it to my large pile of books in process. I have a baby or two and then realize I have “been reading” some of the books for years!

And so I give you the books I want to read each month for 2013. I hope this can be an encouragement for some of you to make lists of your own. After all, in the words of Douglas Wilson in his book I partially read, Wordsmithy, you should “read until your brain creaks.” I love that thought.

January
Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

February
Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

March
Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson

April
For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan S. MacAulay

May
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis

June
Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

July
What Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings — and Life (ebook) by Laura Vandekam

August
The Discipline Book: How to Have a Better-Behaved Child from Birth to Age Ten by Martha and William Sears

September
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

October
When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg

November
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

December
Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series: Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason

Bonus Book (I downloaded this on Kindle to read when I steal a quick minute or two!)
Hints on Child-Training by H Clay Trumbull

If you take up this challenge, I would love to know what books you’re reading!
Happy Reading!

Unemployed

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I was recently at the doctor’s office, answering questions on those lengthy health forms, when the lady taking my information asked where I was employed. When I told her I stay at home, she wrote in large print: unemployed.

I felt so deflated! I wanted to say – hey wait! I have a bachelor’s degree! I could “work” if I wanted to! I plan to work again someday! I wanted to validate myself. And then I thought…but I do work! I work very hard, all day. I don’t sit around eating ice cream and watching soap operas! In fact, I hardly sit at all, and I only watch one hour of TV a week.

Now, I don’t fault the lady at the desk. By all technical accounts, I am unemployed. I don’t have a work phone or my own insurance or anything else that would matter for their collection of fees.

But I decided to have a little fun with this concept and looked up the definition of unemployed on Merriam-Webster’s site. In the explanation it says:

“Condition of a person who is able to work, is actively seeking work, but is unable to find any.”

I agree with two-thirds of that statement as I work at home. I am able to work, and I actively seek it. (Although I sometimes I actively run from it — I run away from the windows that need washing so I do not have to see the dirt on them!)

The last part of the sentence is the fun part! “Unable to find any work..”

As a mom I find work as a…
Nurse to kiss and bandage the wounds
Teacher as I teach a child to multiply, another to read, another his colors, another her animals
Chauffeur as I them drive to and from their sports and social events
Chef as I make two to three meals a day
Fashion consultant as I nix the idea of wearing polka dot pants with a striped shirt
Judge as I mediate the latest conflict
Counselor as we problem solve how to not get into conflict in the first place
Personal shopper as I go to the store to pick up whatever is needed
Professional organizer as I stack and label the kids’ items into tubs
Seamstress as I repair buttons on pants
Dental hygienist as I help them brush and floss their teeth
Entomologist as I help identify (via the internet) the latest bug caught
Exterminator as I kill those crazy bugs
Hairdresser as I wash and comb hair
Detective as I try to figure out who really had the toy first
Maid as I pick up, clean up, and wash up many, many messes

So, no. I am not really unable to “find work” as I work at home as a full-time mom. But neither am I unable to find payment. I would take smiles, hugs, and kisses from my kids over any salary, any day.

What I Didn’t Expect When Expecting Boys

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When I was pregnant, I had the cutest little shirt that said “Bundle of Boy.” I proudly wore it during portions of three pregnancies.

I don’t quite remember what I expected out of my sweet little boys, but I can, in retrospect, say that there were things I did not necessarily expect out of those sweet little bundles! I decided to jot down just a few things that my boys have taught me. This list is by no means comprehensive, nor am I saying these things apply to all boys or only to boys.

Just a little of what I didn’t expect when I was expecting boys…

Mud puddles have invisible targets on them. It is most exciting to “hit the bulls eye” when wearing church clothes.

All rocks belong in any nearby body of water, puddles not excluded.

Fences are not to keep people and pets out or in. They are for hurdling.

Knock knock jokes are way funny. Made up ones are even better.

The words toot, bottom, and poo (or any variations of these words) are funny. Always. Especially in knock knock jokes.

Teaching boys to go potty requires the teaching of two positions: standing and sitting. Technique and aim are important.

The toilet (and surrounding area) need to be cleaned every day or two. Cleaning the floor around the toilet is essential.

Even with good technique and aim, and with good cleaning practice, an air freshener in the bathroom is a good idea.

Going potty outside is desirable. A bush is the perfect go-to potty spot.

Sometimes, even when indoors, it is necessary to go out of the way to run outdoors to utilize said potty bush.

Moss does not grow under bushes frequently watered with potty.

Sometimes it is best not to say, “Let’s not do that. We do not have time for a trip to the ER.” Self-fulfilling prophecy is a beast.

Wrestling is always fun. And once someone is established as a wrestling buddy, that person is always viewed as fair game for wrestling.

Dirt and mud are fun. They taste good, too.

Belching is an art. And it makes a good punch line for knock knock jokes.

Conflict? Just whack your brother on the head with a slinky. He will slug you back. Problem solved.

Grandparents should be asked not to purchase toy light sabers for Christmas. See above.

Moms of boys should be encouraged not to scream at the sight of bugs so as to help their boys be manlier.  When a bug is brought into the house, this rule does not apply.

Spitting is considered cool. Emphasize spitting is only allowed when teeth are being brushed.

Little men need food, water, shelter, clothing, and Legos – in that order.

Legos and hot wheels are sometimes strategically placed so as to make parents do a funny dance when stepped on.

Matching means wearing a dark green shirt with light green shorts. It is also perfectly acceptable to wear a pair of shoes that is a different shade of green altogether.

Deep thoughts often come out at the dinner table: “If everyone had a bottom where their head is, then you would have to go to the bathroom by putting your head in the toilet. Then you would have to flush with your foot, and you would flush yourself down.”

It is a good idea to have a couch boys are allowed to jump on and one they are not allowed to jump on. Freedom and limits are both necessary.

But the best lessons I’ve learned?

Little boys cry sometimes.
Boys need hugs and kisses, too.
Boys love their mommas.
And no words can describe the deep, deep love that mommas have for their boys.

What an unexpected world. What a bundle of boy.

Driving the Kids: The Soundtrack

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The day is happy. For the most part, everyone is getting along. School is going well. Meals are healthy and thought-out in advance. I am showered and dressed, and I have makeup on. Everything is going well. Cue the song “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”

We lose track of time as we prance about the house all day singing our song when the clock strikes 3:45. We have to be somewhere at 4.

Then panic sets in, and I become a drill sergeant barking orders:
Change your shirt! (You can’t go in public in *that*!)
Put on your shoes!
Where is your coat?

Then the kids get cranky and whiny. They start yelling across the house, bickering, and fighting. Socks, shoes, and coats seem to fly through the air.

And the baby looks at me and grins. There is a stench in the air. Toddler Law says they must always poo as you’re walking out the door.

We make it to the van. One still doesn’t have shoes, one has a crusty face, and one is missing.

We are in our seats, but no one feels settled. We are all spent, tired, and cranky. It is 3:59.

Cue “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.”

I’ve come to realize that some of my weakest parenting occurs during the rush to get out the door. It’s a pattern I know I need to fix, giving myself more time and praying for more patience. I’m going to work on that.

Because it would sure be nice to “Hit the Road, Jack,” with a smile on all of our faces.