Posted in Family

End-Of-Our Rope Mom Moments

I was getting ready for my daughter’s 4th birthday party when a message came through to our group text from one of my besties.  Her two-year-old daughter had dumped an entire bottle of shampoo out on their bathroom floor.  The frustration and desperation in her voice were palpable.  She was officially at the end of her rope and not even sure how to clean up the mess she was left with- both the shampoo mess and the feelings mess.

It would have been easy enough to just say, “HA-HA!  Aren’t toddlers the BEST?  Enjoy those silly moments, blink and she’ll be in high school and then you’ll miss it!”

And it’s true. It goes by so fast and soon, bottles of shampoo on the floor will be just a memory- heck, we would probably prefer cleaning up shampoo to waiting up on a kid who has broken curfew AGAIN.

But that is NOT the reality when you’re the mom in the moment.

When you are the mom of the kid in a tough season, ANY season, it’s not just a bottle of shampoo that needs to be cleaned up.  It’s not just a vegetable they refuse to eat. It’s not just a meltdown in the grocery store or a forgotten homework assignment or a broken curfew. It’s the latest in a string of major messes and malfunctions you’ve had to mitigate and resolve. You’re exhausted, you’re worn out,  you’re a little worried, and you’re starting to feel like there is something wrong either with you or with your kid and that you are STILL going to be working through this when they graduate high school- if you both make it that far.

When I read my friend’s text and felt her desperation, my brain immediately flashed back to a time when my daughter had just turned three and she colored in marker on someone else’s carpet at a birthday party. Fortunately, it was the home of a close friend and she was totally beyond gracious about it.  Looking back at it now, I can just roll my eyes and think, “Oh my gosh, remember that? Haha, what a memory. Preschoolers, man.”

But back in the actual moment, in that place and time, when my son came downstairs and told me what had happened, when I raced up the stairs and around the corner to see that IT WAS TRUE AND HAD ACTUALLY HAPPENED, it felt like being thrown into an actual pit of despair, frustration, and helplessness.

Baby Girl had been coloring on stuff at home for MONTHS.  We had done everything we could think of- we had given consequences, we had given her a sketchpad for her room and bath crayons for the tub so she could go to town in appropriate ways, she had helped clean the messes, we had hidden the coloring supplies (which isn’t easy to do with an older child in the house), and it would get better for a spell. But then, just when one of us would say, “Hey, Kendall hasn’t colored on the wall in awhile,” purple streaks (her signature color) would appear on a window- and always when she was tired or frustrated, it was a total stress behavior/lashing out thing by this time.

And now, it was THE CARPET at SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE in MARKER! I mean- REALLY!?!?!?!?!?!?! 

I remember snatching her up and carrying her home in tears (me, not her.  She was showing zero remorse), depositing her on her bed, flopping down on my own and sobbing. In that moment, it felt to the tips of my very toes like I would not only be cleaning coloring off of walls and carpet for the rest of my life, I would ALSO be cleaning up other types of much bigger, badder, and more disastrous messes in her life because I was CLEARLY failing at raising a responsible, functional, NORMAL human being.  GAH!!!!!

Now, not even a year later, we are in a much different place.  She hasn’t colored on the wall in recent memory (she let go of that vice shortly after this incident) and as she grows, responsibility and maturity are slowly creeping in, just enough that I’m starting to think maybe I’m not totally failing her.

I mean, we have other struggles right now to be sure. We have traded wall coloring for epic meltdowns and refusals to eat dinner.  Whatever season YOU happen to be in with your kids, whatever it is that KEEPS HAPPENING and has you exhausted and discouraged, here are three tips to  hold on to when you’re barely holding on.

  • Go easy on yourself. The frustration and desperation you feel comes with the territory. You’re exhausted and you’re worn down.  It’s ok to have the big feels right now, this mommin’ business is hard stuff.
  • Take care of yourself.  Take deep breaths, make a cup of tea, get out for a walk later if you can get coverage for the kids.  Take space however you can get it- things will feel more manageable after you’ve had some distance.
  • Keep your perspective.   I mean,  it is kinda funny when you think about it. And it will get better eventually.  Doesn’t mean it’s not hard as heck in the moment, but some day this moment will have passed.  I promise.

My prayer for you, for all of us, is that God will give us His grace and mercy to get through the tough moments.  That He will give us the wisdom and strength to do what our kids need to help them through whatever’s going on. That He will give us patience and peace as our kids slowly learn and mature.  That He will surprise and delight us with the little moments of joy that only this very season in our babies’ lives can bring.  May He help us to not miss a moment, even though we may wish the moments away sometimes.  And may we come out the other side glad to be through it, but grateful for having been there.

In case nobody has told you today, you’re a great mom.

 

Posted in Faith, Family

“How Can We Help?” How You Can Help Vulnerable Children and Families, Today and Every Day

 

“…the call to be involved in creating justice for the poor is just as essential and non-negotiable within the spiritual life as is Jesus’s commandment to pray and keep our private lives in order.”
Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: A Search for Christian Spirituality

“Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours”
Casting Crowns

“‘God, why don’t you do something?’  He said, ‘I did, I created you.'”
Matthew West

“What can we do?  I feel so helpless…”

The text came from my husband as I was sitting in the shade of a green, breezy park, watching our own kids swing and run and jump and play, not a care in the world.

The pictures and video and audio of the cries of immigrant and refugee children being separated from their parents at the US border as part of immigration protocol shook us all to our core.

Regardless of our feelings about immigration and the politics at play in this situation, something about seeing all of this happening IN OUR OWN COUNTRY, ON OUR OWN SOIL, for some of us IN OUR OWN COMMUNITIES, has hit home like nothing we’ve seen before.

The reality is that this is nothing new under the sun.  Children and families face trauma in our own country and around the world every day, having to walk through things in this fallen and broken world for which the children of God were never intended.

But SEEING IT AT HOME, live and in living color, has stirred us- and that, my friends, is SOMETHING.

Make no mistake, my people, God is moving here.  He is ALWAYS moving, if only we know where to look, and right now we need only to look into our own hearts and the hearts of those around us to see His power at work, shaking our foundations and calling us to more.

The reason we feel the ache in our very souls for the vulnerable is because it’s woven into our DNA. We were made in the image of a Father for whom the needs of His children are paramount.  This call to action in our hearts, that “What can we do?” feeling, that represents the very BEST of the nature God created in us.

The fact is that there ARE things we can do- there is SO MUCH we can do for needy children and families, if only we know where to look.

There are organizations all across our country and around the world that are addressing the needs of the most vulnerable among God’s children every single day.  Some are focused on needs like the ones we are currently seeing in the national news, providing for and advocating for immigrants and refugees, both here and abroad.  Others are fighting modern day slavery and human trafficking. Some are working on job creation and food insecurity, others are serving homeless youth, orphans, and foster care.

We can harness the power of this moment, the call to action we feel in our heart, not only to take action in this situation, but to inform ourselves about ways we can KEEP taking action and CONTINUE providing for and advocating and for vulnerable children and families at home and around the world every single day.

I’m beyond blessed to have friends and family who are SHOWER UPPERS, boots-on-the-ground, plugged-in kind of people who are involved in serving every day. So I reached out on Facebook and asked my people to provide me with a list of organizations they know of that are serving vulnerable children and families so that I could pass the info on to others who are feeling the urgency of the moment.

This list is unedited, I didn’t make any decisions about what to include and what to leave out because this isn’t about what I feel is valuable and important.  God knit each of us together uniquely, with a calling on our hearts different from everyone else’s, knowing that TOGETHER we create His vision for wholeness and justice in our world.   His call on your heart to serve is different than mine

This list also isn’t by any means complete or exhaustive, it was compiled on the fly and in response to an urgent need so my crowd-sourcing time was limited. If you know of a resource organization you’d like to share, leave it in the comments.  My only guideline is that this post is focusing on serving vulnerable children and families, so any suggestions should fit under that umbrella somehow.

And my directive for you as you read this list is as follows:

  1. Find one way to give of your time.  Some of these organizations may not be local for you, but I’ll bet you could find one if you Googled.
  2. Find at least one organization to share with others.  Either post about them on social media, text message the link to someone you think might be interested
  3. Find one to donate to- even $5.  If EVERYONE gave $5 to one of these organizations, how  much more POWER would they have to affect change and serve these babies and families?

Also, as always, do your homework.  You can use Charity Navigator or a similar “charity checker” website to find out more about how these organizations use your dollars, ask around, comb the websites, and, of course, pray.


Your Shopping Dollars.  There are hundreds of companies here in the US and abroad who are harnessing the power of commerce to create economic opportunity in vulnerable communities around the world, creating stability and jobs so that families don’t have to make the hard choices.  Here are links to a couple of directories where you can find all sorts of wonderful places to use your dollars to make the lives of families across the world better:

https://www.stillbeingmolly.com/fair-trade-usa-made-ethical-brands-list-directory/

https://therootcollective.com/pages/the-ethical-list

https://shopbeautifuluprising.com/

Adorned in Grace Bridal and Formalwear Shops sell new and gently used wedding gowns, formals, petticoats, veils, and accessories. All proceeds are used to promote awareness and prevention of sex trafficking as well as crisis prevention for trafficked victims.
http://www.adornedingrace.org/



Become a Foster Family OR respite care provider for Foster Families
–  A quick internet search for “YOUR CITY foster care” or “YOUR COUNTY foster care respite”  should point you in the right direction.  It varies by state, city, and county the exact place you’ll need to look, but a search should do the trick

International Justice Mission. IJM’s mission is to protect the poor from violence by rescuing victims, bringing the criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. We combat slavery, sex trafficking, property grabbing, police abuse of power and sexual violence in nearly 20 communities throughout Africa, Latin America and South and Southeast Asia. Our vision is to rescue thousands, protect millions and prove that justice for the poor is possible.
https://ijm.org

Preemptive Love Coalition. We’re a coalition stretching across Iraq, Syria, the United States, and beyond, working together to unmake violence and create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. We meet families on the frontlines of conflict, providing them lifesaving food, water, and medical care. We give them what they need to hold on and hold out. We create jobs for those victimized by ISIS. We provide small business grants, tools, and coaching so they can start again and so their families can flourish.
https://preemptivelove.org

Together Rising. Whether it’s pulling children out of the sea outside the refugee camps in Greece, helping abandoned kids on the streets in Indianapolis, establishing the first opioid recovery home for pregnant teens in New Hampshire, building a maternal health wing in Port-au-Prince, providing a single mother access to breast cancer treatment, or keeping a foster family’s heat on in Texas — Together Rising identifies what is breaking the hearts of our givers as they look around their world and their community, and then we connect our givers’ generosity with the people and organizations who are effectively addressing that critical need. Here is how they have been addressing the issue of families separated at the border.
https://togetherrising.org

RAICES. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas. RAICES is the largest immigration non-profit in Texas with offices in Austin, Corpus, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.
https://actionnetwork.org/groups/raices-refugee-and-immigrant-center-for-education-and-legal-services

Catholic Charities offers a wide variety of support and assistance for children and families in need around the world,  including advocacy outreach, and provides immigration information and legal translation help. Many refugee/immigrants identify as Catholic so they often reach out to Catholic Charities for help.
https://www.catholiccharitiesoregon.org/offices-programs/

World Concern is a Christian global relief and development agency extending opportunity and hope to people facing extreme poverty.
https://worldconcern.org/

Mennonite Central Committee is a global, nonprofit organization that strives to share God’s love and compassion for all through relief, development and peace.
https://mcc.org/

IRCO: Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.  IRCO’s mission is to promote the integration of refugees, immigrants and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic society. Founded in 1976 by refugees for refugees, IRCO has over 40 years of history and experience working with Portland’s refugee and immigrant community.
https://irco.org

Carry the Future. Be a force for action and hope and join our international community of volunteers as we unite to bring humanitarian aid in the form of child carriers, baby beds and survival items to refugee families.
https://carrythefuture.org

Southwest Key. Southwest Key is committed to keeping kids out of institutions and home with their families, in their communities. We do this through three areas of programming: youth justice alternatives, immigrant children’s shelters, and education. Southwest Key also seeks to create opportunities for families to become self-sufficient by offering programming in adult education, community building and workforce development. The inspiring kids and families we work with are seeking the American dream—equality, education, and a healthier quality of life. At Southwest Key, we simply open the doors to opportunity so they can achieve these dreams.
https://swkey.org

The Florence Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal service organization providing free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody in Arizona. Although the government assists indigent criminal defendants and civil litigants through public defenders and legal aid attorneys, it does not provide attorneys for people in immigration removal proceedings. As a result, an estimated 86 percent of the detained people go unrepresented due to poverty. The Florence Project strives to address this inequity both locally and nationally through direct service, partnerships with the community, and advocacy and outreach efforts.
https://firrp.org

KIND: Kids in Need of Defense. KIND staff and our pro bono attorney partners at law firms, corporations, and law schools nationwide represent unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings. Together, we ensure that no child stands in court alone.
https://supportkind.org

The Women’s Refugee Commission improves the lives and protects the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. We research their needs, identify solutions and advocate for programs and policies to strengthen their resilience and drive change in humanitarian practice. Since our founding in 1989, we have been a leading expert on the needs of refugee women and children, and the policies that can protect and empower them.
https://womensrefugeecommission.org

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) lives the call of welcome by supporting refugees, immigrants, and the communities that embrace them as they walk together in The Episcopal Church’s movement to create loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships rooted in compassion. EMM’s desire to honor the inherent value of human connection brings communities together to love their neighbors as themselves.
https://episcopalmigrationministries.org

Safe Families for Children hosts vulnerable children and creates extended family–like supports for desperate families through a community of devoted volunteers who are motivated by compassion to keep children safe and families intact.

The three objectives of Safe Families for Children are:

  1. Keep children safe during a family crisis such as homelessness, hospitalization, or domestic violence in an effort to prevent child abuse and/or neglect.
  2. Support, and stabilize families in crisis by surrounding them with caring, compassionate community.
  3. Reunite families and reduce the number of children entering the child welfare system.

https://safe-families.org/

We Belong Together aims to mobilize women in support of common sense immigration policies that will keep families together and empower women. Immigration reform is rarely thought of as a women’s issue, but in fact it is central to the fight for women’s equality. Millions of immigrant women who are part of the fabric of our communities, workplaces, and schools are blocked from achieving their full potential because of a broken immigration system. They perform essential jobs, like taking care of our children and our aging parents, and are central to family and community well-being.
https://webelongtogether.org

Feedmore. Central Virginia’s core hunger relief organization.
https://feedmore.org

Communities in Schools. Working directly in 2,300 schools in 25 states and the District of Columbia, Communities In Schools builds relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life.  Our school-based staff partner with teachers to identify challenges students face in class or at home and coordinate with community partners to bring outside resources inside schools. From immediate needs like food or clothing to more complex ones like counseling or emotional support, we do whatever it takes to help students succeed.
https://communitiesinschools.org

YWCA. YWCA USA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. We are one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls, and their families.
https://ywca.org

#HashtagLunchbag is a humanity service movement dedicated to empowering and inspiring humanity to reap the benefits of giving through the use of social media. We create and use bagged lunches, complete with love messages, as a vessel to spread this love and share our experiences to inspire others.
https://hashtaglunchbag.org

 

Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities works with schools, businesses, and communities to achieve success by addressing prejudices, in all forms, in order to improve academic achievement, increase workplace productivity, and enhance local trust.
https://inclusiveva.org

CASA: Court Appointed Special Advocates.  CASA/GAL volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA/GAL volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.
https://www.casaforchildren.org

No Kid Hungry. When you become part of No Kid Hungry, you’re joining a movement of teachers, chefs, community leaders, parents, lawmakers and CEOs with a shared belief: no kid in America should go hungry.
https://nokidhungry.org

KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.
https://kaboom.org

Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.
https://reachoutandread.org

Faithful Friends is a community-based mentoring program in Portland, OR, that provides children support and stability through relationships that encourage personal growth and inspire hope. The program matches volunteer individuals, couples and families with children ages 6 through 9 for mentoring relationships. The mentor/mentee matches meet 3-4 times each month for at least one year.
https://faithfulfriendspdx.org

Big Brothers Big Sisters.  As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“littles”), ages 6 through young adulthood, in communities across the country.
http://www.bbbs.org

Saving Grace Maternity Home (I am blessed enough to get to serve as a volunteer and on the board here). Saving Grace Maternity Home is a residential home experience in Hillsboro, OR, for single young homeless women in an unplanned or crisis pregnancy, between the ages of 13-25. We welcome women of all cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds who currently live in the state of Oregon. We have the capacity to assist and house up to four women full time and there are two beds for temporary short-term stays.
https://savinggracematernityhome.org

Union Gospel Mission’s LifeChange for Women and Their Children provides a safe, healing home for women and women with children to transform their lives.  If you are struggling with abuse, addiction or homelessness, we can help. LifeChange is a safe environment to heal from past traumas and to learn how to break free of destructive choices. LifeChange is not a clinical treatment “program” or a series of steps. It is an intentional Christian community where people help and support each other to break cycles of addiction, abuse and homelessness and live a transformed and abundant life in Jesus.
https://ugmportland.org/help-for-women/

True Colors Fund. Up to 40% of the 1.6 million youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ.  Communities and youth homelessness service providers want to be safe and welcoming for LGBTQ youth, but often don’t have the knowledge or resources to do so – creating barriers for these youth to get the support they need. The True Colors Fund fills that space by offering free training and resources on how to meet the needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. We also advocate in government and media to help ensure critical funding and services for all youth, and create opportunities for youth who have experienced homelessness to be key leaders in the effort to end the problem.
https://truecolorsfund.org

Door to Grace.  At Door to Grace, we are bringing safe and loving family to sexually exploited children in the Portland, OR, area.
https://www.doortograce.org/

Posted in Family, Friendship, Mom Power

Got Mom Friends? Want Mom Friends?

If you read this here blog, then you probably know that connecting and empowering moms is absolutely my jam.

I believe that friendships between women are POWERFUL. I’m talking chain-breaking, iron-sharpening, soul-healing, world-changing, hands and feet of Jesus powerful.

Never has this been more true in my life than here in the trenches of motherhood.  Connecting with other moms is pretty much the only earthly way I’ve gotten through it all thus far. Those relationships and the audacious acceptance I’ve experienced through them have been both life-giving and life-changing.

That’s why I believe so strongly in the work my friends Sara and Chrissi are doing over at Project Mother and why I’m totally stoked to be working with them as Community Coordinator. Project Mother is an organization that is TOTALLY 100% ABOUT empowering and connecting moms.  As Community Coordinator, my role is to support moms in establishing #MotherLocal Groups in their communities where moms can come together to connect in environments free from judgement and overflowing with support and acceptance.  Sound like your jam?

Learn more in today’s post on the Project Mother blog:

http://bit.ly/motherlocal

If this sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, follow the links in the blog post to get more info and you can contact me directly through the contact box there! Or just email me at tori@projectmother.co

Hope to hear from you soon!

Posted in Family

Dear Mom in the Weeds- It Does Get Easier

Dear Mom in the Weeds,

My sweet sister who is exhausted, sleep-deprived, and overworked from chasing a toddler, managing preschool tantrums, doing all things for all people.

You’ll never guess what.   OK…are you ready for this?

IT! ACTUALLY! DOES! GET! EASIER!

I mean, they told me. They promised me.  But I did not believe them because…well, when you’re in the weeds, you think the day will never come.  I feel like it’s a coping mechanism of sorts, we don’t dare to think of a day when things will be different because it’s like being on a diet and thinking of a piece of cheesecake. We just have to pretend the cheesecake doesn’t exist to get through it.

But one day, you turn around and something got better. Got easier.

This week, I took my kindergartener to the pool to swim.  I watched (as in sat on a bench next to the pool and WATCHED, like an actual adult) him frolic in the shallow end, practicing his swimming skills and splashing and playing with the other kids. Once I actually did get in the pool, he jumped in and swam to me a couple of times. He did not pull down my bathing suit top in a fit of fearful clinginess even once. It was delightful.

After about an hour, we got out and went in to shower and get dressed to go home.  As he sat getting himself dressed and I went over to dry our suits and put away our towels, I had a deja vu moment, my mind traveling back to a much different time in that exact place.

Ironically, was two years ago tomorrow that I wrote this in a post here:

“I am exactly the right mom for my kids, I am exactly the right mom for my kids, I am exactly the right mom for my kids.  I’m telling myself that over and over right now because Mister Cameron, who just turned four, had a screaming fit in the locker room of our gym yesterday after swimming because I wouldn’t get him dressed.  He had a screaming and crying fit IN! PUBLIC! because I was busy so scrambling to dress myself that I couldn’t do something for him that a couple of months ago he would get furious with me for even attempting to help him with.  And what’s even harder for me is that I couldn’t reach him once he got himself going.  Nothing I tried worked until I had to give in and dress him myself and then walk him out of the locker room screaming.  The older woman walking out ahead of us was so startled by him that she gasped and took the good Lord’s name in vain while looking daggers over her shoulder.  In her defense, I don’t think she realized that this was a child whose poor mother was doing the best she could, I think she heard a yell and assumed he was unsupervised- because it’s only logical that a supervised child would not scream like that.  Of course, one could argue that he WAS unsupervised because there certainly was nobody present whose authority and direction he was responding to.”

You can read the whole post here.

The contrast between that moment and the one I found myself in was staggering- and it happened when I wasn’t even looking.  Memories came flooding back of earlier trips to the pool with a barely-walking baby and an uncooperative preschooler, neither of them the least bit independent.  How tension would creep into my bones when I knew the time was coming to extract us all from the pool- would there be a meltdown? What would happen in the showers?  I would go home exhausted.

But while I wasn’t looking, things got better. The kids have matured, gotten more independent, they have learned the going-to-the-pool drill, and those trips are more of a joy than a chore these days.

It’s easy to lose sight of the things that have gotten better in the wake of the whole slew of NEW problems that inevitably crop up as the kids grow. Now our meltdowns happen in the mornings getting ready for kindergarten. Every. Stinking Day. This season of parenting isn’t necessarily any easier than that one, it’s just challenging and taxing and frustrating in new and different ways.

But we have GOT to stop and recognize the victories, the moments when it has gotten better.

And it will.  They always warn you that one day you’ll turn around and your kids will be bigger, and it’s true. But it’s not entirely a bad thing. You’ll also turn around one day and it’ll be easier.

I need that reassurance because there are days (MOST days) when I myself am still in the weeds. My kids are 6 and 3 1/2, it’s still a lot of work. So I guess this is a letter to myself as much as to you.

This too shall pass.

Note:  My two babies are both developmentally typical kids with no medical issues or concerns.  I know many a mom for whom it either DOESN’T get easier or the progress moves at a snail’s pace due to the unique challenges their kiddos and their families face.  So as we count our blessings, let’s also hold in prayer those moms whose workloads and worry-loads don’t lessen at the same rate that ours do and be ready to show up to support them in any way we can. Because it’s what we do.

Posted in Family

How to Make a Cute First Day of School Pic (For Dummies)

My kids have started school, y’all.  How sweet are they?
I’m ridiculously, insanely, out-of-my-mind delighted and proud of these two not-so-little ones.

 

Every first and last day of school since Cam started preschool, I have snapped a picture of each of them on the porch in the morning and created this digital time capsule of who they are is in that moment.

Every time, I share it to social media to let friends and family see who they are becoming as they grow.

Every time, someone comments telling me how cute it is, how creative I am, and asking me how to do it so they can do it for their kids.

Every time, I laugh my ever-loving rear end off at each and every compliment.  I’m not even kidding. It’s been three years and it still both tickles and baffles me to death that people are so in love with this and think it’s so awesome.

Because the truth is that this family first-and-last-day-of-school tradition was born not of organization, planning, and creativity but of desperation, panic, and a total and complete lack of artistic talent- and also out of the attachment of this 21st century parent to her cell phone.

For weeks leading up to Cam’s first day of preschool, I was stressing about that FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PIC.  You know, the one with the kid holding the cute sign that lets everyone know what grade they are going into?  I love those. I love that they capture the excitement of the moment and that they can be called on again and again as time marches on to highlight growth as these little school-goers get bigger and continue forward on their journeys.

I really wanted to do this with my kids but I’m not exactly the cute sign-making kind. The visual arts are not among my gifts and I had no idea how I was going to pull this off.

That night before the first day of school,  I’m pretty sure went through half a ream of printer paper trying to make a sign.  I hand-lettered, I computer-lettered, and nothing was right.   I even looked on Etsy, willing to PAY for something- but nothing was quite right.  I didn’t just want a “FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL” sign, I wanted something that captured who he was at the time, something that I could really look back on and remember what life was like with him at that time.  Panic was starting to set in. I would send this child off to preschool WITHOUT A FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL SIGN PIC.  THE SHAAAAAAAME!!!!  DARN YOU, LACK OF ARTISTIC TALENT!!!!

Finally, it occurred to me to stop thinking about what I couldn’t do and think about what I COULD do and how I could use that to accomplish my goal.  I couldn’t hand-letter like my friend Devan or graphic design like my friend Amy, but I could sit and dink around on my phone like a BOSS.

So, on the first day of school I snapped a pic of him with some room on the side,  asked him a few questions about his favorite things, and when I got home from dropping him off, I put Kenzie (then about 14 months old) down for her morning nap, opened my favorite text-over-picture app, and dinked and diddled on my phone until I had something passable. Then,  I saved it to my camera roll, uploaded and emailed that bad boy to whoever I thought needed to to be pacified with a first day of school pic.

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The first-ever first day of school pic, the one I was so stressed about.

I felt slightly embarrassed as I clicked “Post” on Facebook, I felt like I was straight up advertising my lack of craftsiness to the entire world. I was THAT MOM who couldn’t conjure up a decent sign for my kid to hold so I had to make something on my phone.

But the response was INSANE.  People thought I paid for it. People thought his teachers did it for us.  People were like, “Wait, you DID THIS YOURSELF!!?!?! TEACH ME YOUR WAYS!!!!!”  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  I was truly floored and also considerably amused that people thought it was anything special.

So, here by “Popular Demand”  (BAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA, can you even? I LITERALLY cannot), I shall now share with you, good readers of my blog, the step by step process of how magical me creates thes

How to Make an Adorable First Day of School Pic
(For Dummies)

 

Step 1: Have zero artistic talent

Step 2:  Stress over making a sign for several days and try eleventy billion other ways and have them all fail (feel free to skip this step.  And step one)

Step 3: Find and download a text over picture app of your choice. I use the Pic Collage app.

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Step 4: Choose a few questions you would like to ask your kid on their first and last day of school for the next however many years (Favorite book, favorite food, favorite song, favorite book, favorite show or movie, favorite color, favorite activity, what do they want to be when they grown up, what would they do with a million dollars, etc.)

Step 5: Open your chosen app and go to town. I hear from people who know about these things that it’s generally good to choose only one or two fonts to ensure a cohesive look, so that’s what I did.  Here are a few screenshots of the process I used.

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I choose freestyle.
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Then add the image.
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Then stretch the image to fit the pic
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Then I add the text boxes. You do have to add them individually, but….
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“duplicate” is your friend. Once you’ve picked your font, you can just duplicate each box and change the text.
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“Straighten” is also your friend. It will help you when everything inevitably gets sideways.  You get this option by shaking the phone.  Weird, I know. But that’s how it works.

 

Step 6: Save and share.

This may not be the easiest or the best way to do it. You may even find an app that has a template. Heck, this app may have a template that I just haven’t even found.

But this is what’s been working for me. And that’s what this is about: Finding something that works for you and your family and rolling with it. Kind of like all of parenting in general.

Thanks for reading- and find me and tag me if you end up making something like this for your kids!  I’d love to see it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Family

The Myth of the “Good Enough Mom” (And why we are all good enough moms)

Let me tell you how today began. Both of my kids were up and out of their rooms before their lights were green  and they were already fighting. I mean, I was actually awakened today  by my least favorite sound ON THE PLANET,  the aural assault of a yell that my three-year-old launches the instant something makes her mad.  I blearily pulled myself out of bed and before my feet ever hit the floor, I heard the tell-tale *Smack-shriek* sequence that let me know that my five-year-old had once again decided to dispense with self-control and smack his sister the instant something made him mad.

I was barely even awake yet and my first feels of the day were the all-too-familiar Failure Feelings that seem to always be lurking, looming and threatening in this season of motherhood. I put them both in their rooms, told them that if they couldn’t keep from fighting they would need to be separated, stumbled to the bathroom and texted my husband that I was seriously considering starting to hunt for a full-time, out-of-the-home job so that I could put them in childcare with someone else who might actually be able to, you know, get through to them.

And while I wasn’t actually serious about looking for another job, in that moment I was stone-cold real about the feeling that we would all be better off if someone else was in charge of my kids during the day because clearly, I wasn’t cutting it.  I’ve been throwing the absolute best I can muster at the fighting and the hitting and the yelling and the tempers and *clearly* it wasn’t good enough. *I*  wasn’t good enough.

I walked over to the sink to brush away the morning breath and began to plan my next move.  What do I do with these kids?  Looks like I need to do something differently because what I have been doing is not even a little bit working. What would a Good Enough Mom do with these kids?  Someone who was Good Enough at this motherhood thing to be able to get these kids to stop fighting would do ______________________________ right now.

I tried to envision this Good Enough Mom. I tried to get inside her head for a moment, channel her, if you will. Figure out What Would Good Enough Mom Do so that I could follow her ways, even if I could never actually get on her level.

What would it even look like be a Good Enough Mom? What would it feel like to be a Good Enough Mom? How would her kids respond?  What would it be like to be around those kids of a  mom who always knew the right thing to say or do?

As I thought about who she would be, I thought about what her kids would look like. I’ve been around A LOT of kids in my time. Ten years of classroom teaching and five years of teacher education will do that.   I have known some wonderful, WONDERFUL kids. I mean, heck, I had #allthehearteyes for my entire class every single year, even when they drove me crazy.  But even the ones who got the “excellent” ratings in the behavior column were not perfect all of the time.  They all made mistakes every now and then.  They all had areas where they struggled.  It’s just part of being a kid- of being human.

There were even times when I would sit in conferences with parents and watch looks of disbelief overtake their faces as I raved about how delightful, cooperative, and conscientious their kids were, and how they really helped me by setting an example for their classmates.

OUR kid?” they would reply, incredulous.  “He must be saving it all for school…”

or

“Yes, she’s always been like that at school.  It’s not like that all the time at home.”

These parents were good, good people and they were raising great, great kids. But even those amazing families and their amazing kids didn’t fit this image I had conjured in my head of this Good Enough Mom who would be able to walk down the hall, cast a spell with just a few words, and have Hansel and Gretel skip off to play, hand in hand, heart in heart, forever and ever to fight again no more.

Something started to stir inside me as I thought and the vice grip that shame and discouragement had on my heart began to loosen. Maybe kids are just human and there is no such thing as a mom who is Good Enough to charm the humanity right out of her kids.  I mean heck, I was raised by someone who in my mind is as close to an actual Good Enough Mom as anyone could get and yet I made it to adulthood unable to keep my room clean.

Another thing about kids is that it’s not just a running joke when parents say that our kids find our greatest weaknesses and exploit them. It’s an actual thing that happens as kids grow and test boundaries and explore love and relationships.  Even if we did figure out all of the things we are currently struggling with, they would just find something else to push back about because THAT’S HOW THEY LEARN ABOUT LIFE AND THE WORLD.

As I shook the last cobwebs of sleep from my head and prepared to walk down the hall and deal with the ridiculousness that had begun my day, I released the looming specter of the Good Enough Mom and let her flit away from my house.  The fact is that God doesn’t make mistakes, if there were anyone better than me to be raising these kids, she would be here right now.  Yes, I’m sure there are moms out there who know better than I how to deal with sibling squabbles and quell the impulsivity of reaction- I know this to be true because I’ve read their books and blogs on the subject.  But that doesn’t mean she would be better than me at raising the whole people who are my kids

I’m still going to try every day to be better mom because it’s what moms do. I’m going to read #allthebooks, ask #alltheadvice, say #alltheprayers, do #allthethings that might just help me help these little ones become the best versions of who they were created to be.  But there is no such thing as the Good Enough Mom. There’s nobody who gets it right all the time, whose kids never push, whose life looks like a constant highlight real.

My prayer is that you will join me in releasing the Good Enough Mom we may envision, and embrace the good enough moms that we are.

Posted in Family

When You Just Can’t “Appreciate The Moment”

 

My kids fight over me at bedtime.
Every. Single. Night.  

Jeff and I alternate nights with the kids, one night he reads and snuggles with Cam and I read and snuggle with Kenzie and vice versa the next night.  The conversation every night is the same, one of them GETS Mommy and the other is STUCK WITH Daddy.  This defies logic to me. Jeff is a VERY involved parent, he’s tender and nurturing, he’s really fun, he’s mindful and present with them and they both lose their ever-loving minds when he gets home in the evening. Also, THEY HAVE SPENT ALL STINKING DAY WITH ME!!! You’d think they would want a change of pace! But nay, at bedtime Daddy is a distant second runner up to Mommy, Pageant Queen of Bedtime.

On the surface, it sounds completely adorable. I mean, they BOTH want to snuggle Mommy!

But if I’m being perfectly honest, most days it actually makes me feel resentful. The entire day in this house consists of me doing things for the kids. And Kenzie is two and a half so most times she cannot decide which is the greater injustice, the fact that she can’t do things herself or the fact that I help her with them.  Either way she’s throwing a fit while I’m trying to do something for her that I would rather not be doing anyway.

One or the other of them COUNTING ON THEIR NIGHT WITH ME ends up feeling less like a sweet blessing and more like yet another demand on me that I can’t get out of no matter how tired and worn out I may be.  I am not kidding, I have been sick and throwing up and poor Jeff was having to deal with a meltdown because SOMEBODY DIDN’T GET THEIR NIGHT WITH MOMMY.

 You know what I feel like would happen if I told this story on Facebook?  I feel like the comment section would IMMEDIATELY fill up with well-meaning folks saying things like,

“Oh, enjoy it while you can! They grow up so fast!”

“Oh, you don’t know how lucky you are! I would give anything for my big ol’ high schoolers to want me to snuggle them at bedtime!”

To be fair, there is more than just kernel of truth in those statements.  As a matter of fact, those very thoughts are a part of my inner monologue each night as I labor through bedtime and wonder why I’m not enjoying the sweetness of the jammy-wearing book-reading more (the mom guilt, man. It’s real).

But, here’s the thing:  Beating ourselves up for not enjoying the moments more is not only unhelpful, it’s counterproductive.

The fact is that I’m not resentful at bedtime because I’m a selfish, unappreciative person, I’M RESENTFUL AT BEDTIME BECAUSE I AM TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY IN THE WEEDS RIGHT NOW AND I’M PLUM WORE OUT.

This is less about “Goshdarn me for not appreciating this moment,’ and ENTIRELY about “Bless my heart for being too darn tired to appreciate this moment.”

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I don’t think there is a single one of us who is not aware of how precious our children are and how lucky we are to be their mom. For my part, I spent an entire decade of adulthood wishing and hoping and dreaming of being a mommy before God saw fit to make it happen and I appreciate every day that He did.  We also all know how quickly life flies by- I turn forty on my next birthday. FORTY!  I’m pretty sure I was in college YESTERDAY!

But, like, it’s STILL hard, man.  And while it definitely seems like SHOULD feel heavenly to always have two precious children climb up on me EVERY SINGLE TIME I lay down on the couch, most times it just doesn’t.  I’m tired and they’ve been in my space all day and when I just want to lay down and rest by myself for a minute to charge my battery and THERE THEY ARE AGAIN- it’s just not heavenly.

But you know what I’ve noticed?  When I am honest with myself about how HARD it is and how TIRED I am, it somehow becomes easier.  When I let the struggle see the light of day and acknowledge the realness of it, it suddenly becomes easier to manage and I start to feel more blessed and appreciative for the good things about the moment.

It’s when I’m busy trying to pretend that bedtime with my kids is the coziest and most relaxing thing EVER that I end up discovering that I’m miserable.  When I chide myself with jabs about how I’ll feel when they’re gone at college and would wish these moments back, that’s when the shame creeps in and it seems to much worse.

But when I take minute and let myself say, “MAN, the days are long, no wonder I’m so tired at bedtime every day,” it becomes much easier to release the resentment and notice how cute Kenzie looks in her Wonder Woman jammies (especially when she runs at top speed into the kitchen, jumps emphatically into her father’s sightline and sings loudly, “WUNDER WIMMEHHHHHHHN!!!!)

So, this is still #IseeYouMama month and so there’s homework,  Because I know I am not the only one struggling with this and I SEE YOU, MAMA!!!!

  1.  For yourself:  Next time you catch yourself in a moment where you or someone else tries to tell you that you should be enjoying the mommy moment more, cut yourself some slack. Spend some time looking around and trying to identify the circumstances that are making it hard for you to enjoy the moment, look them in the face, name them as hard, and tell the voice that’s giving you hard time to SHUT IT!  Bonus points if you tell someone else about it.  I can tell Jeff when I’m tired, he doesn’t feel like I’m guilting him because we both know what will happen if he tries to do bedtime with both kids and NEITHER of us want that fallout.
  2. For Someone Else:  Next time you see someone complaining on social media about being a tired mom, show up for her and tell her YES! It is hard! Even if you feel the urge to offer her the sage wisdom of experience and tell her she should appreciate the moment more, don’t do it.  It’ll likely heap on the mom guilt she’s already feeling. Instead, acknowledge the truth behind what she’s saying, tell her it IS hard, validate her in that moment…she’ll probably find it easier to appreciate those things you’re hoping she won’t miss.

 

Be kind to yourself and others this week.
 

 

Posted in Family

If Mother’s Day is Hard for You #ISeeYouMama Week 2

This post right here goes out to anyone for whom the joy and celebration that is supposed to be Mother’s Day is mingled with pain, sadness, loss, or whatever is hurting your heart.   Whether you’re a mom or not, I see you this week.

I have a love/hate relationship with Mother’s Day.

On the one hand, I’m a big fan of days to celebrate stuff and honor people, I LOOOOVE celebrating stuff and honoring people.  It’s my favorite.

Me on Mother’s Day: 

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Yes, I love celebrating my mom, the moms in my life, and my family does a pretty good job of celebrating me.  Mother’s Day has always been pretty kind to me.

But on the other hand, Mother’s Day is not always kind to everyone- and if you know me, you know that I am NOT AT ALL A FAN of anything that is unkind.

Also Me on Mother’s Day:

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The way in which Mother’s Day can be painful for some people who deserve to have the day be happy, warm, and cozy is like a cold, hard, snowball in the face. I don’t like it at all.

If this is you, no matter who you are, I want to look you right in the face RIGHT FLIPPING NOW and tell you how much I wish I could fix whatever it is that makes this day so painful for you.  I want to hug you, sit with you and pour you coffee, tea, wine, or perhaps a punchy frozen umbrella drink that reminds you of a tropical vacay. I want to hold your hands and tell you that I see you and you’re not alone.

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Whatever it is that is burdening your heart today: the loss of a mom in your life, the loss of a child, separation from your mom or your child, the disappointment of an unfulfilling relationship with your mom or your child, pain and worry surrounding your mom or your child, a longing in your heart to be a mother that has gone unfulfilled, the delicate dance of being a stepmom- the list goes on and on.  Whatever it is, here is a hug from me.  I’m so, so sorry this is hard for you and you deserve a medal for getting through not only this day but through basically all of life carrying this burden.

And for what it’s worth, it matters to God, too.  God created our hearts and intended us to be a part of that loving, nurturing connection and the pain of that being taken from us in any way is something He sees.  Also, God lived here on this earth in the form of human who had a mother himself, he personally knew what it was to experience a mother’s love- and he knew what it was to see that mother suffer loss. I mean, we all know that Mary was VERY well-acquainted with grief. We also know that Jesus saw that grief, acknowledged it, and made a way for it. During the crucifixion, the following scene takes place between Jesus, his mother, and the disciple John:

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,b here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27, NIV)

Jesus looked at his mother, saw her pain, and made a way for what the loss meant for her, making sure she was cared for by someone he trusted and loved. He could not take away that pain from her, but he saw it, he knew it, and he provided for it.

Each of us is dear to our Heavenly Father, God sees our pain and grief through the losses associated with the role of Mother in our lives and He will make a way for each of us in the way only He can. It may not be an easy journey and His way doesn’t always involve taking our pain away or fixing immediately the source of it, but it does involve His grace, His provision, and His promise NEVER to leave us.  We are not alone and we can count on being tenderly loved.

But, enough preaching.  This is #ISeeYouMama month, and each week we have homework.  So here is your homework for the week:

For yourself:  Be gentle and kind to yourself this week. Whatever Mother’s Day looks like for you, give yourself grace to process it in whatever way you need to. If you are a believer in God and Jesus person, spend some time alone with your God, open your heart, and let Him minister to those wounds that He knows intimately.  If you don’t believe like I do, lean into whatever belief system you have and draw strength from: pray, meditate, walk in nature, whatever heals your heart. And as always, I know my God listens, even if you and He are not super tight at the moment. You can always talk to Him no matter what. I promise. I know Him.  And yes, that was another Elf reference.

For Others:  Think about who in your life might need an extra hug this week.  To some, you may want to say the words, “I see you and I know how hard this must be for you.” For others, you may just want to do something to lift their spirits this week- send a funny card, take them out for coffee, whatever. You know your people, trust your instincts.

And if Mother’s Day is great for you, you run after that joy like it’s your JOB.  Enjoy the gift to it’s fullest, draw strength from it, let it soak into your soul and let the love ooze out of you in the weeks to come.  When we are coming from a place of the strength, joy, and wholeness God intended for us, we can share that love more easily- just as He intended.

Love and hugs, let’s be kind to ourselves and each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Family

Rosita Pig: #ISeeYouMama (A Case Study from “Sing”)

Ladies and Gentlewomen (and the two dudes who follow my blog), allow me to introduce to you Rosita Pig. 

Rosita

She may look familiar to some of you (specifically those of you who have seen the movie Sing), but for those who are not familiar with her, allow me to paint you a picture of our friend Rosita.

Rosita Q. Pig (I made up that middle initial) lives with her husband, Norman, and their 25 children in the suburbs of an animated city seemingly fashioned after Hollywood, CA. She is bright, witty, and talented- and she can SING!  Her favorite activities include belting Katy Perry’s “Firework” while washing dishes at the sink while her 25 kids fall all over one another at the breakfast table behind her. 

Despite her obvious talent, her days and nights consist of expertly managing the household  for her husband and copious children. Norman clearly loves her, but he is stressed out and exhausted from work, even falling asleep in an armchair before he can even hear her BIG NEWS about being chosen for a singing competition!!!!! 

Rosita’s main roadblock to participating in said singing competition is, of course, childcare. She tries to find a nanny, but…you know…she has 25 kids and it’s not easy to find a sitter.  Ever the resourceful, amazing creature that a mother is, she spends the night before the first rehearsal rigging an intricate system of pulleys, levers, and wires that would impress even Rube Goldberg himself that is designed to be able to do all of her household tasks for her in her absence.

The next day, her family awakens and goes about their business. Rosita’s systems function so efficiently and effectively that nobody even realizes she isn’t there.  They hear her voice on a tape recorder, have their food handed to them, their dishes washed, their lost keys located, and nobody even realizes that there’s no actual Rosita present. When she comes home at the end of the night and crawls into bed next to Norman, she asks how his day was. He tells her it was just another day, nothing different, “I don’t know how you do it all, honey.” Rosita gives a relieved smile and slips into exhausted, contented slumber.

Every time I watch “Sing,” I want to give Rosita a big hug, buy her a cup of coffee, stare deeply into her piggy eyes and say, “Oh, honey. I feel you. You are not alone.”

I, too, have wondered whether or not anyone would really notice or care if I wasn’t actually there as long as everything they needed was getting done.

I, too, have felt the disappointment and frustration of abandoning plans due to lack of childcare during the day.

I, too, have felt like there is absolutely no time for my dreams and talents and gifts amid everything everyone else NEEDS! FROM! ME!  UGGGGGH!

I, too, stand at my kitchen sink dreamily belting out ballads at the top of my lungs while my kids practically strangle each other at the breakfast table (except for me it’s Kari Jobe, “Foreeeeeeeeeeehver Heeeeeeeeeee is gloooooooooooorifiiiiiiiiiiiiiiied..”)

I have been there, Rosie, and you are not alone.

As a matter of fact, the entire reason the creators of “Sing” invented your character, Rosita, was because they knew so many folks out there would identify with you.

It is so easy to get lost in motherhood. There are a million reasons for it. Many of them are noble and good and represent the best of what we get to do as moms.  Some of them have to do with the circumstances of our lives, things that cause our jobs as moms to feel larger than life- special needs, tough schedules, challenging kids, absent or disengaged co-parents, the list is endless.

And it’s GOOD to give so much of ourselves to our families, it’s what we are called to.  But our families AND OURSELVES need us to hold on to who we are, to have an anchor in the endless sea of need and busyness that surround us.  We are stronger and more balanced when we are connected to who are are ASIDE from being Mom, when we feel valued and seen for WHO WE ARE and not just what we do for others.   And that’s what we are going to dig into this month, work on lifting ourselves and each other out of “Invisible Mom” status.

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We may not all end up like our girl Rosita…and frankly, we may not want to.  I mean, I could totally see myself up on stage in a sparkly costume singing and dancing to Taylor Swift, but I know that’s not everyone’s jam.

 

So let’s start small, here’s some homework for this week:

-Reach out to a mom this week and let her know you see her. Tell her she’s doing a great job, compliment her on something you admire about her, ask her how something in her life is going- just let her know she’s not invisible to you.  Whether it’s a kind word at school pickup, a FB messenger message, a comment on Instagram, a text or phone call, A CARD IN THE MAIL, tell another mom she rocks and you like her. If you’re really ready to rock, do it for more than one person. 

-Take a few minutes this week and think about the things that make you feel the most like YOU! The things you’re good at, the things you find fun, the things that make you feel excited when you think about doing them.  Make a list of five things and put the list someplace where you can find it.

And I leave you with this final thought:  Even the smallest, most mundane things YOU do for your family- serving them dinner, changing diapers, ferrying them around to school and lessons and practices.  It matters to our kids that YOU are doing them.  Nobody else could do with their mom’s smile, their mom’s voice,  they way you smell, the way you pat them on the head and kiss their cheek.  You being there matters to them more than you- and probably they- even realize. It all counts, it all matters, even when it feels like it doesn’t.

Be kind to yourself this week.

 

 

Posted in Family

“I See You, Mama” Seeing Ourselves and Each Other this May

My Darling Sister-Mom,  have you ever felt invisible?

I’ll go ahead and answer that for you, yes you have.  I mean…you probably have. Have you?  Because I have.

My friend Leah put it like this:

“Today I felt invisible.

On three separate occasions, and three different times of the day as I was dropping off and picking up children, groceries, etc., cars just turned out in front of me or almost into me. Like they never saw me. Like I wasn’t even there.

And it got me thinking just how often I feel invisible.

Today I felt invisible. I swept the kitchen floor but my daughter pointed out the dirt on the bathroom floor.

Today I felt invisible as I watched my sleeping daughter with my hand on her chest as she coughed in her sleep, trying to ascertain if her cough was from allergy drainage or something more. Maybe *fingers crossed* we should skip dance class tonight? But no. She woke up and complained about the leotard she was wearing because the others were in the dirty laundry.

Today I felt invisible as I tried to pay bills holding my fourteen month old son in the throes of an ear infection. Over and over I heard the automated prompt: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.” I will try again tomorrow. Maybe there won’t be so much “background noise.”

Today I felt invisible as I changed my EIGHTH poopy diaper (yay antibiotics) and complained to my husband via text that I felt like I was reaching my breaking point. He texted back the bill amount for his truck repairs.

Today I felt invisible as I showed up at my mom’s house, tired and done, handed her the baby, and she pointed out that he didn’t have socks on. And looked tired. Or hungry.

Today I felt invisible as I served nuggets and tots again. Because today was hard. As my days often are. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have it all together. I’ll get more rest than usual after collapsing into bed early tonight *if the stars align and my children don’t fight bedtime.* I’ll make time to wake up and wash my hair, put on makeup, cross one more thing off that never-ending, ever-growing to-do list. Maybe tomorrow someone will notice me.”

 Did you find yourself wanting to stand up and shout, “ME, TOO!” as you read that?  Did you also want track Leah down and hug her neck and shout, “I SEE YOU, MAMA! I SEE YOU AND YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!”

That’s what we’re going to do here together next month.  I mean- not all of us tracking Leah down and hugging her because that might be a little *awkward*.  Although if any of you happen to live near Leah and want to give her a hug for me, I’ll take it. We live across the country from one another and it’s SUCH a drag.

What we are gonna do is spend the month of Mother’s Day looking around us at the other moms and making a concerted, intentional effort to make them feel SEEN.  We are also going to make a concerted, intentional effort to allow ourselves to take up space in our own lives, to become visible, if only to ourselves.

As Moms, nobody knows the realness of our struggles quite like we do.  We are in a unique position to minister to each other’s hearts from a place of GETTING IT in a way that the rest of the world around us just doesn’t.  Who better to reach out to one another and lift each other up than us?

Now, not all moms are the same.  Not all moms are going to be in a place of feeling invisible and not all moms are going to respond to the same kinds of love that would make us feel uplifted.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

What it DOES mean is that the “homework” I hand out to y’all in the coming weeks does not need to be executed exactly as directed. You each need to put your own stamp on it and tweak it as-needed based on what you know about the moms around you.

But the end goal is the same:  To give another mom a moment of feeling SEEN in the middle of her invisibility.  It’s work worth doing.

So follow this blog, follow me over on Insta. And let’s do this thing. Let’s lift each other up, on a wing and a prayer. See you next week!