This is What a Village Looks Like

At 11pm last night the vomiting began.  It seemed like everyone’s kids are sick this time of year but I thought we might be able to dodge the bullet.  Ha!  I hadn’t gone to bed yet and I hear him crying.  I hustled down the hall before he woke everyone else up reached down to help him look for his binky (which is usually the reason for the middle of the night cry) and I come up with a wet, gross handful of vomit.  Poor guy.  In moments like this my husband and I work like a well oiled machine.  He wakes up, gathers the bedding, Clorox wipes the mattress, cleans the carpet and I clean the kid.  We’ve had a lot of practice.

Not 2 hours later and several vomiting episodes later I got sweet boy number 1 back to bed and then sweetness number 2 started puking.  Rinse and repeat for the well oiled machine and 2 hours after that he was back in bed.  I was absolutely exhausted this morning when we woke up for preschool.  Boys seemed to be in much better spirits.  I kept them in their pajamas, helped my daughter get dress and threw everybody in the car to go to take my daughter to preschool.  As I pull in the parking lot, my son throws up all over himself and his car seat.  At this point I’m wondering where all this food is coming from.

I called my friend Kerry on my way to school to see if she would walk my daughter to her classroom so I wouldn’t even have to get the boys out of the car.  She walks out just as I pull my son from the car seat and he proceeds to puke all over the cross walk in the parking lot.  She quickly scoops up my daughter (who will hence forth be referenced to as the healthy one), and takes her to her classroom.  So thankful for her.

I then look down at my pitiful kid, who is freezing, covered in vomit and crying.  Without even being asked, my friend Carli (another momma whose child goes to preschool too) jumps out of her car with wipes, a plastic bag, a helpful suggestion for an outfit change and willing hands to rescue me with.  While I cleaned up and changed my sons clothes she helped to clean out his car seat while she reassured me that she had been there too, that it would be okay and that she would be praying for it to pass quickly.

She saw a need.  Addressed the need.  Encouraged the recipient and went about her day as if she wasn’t a superhero.  Mind blown.

I had several women come along side me to encourage me, care for my sick kids, care for my healthy kid and help me get through this less than awesome day.  My little family lives far away from our extended family but we are so blessed to have this amazing community that steps in and helps me be a mom to these awesome little people, even when it’s not pretty.  There was no judgement, there was however, huge amounts of encouragement, understanding and action.  It is said that it takes a village to raise a child.  This is what a village looks like.

This time of year is so busy.  We are rushing everywhere we go.  What if we made a conscious decision to address the immediate needs of those in our path.  To help a stranger unload groceries into their car.  To text a friend who has been discouraged.  To hold the door and smile at the person behind you.  To buy coffee for the person behind you in the drive thru.  To help a mom whose kid is throwing up in the parking lot.  Invite someone into your village this Christmas.

Let us all care for one another.

Galatians 6:9-10  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

“That Mom” and “That Kid” at Walmart

It all started out beautifully.  Our family had decide to sponsor a little girl for Christmas this year whose family is going through a transitional housing program.  This little girl is one of five children being raised by a single mom.  She is four years old, curly-haired, kinda shy and absolutely adorable, just like our sweet Abigail.  Andrew and I thought this would be a great opportunity to teach our curly-headed girl about thankfulness, generosity and taking care of those who don’t have as much as we do.  We signed up to get her a special doll.

As we headed down the aisle I listened to Abigail explain to her little brothers that we were here to get a toy for “a special friend whose momma was working very hard to get them a home.”  I was thrilled that some of the conversations we had with her were sinking in.  As we picked up the toy, she asked if she could invite this friend over to play.  She never once asked for a doll for herself.  I just kept thinking, this is what Jesus means by childlike faith.

In true Walmart fashion, when we pull up to check out there are only two lines open and it’s a bit backed up.  My son is losing patience by the second.  When it is finally our time to check out I put the item he was holding onto the belt and he loses his mind.  Full blown tantrum.  Screaming, kicking, pushing his brother, who is sharing a cart with him.  It was epic.  I instantly feel all eyes in the store and perhaps in the next county turn toward me.  I leaned down to his ear and quietly reprimanded him, giving him consequences if he didn’t pull it together.  Tantrum continues.  As I look up, the woman in front of me shoots me a look.  I apologize and she leans toward the cashier and says, “My kids are older now, but I never would have let them behave that way in public.”

I am an angry crier, which in moments like this is extremely inconvenient.  I held it together for check out, pushed my cart full of children (two happy and one still demon possessed), to the car, get everyone loaded in, read my crazy tiny human the riot act and then sit down in the my car and cried.  All I needed in the moment was someone to say, “We’ve all been there.”  “They won’t always be two.”  “Is there anything I can do to help?”  I was ticked at my sons behavior, but equally ticked that I had received judgement from another mother in a moment when I just needed a little understanding.

I proceeded to let this wonderful Walmart moment affect the rest of my day.  I was impatient and stressed the rest of the day (wonder where my son gets it?).

Tonight my daughter participated in her very first Christmas program at church.  One of the age groups that sang a song that particularly touched me.  The lyrics hit so hard that I teared up a bit.

Here’s what I’d do differently

I’d love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on you

Fix My Eyes by For King and Country

When I am in the trenches of my own stuff it is so easy to throw myself a pity party over the hiccups that happen in my daily life.  If you looked at the way I lived my life today you would believe that the most important thing that happened today was my son throwing a fit in a store.  But here’s the thing, now that everyone is tucked in bed and I let the lyrics of this song seep into my heart, I realize that incident was far from the most important thing that happened today.  Today I watched my daughter give when she wasn’t receiving, love others first, stand up for a weak one and fix her eyes on Jesus.  Today, she got to see what it was like to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Today was a good day.

Please Tell Me I’m a Good Mom

A good friend of mine called me tonight and told me a story about a challenging moment with her son.  She was discouraged and felt like his behavior in that moment, was an indictment of her ability to parent.  She just needed to be reminded that she was a great mom.

There are so many times when I have felt the same way and needed that same reminder and encouragement.  Whether it was my daughter’s behavior at the grocery store or my sons ability to drop to his knees and refuse to walk in front of our pastor while trying to leaving church, I often feel like I am falling short.  I find that I grade myself each day.  Today I sent store-bought treats to preschool, forgot diapers for my boys, left the lunches on the counter and am wearing what my children had for breakfast…..fail!  The next day I lost my temper when my two-year old sons didn’t understand my need to get to work on time, I burnt dinner and didn’t read that extra storybook my daughter asked for…..fail again!

When we go to our jobs we have a start and an end to our work day.  We get time off on the weekends and holidays.  If we are fortunate, we even get to retire when we reach a certain age.  Because of these breaks, we are able to offer an improved and filtered version of ourselves for a certain number of hours a day to our coworkers and bosses but our spouses and our children get us unfiltered and uncut.  We don’t step away on weekends and holidays, and as I’m sure my mom and dad would testify to, there is no retirement plan for parenting.

I sometimes catch myself feeling sorry for the uncut version of myself that my kids receive.  The mommy that sometimes cries in front of them out of frustrations and exhaustion.  The mommy that occasionally lacks the patience required for certain situations.  The mommy that doesn’t always respond in the calm, cool and collected manner I wish I would.  But here’s the thing.  I’m not perfect.  They won’t be either, and if my occasion crazy momma moments let them know that its okay to struggle, then I’m going to embrace those moments.  If they can see my imperfections and offer grace to others in the future who are struggling, then let the frustrated tears flow.

I heard someone say once, “Behind every amazing kid is a mom who thinks she is screwing it all up.”  So even if your child didn’t eat a vegetable today, you forgot to pack the special blanket for school and you have smashed bananas on your pants…hear this….You are still a great mom….and tomorrow is a brand new day.