The Social Media Mommy Lie

Not long ago my husband and I were talking about some of our frustrations in parenting.  He shared that he feels like the kids are so well-behaved all day while he is at work and then he comes home and they are nuts, not listening, acting out, arguing and throwing tantrums.  He went on to reference the happy smiling faces in the pictures I send him on our occasional trips to the zoo or playdates with friends.  With all the sensitivity I could muster, I busted out laughing.  “They are nuts all the time!  It is crazy all day long!”  I just don’t take pictures while I’m power walking out of the zoo with one under my arm kicking while the other two cry in the wagon.  I didn’t snap a quick picture when Benjamin emptied all the books off the bookshelf and pulled all the linens of the bed during nap time.  I  forgot to document it when Christopher laid down in the line at the grocery store because it wasn’t his turn to “pay.”  My husband’s perception of our days are based on the happy pictures I send him as he works.  Perception is reality.

In our house on your birthday we eat sweets, sing Happy Birthday and blow out candles at every meal.  The twins’ birthday comes 11 days before my daughters.  On their birthday, we talked through the things that are hard about other people having birthdays with our daughter who was almost 5 years old.  She struggled but made us very proud as graciously let them have the spotlight, watched them open presents and blow out candles.  Birthdays are hard for little ones but it gives us an opportunity to teach them that while they are very special and important, they are not the center of this big beautiful world.

Fast forward 11 days and it’s my daughter’s 5th birthday.  We wake up and come downstairs where I have a donut with a candle in it ready to sing to our birthday girl.  My boys climb up in their chairs for their donuts and ask for candles also.  I give them the pep talk about how they are very special and important but this is sissy’s big day and she is the only one that gets a candle, just like they did 11 days earlier.  As I begin to sing they begin to scream and cry.  I powered through and took these picture.

Abigail's 5th Birthday Breakfast

The picture on the left captured the reality of the moment however the picture on the right reflects how I hoped it would have gone.  Any guesses on which one ended up on Facebook?Social media is such a delicate balance.  There is so much negativity, criticism and strong opinions on facebook and twitter.  In equal parts there are a whole lot of us pretending to live a picture perfect life that is not reality.  The middle ground that I am constantly searching for is one that shows some of my reality in a way that allows myself and my friends to laugh at how crazy life can be sometimes.  As Christian moms it is not our job to be perfect, have perfectly behaved children, beautifully clean homes and homemade snacks when the kids get home.  All those things are nice, although almost impossible to attain and may even make us hard to relate to isolating us from the possible friendships we could be creating with moms who need some encouragement.  Who are you going to reach out to on a day when your kids are extraordinatoially challenging, the mom whose children look like they fell out of a Pottery Barn Kids catalog everyday?  There is power in being vulnerable.  I see my Christian mom challenge in three parts:

Love my kids with my whole heart, hopefully so intensely that they can begin to imagine how much God loves us.

Model caring and loving others so they become vehicles for God’s love to reach others.

Encourage other mommas that are trying to do the same thing.

As you post on your social media accounts this week, be honest, be real, be positive and use your platform as a doorway for real relationships with real people who are facing some of the best and worst moments of their lives.

Biker Bones Wisdom

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After a recommendation from a friend, and a free movie channel weekend, I watched Moms Night Out.  It’s a comedy about a group of three mom friends who are stressed to the max and in desperate need of a childless girls night out.  Long story short, everything that could go wrong does and during their crazy night they end up in a tattoo shop getting advice from a heavily tattoed biker named Bones.

As one of the women is mourning her night gone wrong and her failures as a mom Bones drops this wisdom. “It’s beautiful to watch one of God’s creations just doing what it was made to do.  Ya’ll spend so much time beating yourselves up.  I doubt the good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mom he did.”

Huh…..roll that one around in your doubt filled, anxiety ridden and critical head for a few minutes.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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.

My Prayer for My Children Tonight

On this night, in reflection of current events.

Loving God,

Thank you for these sweet, little people you have placed in my care.  Thank you for the beautiful people you have placed in our lives to help us raise them.

Help us Lord to bring them up to give grace more often than judgement, offer love over contempt, seek understanding over being right.  May they be surrounded by those different from them, and give us many opportunities to love these different people in front of them so we can show them how it’s done. 

Let them respect others.  May they stand up for those needing someone to stand for them.  Help us teach them to be bridge builders.  Let them be peacemakers.  Guide us as we teach them about justice and injustice.  Break their hearts for what breaks Yours.  May their hearts be so full of You that they can do nothing more than spill that unconditional love on those they encounter.

Let us raise children that will bring a little piece of heaven to this world.

Amen.

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.