10 Crazy Things This Mom Says Daily

1.  Stop fighting over imaginary toys!

2. Don’t stand there and dance, just go to the bathroom.

3.  I don’t have any napkins, just lick your fingers.

4. That was not a snuggle, you just wiped your face off on my shirt!

5.  That’s nice but you aren’t at grandma’s house right now so NO!

6. Go back in there, wipe your bottom and wash your hands…..and turn off the light!

7. What do you have in your mouth?

8. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

9. You better eat all your pizza (or insert any other unhealthy kid food here) or you don’t get any ice cream.

10. Did you need that drink 10 minutes ago when I was in the kitchen, or do you just need it now that I’m trying to use the bathroom by myself?

The struggle is real.  What crazy things do you say?

This Parenting Thing is no Joke!

A few months ago I took a very scientific approach to finding out what parents were hoping to instill in their children….you know….I asked on Facebook.  I got a variety of answers.  Some were hoping for their child to have a love of learning, to be successful, to work hard.  I spent a lot of time thinking about what my hopes are for my kids and I found myself floating between things that the world says are great and things that are Spirit-filled.  I hope for my children to be financially stable, for them to fall in love and stay in love.  I hope for them to find something that they love to do as a career.  I hope they will take care of me in my old age (wink).  I hope they are successful.  We spend a lot of time instilling these concepts in our kids.  We work on our letter and numbers.  They have chores they need to complete.  We try different sports and activities to see what they will be good at, but when I really slow down and think about the things that will make me the most proud of them, it isn’t their success at a sport or in a career.  It isn’t their ability to find and hold down a steady job.  It isn’t even that they will be “happy.”  It’s more important than the stuff that comes from a “good life.”

I really want them to be good people.  In Galatians 5, Paul lists the fruits of the spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Ever since I memorized these as a child, I have always thought of the fruits of the spirit as what should come out of you if you are full of Jesus.  Some of these I feel like we work on with our kids on the regular.  Concepts like patience are constantly coming up in our home.  “Be patient with her, she’s grumpy in the morning.”  We love well and we laugh hard.  We even talk about kindness and what it means to be kind with our words and actions.  I think that some of the more counter-cultural concepts are faithfulness, gentleness and self control.  Our culture doesn’t love these concepts.  We constantly hear about marriages breaking up due to unfaithfulness.  We praise aggressiveness in sports and winning at all cost in business.  We are bombarded by marketing that encourages us to buy now, eat now, drink now.  I think its hard to raise gentle kids who don’t get walked all over.  I think it’s hard to raise kids with self control and patience when so much around them is about instant gratification.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we don’t try.  Perhaps we could raise a kinder and gentler generation.  My hope for them is that they love others the way Jesus did, holding nothing back.  My prayer for them is that they put others before themselves and take care of others recklessly.  I’m going to look for these fruits in my kids this week and put just as much energy into encouraging and pointing out their success in these areas as I do when they write their names with no backward letters.

Cupcakes and Crazies

How often do our children have opportunities to be naughty, ornery or stinkers?  Nearly every minute of every single day.  Leave markers on the floor and find murals on your walls.  Leave fabric markers on the floor find a new pattern on your ottoman (may have happened at my house).  Buy just one of any toy and ask them to share it.  Plenty of opportunity to get in trouble in an average day.

Now think of the last time you set your child up for kindness or goodness.  I hope you are coming up with more times than I did.  We have taken our kids to service projects at church and we have done good things for others but often we do them without the kids, or while they nap.  We have been robbing them of easy opportunity to be kind and caring to others and the joy that brings.

Lastnight, my daughter and I made cupcakes for a neighbor girl whose birthday was today.  We are new to the neighborhood and so are they so we have bonded over the last week as we have unpacked and they have helped us find our way around town.  This morning my daughter and I delivered the cupcakes and Abigail was glowing with joy for how happy she had made our neighbor.  A couple hours later the birthday girl came over with our plate and this note.

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Abigail was over the moon excited to receive a thank you note.  She ran in, showed her daddy and said, “I want to write her a thank you note back!”

I believe that God designed doing good to feel good so we would do more of it. It filled my heart to see my sweet girl feel so good after doing something kind for a new friend.  I plan to set her up for kindness more often.

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

So a Ballerina, a Fire Fighter and a Bicycle Walk into a Bar…

Recently, while asking my children what they wanted to be when they grew up I got the following responses.  Abigail twirled and then replied, “A ballerina!”  Christopher put his hands on his hips and shouted, “A firefighter!” and Benjamin raised a finger to his mouth in deep thought and said “Hmmmm, a bicycle.”

When do we stop believing we can do or be anything?

I love that nothing limits them at this point.  That same freedom makes them complete hazards to themselves but it also makes them absolutely beautiful.  Their responses to common questions are the purest example.  What do you want for your birthday?  A paddy cake.  What do you say when you ask for something (hoping to hear please)?  I want something!  What would you like for dinner?  Ice cream and Nutrigrain Bars.  No worries about judgement or consequences.  No concern for societal convention.

We tell our children two very different things as they grow up.  When they are little we tell them, “You can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it” and then when they are getting ready to go to college we tell them, “That’s sweet that you want to be a Philosophy major but how exactly do you expect to pay your rent.”

We can’t live this pure unadulterated freedom as adults but what if we all dreamed a little more and worried a little less?  Like so many other things in life, I think it’s probably a balance…..but for what it’s worth I think he would make the best bicycyle ever.

Maybe when I’m a grown up Mommy

While indulging in some Godiva chocolates I got for Christmas today, my four year old Abigail asked if she could have one.  I offered her the most “normal” chocolate in the box.  She nibbled on one edge and said, “Nope, mommy I don’t like it, maybe when I’m a grown up.”  It made me laugh.  She has her father’s palette for cheap chocolate.  You’re welcome future husband of Abigail.

It got me thinking about the whole concept of them growing up though.  I was at a conference a little over a year ago and heard Andy Stanley speak and he said something that continues to blow my mind to this day.  “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.”

Who will these little crazies be?  Will they be mommies and daddies, doctors, teachers, ministers, painters, coaches?  In these early years, I strain by neck trying to peak over the endless laundry pile into the futures of these sweet crazies.  I find myself so busy in the daily chores of motherhood that sometimes I forget that these amazingly needy, beautiful creatures will one day be able to get their own milk, play without constant supervision, shower, read, drive a car, get their heart broken, graduate from high school, go to college, move away, get married, have children of their own.  In some ways this thrills me to think that there is a day coming soon when I will be able to take a 15 minute shower with the door shut, but this simultaneously makes me have a panic attack.  It makes the time seem way to short. What will I pour into them in these short years I have with them (even shorter if you take out the teenage years, when I assume they won’t hear a single thing that comes out of my mouth).

Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Instead of my panic attack I think I’m going to make this my mantra when thinking about their futures and what my part is in helping them get there.  I want to help them find their passions and talents.  I want to encourage them in that passion with everything that I am.  When the world tells them it’s not possible I’m going to argue with the world.

As I sit here contemplating their potential it’s fun to dream big dreams for them.  What will make my crazies come alive?  What amazing work will they do?  What will be the mark they leave on the world?  How will they, in their own unique way, breath Christ’s love on this world?  How do I go about raising them to seek out their talents and passions and chase after their dream?

That’s the scary part for me, because I think it’s probably through leading by example.

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.