5 Things Moms Don’t Want for Mother’s Day

Ok-let’s be REAL!  We would all love flowers, alone time, appreciation, special attention, togetherness, and of course, some sort of chocolate for Mother’s Day, but let’s talk about what we don’t want for Mother’s Day instead, shall we?

  1. Dishes: I do not want to wash one dish for Mother’s Day. Not. One. Dish.  Let me take that back.  I don’t want to wash, dry, or put away any dishes.  I don’t want to even touch any dishes for any reason.  I feel that I have a constant pile of dishes in my house—either dirty ones sitting in the sink, clean ones in a huge pile ready to be put away, or ones sitting in the dish washer waiting in the darkness for me to finally pay attention to them.  Dishes are in constant waiting for me to notice them and take care of them, and this Mother’s Day, let’s give each other permission to pay no attention to the dishes whatsoever.

 

  1. Laundry: Talk about waiting for me to pay attention to it…the laundry is ALWAYS THERE lurking in every closet waiting for the day that it will finally stop smelling, get noticed, and get thrown in to be washed. Then, it needs dried.  Then, it needs sorted.  Then, it needs folded.  Then, it needs to be put away.  In fact, laundry is needier than my own children, and so moms, let’s not do anything with the laundry tomorrow.  Let’s not even think about it!

 

  1. Cooking: Why oh why do our kids have to eat so many meals and snacks throughout the day? Just as I get one meal cleaned up, it’s time for the next snack.  Just as I get the snack cleaned up, it’s time for the next meal.  It’s endless.  Let’s not cook at all tomorrow.  I’m talking keeping things simple—cereal, sandwiches, cheese and crackers, done!  Let’s allow someone else to cook for us if they want to, but let’s not get out one pot or pan or turn on the stove even once!

 

  1. Fighting: Can’t we all just get along?  Please, kids, please!  I don’t want to break up one argument or referee one disagreement or moderate one misunderstanding.  Nothing.  I just want peace and quiet and laughter and joy and smiles and giggles and fun and compromise and helpfulness and respect and love!  Is that too much to ask for just one day?  Moms, let’s just turn on the TV or get out the tablets and do whatever it takes to just have some peace and quiet around here!

 

  1. Cleaning: My house is never as clean as I would want it to be.  Never.  But I’ve learned to be ok with it because the truth is that with young kids, the house is just going to be a mess most of the time.  And even when I do have the time or energy to clean it up, it just gets messy again in like two seconds!  I say constantly, “Didn’t I just sweep?” or “Wasn’t the house just spotless last night?”  This Mother’s Day, let’s not clean up one speck…not one crumb…not wipe one counter, one table, one floor, one toilet…not one mess.  Let’s just leave it, stare at it, smile at it…

While we take a nap!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Lord, thank you for the gift of motherhood.  We love and appreciate our kids.  We take our responsibility as a mom seriously, but Lord, we need a break.  Fill our kids with contentment.  Give us ways to simplify.  Give us room for rest and bring peace to our homes.  Amen.

Advertisements

10 Things I Don’t Wish I’d Done Differently As a Mom (the last 5) by Elizabeth Spencer

 

Last week, Elizabeth shared her first 5 in this list of 10 Things she doesn’t wish she had done differently as a mom.  This week, she’s sharing the rest of her list with us.  As you read her list, think about what you wouldn’t do differently…

The other day, I Googled “what I wish I’d done differently as a mom” and got 10 million results.

 

Apparently, a lot of moms have a lot they regret about their mothering.

Apparently, as a parent with some mom mileage on me, I should be writing about my own regrets and done-differently wishes.

 

And, mercy, do I ever have them to write about. I’ve messed up and made bad decisions and taken wrong turns more times than I can count.

 

But with 29 total years of motherhood racked up, I’m so thankful to be able to say there are a few things I don’t wish I could undo, by the grace of God.

 

These things I have done and things I haven’t done have worked for me and for my girls and for our family.

 

Some of them may be deal-breakers for you. Some of these may be non-negotiables at your house.

 

You may read this list and think, “Good grief, woman! Have you no shame? How can you possibly not regret this?!” Which is okay, actually.

 

Because you see, sweet mama, this is not a list of how I think other moms should do motherhood. This is only a collection of what, with the benefit of some hindsight and two older, happy, healthy, thriving children as evidence, I can leave off my personal do-over wish list, by the grace…

 

 

As a mom, I’m thankful I don’t regret that I…

6. Set the bar of expectations low. From family vacations to the house we live in to back-to-school wardrobes to Christmas gifts to birthday parties, our secret to family contentment is pretty simple: promote low expectations.

Our thinking was—and continues to be—that if we set a low bar for what is good and satisfying and acceptable and worth looking forward to, contentment would probably follow. If my family expects M&Ms, and they get triple chocolate layer cake, they’re thrilled and pleasantly surprised and think I am the greatest mom ever. But if they expect the cake and all I deliver is the candy, they’re disappointed. I’d rather exceed low expectations than fall short of high ones.

7. Was “lax” about reading to my babies and toddlers. I knew I was supposed to read to my children…poetry in utero and then classics with discussion in their teen years. But my girls didn’t particularly care about being read to. They reacted to my dramatic interpretations of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom with approximately the same level of enthusiasm they reserved for having their runny noses wiped. So I gave up.

I listened to kid-safe books on CD in the van and around the house, made plenty of actual books available, read in front of them, and left it at that. Today, they’re voracious, enthusiastic, and skilled readers. They’ve both usually got about three books going at once in various formats. Also, they wipe their own runny noses now. It’s all good.

8. Have learned to be okay with my daughters growing up. I well understand the melancholy tug moms feel at seeing their babies mature. I know that tug myself.

But whenever I feel sad that my girls are moving from one age or stage to another, I remind myself of something: if I asked any parent who has lost a baby or a toddler or a young adult or a middle-aged child what they would give to “have” to watch that child go off to preschool or middle school or college or a job or their first colonoscopy, I know what they’d say. Anything. They would give anything.

Watching my girls grow is a blessing and a gift I try not to take for granted.  I also believe this to be true: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind” (C.S. Lewis).

9. Took—and enjoyed—mom “alone time.” I loved and love being with my girls. But I am a better mom when my batteries are recharged so I have fresh energy to pour into their lives. For me, that recharging happens when I am alone and have a break from some of my maternal duties. And I’m not the only one who has benefited from this occasional separation. 

10. Picked my battles. My younger daughter told me one day, “I’m just not gonna get in a big hassle.” I don’t remember what the issue was, but that was how she decided she was going to approach it.

As a mom, I could choose to “get in a big hassle” about every bite of food my girls eat, every minute of TV they watch, every book they read, every outfit they put on, every everything. But I haven’t. And not because I am some laid-back, relaxed personality, either. Please. I drove four college roommates to the brink of insanity with my uptightness. (I’m so sorry, girls.)

That I’ve let so much go as a mom is quite possibly pure laziness on my part, but I like to think I’ve tried to fight the battles that needed fighting. The battles that had eternal significance.

I want my girls to pursue faith in God and purity and compassion and self-control and kindness. I really don’t care if they eat an Oreo while they’re doing it.

Maybe someday I’ll put together a list of what I wish I’d done differently. (And let me say it again: I have plenty of fodder for that collection. Mercy.) But right now, I’m just incredibly grateful I’ve got a few things to put on this list…a few things I’ve done that I wouldn’t undo.

By the grace.

Elizabeth Spencer.jpg

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to one tween and one teen daughter. She’s been married for 20 years to a very patient husband who copes nicely as the lone male in a house full of girls. She avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by blogging about life as an imperfect mother at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and spending time on Facebook

10 Things I Don’t Wish I’d Done Differently As a Mom (the first 5) by Elizabeth Spencer

The other day, I Googled “what I wish I’d done differently as a mom” and got 10 million results.

Apparently, a lot of moms have a lot they regret about their mothering.

Apparently, as a parent with some mom mileage on me, I should be writing about my own regrets and done-differently wishes.

And, mercy, do I ever have them to write about. I’ve messed up and made bad decisions and taken wrong turns more times than I can count.

But with 29 total years of motherhood racked up, I’m so thankful to be able to say there are a few things I don’t wish I could undo, by the grace of God.

These things I have done and things I haven’t done have worked for me and for my girls and for our family.

Some of them may be deal-breakers for you. Some of these may be non-negotiables at your house. 

You may read this list and think, “Good grief, woman! Have you no shame? How can you possibly not regret this?!” Which is okay, actually.

Because you see, sweet mama, this is not a list of how I think other moms should do motherhood. This is only a collection of what, with the benefit of some hindsight and two older, happy, healthy, thriving children as evidence, I can leave off my personal do-over wish list, by the grace…

 

 

As a mom, I’m thankful I don’t regret that I…

1. Let my girls be cared for by other people. My husband is an only child, and I am the oldest, so you’d better believe the birth of our firstborn was met with no small amount of enthusiasm from both sets of new grandparents. We were blessed to live near my husband’s parents and mine, and from their very earliest days, both my babies spent time with their doting fan club. (We were also blessed to be able to absolutely trust all four of our parents not only with our girls’ physical safety, but with their mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, too.)

Early on, I would race off to Target for the 86.5 minutes I had between nursing sessions. Later, my husband and I left our girls longer and went farther—to Hawaii, in one memorable instance. I loved being home with my babies, just as I have loved being with them into their tween and teen years. But I wanted my girls to know they could depend on people other than their father and me to love and care for them.

I wanted them to have the security and reassurance of a wide net of love and affection and familiarity. Too, those very early days when I lugged the car seat in and out of my parents’ and my in-laws’ houses laid a foundation for closeness that continues to this day.

2. Fought the church battle every Sunday. When my girls were newborns, I could not imagine EVER being able to make it to church again. The number of things that had to happen for us to go was so crazy-impossible, I couldn’t even think about it. But I got used to sneaking in one last feeding session while I practically had one foot out the door, and eventually, we started making it every week. (And years later, on the first Sunday my daughter stood at the top of the stairs wearing tights she had PUT ON HERSELF, I had a flash of what Moses must have felt like when he watched God part the Red Sea.)

We established this routine from the get-go so that going to church every week was not a decision we had to make every week. It’s just what we did. And it’s what we do.

Still, now that my girls are older, I’m not sure there’s any time my family members like each other less than we do on Sunday mornings at about 8:15. My husband is trying to get two minutes of bathroom time to brush his teeth before he backs the van out of the garage because we DO NOT HAVE TIME PEOPLE to wait for that to happen once we’re all in the van, by the grace of God. Meanwhile, I’m running around yelling that we have to leave in two minutes and my girls are being unhappy with their hair and everyone just wants to be back in bed, for crying out loud. In this mood, we set off for church. Because we will not offer sacrifices to the Lord our God that cost us nothing (see 2 Samuel 24:24).

My point (and I do have one) is that all this has been worth it. Because it has laid a foundation for faith that I witness growing stronger every day. I see my girls reading their devotions at the breakfast table and leading worship with me and praying and posting inspirational quotes online. And the point of all this is not all this, but that all this is pointing them toward God. They are filling the God-shaped hole inside their hearts with the God Who put it there. Which makes all that Sunday-morning angst so worth it, I can’t even talk about it.

3. Waited an extra year before sending my youngest to preschool. When my second (and last) baby was three, I agonized over where to send her to preschool. I thought every three-year-old needed to be in preschool. I searched all over our area for a program that was a good fit, but most of them started at 8 a.m.—right when I was getting my would-be preschooler’s big sister on the bus.

Finally, after endless phone calls, I had a moment of clarity: I did not have to send her that year. I was at home with her. She was learning and growing and developing. We could just hang out for awhile longer. We could do library time, and she could come with me to Bible study and play in the nursery, and we could take naps together on the couch. She could go to preschool the next year, followed by kindergarten.

So this is what we did. And thank God for it, because when, two years later, I sent my baby to kindergarten and everyone asked if I was sad, I was able to honestly tell them I wasn’t (much). We had done that “bonus” year together. We had hung out. We had taken the time. And it had been a wonderful gift.

Now, as I watch her navigate middle school, I know I wouldn’t trade that year for anything. (I also sure wouldn’t mind another nap on the couch.)

4. Sent my girls to public school. I have so many friends who are amazing home schoolers, and I am in awe of what they do every day…usually before 11 a.m. But my husband and I felt very clearly called to be Christian public school parents—a full-time job in and of itself.

For one thing, I believe teaching is a gift not everyone possesses to the same degree. And the degree to which I possess that gift would not have gotten my daughters past preschool nametag day. I so greatly admire the talent and training of professional educators and understand that I cannot do what they do. So we intentionally bought a house in a school district we knew and respected and trusted and sent our girls there from the beginning.

We have been aware of what our children are doing and learning. We have been involved. The staff knows us by sight and by our first names. I have been PTA mom and room mom and “attendance hotline” mom and band mom and popcorn mom. While I’ve been around, I’ve seen what my girls’ teachers do every day and have been awed and grateful.

My daughters have not just had good teachers all along—they have had amazing educators, and many of them have been Christians who have nurtured my children not only educationally but spiritually and morally. My daughters are growing daily in their knowledge of and love for God, and they exercise their faith muscle every day when they are around their public school teachers and peers.

5. Limited my children’s activities. The formula for the way our girls spend their time pretty much looks like this: school + family/home + church + dance + friends  =  life. Band is the other big component of their existence, but because it is a school activity, the extracurricular time they spend on it is limited.

We like being home together as a family, and this requires us to semi-regularly be: 1)home and 2)together. We’ve never done teams or groups that have Sunday practices or games. We’ve never done multiple sports at the same time. We’ve never done anything year-round. This doesn’t mean any of this is wrong. It just isn’t the plan we went with for our little family.

I know the pressure to allow kids to try everything and not “limit their potential” is huge in our culture today. And we have created opportunities for our girls to explore various interests in case they became passions. But having afterschool and evening and weekend activities every day of every week of every month was never an option for us.

I call this “selective scheduling,” and it has worked for us. For. Us.

Stay tuned for 6-10 next week!
 70dc7-headshot1
Elizabeth Spencer is mom to one tween and one teen daughter. She’s been married for 20 years to a very patient husband who copes nicely as the lone male in a house full of girls. She avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by blogging about life as an imperfect mother at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and spending time on Facebook

4 Easy, Not-So-Crafty Indoor Activities To Do With Your Kids

Ok winter, I’m done with you.  The Leeb household is right smack dab in the middle of the”cabin fever” crazies!  Three kids cooped up inside for three whole months is wearing on this momma.  How about you?  And let’s be real–I’d really like to just let them watch TV all day (and I sometimes do), but I also have moments where I want to do something more.

What to do…what to do—especially when you’re a not-so-crafty mom like me?

You scour the internet looking for ideas only to find that there are mostly very crafty moms out there posting ideas which then makes you feel badly about not being a crafty mom so you pout for a moment and then realize how silly that is and you celebrate that God made other moms crafty and not you and that’s ok because you still have worth and value and can have fun with your kids without being crafty.  Whew.  (I know, you should live in my head).

So, I decided to muster up every ounce of previous teaching creativity that I once had that hasn’t been drained out of me over the last eight years since becoming a stay-at-home mom.

Here goes…

4 Easy, Not-So Crafty Indoor Activities to Do With Your Kids:

  1. Dance:  Put on a CD.  Pull up a You Tube video.  You can even sing some songs if you are the singing type…which I’m not…but maybe you are and just dance-which in our family just means running around in a circle but hey, it’s movement and something fun to break up the day!
  2. Blow up Balloons:  Serious, cheap fun.  You can blow them up and let them fly around the room (I don’t know who laughed more about this–my husband and I or our kids).  Or you can tie them and hit them back and forth.  My oldest loves to see how many times we can hit it back and forth without touching the ground. kid activities.JPG
  3. Play-Doh:  Hours of fun.  Yes, I hate the mess.  But it’s worth it.  Just let it dry and vacuum or sweep it up.
  4. Beach Day:  Put some towels on the floor.  Make a space to be “the ocean” and swim and splash each other.  Sometimes, I even blow up a beach ball and let the kids hit it around.  They’ve eaten gotten out water wings and goggles.  And we even have a picnic lunch on the beach and sit on the beach towels to eat our lunch. You can watch beach day in action with this 42 second clip.  Enjoy!

Lord, help us to be creative with our kids as we press on to get through these winter blahs!  Multiply our patience and energy too.  Open our eyes each day to see the blessings right in front of us.  Amen.

You Are Not a Victim, You’re a Mom By Wendy Speake

She was exasperated, worn out. Her frustrations bordered anger, and she felt great shame over her emotions – still they flooded.

Picking up a damp towel nearby, she wiped her face then said, “I think that I’m most upset that my children ruin my plans each day. And not just my plans for the day, but my plans of being a good mom. They ruin it no matter what I do. They ruin all of the meals I serve by hating what I’ve made and crying at the table. They ruin our trips to the park and our playdates with friends by throwing fits when it’s time to go. I plan so much fun, and they ruin it all by demanding more or different. And I guess, if I’m honest, they ruin my dreams of what my family would be like. I had such good dreams. I’ve dreamt of being a mom for so long, now here I am and there aren’t any peaceful, happy tuck-ins, no Bible reading at the breakfast table – not without more fits! Everyday I’m disappointed, frustrated, and angry. I feel abused! Some days I just want to throw in the towel.” And she did throw down the tattered towel in her hands, with a pathetic little moan.

I smiled, leaned in, and hugged her. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but as she shared I believed she spoke the unspoken emotions of many moms in many homes today.

We feel like victims.

 

You are not a victim, you're a mom!

 

In the quite morning hours, when God’s mercies are new, I know that I am not a victim, I’m simply a mom.

The same is true for my young friend, and the same is true for you.

Still, we find ourselves forgetting by mid-afternoon, hiding in the pantry with a handful of chocolate chips.

So, here’s a question for you: Do you take everything personally? Maybe you don’t mean too, but do you REACT as though you’re the victim… all the time? And do you retreat behind your phone, in your pantry, in your anger, in this victim mentality each day?

Your husband comes home from work late… and you’re the victim. Your children don’t like what you cooked for dinner… and you’re the victim. The kids can’t find their shoes, their socks, their backpacks… and you’re the victim. Your gifts weren’t well received this Christmas… and you’re the victim. You planned a cookie making afternoon with friends, and it’s just a mess and the kids would rather tear up the toy room… and you’re the victim.

It seems ridiculous when typed out like a confessional. But does this resonate at all?

Ladies, here in the stillness of this simple blog post, let me remind us both that we aren’t victims… we’re moms. Thwarted expectations are part and parcel when taking care of a family full of real live little people. It’s hard, yes, but the majority of us are not abused.

Your children don’t wake up in the middle of the night and gather round the baby’s crib to plot ways to dash your dreams and destroy your day. They aren’t contriving fevers, or purposing fits -though it does sometimes feel that way. They are simply being children, and they need you to simply keep on being mom. 

Still, you’re overwhelmed because you’re feeling all the feelings. I know. So let me encourage you as I did this sweet mama with three kiddos under four, “Roll with the punches and go with the flow today, in the midst of the messy mundane. And on the big days too, when you’ve planned a trip to Disneyland and everyone’s crying, keep putting one faithful foot in front of the other. Whatever your lot, choose to believe today what is noble and true, what is lovely and worthy of praise… and I’ll be doing the same from my home with my children, as I whisper these words to myself, “You are not a victim, you’re a mom.”

The goal each day is faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love. And victims have a miserable time loving gently and lavishly.

We’re not victims, we’re moms.

Blessings upon us, every one,

Wen

For more about this victim mentality, continue the series “You are not a victim, you’re mom” here.
triggers

If you struggle with anger in your home from the sheer effort of it all, if you find yourself yelling at your little ones, feeling like a victim, and weighed down by shame, I encourage you to order a copy of TRIGGERS: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses, today. Triggers was co-authored by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW!

wendy.png

Wendy Speake is a trained actress and heartfelt Bible teacher. She tells stories both on page and stage that allow her to point women toward Jesus on their hardest mothering days. You can follow along at WendySpeake.com or find her regularly as a guest at The MOB Society. Wendy resides in sunny San Diego with her handsome husband and their three ruddy boys.

I Am Too Much and Not Enough–A Guest Post by Sarah Schiro

Why My Scale Does Not Determine My Value

As a new mom of two, I feel too much and not enough.

There is not enough of me to go around. Not enough hands to hold the nursing baby and pull down my toddler’s pants so he can go potty. Not enough time to clean and play. Not enough mind space to handle the concerns of parenting and school work. Not enough patience. Not enough energy. Not enough sleep.

I am spread thin.

And yet I am also in my own assessment too much. Too needy. Too emotional. Too hungry…

And sometimes, though I try to drown out the accusations and whispers in my head, my mind tells me I am too heavy. Not too too heavy… but needing to lose say 10 lbs.

Which is ridiculous because sure I am 10 lbs heavier than I was prior to pregnancy, but I am healthy, and look healthy, and fit into most of my old clothes. Nobody besides me and my scale could probably even tell that I am indeed any heavier at all.

But I keep thinking, “I will be happier if once I lose these last ten pounds.”

As a woman whose life was controlled for years by an eating disorder, these are scary thoughts to me.  Losing weight never makes me happy… it just makes me want to lose more. I know this about myself. I know that focusing on a number on a scale is at best a worthless distraction, and quite possibly dangerous thinking.

And the real question is one of motive.

Why does it matter to me that I return to my pre-baby weight?

The answer is that for some crazy reason I feel safer ten pounds lighter. I feel more acceptable, more worthy of love and that losing weight will somehow make me enough.

When I feel so inadequate, it helps to focus in on the detail of weight loss. In my mind I begin to believe that losing weight will suddenly make me better to the world at large. Which is so dumb— as if all I have to offer to the group is me, small and smiling. Sometimes I do feel that way, like I can’t string two words together, and I am not beautiful, and I don’t have the right clothes… but at least I am small”ish” and seemingly happy.  And based on the images that pour into our homes through the media, being thinner makes me more okay despite my feelings of being a failure.

Of course admitting these thoughts on paper shows how false they are. The process of writing them down is just to show myself how crazy I would have to be to believe them. When look at this compulsion for what it is, the promise of thin is empty. Just like I have literally NEVER cared one iota what anyone else weighs; nobody cares about those ten pounds, but me.

Still it matters that I care. It matters because I can hurt everyone who watches my life if I allow the pursuit of weight loss to be the thing I cling to for safety.

No matter how much weight you lose, it will not increase your value as a person.

Tweet:

Sarah Schiro Quote
No matter how much weight you lose it will not keep you safe from rejection. If my life, if my language, reflects that I am only secure and acceptable if I am a certain size or weight— then I am promoting the lie.

I believe we all were made in the image of God. His Image makes us invaluable. His acceptance makes us beyond rejection. He is the Security we need in a world that makes us feel insecure. He is the Love that we need to overflow in our homes, to cover over our human efforts to be the perfect moms, to love perfectly. He is Enough. He will always be enough. We really can stop striving after the empty things of this world and rest in Him.  In Him, I am enough.  And dear mom, in Him, you are enough too!

Sarah Schiro

Sarah Schiro enjoys writing when she can squeeze in the time— which between being mom to a toddler and an infant and studying to become a nurse is not as often as she would like. Being a busy-“worrier,”writing is one tool she has found which allows her to frame her thoughts in the context of the truth of the gospel.

3 Ways to Get Past Negative Comments (Plus, Why it Still Bothers Me to be Mistaken for a Grandma!)

“Wisdom is with aged men,
With long life is understanding.” 
Job 12:12

Good Morning, Grandma!

I was running late…AGAIN.  I’m sure I was looking a little frazzled.  I had my youngest on my hip.  I had the other two holding hands by my side as I walked in the door of the church.

“Is it grandma’s day with the kids?” a voice asks.

“Surely, she’s not talking to me?”  I thought to myself.  

For the first time this week, I had on a cute outfit.  I had make up on.  My hair was fixed.  I was wearing jewelry.  There was no way I could be mistaken for a grandma again…not today at least! 

As I looked over to see if she was indeed talking to me, she was staring right at me. 

Noooooo!  Not AGAIN????  I screamed inside myself!

I’m sure the look on my face made her quickly realize her error.  So she corrected herself, “Oh, those are your kids?”

“Yes.  Yes they are.” I said and quickly moved forward.

And I huffed back to take MY KIDS in the childcare room…ticked off! 

OK, Take a Deep Breath, Grandma

And then I reminded myself again that mathematically, I could be a grandma…friends my age are grandmas so I shouldn’t be so offended.  I am an older mom and that is just a fact.  I also realized that I must need to get more sleep or something too!

Because this is no isolated incident.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I was the grandmother of my own children.  The worst one, though, was when I was asked if I was the mother of one of my friends!  And she is only a year and a half younger than me for cryin’ out loud! 

It’s very discouraging to realize that I think I’m ok with getting older and then someone says something to me about being a grandma and I let it upset me.  Any time these comments are made to me, I find myself replaying them in my mind all day long.  Even as I’m writing this, I’m feeling myself getting a little huffy.

What’s my problem?  Why does it bother me when people keep mistaking me for a grandma?  Grandmas are awesome!  I sure hope to be a grandma someday, but it’s just the fact that people see me and their first impression is…old.  And so, I must confess my frustrations about this whole aging thing to God, once again, because that’s really what this is all about. 

Why oh why does my face have to get so wrinkly?  When oh when did my hair get so gray?  How oh how did my body shape change so drastically? (Oh that must be due to all the Halloween candy and brownies I allow myself to eat without exercising because I forget that I don’t have the same metabolism as I used to).

I must continue to remind myself about the good that comes with getting older, and even though I don’t love the aging process of the body…I do love the aging process of the soul!  I really do!

Tweet: I don't love the aging process of the body, but I do love the aging process of the soul. -The Real Mom @realmomjoy

My old-fart soul is wiser and has a better understanding about life, priorities, and the vastness of God’s unconditional love.  I have more of an acceptance of who I am and how God created me to be.  

What’s Your Advice Granny?

Even if you can’t relate to being called a grandma when you’re not (and you’re so lucky–what’s your skin care routine by the way?), I’m sure you can relate to someone making a comment to you that hurts. And let’s be real here…negative comments hurt…even if they ‘re not meant to be negative comments.  Well, let me share some granny wisdom with you.  Don’t let negative comments fester…make you doubt yourself…make you feel down or less or unworthy or old!  Instead…

Here are 3 ways to get past comments that hurt…

1.  You can pray.  Ask God why this comment is messing with your mind and ask Him to see the blessing in it if there is one.  Does He want to use this comment to help you grow in any way? If so, listen.  God can absolutely use comments to highlight an area in our lives that He wants to prune or weed out, so we can grow stronger in Him.  If not, then ask Him to take the comment away–out of your head and out of your heart–and replace it with His truth!

2.  You can choose your attitude.  You choose to be bitter or be better.  It’s your choice.  You can choose to live in the “betterness” that comments can bring into your life through growth or through the maturity to ignore them.  You can choose to let it ruin your day (like I have done–it’s no fun) or just be grateful for each day.  Move forward.  Look ahead.  Count your every blessing.  Shake it off.  Breathe.

3.  You can laugh.  If God has no purpose for that comment in your life, than laugh it off!  “Water on a duck…water on a duck…water on a duck!”  Repeat that over and over and visualize the comment rolling off your back.  That image always makes me laugh–never mind the fact that I also visualize that the comment splashes on top of the person’s head.

For me, I can cry at the fact that so many people think I need to be wearing Depends or I can depend on the good Lord to uplift and encourage me.  I can pray that He continues to fill me with His wisdom and understanding that only comes with age and life experiences.  I can choose my attitude when people ask if I’m a grandma.  I can be grateful that I must look wise and just go about my day.  When I feel down, I can rely on the good Lord to whisper into my ears His precious words of affirmation knowing that He has a purpose for this old geezer in this world.   

And I can laugh.  Oh how I hope I can laugh the next time someone calls me a grandma. 

I hope I can just grab my bifocals and God will  allow me to see it all in perspective in the grand scheme of life.  

And I hope that the next time someone throws a negative comment your way, you’ll know what to do too!

Let’s Pray

Lord, show us the blessing in the messy comments we get from others.  Allow us to put them through your Holy Spirit filter and grant us wisdom to know what to do with them.  Help us to embrace our aging bodies and be joyful of our aging souls.  Allow us to live our lives with confidence in You no matter what anyone says about us.  You love us unconditionally.  Help us to love ourselves unconditionally too.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Two of the Most Encouraging Words Another Mom Ever Said To Me by guest blogger Elizabeth Spencer

A few weeks ago, I told a mom friend I was hosting a sleepover. I confessed to her that I rarely let my daughters have them because I always get all worked up about what the girls will do and where they’ll sleep and if, heaven help me, EVERYONE IS HAVING A GOOD TIME.


“I don’t do them, either,” she told me.


Later that same day, I told another mom my daughters were making dinner that night–something they’d never done before in spite of being a tween and teen because I’m a control-freak, neat-freak mom who never cooked with her kids.


“I don’t cook with mine, either,” she told me.


I. Don’t.


Who knew two little words could be so freeing and uplifting? 


Sometimes I feel like I’m surrounded by moms who do. They do spectacular birthday parties and they do homemade hummus in Bento Boxes for school lunches and they do craft projects every day of the week and they do…everything. With their kids and for their kids. Which is great for them if they love it and if it charges up their mom spirits. I don’t begrudge them their doing.


But I just…don’t.


I don’t do and haven’t done and won’t do so many things. And the other day, my friends showed me that I’m not the only mom who doesn’t. Which felt like a gift. 

In case it feels like a gift to someone else, here are a few other things I don’t.


I don’t have it
all together.

I don’t always get motherhood right.

I don’t make my girls make their own lunches.

I don’t make my girls make their beds before school.

I don’t do Pinterest-inspired parties.

I don’t like everything that goes with being a mom. 

I don’t know what I’m doing a lot of the time even though I’ve been at this a long time.
I don’t make my kids do enough chores.

I don’t limit desserts to “special occasions.”

I don’t switch my daughters’ schedules to “school time” while it’s still August just so they’ll be used to getting up early when September rolls around.

I don’t have this all figured out.

I don’t…

But, here’s what I do. 


I do love, love, love my children. 

I do enjoy them.

I do delight in them. 

I do cherish them.

I do encourage and support their passions.

I do long for them to continue to walk with God and to grow in their love and passion for Him.

I do love spending time with them.

I do pray for them and with them.

I do talk to them.

I do listen to them.

I do treasure them.

I do want joy, peace, and hope for them.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is this one from Jill Briscoe: “There is an art of leaving things undone so that the greater thing can be done.”

What I don’t do–what I leave undone–frees up my time and energy and passion and enthusiasm for what I do do–the greater thing. 


And the value of that is something I don’t have any doubts about.

 

If you are a mom who sometimes doesn’t do, know this: you are not alone. I don’t, either.

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to one tween and one teen daughter. She’s been married for 20 years to a very patient husband who copes nicely as the lone male in a house full of girls. She avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by blogging about life as an imperfect mother at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and spending time on Facebook

 

One Bad Tree Doesn’t Ruin the Whole Forest by Guest Blogger Jennifer Copass

It was a busy day at the grocery store. It was our weekly family outing, and we were ready to be home.  While my youngest daughter sat in the cart and helped bag the groceries with Dad, my oldest and I sat and rested nearby on a bench. I could tell she was feeling bothered by something. I pressed her for a reason.

She frustratingly brushed her hair out of her face, and said, “I just feel like I’m a bad sister.”

I withheld a smile. What a sweet heart. My oldest daughter cares a lot about her relationships and getting along well with everybody. Sometimes, though, this means she feels too guilty too much.

I still do not know what happened between the two girls to make her feel this way. I didn’t need to know, because there was a more significant problem going on here.

My mind worked quickly through compassion and empathy. Oh, child, how I can relate to this. One bad move, one bad decision, and I’m a bad person. A bad employee. A bad mother. A bad friend. A bad minister. A bad teacher. Oh, how I can relate.

It’s one of the funny things about having kids. The confidence and love I can show them as I help them navigate their problems seems to elude me in my own struggles. Does God talk to me…through my own words?

“Honey, you are not a bad sister at all. Look, maybe you feel bad about something, but that doesn’t make you bad. It just means you had one bad moment. Think about a forest, like the beautiful forests we saw on the Tennessee mountains. They were so big and beautiful, weren’t they? Huge trees, growing so tall, stretching to the sky.

“Then you walk into that forest, surrounded by beautiful nature, and you find an old, gnarled, bent tree. It’s hollow and dead and ugly. Does this bad tree make the whole forest bad?”

My daughter shook her head no.

“So it’s the same with us. We have parts of us that are bad-getting angry too easily or being too selfish at times-and we have bad moments. We make bad choices. But just like the forest with that one bad tree, your one bad moment does not make you a bad sister. We are still altogether beautiful and growing, even through our bad moments.”

Most of us need this little reminder. A gentle touch to the soul that we are doing alright, even when we don’t feel alright. A gentle reminder to let the guilt or the bitterness go, and enjoy the beauty of the life of the forest. A reminder to give grace when it is the hardest: to ourselves.

Jennifer Copass profile picture

Jennifer is a homeschool mom to two young girls with a baby on the way. She lives in the country with her high school sweet heart, a duck, a chicken, and a handful of beehives. But she prefers to stay in-doors with chocolate, her Bible, and a blank canvas. You can read more of her stuff at www.jennifercopassblog.wordpress.com.

50 Shades of Crayons: Preparing Little Ears for the Big Talk

I watched my kids color today.  They are so young and so innocent.  Their only focus in the moment was the 50 shades of crayons that they had to choose from.  They have no clue about the “50 Shades of Grey” controversy.  They have no clue about the dark and crazy world we live in.  They have no clue about the difficult choices, or the peer pressure, or the confusion, or the temptations that this world will soon present to them.  I’m so glad.

I’m so glad that their only worry right now is what color they should choose out of the pile of crayons on the table.  Soon the choices they make will be so much bigger…colors of crayons will turn into kinds of friendships.  A broken crayon will turn into a broken heart.  Which picture should they color with their crayons will turn into which decision should they make for their lives!  Whether it be choosing healthy relationships, not cheating on a test, protecting themselves from pornography, saying no to drugs and alcohol, or waiting until marriage to have sex, they have so much ahead of them.

And just as I start to ruin this beautiful moment of them coloring quietly together by panicking, I have to regroup.  I can’t focus on the thought that the colors of crayons that they are so carefully choosing right now are the least of their worries in life.  I can’t focus on the thought that I’m not ready.  I’m not ready for them to make big decisions.  I’m not ready for them to even know the word sex let alone learn about it.  I’m not ready.

And just when I start to panic even more at the thought that maybe I am not adequately preparing them for what’s to come, God steps in.  His voice calms me and He shows me how I am thinking ahead more than I realize.

I am already taking steps to prepare their little ears for the big talk…their little lives for the bigger “pictures” to come.

And then I realized that He was right.  I am setting a foundation.  Of course at ages six, three and one, I’m not talking to them about the specifics of sex, but I am creating an environment of trust, open communication, love, and respect.  Let me share with you…

Here are 4 helpful hints to get you started on the right path to talking to your kids about sex:

1.  Set Boundaries:  Teach them the correct names for their private parts.  There is no shame in the fact that they have a vagina and a penis.  That is what they are called.  Even if they shout in the grocery store that the check out lady has a vagina…that is ok!  🙂  Emphasize that their private parts are indeed that…private.  Don’t just talk to them about that once either.  Every chance you get, remind them about the importance of respecting their private parts and someone else’s too.  Establishing appropriate touching boundaries is healthy and necessary.

2.  Communicate:  Create an environment of open and honest communication.  Don’t expect that this will just happen.  You have to work at it.  Kids don’t just naturally continue to trust you.  You have to build it, maintain it, and make necessary repairs as needed…always.  Every night, I take a few minutes with each of my older kids and talk and pray with them.  I ask about their day.  I see if they have any questions to ask me.  Sometimes they do…sometimes they don’t, but I hope that giving them that invitation to ask me anything every night will soon become something that they wait for and expect.  It is my prayer that when the appropriate time comes, having already established a level of openness and questions being exchanged, that my kids will be less uncomfortable when we do talk about more serious or uncomfortable topics like sex.

3.  Love:  Kids need to be loved!  More importantly, they need to feel loved unconditionally!  If they know they are loved, talking to them about sex will be easier.  If they know they are loved, they will feel more secure and confident in who they are and be able to love themselves and how God created them to be.  They will be able to better understand the meaning of love in sex when the time is right.

4.  Pray:  The most important thing you can do is pray!  Ask God to give you wisdom and guidance in how and when to talk to your kids about sex.  He will be there to direct you and even give you the words to say!  And begin praying for their sexual experiences and their sexual health too.  Pray for confidence to protect their bodies.  Pray for purity and for them to value their first sexual experience saving it for marriage.  (Even though I didn’t wait doesn’t mean I don’t want that for my kids.)  It’s never too early to pray over all of the big and little decisions that your kids will face in their lives!

The bible says in Isaiah 64:8- “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

As moms, we have to trust that God will be there for our kids when their crayons break.  He will guide them in choosing just the right pictures to color.  He will show them when they color outside the lines, and He will help them choose just the right crayons in life to become the beautiful works of art that He created them to be!

Our job is to set healthy boundaries, communicate with them, love them, and pray for them.  Cheer for them.  Encourage them.  Respect them.  Hug them.  Laugh with them.  Enjoy them.  By doing these things, we are not only preparing them for the big talk, but we are preparing them for their big masterpiece in life…whatever that may look like.

Lord, thank You for our children.  Help us to establish a firm foundation in loving our kids and teaching them to love themselves.  Help them to love and respect their bodies and the bodies of others.  And guide our words when the time comes to talk to them about difficult topics.  Give us confidence in our parenting and help us to model healthy relationships in our lives and in our marriages to set a good example to our children while You mold them and shape them into Your beautiful masterpiece!  In Jesus name.  Amen.