Archive for Parenting

Humble Mother’s Day to Me

DSCN3985

Isn’t it funny how your kids can make you so proud, yet are so good at keeping you humble?

Take last Sunday morning for example.  I helped out in my kids’ Sunday School classroom, so I was let in on the “surprise” song which they had been practicing so they could sing it in front of the church congregation on Mother’s Day. As they were going over the words, I felt a little uncomfortable.  “She’s patient, understanding, and as gentle as can be” really aren’t the words I would use to describe myself at times, especially as I reflected on a couple of incidents that took place over the last week.

I looked at my kids. My son wasn’t even trying to sing, just sitting there with a bored look on his face. I wondered if it was just because he doesn’t like group singing or if he couldn’t force himself to say those flowery words about me. Our eyes met and I smiled and shrugged my shoulders at him. He shrugged back.

Then my daughter looked up at me and I shrugged and smiled at her too and she smiled back while happily singing along to the song. I wondered to myself, “Could she possibly mean those words?” As it turned out, I didn’t have to wonder long. They finished their final go-round of the little ditty and she leaned in close to me. I put my arm around her and smiled as she peered into my eyes and softly said, “Mama, you’re not always all those things.” Ha! There it was—the spoken words of what I was feeling. I laughed, but in my insecurity I told her that “most moms aren’t all the time” {and I wanted to say that she and her brother were the reason for it!}, but I let it go at that. I did share her words with others in the room and we got a good chuckle out of it. One other mother who was helping out said, “Yah, she said that to me last week too, but I didn’t want to tell you and hurt your feelings.” That’s my sometimes too-honest girl for ya! How humbling, yet funny is that?!

As I think about it though, it’s not all bad. I will continue to try to grow more patient with my kids, but it shows that we’re real with each other. Sometimes I raise my voice, freak out a bit, and get on them about things, but I try to admit it once I’ve lost my patience and apologize if necessary and tell them I’ll try to do better next time. Hopefully they can appreciate that and will learn that although none of us are perfect, we can always say we’re sorry and try to improve. Hopefully they are learning to follow my example of being ready with an apology when one is needed and being humble enough to admit it {that sounds kind of vain, but you know what I mean}. And hopefully someday we can all look back at a lot of this stuff that seems so frustrating and intense at times now…and laugh, and know it’s just a part of growing up, for all of us.

DSCN3953

My kids have both already given me a couple of wonderful homemade Mother’s Day cards, so I do feel loved and appreciated. I am so incredibly thankful to be their Mom!

DSCN3984

Dandelion Bouquets

dandelion bouquet

The weeks fly by, don’t they? I think we’re really done with snow for a few months now {“I think” being the key words there} and spring is upon us again. I’ve been busy working on my Grohing Up Together Facebook page and Etsy shop and had to take a bit of a break from my blog. I hope to be more active on here again soon.

But today is a beautiful day and we’re all hoping to enjoy some time outdoors. I was out trying to capture the beauty of my flower garden in snapshots and my kids wanted to stay inside. Until that is, my son heard the neighbor’s lawn mower start up. He has always loved our neighbor’s mower for some reason and is quickly dressed and informs me he is going out to watch “Mr. Gary” cut the grass. At this point, of course, I’m heading back indoors, but he doesn’t care, he wants to watch that mower.

So I sit down to upload some pictures and he calls me over to the patio door. “Mama, can you come here?” I turn to see he has a handful of fresh-picked dandelions for me. He tells me that he knows they’re weeds, but they’re still pretty, and a little sticky, and I take them and give him a kiss and a smiling “thank you.”

Just then my daughter shouts, “Can I go outside too?” I tell her that of course she can and she runs upstairs to change out of her Super Girl outfit and put on some play clothes. She yells down the stairs, “If I put on long sleeves can I not wear a coat?” I reply with another “of course” and get up to get another vase, because I’m pretty sure I know what’s coming next.

And after she has been outside about a minute, I am again called to the patio door to receive another {slightly larger} bouquet of dandelions, because one must compete with one’s sibling at all times.  🙂dandelion bouquet It’s a good day. A great season in life. A time to get up and get back outside and enjoy time with my kids while they still want me around. Dandelion bouquets won’t last forever.

 

Candy for Breakfast {and all day long}

candy for breakfast

I am amazed at the steady stream of candy that comes into our house. Just when one batch disappears, another holiday is upon us, or another parade comes through town, and our candy dish is overflowing once again. My kids would love nothing more than to eat candy…all day long.  As a parent, I set some ground rules {and even throw the stuff out on occasion to try to limit the quantities}.  As my kids ask for it, I have told them more than once, “If candy was good for you, I would be thrilled to feed it to you all day long, every day, because I want you to be happy and I want you to love me and think that I’m the best parent ever, BUT, BECAUSE I love you, I am saying no and I do NOT let you do that. Although you may not understand why now, hopefully someday you will.”

Am I unloving because I don’t let them consume as much sugary deliciousness as they want? No, quite the opposite, I would say.  I happen to know what is best for them in this area, and eating candy for meals is not it. I realize that it provides no nutritional value and will eventually cause them great discomfort. So guidelines are set and need to be followed. If left to their own juvenile thinking process, my kids would choose unwisely…often. So parents and guardians give guidance and establish boundaries to help kids grow and learn to make wise, healthy choices. Is that unloving? Is that rigid and unfair? I think not. It is the most loving thing we could do. To let them make themselves sick and cause long term problems and expose them to undo risk is unloving. To nurture and lovingly guide shows care and concern.

To me this seems like a great analogy of God’s love for us. It guides and protects. He is not trying to keep us from fun, but from harm and from suffering from our own foolish decisions.

In church this past Sunday, our pastor drew something similar out for us as he spoke of how the Israelites grumbled and complained as God {through Moses} led them out of the incredibly harsh bondage of slavery in Egypt to a promised land and better life. It wasn’t an easy journey to freedom and the people forgot where they came from and wanted to go back to “the land flowing with milk and honey.” Really—milk and honey? They were burdened with forced labor and cruelty but because they weren’t content with the way this journey out of slavery was going, they looked back with rose-colored glasses. But before we condemn them for their short-sightedness, we must look inward and see these same emotions welling up in us at times.

Pastor Wayne drew a chart with 2 columns: Benefits and Liabilities. Then, as a group we began filling in the “benefits” of sin—like immediate gratification, it’s easy, it’s fun, it’s exciting; and then the liabilities of sin—guilt, regret, hurting others, addiction, losing control, depression, damaged reputation, disease and other health risks, incarceration, separation from family, broken relationship with God and on and on. {I didn’t copy the exact things down that were mentioned, but they were similar to this}

We then charted the benefits and liabilities of obedience to God. Liabilities included—delayed gratification, persecution, opposition to the unbelieving world’s way of thinking, being wrongfully labeled, hard work, conquering our desires, learning self control—but wait—can’t most of those really all be seen as GOOD things in the long run?  Benefits included—unbroken relationship with God, confidence, peace, hope, joy, increased faith, increased patience, endurance, Godly humility, growing to be more like Christ, eternal rewards…

It may be more difficult, but why would we not choose obedience when we see it from the proper perspective? God isn’t a kill joy. Through His son, Jesus Christ, He is the Savior, Who sacrificed His very life for us. He. Loves. Us. So. Much, and He has our best interests in mind if we will humbly accept His guidance and not march off in a different direction following paths that seem wise to us, filling up on candy all along the way.

Storing Kids’ Artwork

Does anyone out there have a great system for storing their kids’ artwork and school papers? The stuff piles up so quickly! And I don’t know about you, but it usually accumulates on my kitchen counter. It seems like I’m constantly battling the clutter on my countertop.

I thought I had a decent system established last year, but as it turns out, I really didn’t. I had purchased a couple of over-sized expandable file folders for their kindergarten work, but this school year I dreaded filing the papers away, because oversized or not, it was tough to get some of the artwork into the folder compartments. As a result, I occasionally moved the overwhelming pile from my countertop to the top of a desk upstairs, and there the pile sat…and grew…from September until last week {March}! That’s pretty bad, and it was a pretty big pile.

But I think I may have a workable system now. I’ve been experimenting with some craft projects that use scrapbook paper, and I purchased a plastic container to hold and protect the paper.  The container was 40% off at Michaels so I thought I got a pretty good deal. I was putting the container away in my upstairs hall closet and got a glimpse of the pile of artwork and school papers on the desk and thought, hmmmmm, I bet most of that stuff would fit into one of these…and the ball started rolling. And would you believe, the next week those containers were on sale for 50% off, so I stocked up.

DSCN3605

I took the time to make some fun labels for each container which will allow me to quickly identify whose artwork it holds and from what year in school.

DSCN3594

My plan is to have one container per child per school year, or as long as they are needed. Once the school year is over, they will get stored on the top shelf of each kid’s closet. During the school year, they fit nicely into my hallway closet, which also holds pictures, scrapbook supplies and games. I can add to them easily, so the piles of clutter will {hopefully} be no more.

DSCN3600

I did sort through the artwork and discard some, but I took pictures of it first and will include those photos in the storage container. Chances are, I will not point these photos out to my kids right away though, because they never take it well when I throw ANYTHING away.

Even ROY G. BIV fits in these containers, after one little fold.

Even ROY G. BIV fits in these containers, after one little fold.

Do you have any storage solutions that are working well for you? Please share them below. We can all use a good idea on controlling the clutter.

Not the Perfect Mom

I have a growing list of things that I would like to share on my blog. Some of them revolve around parenting and things that I have learned and ideas I am putting into practice. But I feel that first I need to write this blog, as sort of a disclaimer. I need to put it out there that, wait for it…I am not the perfect mom. 🙂 Those that know me best would laugh at even the thought of this. But anyone reading this who may not know me personally might think that I have it all together and am able to pass my great parenting skills or ideas on to others because I have perfected them in my own life. This, of course, is far from true. I am amazed at how easy it is to mess up as a parent. I could count on one hand the times I raised my voice—before I was a parent. I did not often get instantly frustrated or feel exasperated—before I was a parent. These emotions really caught me off-guard. Before becoming a mother, people sometimes remarked how patient I was and that I would “be a great mom someday” and frankly, I believed them. Then I became a mother and my patience seemed much harder to hang on to. Can I get an “amen” here?

I am so thankful for great friends who let me know that all these feelings were normal. They’re nothing to be proud of or to settle for, but they are pretty common place and I was not alone in feeling them. Whew—that was a relief! I couldn’t imagine being anything but honest in parenting and if I was constantly trying to live behind a façade, pretending that I was always calm and poised and my kids were always well-behaved and respectful, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Life is just not that neat and tidy. Kids are kids and parenting is hard sometimes, ok, maybe a lot. But still, I LOVE my kids and I love being their mom, no doubt about.

I do believe that there are many seasons in motherhood or parenting, and some of us thrive in different seasons. Some people love the newborn stage and others can’t wait until their kids are verbally communicating. Some love the pre-teen years and others dread them.  I’m not exactly sure what my shining season is or will be, but I think I will always hope that each season will be even better than the last, while striving to make the most of the current one and fondly remembering the previous ones.

And here’s a parenting key for me: asking for forgiveness. Saying “I’m sorry.” Wow, those words are like a powerful eraser, getting rid of the mistakes and allowing us to move ahead, unblemished and wiser. I don’t have to be perfect, but I should always try to do better. When I have an impatient moment, or an entirely crabby day, I can always tell my kids that I was wrong in how I acted or responded and that I am sorry, and the wonderful thing is, they usually respond with a ready hug and an “I forgive you” and we can move on (as long as I let it go and don’t continue to beat myself up over it. A fellow-blogger, Erika Dawson, wrote a great post about that recently which you can read here).

And I expect the same from my kids. Living daily life together gives us parents the opportunity to model appropriate behavior. Our kids can see that even adults make mistakes and that the right thing to do is to admit it and ask for forgiveness and move on, striving to handle life better the next time. (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control–the fruit of the Spirit are great reminders of how we should treat each other, but I’ll post more about that another time.)

So with that said, I will now feel free to write about parenting to my heart’s content, referring back to this post whenever necessary to remind myself and everyone else that I’m still learning and growing in this area myself. (Do you see why the name of my blog–Grohing Up Together–is so appropriate?)  😉