Monday, March 14, 2011


I got this email yesterday, and I wrote a response. At the end of it, I decided I wanted to share it, preserve my own thoughts, and make a blog post out of it. Rather than rework it, I'll just leave it as is, a copy of that email/response.

Hello fellow mom friends,

I'm feeling the need to bounce ideas/thoughts and questions out there for feedback from you guys. I really don't make a point to seek this out enough as a mom. But I really value any of your thoughts, opinions, advice or whatever God has taught you in these areas as moms who love Jesus and their kids.

I struggle with the line between doing what's best for my children (fulfilling their needs and sometimes wants), and doing what I would prefer simply because I might actually "go nuts" if I don't. For example, yesterday was usually a day when I would bring Child ABC and DEF to the ball-pit at the Y after ABC got out of preschool. I decided, however, that I'm sick of being at the Y (I go there everyday) and I just needed to do something different. I had errands I wanted to run at some point at the mall anyway, so when I picked up ABC from preschool at the Y, I told him the plan. Well, he threw a fit and cried and cried. I stood my ground, but felt that I should have prepped him for this before preschool. However, I made that decision while he was at preschool. Sometimes that's just how life goes, and I know he needs to deal with those upsets, but I still felt some guilt over it all. At the same time, I was also annoyed over his crying and whining about it. It's like nails on a chalkboard for me. Then things didn't go well at B&N at the mall, and I just wanted to escape and read a book. This is probably a typical day for most of you with young ones. :) Well--the whining whenever they don't get their way is really getting to me. And I think I need to be better about getting more sleep....I'm sure that would help me handle everything better as well. :O

I want to be a mom that is strong in what I need to be strong in, and lax when I need to just let certain things go that aren't as important. Being in charge doesn't come naturally for me, so I need to work hard at it. I know it sounds like I'm not enjoying being a mom, but I do enjoy it--this afternoon was just one of those times. Most importantly, I want my kids to know and sense that I enjoy them, and that my enjoyment of them is not tied to their behaviors.

How do you live out what's best for your children without neglecting yourself? I know, I know--I can hear you all saying--"neglecting yourself is not best for your children." But what is this supposed to look like? So does that mean I should pray & ask God how I should live that out for them, trusting that He'll provide the rest and sanity that I need to keep going? Or do I need to "secure that outcome" of rest myself, and carve it into my schedule?

How do you avoid letting the little things get to you, (like repeated whining, spilled milk - again, or fill in the blank with whatever gets on your nerves the most), and instead, remember the "big picture" and the joy and privilege of parenting?

How do you have more grace for yourself and your kids? I want our home to be full of His grace.

I may be able to answer the above questions with "the right" answers, but I really appreciate hearing others' feedback. Also, I'm looking for what you as a mom do or have done in these situations, hence the emphasis on "you". Practicality is very valuable to me.

I know we're all busy--so I don't expect everyone to reply. But if you feel so inclined to reply--I would appreciate it--doesn't need to be lengthy. I certainly don't expect every question answered from each person--just whatever comes to your mind. And feel free to "reply all" if this is something you'd like see others' feedback for yourself.

A+ Mom

My response:
Hi guys. I would be interested in hearing all your answers too, if you all are open to that.

Great questions, A+ Mom. And like you said, we probably do know the "right" answers, but hearing from other moms helps us to not feel so alone in these struggles, and that alone is encouraging.

Feel free to cc me.

:D Thanks!

I would say for me, in regards to "me" time, I don't pray about it, I just carve it in (which means, I don't feel guilty about paying a babysitter so I can go to bible study. That's my "me" time. Which equals about $50 a paycheck. That's a lot of "me" money for a single income family of 7, imo.) And even if it isn't a set time, you need to be intentional about making it happen, and not letting it get pushed aside as not that important. It is. It makes a world of difference. Even Jesus took "me" time, right? :D I probably should pray about it, but that's one area I'm still working on - giving God my life - schedule, attitudes, etc. I know for me, when I start to get irritated or angry, it snowballs. So the spilled milk then becomes an over the top experience. Much worse that just purely spilled milk. I know it helps if I pray for the day, but since that doesn't happen as often as I'd like, just making the effort to be calm helps. And sometimes it still escalates, but not usually as ferociously. I get irritated by anything that causes more work for me (like picking up toys... I know! ;D).

Whining is a KILLER! And my resentment of the child who whines pushes me away from her. Something i REALLY don't want. How to deal with whining/crying, idk. I'm still working on that one. I try reasoning with them, getting mad, redirection. Then I send them to their bed. I should send them to their bed earlier. Sometimes they just need their own down time, their own opportunity to regroup and change their attitude. (Child XYZ will stay there stewing for HOURS.) Jesus needed down time, I need down time, why wouldn't they? I try not to make it all better and give in when they whine. I feel that just teaches them that whining works. But I also address it, and try to empathize, find out why they're upset, explain. I have to remind myself that I am being selfish with my time by being irritated, and I have to remind my self also, that caring for them is worship. That I am serving unto God himself. That I need to keep loving them anyway. Yes, I need remind myself to love my children. :D Transparency. sigh.

(I also just read these two blog posts last night. I think you'll enjoy them. If nothing, the music is soul soothing. I'll excerpt the parts that spoke to me. Thank You, Ann Voskamp.)

And after years of happy homemaking — and thwarted homemaking (oh, but didn’t I just put this away?!) — the realization comes like a curtain opening up to sweeping vistas, opening to the place where all the happiest live. (Why had I never known?)

Homemaking is about making a home

**— and a home is a safe place, a refuge, a place to be real and alive and truest true.

Homemaking is not about making perfection.

I laugh, emancipated: A perfect home may not at all be a neat as a pin home.

Perfect does not equate to immaculate.

The two do not match, compute, correspond. (Ah, the simple wonder of it!)

A perfect home is an authentic, creative, animated space where Peace and Love and Beauty are embraced.

And when my mama walks into all this YES!, her eyes wide and her smile long, I nod my epiphany:

Saying Yes will mean a mess.

And the mess may be perfect.

For creativity and discovery is a work of courage — and we forge a trail and leave a wake of mistakes and this part of what it is to be perfectly human.
The mudroom sink is grime ringed. Fingerprints smear across the mirror. And I laugh the happiest wonder.

In an afternoon’s drizzle, I give happy thanks for the daily mess with a smile a mile wide, because this is again my chance to wholeheartedly serve God, to do full-bodied eucharisteo with the hands and the heart and the lips.

I can count each task a gift, pure eucharisteo. Grace!

This work—the thousand endless jobs—they each give the opportunity for one to become the gift, a thousand times over!

Because with every one of the thousand, endless jobs, I become the gift to God and to others, because this work is the public God serving, the daily liturgy of thanks, the completing of the Communion service with my service.
I also struggle with unrealistic expectations of my kids - expecting them to have adult-sized emotions and reasoning skills. Yeah, that's not really working for me. It's a process of learning for all of us, adult and child alike. I don't think that you should feel bad about changing plans, and ABC needs to learn how to adapt as life will bring lots of sudden change of plans and he'll have to learn how to roll with it. Best you can do is say that we have other things to do to day, you're sorry we won't go there today, but we will another day. When I employ the empathy tactic of Love and Logic, I find it usually works. I just don't always use it. Basically, your empathy says to them that you value their feelings, you understand that they might be upset and you feel bad too. (even if you don't really mean it in the flesh at the moment, it still works. It's all about tone.)

I think strength comes in knowing your place (as mom), your role, and what you want to be like, what you want to teach them, what atmosphere you want in your home. I think, when you know those things, when you sort of write it all out, then it's easier to implement and not feel guilty. You don't feel guilty about not giving in because you know that by giving in you would teach them they can always have their way, but being strong in who you are as their mother and being firm about an issue, you are teaching them about authority, submission, discipline, love in boundaries and life. You are teaching them how to respond or deal with life's unfairness. (Not that it's all doom and gloom, but you know what I mean.) About attitude.

Right now I'm in the mode of seeing all my flesh, of knowing all the ways I'm not a good model for my children, and seeing them reflected back to me in the less than glamorous words and actions and attutudes of my children. BUT... I know that God has a purpose in that... to refine me and make me better. So while it feels a bit like being down on myself a lot, it also is a true glimpse of how God feels when I speak harsh word or whatever to my lovely little beings, how my actions are not of love. And that reflection is good for change.

<3 Mrs. Bananas


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