Friday, March 31, 2017

To Love And Not Make Happy

My three-year-old is laying on his floor crying “I am not happy”. All I have to say is, “me either, kid, me either”.

When I put him down for a nap he said “don’t leave me alone. When you go bye-bye it make my heart feel broken”. I don’t know where he learned that but I know that for years I have made mothering about making my kids happy, loved, and trying to give them everything they want. I had the intention of doing all of this because I wanted to care for them well, because I wanted them to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were loved. But, I wasn’t showing them love. I was making myself comfortable, I was surviving the night feedings, the newborn baby stage, the terrible-twos that move into terrible-threes. I was surviving feeling alone, being screamed at by kids, always having a bathroom companion. Everything felt difficult: sleeping, making breakfast, getting people out the door, getting people back in the door, making dinner. All the normal, everyday life situations were not simple. So I tried (and failed) to make their attitudes bearable. I made decisions and let the kids change them, I solved problems and then when my oldest had a logical reason to do it differently I allowed it. I said “no” five or six or ten times before any discipline happened because I was convinced eventually they would get it. Wouldn’t they understand by some magical age how to help me, how to play nicely, how to walk away when something made them mad?

I made loving them about giving them their needs and wants, playing with them and creating fun. I let that define if the reason I was a good mom or not. I made those things the priority for mothering well. But, it is not. It created kids who expected their own way, who when told “no” over turning off the sink or not running in the parking lot would throw themselves down screaming and yelling, hitting me as I picked them up. My attempts at loving them, at giving into them, allowing them freedom were because I wanted to feel loved back. It was as if I thought they would remember how many books I read them, how many songs I sang as I rubbed their back at night and then they would sleep longer in the morning as a thank-you. A back forth dance of I give to you, you give to me, we both help each other out. But this isn’t a friendship or a marriage. There has to be a clear authority figure.

The parent is supposed to love always no matter what they receive in return. We have to love because God gave us these children and we want to show them His love. We have to love because God loves us and it changed our life. We cannot love to get affection in return for that isn’t truly love. defines love as “unselfish loyal concern for the good of another”. My love for them wasn’t unselfish, I deeply wanted to feel important, I wanted to be listened to, I wanted them to be less wild so I could get my task list finished! I called it love, it wasn’t. A parent is defined as a “person who brings up and cares for another, a group from which another arises and to which it usually remains subsidiary” ( I will never argue that I am more important than my children but at three, five and six they should be subordinate in our household. I wanted friends, I wanted a group of people to live life with and play with and go on adventures with and tackle house cleaning with. But, I was given the commanding position and I didn’t take it. I am the general who gathered around his troops and said “let’s throw out the plan and do whatever we want for now, we will figure out dinner whenever we get there”. It was a mess.

This task of leading the troops, of taking charge and holding our kids to obedience is not easy. It requires me to ask friends to leave because my children will not obey simple rules, it causes us to not get the ice cream we wanted after dinner because the kids are being disrespectful, it causes me to get little done on my to-do list and be late to an appointment because I had to discipline the child instead of ignore it. But, I think that is a more accurate picture of love. That is a life concerned about their good more than their happiness. I think that produces children who know they are loved because they were invested in, taught, disciplined. They can move forward to love others well because they were not taught selfishness or love for the purpose of getting. That is the kind of love I want to lead with!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Giving gifts just because...

We are those parents who don't throw birthday parties and don't give our own kids Christmas gifts...(gasp, scream, shock, horror). I know, you probably think we are awful. I actually thought my husband was awful when he said this was the way he wanted to do it. But, I love it now!

Don't be fooled, our kids get lots of gifts on their birthday, holidays and we celebrate their birthday with lots of fun! But, we also want them to be given gifts on days just because... is Tuesday
...we love them
...we knew they would like it
...they lost a first tooth
...they were brave
...we wanted to

 We want giving gifts to come from a heart of love and giving to others. I know this is the heart our family gives to them out of and it isn't forced. We are using gifts as a very obvious lesson to them that they don't deserve or get things just because it is a birthday or Christmas.

Jesus didn't come because we earned His love, He didn't come because we were good enough. He came because He loved us. So our children get gifts (from family) on Christmas to celebrate and reflect on Jesus' love and God giving us the ultimate gift of Jesus. But, they also get tape on a random Wednesday because they love taping things and I always tell them "no" to using my tape.

I don't want my kids to have expectations for what they are getting and define a gift by size or cost. I equally want them to give out of a desire to love people well and give generously at random times not designated by tradition or calendars.

So I will continue to run upstream, go against the flow and take my kids Christmas shopping for friends and family. We will take birthday gifts to birthday parties. Our kids ask why we don't give them gifts on these holidays and we explain to them that our love for them can come in a variety of ways. We can celebrate and rejoice in them and the day with gifts, cake, ice cream outings, dance parties, extra shows, a family hike...see? The list is infinite of ways to show our children they are loved and teach them how to show love! This (new to me) method has helped me be creative and more engaged in the days with them. It is been fun to see the joy and surprise on their face when they ask for a new game at the grocery store and I say "yes" or we scoop them up for naps and take them to the ice cream store! Giving gifts should be something that happens regularly and isn't reserved or measured. So gasp or disagree or send gifts on Christmas but remember those other days are worth celebrating and giving on too!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Why We Love LEGO

When our oldest was a few months shy of four we had yet to find much (other than books) that held his attention, that engaged him longer than 2 minutes and inspired him to focus. He was always busy, deconstructing things (or tearing them apart whichever way you see it), wanting to be involved in all tasks and curious. He showed he was detail oriented but I somehow still had to tell him basic rules repeatedly. LEGO changed all that. As our second and third child have grown they have come to love LEGO too. I have found that it tends to be a toy mom's either love or hate, here is why we LOVE LEGO!!!

11. It gave him independence he had not been allowed to have because he tore everything in the house apart. His new creations gave him an understanding of how mommy and daddy felt about our stuff. He didn’t want his new fire trucks and airplanes broken apart. It gave us a language to speak to explain to him that he had to be responsible and careful with things.

22.     Building kits showed him how to work at something. He doesn’t like hard things even though he is an excellent problem solver. The intricacy of putting these puzzles together was a task he thought was fun which helped him push through and see his achievements.

33.      Imaginations are ignited! All our kids create airplanes, robots, Star Wars droids, a game board, motorcycles, trucks, gardens, tree-houses, towers, trains…It is an exciting thing to watch your child sit down with a pile of bricks and stand up holding a creation they invented and build on their own!

44.     LEGO has helped us learn colors, practice counting, talk about shapes, and math skills (adding, multiplication, sorting)

55.     LEGO has been a family activity for us. Something we all love to do together!

66.     In our house LEGO for our oldest offers hours (3+ often) of entertainment and activity and focus which for a tired mama is beautiful on the weekend. IT was also great when I was nursing babies because I could nurse and sit with him to play LEGO!

77.   LEGO has taught him how to clean up messes. I remember when he was 18 months and there was hundreds of Duplo scattered across the floor. He loved playing with those big, chunky blocks and although it was exhausting to teach him they had to go back in their bin, he eventually learned and now with all these tiny pieces he is excellent at finding their home.

88.     I found cards on Pinterest for creating Letters and Numbers with Duplo. It has been nice to have manipulatives that they already consider toys and are enthusiastic about playing with to use for teaching.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

To the Mother Who Feels Like She's Drowning

I am on Her View From Home today laying it all out there to confess I am not a superhero and hopefully encourage you in the process! You are not alone and you do not have to prove to anyone that you are efficient, capable or patient at every exhausting moment of the day.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Guest Posting for Mom Crush Monday: The Gift of Children

Confessing my struggle and confusion about how God says children are gifts and the beauty He showed me at Follow the Dyers today! Hope it is encouraging to you in this season of motherhood.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Making Quiet Days a Routine

Routines and rhythms helps us develop an understanding of work and play and rest. Too often they include all work, all tasks, all commitments to people and very little real rest. With kids this is a hard concept, what does rest with kids look like? As a stay at home mom with very little time alone I really fight for this. I would still like more play and rest alone or with my husband but I want to experience this with my children and as a family too! Don't you?

We have created a routine to our week to enforce habits of rest and play. Making it a habit allows me to more easily turn off my to-do list, knowing that there is time to accomplish the dishes, laundry, grocery, school, writing, cleaning...ahhh! When I can't turn off that list I cannot rest, I do not play with my children and they notice the difference as much as I do.

So I made Tuesdays our quiet days! For us that means no plans, no people, and no necessity of changing out of pajamas! We still do school and I most likely throw in laundry and do dishes but the pace of the day is slower. The schedule is dictated not by other people and appointments but by us. We read lots of extra books, we eat a big breakfast, we play games and do crafts and when daddy comes home, most often we are still wearing those jams. But he comes home to smiles on those days more often than others.

God created us to need rest, to be reminded that we aren't capable of doing everything. To trust Him for provision and for strength and for joy and protection. He is capable and when we don't stop we refuse the gift. We believe our way is better. We think that if the dishes aren't done we can't rest, if the laundry is still piled high we can't stop thinking, if the kids are making noise we can't have calm. But He tells us to rest in Him not our accomplishments, not our finished products and not the silence.

We can rest in the midst of the storm because He is the voice the calms it!

If I don't make Tuesdays a habit. If I don't Sharpie them into my calendar and carve that routine into life I will forget. I will take on more than I can, try to be someone I never can become and teach my children that rest is only for vacations (which is a mirage).

Rest is a choice, a gift given for us to accept and not a reward for us to earn. It is something that we have been created to need and yet we fight that reality. I fight it in order to attain perfection in a tidy house, super woman status in being able to do everything and need nothing. I instead melted down into a puddle of tears to my husband and was short tempered with our kids.

Rest has to be a reality and it never will be until we make the choice for it to be a priority!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

You Don't have to Suck it up!

I'm on Her View From Home today encouraging myself and you that don't have to pretend today, you can ask for help, accept grace in your failures and cry in your kitchen if you need to! 

Just Say “No”

             I have been there…that place where you say ‘yes’ to everything because you are trying to just survive. You are trying t...