Category Archives: Truly Trying

Confessions of a Cruddy Sports Mom

Last week I received a text that confirmed something I have known for awhile – I’m a cruddy sports mom.

Anyone out there feeling me?

This post is for all of you who get excited when the forecast calls for rain on game night, and this post is for all of you who would rather spend your Saturday mornings in bed than on the sidelines. You know who you are. Don’t hang your head in shame.

This is a safe space to admit you would rather be at home under your nice, warm, downy duvet than freezing your booty off on the metal bleachers at 8:45 am on a Saturday morning while your kid does the floss and picks grass in the outfield.

I assume there have to be other parents like me. Maybe they are even posing as die-hard t-ball fans? Maybe all of that enthusiasm is just for show. Doubtful. But maybe?

I want to be more enthusiastic about it all. I really and truly do. But I’m just not.

This fall, three out of our four kids played ball. Parents, I don’t need to go into details here. You know what this means. It means lots of time spent at the ball field and a lot of time spent in the car. Lots.

And some nights, all four of them had activities at the same time. Figure that one out. It’s as crazy as it sounds.

I am starting to fully understand the phrase, “It takes a village”- because oh man, does it ever. All I can say is thank goodness my girls ended up on the same teams as our neighbors. And yay for grandparents who have moved to town.

There were plenty of evenings I would send one child with a neighbor, run another to wherever they needed to be, pop over to watch the game for 20 minutes and then jump back into the car to pick up another child. You get the drift.

I am sure if anyone was paying attention (and they probably weren’t), that I looked like a crazy lady. (Which makes me want to pause for a minute to point out, if you do happen to see a mom or dad running around like a chicken with their head cut off instead of enjoying the game – try not to judge. They are trying their best just like you. I am sure they would much rather be sitting on the bleacher cheering on the team – but life.)

And let’s not forget what happens prior to even getting out the door. The kids walk in from school and it’s – “Do you have homework? Hurry up. Get your uniform on. You have five minutes to eat. Where are you cleats? Do you have your water? Come on. We need to GO, people!”

As crazy as it feels to me, they don’t mind. Not one bit. Why? Because they are doing what they love – playing ball.

And the same was true for me when I was a kid. I have zero memories of the time between school and heading to the diamond, but I can remember what it felt like to swing the bat and watch the ball go flying. I can remember rounding the bases. I can remember being in the outfield and having a teammate teach me what it means to “fly the bird.” Yep. That happened.

I remember my team and my love of the game. I don’t remember the sacrifices my parents made to get me there. Sorry mom and dad.

And this is what keeps me going. Even though I consider myself a cruddy sports mom, I can still get into a game with the best of ’em. I love watching my children do what brings them joy.

I love the smiles on their faces and the sparkle in their eyes when they finally receive the prized game ball for a job well done. I love knowing they are experiencing camaraderie with their teammates and that they are learning the invaluable skills that come from playing on a team.

There is much to love about sports and what it teaches our children.

So what’s the problem?

I think it’s more about having multiple somethings that people have to be to every night. And every weekend.

It’s more about exhaustion.

In the beginning of the season, I am excited. By the end, I am looking at the forecast and hoping the 20% chance of rain moves up to 100%. And I’m really hoping we don’t have to drive all the way to Franklin only to have the game cancelled 30 minutes after we get there. If it’s supposed to rain, let’s just cancel the game already.

And I had hoped this was what most parents were secretly thinking. I knew I was a cruddy sports mom, but I couldn’t possibly be the cruddiest. Could I?

Turns out – maybe so.

Last week, I received a text from the coach about my daughter’s last game of the season. The text read:

“Just received word that we have won tonight’s game by forfeit! We can still use the field if the girls want to do one last mini scrimmage like we’ve done in practice (and we could get a team picture before.) Or the commissioner said she could reach out to a team with a bye this week to see if they want to play us. Please let me know your vote: (1) mini-scrimmage; (2) scrimmage another team if available; (3) no thanks – done with fall softball.”

Yes! This was the moment! We could all collectively admit what we have been feeling. Let’s be done with it all.

And then the replies came in. One two after another. 2. 2. 2. 2. All 2s.

What the?!

This is the moment when I should have owned my number-3-loving self, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t let them in on my cruddy sports mom secret. My reply was, “Staying in Nolensville would be awesome!” (because the alternative was driving 20 minutes to the field where we were supposed to play that night.) I am such a chicken. Why couldn’t I just reply with 3?

The reason? Because in my heart I know what we know as parents to be true – this isn’t about me. Is it?

I think this is what all of those sports moms are on to. Just because I was tired and ready for the season to be over, doesn’t mean my daughter didn’t want to play. Of course she wanted to play. She loves softball. Just like I loved softball when I was her age.

Yes, I am a cruddy sports mom. Yes, I hope for bad weather and cancelled games on occasion. Who am I kidding? It’s not on occasion. I’m always am hoping for that. Yes, I pull out my phone sometimes during the game to check my email. Yes, I hear the alarm go off on a Saturday morning and think “WHY?” But regardless of how I feel, I will keep doing it. I will keep signing them up and running around like a crazy woman praying for the rain to fall.

Because, as parents, this is what we do. Right? We show up. We encourage. We cheer. We wash uniforms repeatedly. We sign up for our obligatory snack duty. We run from one place to the other dropping kids off and picking them up like a free taxi service.

Whether we are incredible sports moms (and dads), or cruddy ones – we are in it together. Sharing bleachers, toting snacks and feeling an overwhelming amount of love for our little people playing the game.

Yes, we are in it together. So, the next time you see a frazzled mom running to the stands yelling for her kids to “hurry up” with bags on her arms and a baby on her hip (I’m not there anymore, but I used to be), give her a fist bump and let her know you’re glad to see her.

And if you really want to make her day – tell her she is doing am amazing job and hand her the game ball.

 

 

 

 

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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Have you ever done something that was out of your comfort zone? My guess is more than likely, at one time or another, you have.

Maybe it was traveling by yourself for the first time? Or going into your first job interview? What about having your first baby? Or the moment you realize they are actually going to send this tiny human home with you just 48 hours after birth? That was a big one for me. I vividly remember crying to the nurse as we were going through the discharge paperwork. What would we do with this precious little baby (who seemed incredibly vulnerable to the dangers of the world, might I add) when we got home? Talk about being out of your comfort zone.

Yes, I have been out of my comfort zone a time or two (or lots.) It may not have been pleasant in the moment, but the end result is usually the same – growth.

I recently experienced one of these uncomfortable growth moments. A friend of mine, Amber Sandberg, has an incredible podcast called the Mom Inspired Show, and I was scheduled to be a guest.

Ironically, I am the one who asked her about being on the show. It sounded like a lot of fun, until the day before it was scheduled. Then all of those, “What are you doing?” and “You can’t do this” monsters tried to sneak in and steal my joy.

I can write all day long, but unedited speaking that other people are going to be listening to? Gulp. When I write, I have the ability to edit. I can go back and add words, remove and rearrange sentences and even delete it all if the mood strikes. This is not the case with a podcast.

After a couple of minutes, I realized Amber was right (which shouldn’t have come as a surprise given this was her 105th episode.) It was just as she had described, two friends chatting.

The topic of conversation, friendship, is near and dear to my heart – so it was easy to talk about.

Amber and I are both midwest girls who relocated to a suburb of Nashville. She moved over a decade ago, and I moved a year ago. We met at MOPS last year and learned that our Birthdays are just one day a part, and to top it off – we were both about to turn 40. Instant connection.

In the podcast, we talk about moving, seasons of life, the challenges of developing and building relationships with the demands of motherhood, the importance of showing up, vulnerability, different personalities and self-awareness – all under the umbrella of friendship.

It was so much fun. Prior to the call, I was nervous and felt like this was completely outside of my wheelhouse, and by the time it was over – I was hungry for more. I absolutely loved being on her show and quickly asked if I could come back as a guest again.

What started as uncomfortable, ended up being an opportunity for growth and self-discovery that I’m incredibly grateful for.

Interestingly enough, the more I thought about my feelings – I realized the discomfort I felt in trying something new can be a kin to how it feels when pursuing new relationships. Finding friends means being willing to, at times, be uncomfortable.

Joining a mom’s group or a Bible study may not be comfortable. Being the first to say “hello” and introduce yourself to someone may not be comfortable. Asking a potential friend to go on a walk, or share a cup of coffee, may not be comfortable. Having 20 interrupted conversations with someone you are just getting to know at the park while you are watching your kids may not be comfortable. Opening up and beginning to share your past with someone may not be comfortable.

There is a lot about friendship that has the potential to take us outside of our comfort zone, but it is so worth it. I truly believe we are made for connection and the more deep and meaningful relationships we have in our life, the more fulfilling life becomes.

Here is my podcast debut with the very talented Amber Sandberg. You should totally check it out and while you are on the site, I highly recommend listening to her other podcasts as well. They are fantastic.

Click here to listen: http://mominspiredshow.com/why-friends-are-important-and-how-to-find-them-jennifer-thompson-105/

I hope you enjoy the show!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skating Toward Plan C

Have you ever set out to do something and it didn’t turn out the way you planned? I would have to imagine so. That’s just part of living. Isn’t it?

That’s why we say things like, “Go with the flow” and “Roll with the punches.”

For example, you’re getting ready to head to the gym and get a call to pick up your sick child from school. So you do a workout video instead. You plan to make meatloaf, reach for the oats in the pantry and find an empty container. So you make spaghetti. You’re on your way to an appointment and your tire goes flat. So you reschedule.

The ever reliable Plan B, C, or D is like the boy and girl standing against the wall waiting for their turn to be chosen during the Rockin’ Robin at the roller rink (yes, that was a very specific memory from my childhood that I just randomly tossed in there because it made me smile.) You might be skating toward A all sweaty-palmed and nervous when someone goes flying past you like a bolt of lightening. How do they skate so fast? They beat you to it. So what do you do? Do you pout off like a baby and spend the rest of the day at the pinball machines? No. You pull up your skate strings and adjust course. And lucky you – look at all of the other incredible, and possibly even better, options waiting for you to grab them by the hand.

This is how it is with life. Plan. Adjust. Plan. Adjust. Plan. Adjust.

Skate toward your goal and if something happens to throw you off – stay calm and make another lap until you figure out your next move. Before you know it you will be in a sweat-covered, awkward hand-holding skating session with a near stranger and all will be right with the world again.

I have made a lot of laps in my day.

And with each lap, I have learned the value of taking deep breaths, staying calm and realizing that just because something isn’t going my way – that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, it’s usually in those moments when things don’t go my way that I learn a little something about life – and myself.

Take, for example, a moment I had last week. I was standing on my back porch looking at our little yellow bistro table that resides in the corner. I love to decorate and am in a constant state of “What would look good there?” Which is exactly what was happening in my brain as I stood on the patio staring at the table. It needed something. But what?

A vase. That’s what. More specifically – a white vase.

Lucky for me, I happened to have a white vase that wasn’t being used at the time. Off I went into the closet under the stairs in search of the vase (and in search of Harry Potter – just kidding. But that would be super cool.) I retrieved the vase and took it outside where the unforgiving light of day revealed the white spray paint I had used years ago to cover the glossy light pink was slowly starting to chip off. It wasn’t a white vase anymore. It was now a white and pink speckled vase. Not at all what I was imagining when I was looking at the table and thinking, “What would look good there?” (Honestly, I don’t think the answer to that question will ever be a white and pink speckled vase.)

No worries. White spray paint worked before and it would work again. Unless we’re out. Which I quickly discovered we were. Ugh.

Now I realize in the grand scheme of life, wanting to paint a vase and not having paint isn’t really a big deal. At all. But the thing is, I had a plan. And I can be impatient. And a strange combination of extremely motivated and simultaneously lazy. Like in this instance, I was motivated enough to paint the vase, too lazy to go to the store to get paint and also too impatient to wait.

This vase was getting painted. Now.

Enter the ever-reliable, always waiting to be chosen – Plan B. I made my way upstairs for the acrylic paint. That’ll do. Except it wouldn’t do. I tried and it just didn’t look right.

Enter the ever-reliable, always waiting to be chosen – Plan C. I checked the garage and found some leftover chalkboard wall paint. Now this could be interesting.

I went outside and began painting, and with each stroke I remembered how much I love to paint. It had been awhile. The feeling of the brush in my hand ignited something in me. As I painted one stroke and then another, I began to notice I actually liked the way the paint looked as it went halfway down the vase. The lines from the brush reminded me of fringe on a scarf. I decided to leave the bottom half white.

After I finished, I felt very grateful we were out of white spray paint. Something that had frustrated me just moments before was now something to be grateful for. In the absence of the spray paint, I was reminded of how much I love the feeling of a brush in my hand and the creativity it sparks inside me.

I started to make plans for how to incorporate my love of art back into my life.

Plan C enriched my life way more than Plan A ever would have.

So whether you find yourself skating toward plan A without any obstacles in sight, or making your fifth lap around the rink – look for the joy. Look for the blessing. Look for the challenge. Look for the beauty. Look for the possibilities.

For me, that moment was about learning how to be okay when things don’t go my way. It’s about knowing sometimes the things that threaten to throw me off course, are exactly what I need to get me to the place I ultimately need to be. Sometimes beauty is waiting to be found in the most unexpected places. Sometimes all it takes is a house, void of spray paint, filled with unused paint brushes – waiting to be used again.

 

 

 

 

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Fake News

Last week, as I was preparing dinner, I found myself admiring the lovely pot of vegetables cooking on the stovetop. It was so lovely, that I couldn’t help but to grab my phone and snap a picture.

“This will look pretty on Instagram,” I thought to myself as I stirred. “Or maybe Facebook? I should familiarize myself with Snapchat. That may really be the best.”

Next, I sent a picture to my husband so he could see the healthy and visually-appealing meal we would be having that evening. I was completely tickled with myself.

As I was mentally preparing the words to go with this scrumptious post, it hit me – this was fake news!

This in no way, shape, or form represents the majority of the meals I put on the table. The night before, I made cream cheese and chicken stuffed crescent rolls. Prepackaged crescent rolls that I can’t imagine are horribly good for you. The meal was great and the kids gobbled it up, but not once did I think to snap a picture of the chicken squares to post on any, or all, forms of social media.

This got me thinking. Why not the chicken squares? Why the pot filled with a variety of delicious veggies? 

Because it’s about appearance – isn’t it? Social media is a platform for showing the people in our lives what we want them to see. We get to choose. Are they going to see the good? The bad? Or the in-between?

My guess is that most of us default toward the good – whether we realize it, or not.

I never once thought to take a picture of my chicken squares, but immediately thought to snap a shot of the veggie pot.

I also have never thought to snap pictures of myself when I’m bed-heady and puffy-eyed after a full night of sleep. Who would want to see that? No, thank you. The pictures I post are usually of something I have deemed exciting and worthy of sharing.

And if you think for one moment that I haven’t scrolled through every picture snapped in those few seconds to find the one where I think I look the best – you are wrong. I always choose the picture I think looks best.

Isn’t that why we hold the camera (or phone – excuse me) up (never down!) when we take pictures – because it supposedly makes us look more slender? Or why some people put their hands on their hips and lift a leg the minute someone says, “Cheese!”?

We want the best version of ourselves on display. That means the best-looking, most kind, healthy-eating, most amazing parent, brilliant, buttoned-up version of ourselves.

And that’s okay. This isn’t meant to shame all of you on social media who post your most beautiful pictures. Post away! You can bet your bottom dollar I’m doing the same. Remember how I started? I completely do this. In some ways, I have to imagine we all do.

I don’t think the problem is that we want to share pretty pictures – the problem is when we start to believe the pretty pictures completely and accurately portray every part of a person’s life.

Someone can look absolutely incredible through the lens of social media – and still have some major issues. Or minor. I mean – who doesn’t have issues? (If you responded with “Me,” that may be an issue. Just saying.)

I believe we need to guard our hearts and minds when we scroll through our feeds. And I believe we need to teach our children the same. What we see isn’t the full picture. We see what people want us to see. And there is a whole lot that goes on in the blank space – in those moments when nothing is being shared.

The most perfect looking couple still argues. The most beautiful looking woman still gets pimples. The most accomplished children still whine. The best cook still serves her children boxed mac and cheese (or at least I hope so – that stuff is good.) The person on a luxurious vacation had to spend a lot of money, and time, to get there.

Nobody is perfect. Sure, on social media, some people may look pretty close to perfect – but it’s just not true. We all fall short. We all mess up. We wake up bed-heady and puffy-eyed, without an ounce of make-up on (unless we forgot to take it off – and in that case it may be smeared all over your face.)

(Case in point – This is me, right now. I haven’t showered or brushed my hair and I am still in my pajamas. And it’s almost 2 in the afternoon.)

My pot of veggies nearly turned social media post reminded me of this truth. I need to be careful of how I view social media. And I also want to be authentic in how I portray myself. Does this mean I’m going to stop posting my favorite pictures? Um. No.

But what it does mean is that I am going to try to start sprinkling in some of the not-so-pretty stuff, too.

The stuff that says, “Hey. I’m human. I just burnt my toast and yelled at my kids. Some days I’m rocking it. And some days…..well, some days not so much.”

Because some days are prepackaged crescent roll days. And others are beautiful veggie pot days. It’s time to remember that both exist. For me, it’s time to start showing both.

 

 

(Disclaimer – I love the yummy looking, healthy meals that people post. They make me want to eat healthier and are super pretty, too. This is in no way saying those posts are bad. They are awesome. Keep doing your healthy food post thing. I just realized for me, in that moment, it wasn’t an accurate portrayal of who I am. That’s all.)

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Yes, It Matters

My friend and I had a conversation today that I have had numerous times, with various friends, since becoming a parent.

Does it matter?

Sometimes it all seems so trivial.

The bottoms you wipe. The diapers you change. The hours spent awake at night rocking your infant to sleep.

The piles of laundry you clean, fold and put away. The meals you make. The dishes you wash.

The trips to various doctors offices. The car rides to and from sporting events and extra-curricular activities.

The countless number of Cheerios you pick up off the floor. The number of sippy cups you fill.

The appointments you make. The playdates you plan – and those you cancel because your child is now sick.

The coats and boots you put on. The diaper bags you pack. The numerous times you have to run back inside the house to grab just “one more thing.”

The hair you hold back when your child is sick in the middle of the night. The temperatures you take. The trips to the pharmacy – and sometimes the emergency room.

The tears you wipe. The boo-boos you kiss, clean and cover with a band-aid (regardless if a band-aid is really needed or not.)

The homework you help with. The lunches you pack. The field trips you attend.

The stories you read. The Legos you build and toys you play with – even with that pile of laundry that needs folded.

The time you spend picking up and putting away things. Again. And again. And again.

The times you rush home from work to feed the kids a quick meal before heading to the ballpark (for the third time that week.)

The conversations you have about responsibility and making wise choices and what it means to be a good friend, and on and on and on until you are blue in the face.

The times you have to discipline your child. And the time you spend second-guessing whether that was the right form of discipline.

The class parties you help with. The school concerts and carnivals you attend.

The trips to the grocery and Costco and Target.

The time you spend worrying about your teenage child and praying they will make good choices. The time you spend praying they will make it home okay.

The vacations you plan. The bags you pack. And then unpack.

The electronics you monitor. The apps you check. The texts you read. The time you spend wondering when it’s okay to say yes to phones and social media and the internet and whatever new thing popped up this week in the ever expanding and constantly changing world of devices.

The trips to visit colleges. The hours you ride in the passenger seat with knuckles tightly clutching whatever you can grab on to while your teenager is learning to drive.

The list goes on and on.

Sometimes it may feel like you are stuck in the movie Ground Hog Day – doing the same things over and over and over again. Sometimes it may feel like you are doing all of this and nobody really notices. Sometimes you may wonder if anyone really cares.

As you pick up your 30th Cheerio and clean dishes for the third time that day you may wonder; Does it matter?

Yes. Yes, it matters.

Very much.

It matters.

Each tear you wipe. Each boo-boo you clean. Each appointment you schedule. Each of these is a moment spent doing something for someone you love. For someone who depends on you. It is for your child, your spouse, your family – and the value of this is priceless.

Each of these acts, as trivial as they may sometimes seem, are investments of your time and energy to help care for those you love.

These acts say, “I see you and I care about you.” They say, “I am here for you.”

They are acts of love. Some big. Some small.

And they matter.

You may not hear thank yous or receive accolades, but that does not take away from the importance, or the impact, of what you are doing.

What you are doing matters.

Yes, it matters.

Very, very much.

I hope you always know that in your heart to be true. I hope you carry that with you today and the next day and the next.

What you are doing matters.

Yes, it matters.

 

*A version of this originally appeared on the Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer Facebook page

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Today is a New Day

It’s Monday, folks!

How was the weekend?

Maybe you ate too much. Drank too much. Slept too much (Is there such a thing?). Spent too much.

Maybe you worked out. Went to bed on time. Ate healthy. Used your time wisely.

Maybe you made a giant list of things to do and did none of them. Or some of them. Or all of them.

Maybe you were the best version of you. Or the not so great version of you. Or somewhere in the middle.

Maybe you were faced with tragedy. And your heart was broken. Or something beautiful and miraculous happened. And your heart expanded.

Maybe you woke up today ready to conquer the week? Or wishing it was still the weekend.

Maybe you feel like you are exactly where you are meant to be in life. Or realizing changes are imminent. And necessary.

Wherever you may find yourself on this Monday morning, I wish you joy. I wish you peace. I wish you comfort. I wish you the strength, ability and courage to make any changes that are necessary. I wish you the perseverance to get through the demands of the week. I wish the broken hearts will mend. And that the joyful hearts will explode their joy into the lives of those they encounter.

Whatever you are facing. Whatever your past mistakes. Whatever this week holds – you’ve got this.

This week is filled with endless possibilities.

Possibilities for new relationships to form. Broken hearts to mend. Restoration and reconciliation to take place. Goals to be met. Dreams to be actualized.

Wherever your past has taken you. It does not define you. You are not bound to past choices. You can only move forward.

Today is a new day. Today is a fresh start.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

*A version of this was originally published on the Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer Facebook page

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Silencing the Joy-Stealing Monster Within

Last week, my baby started kindergarten. This means not only has my son started a new chapter in his life, but I have as well.

For the past 12 years, I have had someone at home with me the majority of the time. Suddenly, I find myself living in the land of freedom. In this new space I am experiencing things like: quiet, the ability to run errands with zero mommy-guilt, freedom to choose how I will spend my day and, amazingly, when I pick something up and put it away – it stays there.

It’s all very foreign to me.

At first, I was lamenting that time had flown by and my babies were no longer home with me. My internal dialogue was more my enemy than my friend. Did I play enough? Read enough? Explore enough? Teach enough? Take advantage of our time together enough?

I quickly silenced that joy-stealing monster. Going down that path leads to more questions and a heavy feeling of guilt. Doesn’t sound very beneficial to me.

And I hope if that joy-stealing monster is knocking on your door – that you refuse to answer, too.

For the past 12 years, I have tried. Honestly – that’s what matters. Right? It definitely wasn’t perfect – not even close. There was room for improvement – as there always is. And I’m sure anybody who is in the business of judging others would have found plenty to say about my parenting.

But, as I said, I tried. And I’m still trying. I will continue trying for as long as I am given the gift of breathing in and breathing out.

And above all – God is with me. I have Him. He knows my flaws and weaknesses and He loves me just the same.

And that is more than enough.

As I begin this new chapter in mamahood, I thank God for the blessing of life’s seasons. I thank God for the time I had with my babies and I thank God I am able to now experience this new space.

One of my hopes and dreams for this time in my life is to be more consistent with my writing. I hope this blog becomes a daily source of inspiration, creativity, affirmation and a reminder that we are all humans – destined to make mistakes, dust off and keep trying. I pray God is glorified through my writing and that my readers leave my page feeling like they sat down for a cup of coffee with a friend and left receiving a little hug.

Thanks for supporting me in this journey.

It really means a great deal more than you will know.

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If you enjoy my ramblings or know of someone else who may – please feel free to share this blog. You can also find me on Facebook @Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer  and on Instagram @TrulyYoursJen

 

 

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When the Morning Turns F-Bomb – Disney Style

Have you ever had a moment when you are slightly (or fully) ashamed of how you reacted to something? A moment when you look back at the wellspring of reactions you could have chosen from and think, “Really? That was my choice response?”

I have had that happen. More times than I care to admit. In fact, it’s happening right now.

Something really got to me this morning and instead of deep breathing and putting things in perspective, I was slamming my hands on the counter and throwing F-bombs at my computer.

Yep. I totally was. Thank goodness everyone in the house was still asleep and didn’t have to witness mama going completely off the rails.

Anyone who knows me well, knows profanity doesn’t flow from these lips. Not that I am vehemently opposed to it. In fact, it seems cool to throw a little spice in my vocabulary every now and again (you know, for emotional emphasis), but it just doesn’t come naturally.  It’s not my thing.

Except for this morning. This morning, it was totally my thing.

So, what happened? What went so awry that I felt the need to slam hands and throw F-bombs? Must have been pretty bad, right?

Right? No. It wasn’t bad. Not at all. And that’s where the “Seriously?!” comes into play.

You see, I woke up this morning bright and early with a plan – and when things didn’t go my way, I reacted like a tantrum-throwing toddler. Except, hopefully, most toddlers aren’t throwing F-bombs. Unless that “F” happens to stand for “Fart” – then I could totally see that happening. At least with my kids.

So, what was this plan that went awry?

Well, it started with a spreadsheet. A beautiful spreadsheet carefully laying out all of our vacation plans for a week at the most magical, happiest place on earth. Where? You guessed it. Disney World.

Now here is where I may gain some supporters for my mama meltdown. Any of you who have planned a full-blown Disney vacation with meal plans and Fast Passes know this is no joke. It’s serious business.

And for those of you like myself, this is a far stretch from the typical vacation. Disney is in a league of it’s own.

When I travel with my family, we prefer to wing it. We arrive at our destination with a few ideas of where we may eat and some attractions to check out, but very little other than arrival and departure are solidified. We like to go with the flow. Planning out every detail of a vacation is absolutely NOT our style.

Unless that is – we are traveling to Disney.

Sure, it is possible to go to the most magical place on earth and fly by the seat of your pants, but I just can’t do it. For the amount of money we’re spending, I want to be sure we squeeze out every last bit of magic.

And that was my goal when I woke up this morning – coffee in hand, computer open, phone on the counter ticking off the seconds until the Fast Passes would be mine. I was eager and ready. Come on Disney – Do your magic.

I chose the first date. The little circle spun around and around. YES. This was happening.

Or was it?

Nope. It sure wasn’t.

In the place where my park selections were supposed to be was a single sentence notifying me that there were no available passes at any of the parks for that day. What the?!

I tried again. And again. Each time with the same results.

I will spare you the details, but for the next couple hours I spent a lot of time hitting refresh, trying to get my app to work (to no avail) and an hour listening to Disney park advertisements while I sat on hold waiting to talk to someone – only to find out when they finally did answer that they are not able to help with Fast Pass selections. Who knew?

Finally, it worked. I was able to get my reservations, but it wasn’t without a lot of under the breath muttering, rubbing hands through my hair and various other indicators that I was less than happy with my current circumstance.

What was that circumstance again?

Oh yeah. I wasn’t able to get my Fast Passes when I wanted them. And there, my friend, is where the reality check comes into play. After the Fast Passes were secure and all was again right with the world, I was left with the sad reality of my attitude and behavior. And sad it was.

I mean, come on. Seriously?

This is the definition of a First World problem. And for a couple of hours this morning, this First World problem of the Walt Disney network being down consumed me.

The aftermath? I have my Fast Passes, and if I said I wasn’t happy about that – I would be telling a full blown lie. I’m super stoked about that.  What I’m not happy about is the sorry attitude I had when things didn’t go as planned. Instead of putting things in perspective, I became engulfed in my personal desire to secure these passes for our vacation. Instead of having a heart of gratitude for all that I have, including the ability to go on this incredible vacation, my sole focus was on what I didn’t have.

And this is not how I want to live. This is not where I want my heart to go in those moments. It’s okay to feel frustrated. It was a frustrating situation. But I got lost in my frustration.

My reaction this morning reminds me of the importance of starting my day in prayer and meditation. When I do this, the focus shifts from myself and all of my wants and desires to God and what He may want for my day. When I do this, I am much more apt to say, “Thy will be done.” If I start my day with quiet time, instead of jumping right into my plans –  I am much more apt to roll with the punches.

My reaction this morning reminds me of the importance of keeping a heart of gratitude – regardless of my circumstances. It reminds me  to be grateful for my many blessings and not get so lost in my wants and desires that I lose perspective.

I lost perspective a little bit this morning when things didn’t go my way.

Thankfully, I have it back.

And I hope not to lose it again. Especially not in the “My Disney plans aren’t working out so I’m going to drop F-bombs and throw my hands in the air repeatedly” kind of way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Someone Wants to Know Why My Child Goes to Preschool – Here’s Why

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about the mixed emotions I’m feeling as my baby – the youngest of four – is finishing his final days of preschool.

In response to this post, someone commented:

“Why is your child in pre-school and not at home being raised, nurtured, and loved by you, the mother?”

Okay. Wow. Deep breaths. Don’t reply. Wait. Wait.

I knew responding right away would not do any good. This person obviously had their opinion on mothering and I have learned getting into an all-out Facebook comment war is like trying to walk up an escalator that’s headed down – it’s exhausting and doesn’t really get you anywhere.

I decided my best course of action was to  let it go.

The next day, I came back to the comments and saw some ladies had come to my defense (Thank you kind mama bears for showing your claws.) There was some back and forth between them, ending with him saying:

“Again….it is a simple question….would love someone to answer it.”

Okay. You asked for it. Twice. So now I feel I must reply. And being a writer, I cannot reply with a  mere sentence or two. Oh no. I am much more wordy than that.

You want to know why my child is in preschool and not at home being raised, nurtured, and loved by me – the mother?

Ironically, I read your question after I had spent the day with my son. We went to lunch and shared some sushi. We talked. We laughed. And after a brief period of time, he decided our proximity wasn’t close enough and came over to my side of the booth so we could be extra snuggly while we ate.

After lunch, we went shopping for a Birthday present. We browsed for awhile – picking up items and placing them back on the shelves and eventually ended up with a gift he helped me choose. Should I go on?

Okay. I will.

After successfully purchasing the gift, we ventured to the zoo. We walked, talked, pointed enthusiastically, made animal sounds and managed to keep the geese from eating our Dippin’ Dots.

And then I read your comment. In the car (but not while driving, I will still in the parking lot – we don’t need any more judgment here.)

I am pretty sure he felt nurtured and loved by me, the mother, all day long.

I could stop now, but I know that won’t suffice – so I will go on.

The next day, we woke up and I packed his lunch, dressed him and sent him on his way – to preschool.

Why?

Because I know myself and I know him and I honestly believe this is what is best for him.

Gasp. The nerve. How dare I?

There was a short period of time when I thought about homeschooling. It didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t for me or my children.

I have many friends who homeschool and they are amazing. They are dedicated, disciplined and do an exceptional job teaching. They have been called and they have  answered. Do I believe God calls us all to the exact same things in life?  No. Not at all.

Some moms work full-time. Some part-time. Some from home. Some from the office. Others while on the road. Some stay-at-home. Some send their kids to daycare. Others to school – some private and some public. Some homeschool.

Isn’t that awesome?

I love that we are able, with our spouse or significant other, to make choices we believe are best for our families.

Personal choices.

When my son is at preschool, he is learning. He has friends he enjoys and teachers he loves. He comes home excited to tell me about his day. They take him to chapel and teach him about God. They go over their letters and learn silly songs.

I can hear you now, “Why don’t you do that at home?”

Who says I don’t?

I do teach him at home, but it’s more of a teaching through life lessons than actual schooling. I have tried to do worksheets and other fun educational activities and, honestly, it’s not something that comes naturally to me. In fact, it’s hard for me.

I am the mom who suffers from constant distraction. Do you know the book  If You Give A Mouse a Cookie? Totally me. I am distracted by laundry, beds that need made, a house that needs cleaning, dishes that need washed, appointments that need made.

I know myself well enough to know if I homeschooled him, he would not learn as much as he learns at school. To some that may sound like rubbish or hogwash or whatever you want to call it.

For me, it sounds completely accurate.

I know myself well enough to know I would not plan properly, I would not give the time or attention it needs. I would get distracted and ultimately would grow frustrated and resentful.

Yikes. I know.

I’m sorry, but it’s true.

Call me lazy. Call me undisciplined. Call me uncaring. Call me what you will.

I’m telling you – it’s true.

I send my son to preschool two days a week because I believe this is the most loving, nurturing thing that I can do for him knowing his personality and knowing my deficiencies.

I love my children with a fierce love. I tell them daily how much I love them. I hug them. I am available for them. I am trying my best. Some days are better than others – the zoo day was a pretty good one. Not all days are that great, but I am trying.

And do you know what else?  I send my kids to school. I get stuff done. I take a deep breaths. I check some things off my list. I meet with friends. I go for a run. And then I pick them up.

And I am refreshed. And they are smiling. And they are learning. And they are happy.

We all are happy.

This is what works for us.

This isn’t what works for everyone, but it works for us. 

I have four children and not one of them is the same as the other. They are unique little people with their own personalities. Just like my husband and I are unique people. Under our roof, we have six different people who think, feel and respond in their own way to different situations.

Knowing this – it’s up to my husband and I, with prayer and careful consideration, to decide what is best for each member of our family.

And do you know what? It’s okay to start in one direction and end up in another. I have friends who have sent their kids to school and ended up homeschooling. Vice a versa – I have friends who homeschooled and then decided to send their kids to school.

I have friends who have stayed home and decided to go back to work. Vice a versa – I have friends who have quit their jobs to stay home.

And it’s okay to go different directions with different children. One of my children went to preschool for one year and another for three. Why? Because they are different people with different needs.

We are constantly growing and changing and just because we set out on one course, that doesn’t mean we aren’t able to change direction.

And the same goes for me. If at some point I feel called to go back to work full-time, or part-time, or even pull my kids out of school and start homeschooling them – that’s up to my husband and I.

If all parents, children and family units were the same – then they would be handing us a Parenting Handbook for All People and Situations that is Sure to Produce the Same Incredible Results when we leave the hospital, but that is impossible because we are all uniquely created and no two people are the same. No two children are the same.

No two families are the same.

And parenting is hard enough without the judgement of others.

Kudos to the moms who work part-time.

Kudos to the moms who work full-time.

Kudos to the moms who stay home.

Kudos to the moms who teach their children at home.

Kudos to the moms who send their kids to school.

Keep on keepin’ on mamas. You are doing a fantastic job. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always pretty. It looks different for everyone. Don’t compare yourselves to other mamas. Trust that God will give you the tools and the wisdom you need and remember, if you start on one course and it isn’t working for you – it’s okay to course correct. Sometimes that’s necessary.

And to anyone who wants to know why my child isn’t being raised, nurtured or loved by me- the mother – I would say that is an unfair question. You don’t know me. You don’t know my children. You don’t know my heart. If you did, I believe you would say they are being raised, nurtured and loved by both me and their father. I don’t doubt for one second my children know how much we love them. I don’t doubt they feel nurtured and cared for. I clean their boo-boos. I snuggle with them. I listen to them. I answer their questions. I attempt to guide them. And more importantly – they know the ultimate love that never fails comes from their Heavenly Father. My husband and I are guaranteed to mess up in this lifetime, but He is not. So we will just keep pointing them to Him.

And in the future, to those who feel compelled to ask the question I was asked, I would be careful. You never know where someone has come from or what they may be struggling with. I know moms who have lost their spouse. I know moms whose husbands have lost their jobs. I know moms whose marriages have fallen apart. I know moms who would like to stay home, but are not able to and that question may be like a dagger to the heart.

To all of you mamas out there, as I said before – keep on keepin’ on. Keep doing your mom thing. Do what is best for you and your family and don’t let the judgement of others weigh you down.

I know I’m not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If Home is Where Your Heart Is…….

Moving is hard.

Don’t get me wrong – I fully trust we are where we are meant to be.

I love our new home and our new town. I also miss our old home and our old town.

I have met some amazing people and am beginning to form friendships. I see a lot of potential, but developing close friendships takes time and we haven’t put in the time yet.

I miss the ease. I miss the comfort. I miss looking into someone’s eyes and really knowing who they are. Knowing their back story. Knowing their heart. Knowing their dreams. Knowing their struggles.

I miss the knowing.

I still think of Westfield as home, but I also think of Nolensville as home. Weird. Right?

Sometimes, it feels like I am living with one foot in Indiana and one in Tennessee. Go, Go Gadget Legs. That’s a pretty far way to stretch.

Where we live now is absolutely beautiful. It’s hilly and lush with long winding roads and pastures filled with cows grazing and chickens clucking. It’s warm. It has great culture, amazing food, a sweet downtown and music to keep me dancing for days. It’s close to mountains and less than seven hours from the ocean.

Where we live now is pretty incredible.

Where we live now is also unfamiliar. I still rarely know where I am or where I’m going. I am directionally challenged and trust my internal compass as much as I would trust the Hamburglar next to a platter of burgers fresh off the grill. Consequently, I rely on Google way too much and am not really learning how to get anywhere.

Where we came from is familiar. When we go back to Indiana, I am comforted by this feeling of familiarity. I don’t really realize how much I miss that feeling, until I am feeling it again. I can tell you where I am. I can tell you how to get somewhere. I can envision a map in my head and I can see where the people I love live on that map. If I were to draw out the map, it would show a ton of little hearts marking the houses of the ones we love.

Like I said before, I don’t doubt for one minute we are where we are meant to be. I trust fully in God’s plan. I can see how He is working in my heart. I can see how He is using this. In my life. In my husband’s life. In my children’s lives.

I am grateful for this experience. I am grateful for this change. It’s been good – but is still hard.

We made a quick trip back to Indiana this weekend for our niece’s graduation. It wasn’t well planned and was filled with spontaneity.  The opposite of how this Type-A personality usually rolls.

It made my heart happy. And it made my heart sad. Whenever we go back home, I wish we had more time. There are so many people I want to see. There is so much I want to do.

And I can’t. We can’t.

There just isn’t enough time to squeeze it all in.

And this is hard for me. I leave with the weight of the feeling that I have let people down. That I have disappointed people in some way.

I am in a space where my main focus is the kids. What do they need? What is best for their little hearts?  And that usually leads us back to Westfield – back to the familiarity. Back to the comfort and joy that we felt in our old town – in our old neighborhood. We can sit in the backyards of loved ones and feel for a minute like we are still there. The kids run from house to house, ringing on doorbells and gathering friends for an outdoor game or two.

It feels like we’ve never left.

And it feels like we’ve been gone for a long time.

Kids are bigger. Changes have been made to homes. Someone has a new haircut. Or a new car. Restaurants are gone. New ones stand in their place.

It’s the same.

But it’s different.

For those of you we weren’t able to see when we were home, please know it isn’t because we don’t love you. Please know it isn’t because we don’t care. Because we do care – a lot. We are just still in a weird place. We are still figuring this out.

And it’s hard. My heart feels pulled in so many directions.

As we are driving back now and the terrain is changing from flat to hilly – I am ready to get back home. And, at the same time, I feel like I just left home.

If home is where your heart is – then in this moment it feels like I have two homes. Because my heart is definitely in both places. I guess it’s like when you have children. When a new child is born, you don’t love your other children less –

your heart just stretches and expands in ways you never knew possible.

You don’t love less – your capacity to love just grows.

 

 

 

 

 

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