Tag 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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Ladies, Let’s Do This

Ladies, it’s time to start building each other up.

What if instead of criticizing, comparing and judging, we got into the habit of complimenting, holding our heads high, owning who we are and lifting each other up?

I’ve seen it all too often in my life and I’m not without blame. And, now that I have girls – I see it in their lives.

And it breaks my heart.

Why oh why?

What if, collectively, we decided to stop the shaming and start uplifting? What if all of our words were like high-fives for the soul? For friends and strangers a like. Wouldn’t that be powerful? Wouldn’t that be beautiful?

“I see you over there sister, rocking that outfit – own it, girl!”

“You are an amazing mom. Keep it up! You’ve totally got this!”

“I see you with your screaming child and I want you to know I’ve been there too. So many times. It’s hard, isn’t it? How can I help you?”

“I notice you’ve been working out and eating healthy. Keep it up! You are such an inspiration! Have any recipes to share?”

“I’m sorry your marriage ended. I care for you and want to be part of your support network. You will get through this. One day at a time. Want to come over for dinner?”

“I love when you got up and spoke today at the meeting. What you said really impacted me. Keep up the great work.”

What if our first, last and all of the in-between words we shared with each other were intended to build up and not tear down?

What if we stopped the whispering? And pointing? And eye-rolling?

Can you imagine the impact this would have on us? Our husbands? Our daughters? Our sons?

Because they hear us. They imitate us. Whether we want them to, or not. They do.

Our words hold power. How we treat each other matters.

The beautiful thing is, we have the power to stop the shaming and the judging. Stop judging ourselves. Our friends. Strangers.

I believe this change starts with how we speak to ourselves.

What does that little voice inside of your head say about you? Are you comfortable in our own skin? Do you recognize you are beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind, a work of art made by God – never to be replicated, duplicated or remade? Do you know this?

Know it. Own it. Walk with your head held high. Be confident in who God created you to be. See your gifts and talents and begin to look around for the gifts and talents He placed in others.

Let’s stop competing – and start collaborating.

Let’s stop wanting to be someone else, and instead be are grateful for who we are – and grateful for who they are. Let’s learn from each other.

I’m trying to teach this valuable lesson to my daughters.

I am trying to teach them what a true friend is – and isn’t. I’m trying to teach them that when people are unkind, it usually comes from a place of insecurity or jealousy. I’m trying to teach them how to love others well. How to give grace. How to forgive. And that sometimes, even though you’ve forgiven, there are some relationships that just aren’t healthy. There are times when you have to walk away.

And in attempting to teach these lessons to my daughters, I’ve had to take a long, hard look at myself. My own words. My own actions. I’ve realized if I want better for them, then it starts with me. How do I speak about others? About myself? Are my words kind? Do they build-up? Do they tear down?

Ladies, it’s time. Time to start building each other up. Time to start loving ourselves. Loving our neighbors. Treating each other the way we want to be treated. No more silent, unapproving stares. No more snickering behind someone’s back. No more condescending remarks. No more comparisons. No more judgement. No more shame.

No more of the breast fed vs. bottle fed.

No more of the stay-at-home vs. working mom.

No more of the I’m right and you’re wrong , I’m better than you mentality. Because there is a whole lot of gray in this world. We have the freedom to make choices and just because I choose one way – doesn’t mean another person’s way isn’t right.  Because it’s right for them. And their family. And really? We are all just trying our best, right?

Let’s hold our heads high. Let’s share in each others joys and successes. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s compliment each other. Let’s recognize each other’s God-given gifts and talents. Let’s give high-fives to each other’s souls.

Ladies, it’s time.

Let’s do this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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When Lockdown Happens

Last Thursday, I pulled into the pick-up line at the end of the school day – as I always do. And my daughter walked to the car – as she always does. But something was different.

Something was wrong.

She opened the car door as the words came pouring out of her mouth.

“Did you hear what happened? Did they tell you?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“No. I haven’t heard anything. What happened? Are you okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“The school went on lockdown.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“Why? Is everyone okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

The words poured from her mouth as she explained what happened in full detail. It began with an announcement over the PA system. The words spoken over the PA were few, but the reactions the words caused were swift.

“We are on lockdown. This is not a drill. We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

Silence. Movement. Waiting. Silence. Tears.

My daughter went on to describe how the teacher locked the door, turned off the lights and ushered everyone to the corner of the room.

He stood in front of them.

They had been through this before. They knew what to do. Only this time was different. This time it was not a drill.

Kids were crying.

She knew her teacher was scared by the look in his eyes, but he remained calm – as heroes do. Reminding them of the importance of their silence.

My daughter said she knew she had to be quiet, so she let the tears fall from her eyes, down her cheeks, but did not make a peep for fear that someone outside of the room may hear.

Someone accidentally dropped his crutch. More crying. Would this bring someone to their room?

In the middle of her telling me this story, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “Mom. I have never been so afraid in all of my life.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

What do I say? How do I respond?

“I’m so sorry, honey. I can’t imagine how scary that had to have been. Then, what happened?”

After the lockdown was over, she was told there had been a fight close to the school and someone had a gun. As a precaution, the police told the schools in the surrounding areas they had to go on lockdown. She was told the altercation took place in a small, new neighborhood.

She said she spent the rest of the day wondering if that was our neighborhood. Wondering if her brother and I were okay. Wondering if I would be there to pick her up.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

My daughter and I spent the remainder of the car ride home talking about what happened. She vented. I listened.

For a few minutes that day – my daughter, her classmates, the teachers and staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

This is the reality that teachers, administrators, students and countless others who work in the school system face.

These people are heroes.

My daughter’s teacher had no idea what was happening. He didn’t know who was out there. He pushed the kids into the corner and stood in front of them. Ready to give his life for theirs.

These people are heroes.

When I picked up the girls from the elementary school, I found out the same thing had happened there.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Another one of my daughters described how they went into the cubby room and she held the hand of the friend across from her while two friends on each side of her snuggled in. They all grabbed coats and covered their bodies for extra protection.

As she recounted her experience, it took everything for me to not break down.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

For a few minutes that day – my daughters, their classmates, the teachers and the staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

And then, on Sunday, I awoke to the news that not far from our house – four innocent people’s lives were taken at a Waffle House.

The killer was still on the loose.

I contemplated not going to church. Not sending my kids to school. What if that drill becomes a reality? What if?

And then I was reminded of what I am reminded of so often, I cannot live my life in fear. I cannot teach my children to live their lives in fear.

I have to be brave. We have to be brave.

We have to remain positive.

There are so many more good people than bad in the world.

I need to remember that. We need to remember that.

Thank you to all of you heroes out there.

Thank you to the school workers who go through these drills with the knowledge that someday it may not be a drill.

Thank you to the police officers who rush into these situations, ready to save lives – and possibly give their own.

These people are heroes.

Thankfully, there are so many more heroes out there than bad guys. This is what I hope to teach my children. This very possibly may not be the only time they hear the words, “We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

I hope it is, but it may not be.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Thank you, God, for these drills so that if the moment comes, these heroes know what to do. Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many people who are willing to take action. Thank you, God, for those who are willing to surrender their lives to save the lives of others.

Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many heroes.

Thank you to the heroes in both of my children’s schools last Thursday. You did not know what was outside of your doors and you were ready to protect. To possibly give your lives – for my children.

Thank you. From the very bottom of my heart and with all of my being – Thank you.

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Imperfection and Half-Eaten Birthday Cake

Sometimes it feels like too much.

There is a constant list of to-dos running through my head. Items that need checked off.

One. By. One.

For example:

The girls need new eyeglasses. That prescription has been in my wallet for a couple of months. I hope it’s still there. I’m sure it’s still good. Those things have a year before they expire, right?

My daughter needs to visit the orthodontist. I’ve had to call and cancel three times already because of sickness. Why do people always seem to get sick when someone needs to be at the orthodontist? Now I’m embarrassed to call again. Do I pick a new one? Or make the call of shame? Is it three strikes and you’re out?

I think we’re almost out of milk. I hope they have organic. The last time they were running low. And they need to drink organic, right? Aren’t the hormones causing all of this early-puberty nightmare? We have three girls and a boy. Three girls. We don’t need anybody entering puberty early. Not if we can help it.

 

My daughter’s Birthday party is tomorrow. At our house. And I haven’t cleaned a thing. Or set up anything. In fact, I am serving half a frozen Birthday cake that is leftover from when we celebrated her Birthday a few days ago. How embarrassing. What mom serves half a cake? And it doesn’t even say her full name anymore. It just says “lah.”

I hope everyone drops off so nobody has to witness this, but honestly why would I let all of that cake go to waste? It’s good cake. And it was expensive. I’m not throwing it away and I’m not taking the time to make a new one. That’s just crazy. Definitely not a Pinterest party AT ALL. The shame.

My daughter needs new basketball shorts. I’m so glad she made the team. Oh yea – I need to write down that schedule. We have to be at all of the games. Have to. All of them. And sometimes we should bring signs. But maybe that will embarrass her….we’ll see about the signs.

Thanksgiving is next week. Time to think about what to prepare. Remember what happened to the last turkey? Total National Lampoons Christmas vacation. Can’t do that again. Must. Not. Overcook. I should YouTube how to make a turkey. Or Pinterest. Or something.

I haven’t purchased any Christmas gifts yet. Oh no.

When I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw how my friend reads lengthy wonderful enriching classic novels to her daughter at night. I’ve always wanted to do that. But I am so tired at bedtime. I fall asleep during the snuggles. But it would be so good for them if we read together more. I will work on that next week. It needs to be a priority.

 

And it’s time to have “the talk” with my daughter. Ugh. What if someone else beat me to it already? What if she learned about it on the bus? The horror. Need to Google some good books and come up with a plan. Definitely a priority. As long as the plan isn’t for me to read with her at night – because then I will fall asleep. Better come up with a different plan.

But what about the laundry and the cleaning and the doctors appointments and when someone is sick and just needs snuggles? What about making meals? What about the errands that need run? And helping at the school? And working out? I can’t forget to take care of myself.

What about?

What about?

Time for deep breaths.

Breathe.

 

Let’s try again.

What about just trying my best?

What about knowing that I will not get everything done today that needs done?

What about understanding, expecting and coming to peace with the fact that the list will always be there?

It’s part of living.

It’s part of raising a family.

It’s about priorities.

It’s about balance.

It’s about knowing when to work your tail off – and knowing when you need to spend time playing a board game or snuggling on the couch with your little one.

It’s not about perfection.

Nobody is perfect. As parents, we WILL mess up. It’s inevitable. It’s okay.

To all of you parents who could relate to this post in one way or another – keep up the tremendous work. Some days may be harder than others. Some days are Pinterest days and others are serve half-eaten Birthday cake kind of days – and that’s okay.

The more half-eaten Birthday cakes that are served, the more it takes the pressure off the other parents.

I will look at this cake I am serving as a contribution to other parents. Now they can say, “Well at least my cake was a whole cake.”

And do you know what? In the long run, our kids aren’t going to remember every small detail anyways.

What our kids will remember is we were there. We tried. And we weren’t perfect.

It’s time to embrace imperfection.

We all have our strengths and things that come naturally to us and we all have our weaknesses.

And when the time comes for our children to raise their own families – they will hopefully find peace in knowing we messed up. We weren’t perfect and they aren’t perfect either.

And they don’t have to be.

Nobody is.

And that’s okay.

In fact it’s more than okay – it’s liberating.

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I would love to hear from you. Tell me about your half-eaten cake moment. Post pictures. Let’s encourage one another to embrace our beautiful imperfection.

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The Importance of Response

*Sometimes I write things and then realize I hit publish a little prematurely. If you are wondering why the same post is ending up in your inbox again today – this one is a little different. After reflecting, I realized I didn’t quite say things like I had wanted to. Every once in awhile we need a do-over. This is my do-over. 

Oh my heart.

It feels like whenever I turn on the television, open my Yahoo account, log in to Facebook or read a headline somewhere – it’s almost too much.

The words I read, the images I see – they break my heart.

Our country seems a little more divided and a little more angry than I remember in my lifetime.

There is political discord, racial tension, terrorism and nuclear threats – to name a few.

And to top it off, the recent natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey, has wreaked havoc on the lives of many – leaving over 30,000 people without their homes, their communities, their towns – now living in shelters. As the waters recede and they head back to their homes to assess the damage, they are left  to wonder what will happen next.

What do you do with so much wreckage?

Photo courtesy of The Weather Channel

The new statistics that come in daily are mind boggling.

The images are gut wrenching.

The stories are hard to hear and the images are painful to see, but I am watching from a place of comfort – not out my window. I see the images flash by on my television, my computer screen, my device. What about the people who are there? What about the people who watched, unable to help, as people were swept away by the water?

What about the people whose lives have been turned upside down in an instant?

And it’s not just the hurricane victims my heart breaks for.

What about the people who were at the Charlottesville rally? What about the people who stood there watching as the car drove into the crowds?

What about the people who were injured? What about the woman who lost her life?

Photo Courtesy of New York Times

Sometimes it’s just too much to take in.

I wonder how to process it all? What to make of it? What to do about it?

My life may have not been directly impacted by these recent events in our country, but they have still left a mark. My heart feels topsy-turvy and upside-downy and like I want to do something.

And so I am going to do something. Because I can.

Don’t think for one second that how we respond to these events we see on the television, or read about on our newsfeeds doesn’t matter. Don’t think that because you are just one person you can’t make a difference in this broken world. Don’t think that you aren’t able to make a dent, make a change, make an impact. Because you are.

How we respond to these things does matter.

I am learning sometimes the best response for myself is silence. Sometimes the best response is for me to say nothing at all. Especially on Facebook.

 

Shortly after the election, I posted an article that highlighted some of my thoughts on what had transpired. Within moments, I had responses from people. Some in favor of the post. Others in opposition. I quickly hit the delete button.

Getting into a political debate on Facebook would only create lines of division. I knew that as strongly as I felt about my opinion, there were others that felt as strongly about their own.

Posting an article wasn’t going to change those opinions.

I realized in that moment as I deleted the post, that I didn’t want to get involved with these discussions on Facebook. For myself personally, there would be no benefit.

Only frustration. Only more division. More discord. None of which I want in my life.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t engaged in political debates with people. That isn’t to say that I don’t think people should speak up for what they believe – because I do. I have just decided that Facebook is not a great platform for me to share my political views.

And sometimes the best response is for me to listen. To try to put myself in the other persons shoes. To try to see things from their perspective.

 

The racism that has been rearing it’s ugly head lately is like a bad breakout. You may not know how dirty your face really is, until all of the pimples appear. Then you know you have an issue that needs dealt with – pronto. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there before – you just couldn’t see it.

All of this racial ugliness has opened my eyes to the kind of person I want to be and the kind of person I don’t want to be. It has made me realize how ignorant I have been to the sufferings and oppressions of minorities in our country.

This has been going on for a long, long, long time. Unfortunately, I was just blind to it.

The recent events in our country have made me want to listen. To learn. To open my ears and my eyes. It has made me want to build more diverse relationships. People tend to be drawn to people who are just like them. It’s what we do. I don’t want to be that way anymore.

As a white woman in our country, I honestly don’t know what the best response is to all of this, but I do know that I want to start having more conversations. I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to be a part of the solution in some way.

As part of the majority, if I want to help enact change, then I have a responsibility to listen, to learn and then respond.

And I do believe that while sometimes the best response for me is silence, there are other times when the best response is for me to speak out against the injustice I see in the world.

And when I choose to not be silent, when I choose to speak for justice – I must be sure I am speaking from a place of love. I am learning if I choose to respond to hate with more hate then I am no better than the people I am speaking out against.

There is such a thing as righteous anger. When there is injustice in the world, it is likely to make your blood boil. As it should.

When I saw the images and videos of the white nationalists marching in Charlottesville it stirred up anger and sadness and frustration and the reality of how incredibly ignorant I was to the racism that exists in our country.

A fire had been ignited. And when I heard people defending the actions of the white nationalists in any way – that fire burned bright.

I was angry.

But even in if the anger is righteous, even in the face of injustice, we are not called to respond with hate. We are called to respond with love. We are called to love our enemies.

It is easy to pray for the families of victims. It is easy to pray for the people who are suffering from injustice. It is easy to pray for those who are being marginalized and mistreated. It is much harder to pray for the person who caused the pain.

What about praying for the person who drove the car into the crowd?

What about praying for the other people who were there marching?

It is counter to our natural response – it definitely wasn’t my first response. Or second. Or third even. But over time, as I have thought about this I have realized that if we are called to love our enemies, these are the people we are called to love and called to pray for.

I can make a difference in this world by choosing to respond to even the most atrocious acts in love.

I believe we are capable each and every day of making small choices that will leave large, lasting impacts.

When we hear about the division in our country, we can pray. When we hear about injustice, we can pray. When we hear about terrorist attacks and international discord, we can pray.

When we hear about the devastation happening in Texas and surrounding areas, we can pray.

We should pray.

We can also make monetary donations. We can find out the greatest needs and send those items. And for some, you may be called to pack up your belongings and travel there to physically help in some capacity.

Whether you donate $5 or book a flight. Every little bit helps. Don’t think for one second it doesn’t.

We can all make a difference in this broken world. Our words, our actions, our response to the small things and the big things that happen in life – they matter.

The more that we choose to respond in love, the more we choose to love our neighbor as our self, the more we choose to listen and empathize, the more we choose to pray for our enemies instead of lashing out in hate – the more we will impact this world for the better.

We don’t have to be paralyzed by the headlines. We don’t have to be afraid of what we see. We can make a difference, even in the face of great disaster.

The remarkable thing is that if everyone does a little something, it becomes a whole lot of something. And that is when change happens. As we can see from the outpouring of love in our country toward the victims of Hurricane Harvey – our response matters and when we act in love, together, we can make a difference.

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Click on any of these links below to make a donation to help Hurricane Harvey victims:

The Red Cross

Americares

The Humane Society

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

The Texas Diaper Bank

Catholic Charities

Direct Relief

Matthew 25: Ministries

The Salvation Army

Save the Children

GoFundMe

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“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
-Dr. Seuss
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”
Proverbs 10:12
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbori and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5: 38-48
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