The Hail Mary Dinner

 

The “Hail Mary” Dinner. You know the one I speak of.

When you get home from your kids’ activities at 6:30pm and realize you don’t really have the time or the ingredients to make a substantial dinner.

I used to feel so smug because when everyone else was posting and complaining about Mondays, I was this stay-at-home / work-at-home mom and Monday was just another day for me. But now all 3 of our kids have dance on Monday nights which means our Monday afternoon schedule looks like this:
2:30pm – Get B&C changed into dance clothes, double-check A’s bag to ensure she has everything she needs; pack snacks for everyone and water or coffee for myself.
3:00pm – Leave and pick up A from school
3:30pm – Arrive at dance studio and help A change; do her hair up in a bun
4:00pm – A’s Tap & Jazz class; C usually naps so B & I sit in the car for awhile
4:30pm – Go inside and have snack
5:00pm – A has Ballet; B&C have Pre-Ballet; I work, read, or chat with parents
5:45pm – B&C finish class; go downstairs & get everyone into outdoor clothes; possibly read a book; collect all bags and miscellaneous STUFF
6:00pm – A finishes class & changes; we all head out to car
6:25pm – Arrive at home; make & eat dinner; homework
7:15pm – Start bedtime routine
7:30pm – Tuck-in Time
8:00pm – BED! A will sometimes stay up to read quietly in bed until 8:30

You can see why it takes ALL MY ENERGY to get through Monday afternoons. This past Monday I used some peppermint & wild orange oil aromatically and it actually gave me an energy boost better than the coffee ever does. (Yes, there’s an oil for that!!)

Which brings me to… The Hail Mary Dinner I whipped up yesterday.

I opened up the cabinets & fridge to see….
Nothing.
Nada.
Zip.
Zilch.
…at least that would be quick and nutritious.

But what did I have?!? Some egg noodles, some leftover chicken, some leftover veggies, and a cookbook. I figured I could whip up a simple sauce/gravy and throw all the stuff together. Kind of a deconstructed casserole, if you will. Sure, we’ll go with that.

So I got the water going for the noodles, pulled out my Betty Crocker cookbook, and opened it to the Sauces section. “Basic White Sauce.” PERFECT! Here’s how to make it:
In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter.
Add 2 tablespoons flour and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and the lumps are gone.
Gradually add 1 1/2 cups milk, stirring all the while.
Season with salt & pepper, and heat over medium high heat until it starts bubbling.
Continue cooking until sauce thickens.
Because it was so bland, I added some garlic and onion powder to taste.

While the sauce thickened, I reheated and cut up the chicken into bite size pieces, and reheated the leftover veggies in the microwave. I cooked the noodles and added a pat or two of butter, stirring until melted & mixed.

I added the chicken into the sauce.
I spooned the noodles into bowls.
I sprinkled some veggies over the noodles.
I scooped the chicken sauce over the noodles, and….
BAM! DINNER!

 

HailMary dinner

It was actually pretty good! Thankfully, the chicken was well-seasoned, so when I mixed it with the bland sauce, it was perfect. The kids gobbled it right up. To be fair, they probably would’ve eaten anything at that point, since they were so hungry.

Regardless, it boosted my confidence that I could create a real meal in a pinch without too much trouble. (PS. Leftovers make an excellent lunch the next day.)

HAIL MARY

 

When have you made a delicious dinner in a pinch? What did you make?

Disciplining in Love …and not from fear

31501-Love-Vs-Fear
Do you know what fear leads to? Anger.

When it comes to discipline, anger is selfish. It comes from embarrassment, impatience, and a desire to correct wrongs that have been done to US. It’s immature. And it’s a thin line: you can spank your child if it’s the expected punishment for bad behavior; but spanking your child because you are caught up in a moment of raging anger is not helpful for anyone. You will feel guilty later, making it difficult for you to be consistent, and your child, instead of learning, is just fearful of you and feeling unloved. When you lash out in anger born of fear, you make it about YOUR behavior; instead of being focused on their behavior and how to correct it, they are experiencing the results of your inability to control your emotions.

Awhile back, I realized I had made most of my discipline decisions out of fear. If I don’t hurry up and pick a discipline method and stay unerringly consistent, I thought, my daughter will be rambunctious, never listen, and grow into a disrespectful and disobedient child/troubled teen/worthless adult. And then, if we were around anyone else, I’d be so aware of their presence and imagine that they were judging every word I said and every move I made while disciplining my child. Let’s be honest: it is exceedingly difficult not to think about other people’s opinions when you’re disciplining in front of them.

I don’t know if it’s a stage of life I’ve grown into, more life experience, or if having 3 kids close together just made me too busy to care, but at some point I stopped worrying. I didn’t have time or energy to be concerned about what other people thought of my ‘parenting style’. I did, however, go through a dark period in which I was very unpleasant to be around – at least to my immediate family anyway. I was angry a lot, and yelled a lot, and didn’t show very much love at all. Thankfully those are the kind of seasons (difficult ones) that we learn the most from, if we’re smart.

So now, when a situation represents itself (and when I can keep my head clear enough), I examine my motives: Am I reacting out of fear of something? Or am I acting to teach my children desirable behaviors and attitudes? If it’s the latter, I am in the guilt-free clear zone. But if it’s the former, I do my best to correct my response, and even apologize if my behavior was really bad. (Side note: Yes, I apologize to my kids if/when I’m wrong. Our kids need to know that we aren’t perfect. Otherwise, they will not only be jaded about us, but also feel the need to live up to that same perfection.)

So what changed? Here are a few specific things that have helped me:
1. Stop fearing what other people will think of your parenting based on your child(ren)’s behavior. Children are unpredictable in a lot of ways. They act differently at home than they do away from home. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s bad. But one episode does not define your child, so stop acting like it does. “They’re embarrassing me” is not a good reason to lash out in anger born of fear.
2. Stop fearing they’ll never ‘get it‘. I’ve noticed that I don’t have to be violently angry or even super strict for them to understand a concept. I come down to their level, speak in a clear calm voice, and explain why their behavior was wrong. If possible I quote scripture. They apologize and make amends where necessary. And you know what? They get it. But if you’re afraid they’ll never get it, you’ll react out of hopelessness, despair, frustration. Why keep trying if you doubt they’ll get it? Like anything, it sometimes takes several corrections, but they DO get it. Even if I’m not spanking or giving time outs. Which leads me to…
3. Stop fearing if you don’t discipline a certain way (consistent, firm hand, time outs, spankings, etc) it won’t work. Because you know what? Our God is about grace. He knows we are not perfect, and that’s why He sent His only Son to redeem us. That is how we can be in relationship with Him in the first place. So wherever we are imperfect, He fills in the gaps through the power of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 12:9 – “My power is made perfect in weakness.”) Tell me that’s not comforting and freeing!!! (Even if you do, I won’t believe you; my mind’s made up.) So stop fearing that you’re doing it wrong, or your lack of consistency will breed a wild child. Give yourself room to mess up. If you are consistent MOST of the time, and parent out of love, God will do the rest. Remember too that each situation is different. Take the time to know your children individually. Sometimes a spanking might be the best way to teach. Sometimes taking a beloved toy or lovey gets the point across better. You don’t necessarily have to be consistent with your METHOD – just with your love and correction. God is not a God of rules… He’s a God of Grace.
4. Stop fearing what kind of kids they’ll be when they grow up if you don’t ‘succeed’. Hand them over to God. They are not yours anyway. We have merely been given the privilege of raising them to adults. They never really belong to us. Our job is to “train them in the way they should go” (Prov 22:6), pray unceasingly for their hearts to know Jesus, pray for their future, and TRUST OUR GOD that He loves them more than we do. Isn’t that reassuring, refreshing, and… easier? 
When you trust God to reinforce what you are doing your best to teach, you will be SO much less stressed… and happier. Therefore your children will be happier… and more obedient too.

Also remember these two points:
1. Imperfect is normal.
2. Our kids learn right and wrong from us. They really have no idea what is okay or not until we teach them. Instead of being frustrated they don’t already KNOW, calm down and realize it is your job to TEACH them.

Ever heard that phrase People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care?

Parenting out of love is kind of like WWJD – more like What DID Jesus do? How has he loved you in the past? How has he loved you into desiring to change? Sometimes, for me, it’s been when I’m in the midst of loud, chaotic, raging messes and coming to Him completely honest and ugly. And imperfect.
IMPERFECT, that’s the key. When we stop being so afraid of messing up, God is able to teach us the next step. When we admit we’re wrong or angry or ignorant, He gently and lovingly whispers what to do next. He’ll point out a flaw. Or illuminate a wrong attitude. He’ll show you exactly what thoughts need to be changed and how to adjust them. Scripture says if we “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” He will “heal our land”. He will fix what’s broken. Which is the whole point, because when our kids mess up, they’re being imperfect too. If God can meet us in our imperfections, we should be able to meet our kids in theirs. That’s what love is about – not being afraid of facing the ugly, scary, unknown, uncertain, imperfect, messy stuff. When they are in their raging messes, and we meet them there, they are loved into learning how better to love. Teach them love through your actions, and they will copy your actions and love better too. That’s why your method doesn’t have to be consistent; we’re teaching them to love, and love always wins.

I want to parent like God parents me:
– with a quiet voice

– never in a place of fear
– always with their best interests at heart – based on what you know is right for them. God knows what’s in our future. Even though we don’t know what’s in our kids’ future, we can pull from past experiences and trust God with the rest.
– with love casting out their fear and mine, inviting them to a place where they can come higher and choose God’s love over any fear.

In this video on parenting, Mark Hall puts it perfectly: “Love earns the right to speak truth… That’s how Jesus could say hard core stuff to you and you’d sit there and listen to it – because you knew He loved you.”
2 Tim 1 7

Click here for another message by Executive Pastor Steve Carter detailing how we act from love or fear.

A Mother’s Take on Intimacy

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1 Corinthians 7:2,3
each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:5 – Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time…

On the sixth day of creation, God created us:
So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. 
– Genesis 1:27

God created Male…. and Female. Different, for different purposes.

He knew that men would desire physical intimacy more than women. This is not a surprise to Him, or an accident. He gave men a physical desire, and women an emotional desire.

We’ve all heard stories or statistics about how physical intimacy effects men and women differently – usually as a warning to non-married adolescents. But this was not an accident. God did it on purpose.

He created each of us individually ON purpose, FOR a purpose. Is it so hard to believe that he also created male and female tendencies on purpose and for a purpose? He had a plan.

He knew – in fact planned – that we women will be Proverbs 31 women.

Have you read Proverbs 31??? That woman did it all!

And while we may not necessarily check all the exact same boxes she did, or complete the same exact activities, or possess the exact same gifts she did, it is in our nature to do our best to give our best in every area of our lives – our relationships (building and maintaining them), our finances, our talents, our homes, to support our churches, families, friends, and communities. And God created us this way because He knew the world would need us to be this way.

But I think God knew we would be so easily tied up in these things, and so preoccupied taking care of others that we might forget to take care of and enjoy ourselves. (Sound like anyone you know?)

So he created male and female… “male and female He created them.”

There are times when if it were up to me, I would not take time for or spend money on a date night if my hubby did not suggest or assure me that we should and can. It’s not because I dislike his company. I just feel a responsibility to other things. You see, my natural instinct is to sacrifice my desires for someone or something else. And if I feel that way, I assume my husband will too.

But God did not create man this way – and that was the best thing He could’ve done. (If you know the God of the Universe, you will not be surprised at this.)

God created us women to be organizers, list-makers, Do-ers, Feel-ers, Listeners, Care-takers. He knew we would zero in on those roles that cause us to put others first, so He created man with a strong physical desire to help remind us to enjoy our husbands.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights… – James 1:17
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
– 1 Timothy 6:17

And God gave us a desire to be a mother. When asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, my desired occupation fluctuated throughout the years. But what never changed was the desire, above all, to be a mom. In fact, the older I got, the more my occupation was viewed through a filter: Can I be a mom and make this work, and how? Back then, of course, I had no idea what being a mother really meant or what it would entail. But even now that I know the challenges it presents and the patience it takes, it is the best, most enjoyable and rewarding ‘occupation’ I could ever have. I have a heart of a mother.

I can learn a new skill quickly. I can perform it efficiently. I can analyze it and decide if there is a better, quicker way. I can complete necessary tasks and excel above what is expected. I can even do all these things while simultaneously enjoying my work. I really do enjoy my job. In fact, I have found joy in every job I’ve held.

But I am not passionate about any job I’ve had – NONE of them – like I am about being my kids’ mom. I am truly honored to be their mom. I marvel every day at how blessed I am to have such amazing kids. Really – I don’t think I could ask for better ones. And it’s not because they’re perfect (they’re not). It’s in the unexpected talents. The funny phrases. The sudden, keen observations. The reactions when they learn something new. I wonder how I was chosen to be the mother to such marvelous little creatures. God could have chosen ANYONE to be their mother and to prepare them for entering the world as grown-ups, and He chose me. (ME!)

But most of all, being their mom is about LOVE. The instant love when you see and hold your baby for the first time. The pride that bubbles up, barely containable, every time they hit a milestone or extend a kind gesture. The growth that occurs in your own heart when you see siblings playing, helping, and loving one another. The decisions made not out of fear, but of confidence in His perfect love.

…And so God gave females the desire to have children and be a mother.

In case you weren’t aware, it just so happens that the only way to become a mother is through physical intimacy – the very thing our husbands most desire, not from an unhealthy or dirty intention our society has sometimes made it to be, but as a way of expressing the love between one another. (I suppose in this day and age you could argue we have science that can help us, but I’m referring to the first and most natural way, before the science existed.)

After we had our first I thought, “there is not ONE thing in the world more intimate than having a child together.”
A whole PERSON is created and literally birthed out of the love you have for one another.

Children = love.  In so many ways.

And so God created male and female… male and female He created them.

He gave man the physical desire to express love, and woman the desire for emotional love that creates, grows, and nurtures relationships.
He knew that neither of us on our own would be able to do both roles successfully. But each of our strengths, when they come together, complete the other.

male and female

And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh…”
– Genesis 2:23
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 
– Psalm 127:3

A big shout out to my hubby, who always reminds me to slow down and enjoy life. ❤

Mom VS Mom: the Great Food Debate

I’m a breastfeeding mom; I love nursing. It’s a great bonding time for mommy and baby. Baby’s breath and poop actually smell good. And of course there are health benefits! Call me lazy, but honestly, more than anything, I love the convenience it affords.

That is, if you are able to get past the common misconception that breastfeeding is “natural” and should come easy to you and baby. And past the sore nipples. And the latching issues. And wondering if baby is getting enough. Especially when baby is so soothed he/she keeps falling asleep at the breast. Just getting past the general questioning of your technique that happens those first few weeks should be a celebrated event.

Maybe convenience is not quite the right word.

With my first, I only made it four months before throwing in the towel and switching exclusively to formula – even with an extremely abundant milk supply. You see, she was born a little early, with jaundice. Everyone was so concerned about getting her the fluids she needed, which would help fix the problem. Unfortunately, that caused more problems – because even though the nurses marveled at how much I could pump the first day, they still supplemented with formula. So when she had trouble latching by herself, they offered all this extraneous equipment to help the process along. This was a big mistake, but I didn’t know that at the time. It was my first baby; I had no idea what I was doing! I just thought, “Wow, how cool that they have all these ways to help!” The only thing it helped, though, was ensuring that A was never comfortable nursing naturally from me; I was always augmenting with some other device.

Thankfully it was easier with my other two kids – though not completely free from challenges. But more and more I’m hearing stories of moms who, even after experimenting with diet, supplements, and pumping schedules, are unable to provide enough milk to breastfeed exclusively.

A friend shared this post on her page, urging the ‘mothers who failed’ not to base their self-worth as a mom on the fact that they used formula. She writes,

We momma’s should not be defined by how we feed our children. It is wrong and mean and terrible that these days, our worth as mommas is found in FOOD. (We women have enough problems with that topic already.)

This debate does not end when our children grow past the age of reliance on breast milk or formula. It reminds me of a another article that criticizes our society for placing so many pressures on us regarding the quality and quantity of food we eat – so much so that our food choices become an idol. My mom raised us to understand eating healthily as always having balance. As you may have read, I’m eating more fruits and vegetables – and I feel GREAT! So I know the benefits of eating right and have experienced them first hand. Similarly I know the benefits of breastfeeding. But this day and age, the stakes have been raised. It’s become such a disputed point that breastfeeding moms judge formula-feeding moms – and organic mommies judge non-organic mommies… or preservative-free judge preservative inclusive, gluten-free judge gluten-inclusive, no food dyes judge food dye givers; insert special diet here and there will always be two stances at war with each other. As I’m learning more and more through the Honest Momseries, we each do what we believe is best for our families, with the information we search out, after painstakingly weighing all the options and whatever limitations we have.

So, fellow moms: instead of automatically jumping to criticism of another’s food choices, can I make a proposal? That we gently and impartially ask a mom who’s made different choices from us WHY they’ve made those choices. (If you’re the one being asked, don’t jump immediately to being offended.) And in learning what motives led to that decision, we can observe our children more meticulously. And if our child displays those same symptoms or behaviors, we can reevaluate the choices WE make.

Let’s be the kind of moms that seek to understand one another, believe the best in one other, and encourage one another, instead of being so quick to judge.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves… – Philippians 2:3

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! …encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. – 2 Corinthians 13:11

Making time for Play (and its rewards)

When you have your first child, you score through as much material as you can find, about every topic imaginable: feeding/diet, sleeping patterns, teething, diapering, health & sickness, behavior, discipline, milestones, and even – yes – PLAY. I remember getting a magazine after having our first which outlined different ‘games’ to play with your baby at different stages. I loved it and used a lot of the suggestions. Well, when you only have one, and you are a SAHM like I was at that point, it’s pretty easy to make time to play. After all, there is only so much laundry. The baby is still a baby, hence does not eat meals, therefore less food for you to make each mealtime. Baby is not old enough to really make messes, so it’s easy to clean up. Baby also sleeps a lot. I remember searching out activities or games to do, because I actually felt like I had TOO much unscheduled time on my hands.

This is in stark contrast to what happens when you have more than one child.

I recently read an article by another mom of 3 that left me in stitches. (You can read the article here. In fact I suggest you do.) It lays out some of the more difficult (and hilarious) parts of having 3 kids so close in age. Now let me tell you, articles like this used to make me angry. The gentlest kind of angry, because I could see truth in them, but what I couldn’t see was how any self-respecting mom could find any of those sort of situations funny. Because if you really cared about your kids, wouldn’t you be ashamed of those situations and doing your best to fix them at the next opportunity instead of laughing about them? And how can you complain about all the “bad” things without giving equal airtime to the blessings they provide?

However the past 6 months have been, well, a time of rediscovery for me. I think it took me a lot more effort to get used to my eldest daughter going to school every day for a half day, instead of just 3 days a week, than I expected it would. I thought it would free me up to get a lot done, but that’s not the truth. What do I DO all day? Well, mostly I try to get stuff done and get interrupted. But that’s for another post.

Last month, with the holidays upon us, and my awareness of my complete lack of innate creativity, I picked up a few very simple crafts to do with the kids. I realized that most of our time at home was going unstructured (free play). This is great sometimes. I know it helps stretch their imaginations. But most of the time it leads to them being bored and unfocused, which frustrates me because I can’t focus on anything either, since they’re constantly interrupting me. So I set out to do more scheduled activities – which I had been previously unwilling to do since our youngest is really too young to participate in anything that’s too messy or involved, or includes anything that even remotely looks like food (oh yes, it will get eaten).

The past week we have taken it pretty easy. I mean really. Sitting around, cuddling, reading books, watching movies, not doing much of anything very productive. (I still feel like I’m forgetting something…)

So when a friend asked me to do a play date, I felt hesitant about it at first. It would be great to get out with the kids, and our girls hadn’t played together in forever since they are on different school schedules. Now was the perfect time to set something up, before they both went back to school. I was looking forward to it, even though it has been snowing like crazy and the high today was 11º.

Let me tell you something. I AM SO GLAD WE DID THIS. I was reminded why I used to try to schedule at least one play date a week. (Honestly, last year, I had to LIMIT us to one play date a week because we got so many requests. One a week was my limit – otherwise it got too crazy.) I know there’s a group out there that think it’s stupid that we ‘schedule play dates’ for our kids, because back in the day kids just went out their front or back door and played with the neighbors, generally unsupervised. That’s great, and I wish it was still like that, but the reality is it isn’t. Families aren’t ‘one size fits all’ anymore. Both parents often work instead of one. Jobs are more untraditional, meaning scheduling is a necessity, because moms having free time every week day isn’t implied anymore.
**Side note: Any time there is the option of food, your kids WILL ask for it. What is the solution to this predicament if you don’t want to be bleeding money every time you take them somewhere? 1. Eat before you leave, and let them know you are going to PLAY, not to eat. (I’ve found giving the kids expectations helps diffuse disappointment and thus, meltdowns.) 2. When they inevitably ask to purchase food anyway, bring out your own snacks that you have smartly packed. 3. Use the “we won’t come here again” threat if they continue asking. At least, these seem to work for me.

Now I know for a fact that this play date was not convenient for either of us moms. We both have 3 kids. Do you know how much time it takes to get out the door when you have to bundle up 3 kids for 11º weather (only one of which is semi-capable of doing it for herself)? The preparation it takes – making sure you have sippy cups for the young one, bottled water for the older ones, snacks that are age-appropriate for all, and enough diapering supplies to last the time you’ll be gone? If you DO know how much time it takes, you’ll also know that once you have them bundled, you might as well do the rest of your errands then too, otherwise you’re multiplying your time unnecessarily. So now you have to plan what errands you have time to run without overlapping the next meal or nap time. What will you need to successfully complete these tasks? … You can see how this gets out of hand.

We both also could have used this time to clean, run other errands, or some other more productive, ‘check it off your list’ type task. But you know what? Being with the kids in that setting, when you cannot possibly do ANYTHING ELSE but supervise and enjoy them (and, okay, get in some mommy chat time) is such a relief.  On a separate but related topic, it reminded me that I am not the only one tackling the challenge of doing the best you can but still feeling like it’s just not quite good enough. So these play dates are not just important for the kids, but for us moms too, if only for the reminder that we’re not alone. And that IT IS WORTH IT – and NECESSARY to our sanity – to occasionally and voluntarily inconvenience ourselves, because the reward is worth the effort.
(Another side note: we had my daughter’s friend over to our house after the play date, and I felt like the mom I used to be again – the one who is confident, fun, in control yet still flexible, and very capable. I ENJOY having other kids at our house. I really do. I am thankful for good friends who raise good kids for my kids to play with!)

I forgot what it was to really ENJOY my kids. Remember my earlier post about being unhappy? That attitude was a red flag, but I didn’t know how to fix it. Now I remember: TAKE TIME TO ENJOY MY KIDS. John 10:10 (Amplified version) says Jesus came that we might have and enjoy our life, in abundance, to the full, until it overflows. 1 Timothy 6:17 says God gives us all things RICHLY to enjoy. (YES! That includes our kids!) Isn’t that good news???? We don’t have to feel guilty about taking time to play with our kids. I had been so caught up in trying to do everything right that I forgot how to do one of the most important things right. Because when we enjoy them, they see that we care about them. That they are important enough for us to take time out from scheduled appointments and to do lists to just PLAY. And I think that, more than anything, is an act of love.

And the best part is it’s a two way street. Even if you feel guilty or have a begrudging attitude towards playing with them, if you just let go of your plans for a little while to play with them, YOU will be the one feeling loved, and blessed, and fulfilled, and HAPPY.

The more I experience, the more I believe the mantra that when you are feeling your worst, the best you can do is go out and serve someone else. Because whoever we serve, we can’t help but love, and love blesses the giver as well as the recipient. ❤

 8 Reasons you should make time for play dates (with other moms/kids, outside the home):
1. Your kids have the opportunity to release pent-up energy. This makes them happy, and tired. They will nap and go to bed easier.
2. Your kids can practice socializing. You have the opportunity to teach them manners and behavioral habits that will shape the person they will become.
3. You can see what types of activities your kids are naturally drawn to, and good at, and seek out other ways to encourage those gifts.
4. You get mommy time. Compare stories. Share struggles. Enjoy victories!
5. You once again prove to yourself that you can handle 3 kids (or insert your # of children here) on your own, in a sometimes uncontrolled or very minimally controlled environment = confidence in self and self’s abilities.
6. Sometimes it just helps to see other moms out there doing the same thing you are – dealing with meltdowns, correcting behavior, grabbing a quick moment of quiet while the kids are playing – to remind yourself you are not in the trenches alone. Seeing other imperfect moms = opportunity to be understanding to THEM… and forgiving to yourself.
7. You are away from home therefore cannot interrupt play time to do laundry, dishes, or other chores.
8. You get to enjoy your kids = they are more thankful and respectful/you enjoy watching them play/your love for each other grows.

Try, Fail, Adjust – Parenting

Setting: Our house. In the thick of a difficult few weeks in which I noticed my temper had shortened and I was really talking to my family in a very un-kind way but felt all my efforts to fix it turned out unsuccessful. I was feeling  tired, worn down, frustrated, and defeated.

Situation: Brendan had to go to the bathroom. He is almost 3 and has proven he can handle himself in the bathroom from beginning to end – even putting his pants back on, which was a point of contention for some time.

He came to me – I was in the kitchen – asking for help to put on a new toilet paper roll! I praised him for his initiative. “Wow! Brendan, I’m so proud of you! You noticed we needed a new roll, got one out, and tried to put it on yourself. Good job buddy!” I helped him put the new roll on, and started pulling his pants up. “WAIT!” he said. “I have to wipe my weeny!” “Well, alright. Sorry.” I said, thinking this will be a very short task, and left him to it. I had to go back to the kitchen to help Camille with something.

I had Camille up on the counter wiping her nose when I heard a startling sound… like something heavy falling on the ground. I kind of knew what it was before I got there, but I was so afraid of what was happening that I almost left Camille on the kitchen counter. I had to turn back and grab her. (Almost funny, but mostly NOT.) I ran around the corner, down the hall and into the bathroom and saw Brendan faced backwards on the toilet with the lid closed, one hand grasping the top of the tank and the other holding the LID to the tank, which was hanging over the side touching the ground. The sound I heard was it hitting the floor and breaking.

Yes. My almost-3 year old son did this, and this is the best I could fix it for now.

Yes. My almost-3 year old son did this, and this is the best I could fix it for now.

So now, here I am amidst an already trying week, where I had tried to eliminate distractions to focus more on my kids, and STILL this happens. Talk about feeling inadequate. (To his credit, he said he was “trying to fix it”… at least he had good intentions.)

As if that wasn’t enough, of course I then had to explain everything to my hubs, whom I could already tell was far from satisfied with my attitude the past few weeks. I have this habit in which I feel the need to explain myself to everyone around me. I’m working on erasing that feeling and either accepting the decisions I’ve made and their consequences, or changing them for the better.

Perspective… Was this a tsunami where we lost our house and all our possessions? No… Was this a death in the family? No again. But I still gave the situation power over me to name me “FAILURE”. That can feel like an internal tsunami.

But sometimes we just have to accept the situation as it happened. We have to use the “TRY FAIL ADJUST” method. I TRIED leaving him alone and he not only broke an expensive household necessity, but also endangered himself ; he actually did cut his thumb on it the next day (FAIL). If I would’ve stayed with him for that extra minute, it would’ve eliminated the whole problem. So, I ADJUST. We made sure he understands why it’s not safe or acceptable for him to play with or ‘try to fix’ the toilet. And he is under closer supervision now when he goes to the bathroom. Yes I’ve left him alone since then, but I am more careful to stay nearby and monitor him even when it’s inconvenient or when I’m feeling impatient.

Don’t you find, though, that it’s those small moments together that you cherish?? Funny sentences, curious questions, sweet remarks are all made when you’re giving your full attention to your little ones.

So, it’s back to basics for this momma. Remembering why I love being a mom in the first place; that my kids are and should always be my first priority; that anything I sow into them is a seed planted for later in life. And admitting that mistakes happen; that I can’t be everywhere at once; that that doesn’t make me a bad mom.

I am reminded of Shauna Niequist’s phrase, “Present over Perfect.” If I just remember to be present with my kids instead of focusing on forcing everything around me into a perfect little wrapped box, I’ll make more of the moments that matter.

Have you had any “failure” mom moments? What were they? How did you recover? Comment below if you’d like to share.