July 2010


Okay, I know there are a few of you that actually read from time to time.

Today is reader participation day!!  That mean YOU!

I want to know your favorite mom-isms, and the background to it.  Serious or humorous.  Borrowed, stolen or original.

I’ll share one that I picked up from a friend.

A friend has 3 girls, all older than mine.  During play dates I’d often hear her say, ‘people are more important than things‘ to her girls.  Sometimes they were fighting with each other over some toy, other times it was my child who was doing what babies do, swiping the toy they had.  I fell in love with this saying, and use it with my girls. It gets right to the point, and even the youngest of kids can understand it.

I’m not sure how it is even possible, but I’ve noticed that I often fail to recognize that my children aren’t just ‘my children,’ but that they are people, made in the image of God.  So often I view them as a distraction, as an interruption, an inconvenience, but not as a soul created by the Lord.

It is somewhat understandable, but maybe not excusable.  I mean, it seems these days I cannot even have a thought without being interrupted.  Do you know how frustrating it is to try to think about something, when a little voice breaks in with, ‘mommy can we go to the park…mommy can we go to the park…mommy, can we go to the park.’  It is truly amazing how many words they can say in 3 seconds.  If only they could pause, and take a breath, I’d have a chance to process their question and answer.

When every waking moment seems to revolve around these little people, who are in constant need or want of something, it can be hard to look at them as God looks at them.  Yet, that is exactly what I’m called to do.

I go through seasons when I wake up each day and think, ‘what’s the point?’  I know the biblical, textbook answer to this, yet I don’t always believe it.  If I traced the root of such thinking, I would recognize that it is my perspective causing the problem.  If my children are indeed just distractions, interruptions and inconveniences, then what is the point?

BUT

If they are indeed made in the image of God, created by Him and for Him, purposed to glorify Him, then there is a point.  Life as a mom isn’t a futile repetition of waking, clothing, feeding, sleeping, with a dash of peacemaking thrown in.  No, life as a mom is this GINORMOUS task of training up these little souls to become big souls that love our Lord.

What task could possibly be bigger?

Anyone who knew me way back when knows that sarcasm is one of my gifts.  I have intentionally toned my sarcastic humor down a bit over the years, but  it still comes out from time to time (hey, sometimes you just ask for it!)

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with sarcasm.  The prophet Elijah used sarcasm masterfully in 1 Kings 18, when he suggested that Baal was ‘on the pot’ and therefore unable to answer the prayers of the people.  If you are a fan of sarcasm, it’s worth 5 minutes to read this story!

That said, I have recognized lately that sarcasm isn’t and end in itself.  Being sarcastic to build myself up, to get the laugh, while putting others down in a cowardly, passive aggressive manner, is not godly.  Sarcasm, thrown about without forethought is rarely edifying.   If my sarcasm, (or any other form of language) is used for a purpose, i.e. Elijah, it may be beneficial.  But when my language becomes primarily sarcastic, it is often and indication of a problem with my heart.

It wasn’t until I watched the reaction of my oldest daughter the other morning that I realized I am always either building up, or tearing down…there is not neutral ground.

It was an innocent enough comment, and after all, she started it (that argument always works, right?)  We were eating breakfast, and she wanted me to look, as she stuffed this huge bite into her mouth, at how big her mouth was.  (ah, the strange things that make kids proud).  She was being playful, and I put on my sarcastic hat to sling one back at her.  I didn’t think my comment was really that bad, but her reaction told me otherwise.

I simply said, ‘yeah, you do have a big mouth.’   In that instance, another clique was proven true: it’s not what you say, but how you say it.  Something about my tone caused her face to drop.  She did not respond, but  I could see that she was hurt.  My attempt to be funny, to score ‘cool points’ fell flat.  I wounded my child’s spirit.

Thankfully, I noticed right away.  When I asked, she confirmed that I had hurt her feelings.  I apologized and forgiveness was quickly granted (I love how quick kids are to forgive, but that’s another post for another day).  I did one other thing.  I gave her permission to tell me when I hurt her feelings.  Whenever it is in my power, I want to avoid saying or doing things to hurt my children.  Now, if they are in need of a good whooping, then suck it up kid.  But in daily interaction, I need to do all that I can to build them up and encourage them.

It is often these little things that build up into big things.  Small, innocuous tears can become big rifts between people.  Day after day, year after year, cutting words will eventually ruin the relationship.

How quickly I speak sometimes, without thinking.  Oh, the piles of idle words that are accumulating on my account.  Oh, for the ability to tame the tongue, to be thoughtful and intentional with what comes out of my mouth.  How true it is that what comes out of a man’s mouth defiles him, and  reveals the heart.  It can be almost too scary at times to evaluate my words, for they reflect the ugly depravity of my heart.

Oh, for the blood of Christ, that has covers these sins.

‘My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!’
Horatio Spafford

It had been building up for a while.  It started with an especially busy few weeks, resulting in my husband being away from home even more than usual.  The kids miss their dad, and his absence is felt.   I miss my husband, and needed that one-on-one time.  The stress accumulated, and came to a head this morning.

Trying to get everyone ready for a fun day at the beach (in the hopes that some outdoor activity would sweeten my sour mood a bit), I spend most of that time weeping.  Weeping while trying to get my son dressed.  Weeping while filling up water bottles.  Weeping as that sweet son gave me his mischievous smile, after I had told him to sit down to get his shoes on, letting me know he had no intention of obeying, and was ready for a game of chase.

Weeping over the horrible mom I had been the last few days.  Weeping that my kids deserve better.  Weeping that I was totally out of energy to do this mom thing.  Weeping over being tired of my children, and weeping because I knew I shouldn’t be tired of them.  Weeping that my husband wasn’t meeting my (unrealistic) expectations, and that these children were obeying like I want them to.

Lots and lots of weeping.

I’d like to give you a real spiritual conclusion, and say that I turned to my Lord.  I opened by Bible, laid my cares before Him, knowing He cares for me.  I wish I could say that I did the ‘spiritual” thing and put my trust in Him.  But, the truth is, I turned to self-pity.  I did cast up a prayer, in the midst of weeping, dripping with self-pity and complaining.  Had I turned to Christ in prayer first, I suspect I would not have been face down on my kitchen floor this morning, blubbering in front of my children.

I’d like to think I learned my lesson, but I know me too well.  I’ll be back in that place again.

My question to you is, where do you turn when you are at your wit’s end?

We have been going through a bit of a rough patch with our oldest lately.  We have never had much of a discipline problem with her.  We’re usually prompt in dealing with any disobedience, so nothing ever built up.  We kinda sailed through the ‘two’s’ wondering where the ‘terrible two’s’ were…we never experienced that with her.  The ‘three’s’ weren’t much trouble either.

Well, maybe she is a late bloomer, because it seems since she turned 4 she has decided to make up for lost time.  Boy oh boy, is she keeping us on our toes.

I’ve seen that Nanny 911 show a few times and have always thought, ‘how on earth did their families get so out of control?’  Yet, if you walked into our home at the right time, you would think we ought to be on that show.

My husband and I have been at a loss trying to figure out where we went wrong.  We are pretty consistent with handing out correction, aren’t we?  From the time this kid was 6-7 months old, we have been teaching her to listen to and obey us…what has changed?  Maybe we have lapsed.

I fully believe that everyone, including my children, is responsible for his/her own actions.  I also believe, as a parent, I am responsible for not inciting my children to sin.

The Bible puts it this way, ‘do not provoke your children to wrath.’ (Ephesians 6:4)

My daughter is responsible to us and to God for her disrespect and disobedience.  We are responsible to God to encourage her, train her up, and to NOT provoke her to do commit the aforementioned sins(among other responsibilities).

All the traditional methods of discipline are failing.  So while I rack my brain looking for ways to reach her, I have come to the conclusion that, as I conduct my analysis, I need to start with me.  I may not end with me, but I do need to start with me.

Am I provoking her, in my words or actions?  Are there triggers that cause her to jump from my cheerful, sweet girl to the monster we are seeing lately?  If there are triggers, are they caused by me?  Are they circumstantial?  Can I control them, and should I minimize them?  For example, I let her get too tired before sending her off for a nap, at which point she has a real hard time controlling herself.  Or are they things that I need to teach her to walk through?  Like, when her brother or sister takes a toy.

I am still trying to piece it all together, but I had a bit of an insight tonight.

I spent the evening out with her, against my wishes (sometimes my husband has wisdom that I just don’t want to see).  In the car, as we were leaving, I began to set my iPhone to play one of my podcasts. As I looked in the rear view mirror, and saw this face that 5 minutes ago was grumpy, and now was eager, I decided to turn it off, and engage in conversation.

We chatted the entire 20 minute car ride to the bookstore (my getaway location).  At the bookstore, I bought her a treat (bribes work, right?) and read her a few books.  I really just wanted to sit quietly and read MY magazines, and when we go to the bookstore, I usually do.  The kids ask me to read books, and I generally decline, telling them to read their own books quietly, while mama read hers (this could be a clue to what has gone wrong).

It took a lot of effort to turn my eyes and focus off of myself, and onto my child – but that’s what motherhood is all about, isn’t it?

She lit up with each story I read.  She spoke with a respectful tone of voice and used gracious, kind words.  This was the child I had been missing.

We had a few moments when the monster began to appear, and in those moments I realized that it was likely my tone of voice triggering it.  Both times, I was curt and harsh in my response to her, and immediately I saw her sweet spirit close up, and this angry child emerge.

In this isolated environment, without the added commotion of 2 other children and household responsibilities, I was able to deal with this change of attitude immediately and calmly.  And both times, within a few minutes of discourse, I was able to help her see what was happened with her attitude, and reorient her back.

I am no fool (at least not usually).  I have no delusion that this problem is gone for good.  But, I do have a greater awareness of the big picture.  I do have a refreshed spirit, ready to encounter the scenario again, with greater preparedness.  I do have hope that God is working in her AND in me through these trying times.

So, bring it on girl.  I’m ready for ya.

What’s that old saying, ‘there’s a first for everything?’

Well, I’ve had 2 firsts this week, both of the unpleasant kind.

First, my 1-year-old has a bowel movement while sitting in his high chair.  Not a big deal, until I go to pick him up and realize that his diaper caught 10% of it.  And it wasn’t a nice, solid expulsion.  Needless to say, it was a mess.

On the flip side, the high chair was washed for the first time in 4 years.

My second ‘first’ was something of an urban legend to me up until yesterday.  I’ve heard of such tales.  Seen examples on ‘Nanny 911’.  But I always thought, ‘do kids really ever act like that?’  Well, I got my answer.

Now, I’ve dealt with the average case of grumpies in all sorts of venues.  I can handles those for the most part, but I was totally unprepared for this nightmare.

My 4-year-old (who seems to be going through the terrible two’s 2 years late), had a full on, legs kicking, arms swinging temper tantrum in the middle of Trader Joe’s.  For those who know her, this may seem hard to believe, but oh, did it happen.

I know the textbook response.  Take the child out to the car, sacrificing the grocery trip.  Send the message that they are not in control, and that their behavior is unacceptable.  Do not give in, stand strong.  But what do you do when your kids have already consumed 3 bananas that you rightfully should pay for (gotta love the by-the-banana-pricing, munching on a banana while shopping is often a cranky kid antidote) , and the store is rather crowded, which would make a quick-pay-and-leave unfeasible?

In hindsight, I’m sure I could have spoken to a worker there, they probably would have told me to forget about the bananas, and I could have made my exit.  But at the time, I was thinking about how I’m going to control this WAY out of control child, while not losing the other two, and what about my reusable shopping bags, which were buried under a mound of groceries?

I settled for a quick stop in the rest room where I gave a good talking to and made lots of empty threats.

We finished the trip with a little less volume (although by then, the ENTIRE STORE knew we were there), and managed to get to the car, after which we proceeded to my husbands place of work. (he can work wonders with the girls.  It is truly amazing!!).

All in all, I’m thankful.  I’m thankful that it took 4 years before I had to clean poop out of the high chair, and glad that it took 4 years before I had a full-on meltdown in a public place.  I’m hoping that it’ll be 4 more before either occur again.

It started with a rolling Chef’s Table I bought from Costco.  Excited to have some extra prep room in my small kitchen, I eagerly opened the box to assemble the item.  That’s when it happened.  I was overwhelmed by the smell.  It’s a hard smell to describe, but once you’ve smelled it, you know what it is.  Sort of a chemical smell.  Very unpleasant.  You can almost feel your cilia burning up and your lungs being poisoned.   It’s awful.

My first thoughts were, ‘what in the world?’  I investigate the instructions, only to see “Made in China.’  ahh, so that’s what China smells like.

Today, I was at the sports store looking for some cross trainers.  I went to the Brooks, a solid, respectable shoe company.  Opened the box to try them on, and WHAM, hit with that stench.  Smarter from the last experience my first thought was, ‘these must be made in China.’  Lo and behold, I was correct.  (side note, do not be deceived by the packaging of Brooks, with “USA” plastered on their boxes.  Every Brooks shoe I looked at was made in China)

I looked at some small, indoor trampolines, thinking of my kids and the fun they would have bouncing about (a nice alternative to bouncing off the walls).  I opened the box to take a peek at the innards, and again, the overwhelming smell of China.  It’s worse than the infamous odor of New Jersey!

There are many reasons people steer clear of products made in China.  Political, human rights concerns over their sweat shops.  I’ll add one more, the surely poisonous chemicals that protrude such a repulsive odor, that would have a constant in your home.

As for me, I’ll be checking the “Made in” labels a bit more closely in the future.

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