Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Increasing Insanity of "Mommy Culture"

Does anyone else feel suffocated sometimes by the non-stop banter about motherhood?  It seems every day there are multiple articles about motherhood in my newsfeed.  "10 Things Not to say to a Stay at Home Mom"  "10 Things Not to say to a working Mom" "How to Miss a Childhood"  "Let's Stop Judging Each Other"  and sometimes I just want to scream, "Enough already!!".  Oh my goodness, can we please STOP talking about motherhood and dissecting every little bit of it.  Seriously, I cannot imagine that generations past talked and talked ad nauseam about motherhood the way we do.  No, they just did the darn thing.  I just get sick of the "mommy culture" sometimes.  I find it overwhelming and I feel like the pressure and "background noise" just keeps increasing.

Let's take Pinterest for example.  Valentines Day is coming up and once upon a time, this holiday was probably not celebrated at all by children.  Perhaps if mother was feeling crafty she may bake some regular, ole' cookies.  Was she pinning 15 different crafts and making each meal contain some red treat and creating elaborate decorations for her home?  I'd venture to say, no.  I just feel like things are getting insane in this world of motherhood we live in.

How about the articles about "How Not To Miss A Childhood".  I've read a couple different articles about the same general topic of being "present" with your kids.  Here are my thoughts.  Yes, you shouldn't be completely glued to your phone 24/7.  Obviously.  I believe in healthy boundaries and those articles do have some good points.  But I also believe that giving your children your non-stop attention because you don't want to miss any little thing they do is unrealistic and, dare I say, not in your child's best interest.  Again, let's think about past generations, women had a lot more physical work to do just keeping up the house.   Do you think they had time to sit and be "present" for every little thing they did with their children and frolicking at the park  all day long?  No way.  They were working and keeping an eye on their children while they did it.  Probably a much less watchful eye than we keep on our children today.  If you want to spend 10 minutes on your phone while your children play at the park, bravo!  Good for you!  Relax for a few minutes.  Your kids will be fine.   I feel that the constant helicopter/entertainment parenting is doing our kids more of a disservice than we may realize.

Before you get the impression that I'm an aloof, distant parent, I'm quite the opposite. I am a stay at home mom who has devoted this season of my life to raising my two kids.  I understand the importance of investing our time in the next generation.  But I don't think that means that they should never be told "No, you need to wait"  or  "Mommy is reading right now, please don't interrupt"  or  "You need to play by yourself and you'll figure it out"  instead of constantly intervening and entertaining.  I don't think that we need to teach them that as their mothers, our world revolves around them.  Yes, in some ways, it does practically speaking, but the bigger message is the world does not revolve around them.  They need guidance and support, yes.  But they also need independence.  

People say "cherish every moment" well, let's be honest, some moments are NOT cherishable.  There, I said it!  Like when my son broke a glass bulb all over his floor while his sister simultaneously pooped all over the rug.  I will not miss those moments, well maybe for the laughs but I'll be glad when things like that don't happen.  We don't have to be mushy-gushy precious-precious all the stinkin' time about motherhood and our kids.

I wish there was more honesty.  I wish there was less "pinterest-y stuff" raising the unspoken bar of whats expected.  Motherhood is amazing, but it's also hard.  It is the hardest thing you will ever do.  There are moments of joy and ecstasy and moments of sadness, frustration and pain.  Portraying only one side of motherhood helps no one.

Friday, January 11, 2013

a miracle and mothering redemption

Clearly I've lost my blogging fire.  I'm not sure what the future of this blog holds, or maybe its fate is already sealed.  But I have something on my heart and perhaps a means of bringing some closure to my little blog.

I started this blog six years ago, as a 21 year old newly married young woman.  No children yet but full of ideas, dreams, plans and plenty of opinions!  My whole life I've always been somewhat of a hurrier.  You know that old country song, "I'm in a hurry to get things done, oh I rush and rush until life's no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die but I'm in a hurry and don't know why."  Yeah, that's me.  I am always eager for the next stage in life.  In middle school I wanted to be in high school.  In high school,  I wanted to be in college, in college I wanted to graduate and be married, when I was married I wanted to have kids.  I've always been that way.  There are good things about my forward looking personality to be sure, but there's a danger in wanting the next season too soon.  You miss things God wants to teach you and the beauty of the season you are in.  

I'm learning this.  Anyways, back to the story.  So I charged into motherhood full force, per my usual M.O.  As I mentioned earlier, I was brimming full of opinions on being a good mom.  I'm also drawn to information and research so I armed myself with all manner of baby-scheduling/child-rearing literature.  I was desperate for how-to manuals and wanted to be the perfect mother and raise perfect children.  In hind-sight I can see this led to a well-intentioned yet insecure mom who was listening to a sea of voices and unable to follow confidently the plan God had for me.  Every six months I was on a new kick from a book I had read and surely this was going to be just the right fit for our child.  My poor husband held on for dear life as I was like a ping pong ball constantly coming up with new ideas and theories.  It was like Ephesians 4:14 says, "tossed backed and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching."  

The truth is, I was completely over-saturated with information and turning to way too many sources for guidance in terms of parenting.  Yes, I would pray and ask God for wisdom, but I'd get impatient and the instant gratification of a how-to article on a blog was where I'd often turn first for ideas or inspiration.  My wishy-washy yet determined ways were combined with a brilliant, strong-willed child and that combination eventually landed me in a place of real depression a little over a year ago.  Parks was resisting all my efforts to "train" him.  My heart was to honor the Lord by teaching my children obedience.  That, by itself, is a good thing.  I was also convinced that spanking was hands down the proper method for Christian parents to use as I had read in many well-respected parenting books.  So spanking we did.  And when it didn't work, the books said, be more consistent, i.e. reward every transgression with a spanking.  So I did.  It got to the point where we where spanking many times a day.  It felt wrong.  It felt sad.  It made the environment in our home toxic.  I was sad, depressed and defeated.  My child was angry and I was scared. We finally stopped.  I am so, so glad we did.  

I can truly say I have witnessed a miracle in our home.  My angry child became a sweet child.  My "strong-willed child" is now a passionate, affectionate, amazing gift who makes me laugh every day. I have stopped reading "how-to" parenting books for now, that's been a really good thing for me.  We still discipline.  He still needs guidance and training but we use other means, and they really are effective.  I am not some anti-spanking activist now.  I'm not willing to say it never works for some families.  But I can say it was not working for my child and I'm so glad we stopped when we did.  Not every child responds the same to discipline and you must pray and seek the Lord for what he wants you to do with each individual child. 

And to be clear, I believe the change we've seen in our family has been the result of a combination of things, including changing discipline techniques.  Some of it has been Parks' normal growth and development.  I also believe we are seeing some of the fruit of our efforts to discipline him, even if they weren't executed perfectly.  He is learning to behave! Some of it has been growing in my confidence as a mother and just in myself personally.  Certain stages with kids are just plain harder and more demanding than others.  3 was a hard year for us.  4 has been like a breath of fresh air.  He's also in a sweet, amazing pre-school that he loves this year, which has been a big help. We are enjoying him so much more.  It's not fun to have to correct all the time, it's nice to just be able to spend time enjoying your child.  Praise the Lord! 

I truly feel I am out of that season of depression and desperation and my feet are on a solid ground.  Of course, the normal trials of motherhood still exist, but I'm on solid ground.  I know now that the only opinion I need is God's, and my husband's.  I don't need a million blogs or books to tell me how to raise my kids.  God is the author of family.  He is the designer of motherhood.  He cares and he has guidance and grace for moms.  He hand-picked me and my personality, to be the mother of my children. I pray for the courage to live for an audience of One, and not for the praise of man. 

I have not arrived, but I do know I've made progress.  And isn't that what it's about?  God is so faithful and good.  He has shown me so much grace.  It only took me four years to learn He is all I ever needed.  Here's to savoring this season with my kids, fully open to what God has for me and believing that I will thrive in his design for me as a mother.  We'll move on to the next season in due time.    

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Family Photo Shoot Reality with a 4 year old and a 1 year old....near impossible!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

if you need a pick me up

Thanks to my fabulous sister Lindsey, aka Tina, for passing these on!

Funniest part of nap time today...perusing "Hey Girl, it's Paul Ryan..."


Suri's Burn Book!  Who writes this stuff? 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

it's all about reading!

Take a look, it's in a book, a reading rainboowwww.   Do you remember that show? Google reading rainbow and watch the theme song, what a blast from the past!

Apparently, reading to our children is very, very important.  I think I've read that the greatest indicator of success in school is whether or not a child was read to regularly.  Reading anything is certainly better than nothing but I really wanted to find some high quality, classic childrens literature to read to Parks and put in our family library.  I've found some great lists that I wanted to share in case any of you are interested in finding some great books.

1.  Charlotte Mason Booklists.  Charlotte Mason is a homeschooling philosophy that places a high emphasis on surrounding your child with high quality literature.  They make their recommend book lists available online and they are arranged by age.  Take this list with you to the library or order some books to have at your house.

2.  Sonlight Booklists.  Sonlight is a Christian homeschooling curriculum that also posts their booklists online.  These include a few textbook style books but most of them are story books or books that could definitely be used just for recreational reading.  This is their pre-school book list:

3.  Caldecott Winners. The Caldecott award is given every year to a book that demonstrates excellence in childrens literature. Go back into the 30s, 40s, and 50s.  There are some very special books.

4.  Five In A Row Booklists.  This is a pre-school/kindergarten "curriculum" that is based almost solely on reading.  They have great booklists for preschool, kindergarten and beyond.

These will get you started on finding quality, classic childrens literature!  Utilize your local library or purchase on Amazon.  Their prices are almost always better than Barnes & Noble, etc.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

fullness of joy

As the weeks turned to months and the months have turned into a year, we've watch Reese's personality develop.  When she was a young infant I thought for sure I had it made with her.  God had given me a docile, laid back child who would be so easy to discipline and raise.  Oh what a difference a year made!  Now Parks and Reese are definitely different personalities, however, they are BOTH livewires.    Parks is strong-willed to the core and very bright- kind of a difficult combo.  It's kind of scary when you feel like your 3 year old is playing you for a fool.  He's can be a real challenge in the discipline department and also amazingly compassionate, helpful, innovative.  He is kind of, dare I say....calculating.   Reese is just plain feisty.  She's hilarious and a little firecracker.  She's much more relational and social than Parks but she's capable of throwing a tantrum with the best of 'em.  She has two speeds: asleep and full steam ahead.  She runs EVERYWHERE she goes and she's fast as lightening.  She's on tables, climbing up bookcases, etc.  She's a monkey/chatty cathy hybrid.  Lord, help me!

These two are my greatest joy and no doubt my greatest challenge.  Sometimes, I wonder how on the earth God saw me fit to handle them.  And then I realize, I'm supposed to parent in Christ who strengthens me. Joy is something that sometimes I struggle with in the daily reality of chasing Reese when she is running into the cul-de-sac or administering the 3rd spanking of the morning or having a screaming 15 month old in Trader Joes bc she wants to run around or trying to make lunch amidst endless requests for things and refereeing sibling fights.  Sometimes I just want to scream, "I'm not good at this!!!  Make it stop!!!!!"  Anybody?

This is how I feel "in the natural".  But I know that as a Christian, the natural is not the end for me.  Something that has really helped me is the scripture Psalm 16:11 it says "In His presence is fullness of joy."  I don't know about you but I need some JOY!  Where do we go when circumstances leave us without joy? In God's presence.  How do we get there?  That's probably different for different people.  But for me, I'm trying to be better about getting a little time in here and there with my bible.  It doesn't have to be a big study, just a quick moment with a scripture.  I try to read about the promises of God and let my mind dwell on it.  Another thing has been having Christian music on, in the car and in the house.  It really puts my heart in a different "posture"?  Then of course, being at church is a great way to feel God's presence.

So here I am. Trying to do the best I can for my kids despite my weaknesses.  Failing sometimes.  Successful sometimes.  Praying & desperate for God always.

The chuckleheads....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who needs a pool?

When you have personal dunking buckets!  Thanks to my friend Alisa for this great idea! My two chuckleheads had a blast splashing in the buff.  I did blur some photos for decency.