Can We Just Stop?

Did you ever stop to think about how much you complain? Maybe you’re one of those people who thinks you don’t complain but let’s be honest, you do. We all do. Silently or vocally…we complain. We complain about little things and we complain about big things. Maybe we complain because it’s raining which has ruined our plans for the day or because our kids aren’t listening for the hundredth time today or how frustrated we are in traffic or angry we are with a spouse or a friend. We complain about politics, religion, finances, jobs and pretty much everything under the sun! We complain to friends, to co-workers, to siblings, to friends, to our significant other, to our kids and sometimes even to strangers! I found myself in line at Target one day as I said out loud ‘what is taking so long in this returns line’ which got three other people in line complaining as well.

We should be ashamed. I know I am. And do you know why we should be ashamed? Because complaining does nothing. It’s an instant gratification that fixes nothing. For that second, it feels good, maybe it even feels validated, but in the long run, it does nothing. We can’t change people, who they are or their opinions and we definitely can’t change circumstances. We can try, but that’s about it. And eventually everything works out, doesn’t it? Yes, not always the way we want it to, but it does. And that’s part of life. That’s part of accepting there is a greater plan for us that we have no control over.

I think we need to be more grateful than we are. I say that as a society, not just an individual (but I definitely need to check myself at times). We need to embrace the gifts and blessings we have. We need to hold on to them. We need to cherish them. And this task isn’t easy. This is the hard one. Complaining is the easy one. But once we free ourselves from the negativity, I think we’ll find the little joys. The joys we had as children. The way I watch my son play with pots and pans full of excitement or how happy my daughter is when I lay in bed with her every night as we giggle doing our silly ‘bedtime routines’ or even just falling asleep next to each other. I may not have the perfect life, but I have a lot to be thankful for. My kids are healthy. Sure, they get bumps and bruises more often than I would like, but overall there are no grave issues with regards to their health. That is a HUGE blessing because it can change in the blink of an eye. Ever complain when you’re sick about how miserable you are? I know I have. But eventually you get over the sickness, right? You don’t have cancer. You had a cold. And sometimes we need that over-the-top comparison to realize what we have instead of what we don’t.

So can we just stop? Can we just stop complaining? Probably not. We have too many opinions. We have too many feelings. We have too many outlets and too many platforms to tell everyone how we feel about everything. And maybe we also have too much time. We have too much time to complain and too little time to care, to love, to accept and to enjoy.

Being a mom isn’t easy. I complain daily. I complain multiple times a day. Some days, I have complete meltdowns. I won’t deny this. But I’m trying. Oh I’m trying so dang hard. My mom told me something wonderful today as I complained about being a mom. She said to me, “You are doing a great job. If you keep trying to be the perfect mom you will just exhaust yourself. Then everyone suffers. Trust me.” She is so right! There is no perfect when it comes to parenting. And yes, we can complain about it. We can talk about all the reasons being a mom is so unbelievably difficult. Sometimes, that support is needed. Sometimes we just need to vent it out, cry it out, scream and shout it out and even complain it out. Complaining is natural as imperfect humans, but it doesn’t have to be constant. Let’s try supporting each other the best ways we can. Let’s show compassion and love, forgiveness and acceptance, kindness and goodness. We can make this negative world better, we have to.

 

 

The Kind of Parent I Want to Be

No ever thinks about what kind of parent they want to be when they’re younger, at least, I never did. Even when you talked about what you wanted to be when you ‘grew up’, I’m sure if or when you said like mommy or daddy you really didn’t know what those words meant. I don’t think we really think about what kind of parent we want to be until we actually become parents. Yes, you more than likely talked about it with your future spouse before marriage. You shared how you grew up, how your parents were, things you liked and didn’t like and maybe even gave your own thoughts about how you would parent. When you got engaged, you talked about becoming a family and how that would change your twosome. Feelings of excitement and nervousness filled your body about the possibility of a ‘mini’ you or your husband. And then when you got pregnant, you thoroughly prepared yourself for your new role, envisioning what it will be like and trying to plan for it all. Then reality sets in and it hits you. It hits you HARD. And just like that, you’re officially a parent. There is no slow motion in parenting (despite how many moments we wish we could). The minute you become a parent it’s as if someone threw you in the ocean and just as you stand up, SMACK! you get crushed by a giant wave. You fight to get up again and you’re pretty out of breathe when SMACK, you’re hit again this time even harder. But now… now you know what’s coming so you’re prepared for this big wave….you get up, get your bearings and…nothing. Ahh, time to relax……SMACK! Parenting doesn’t stop. And even when you think you have the hang of it, everything changes.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of parent I want to be. Sometimes, it keeps me up at night. Sometimes, it leaves me in tears. Sometimes, it fills me with so much anxiety and fear that I start to panic wondering if I’m doing the right things. Am I doing the right things? Am I doing anything right?! Am I being the kind of parent my kids deserve? Because let’s face it, our kids deserve everything. And I don’t mean that in the entitlement kind of way, I mean that in the parenting kind of way. They deserve to get everything they can from us because it’s going to make them who they are one day. So shouldn’t we give them the very best of us? Is that even enough? If your parents are Baby Boomers like mine, then you probably grew up hearing ‘I only want the best for you’ or ‘I want you to have more than what I had’ or ‘I want to give you more than I was given’. Our parents always wanted more for us. They just wanted to give and give and give. They never stopped giving. You don’t understand that kind of ‘give’ until you’re a parent. You just don’t. There is nothing like it. When you’re a parent, you give until there is nothing left to give, and then you give more.

We want to see our children grow and succeed and become the best possible versions of themselves but being a parent nowadays isn’t easy. In fact, it’s almost nearly impossible. I don’t know how my parents did it. I really don’t. To try to keep up with a job, a marriage, children, a house, cooking, cleaning, school, school activities, sports, extracurricular activities, homework, meetings, church activities, volunteering and all the other things that come along with life as a parent seems completely unmanageable! And on top of that, now everyone gets to document it. Now everyone gets to show off what ‘amazing’ parents they are. This is not meant to insult anyone at all. I’ll be the first to say, I love sharing pictures of the fun things I do with my kids, who doesn’t? And I know almost all moms would agree with me that in the middle of one of your child’s meltdowns, not only is there no time to share it, but it’s such utter chaos that the thought of sharing it doesn’t even enter your mind. Yes, we share the best parts of parenting and it’s great, but sometimes it makes life seem a little less real, don’t you think? That’s when I personally have to step back and ask myself, why am I even on here? Why do I care about what other people are doing? I need to be spending time with my kids!

So here’s what I’ve decided. Here’s the kind of parent I want to be.

I want to be the kind of parent that one day, my kids will thank me for all the things I did, the things I taught them and even the times I was really tough on them. I want them to have the best memories of their childhood and look back upon it with fondness, joy and love. I hope that fondness fosters future memories for them with their children. I want to be the kind of parent that doesn’t give up….EVER….and always tells my kids I love them, no matter what they may say to me. I want to be the parent that teaches my children not only how to pray but to KEEP praying, because God hears your prayers (even if you don’t get the answer that you want). I want my kids to know I pray for them every single day (usually more than once!) and that will never stop.

But right now, I want to be a yes mom to my kids. No, that doesn’t mean I will give my children everything they want, but it means I will say yes to the things that I know one day they won’t ask me for. Yes I will play with you, yes I will lay with you, yes I will color with you, yes I will run around the house and chase you, yes I will read you that story again, yes I will spin you around for the hundredth time, yes I will make silly faces with you…YES, YES YES! I need more ‘yes’ moments. I need to give my children more ‘yes’ moments, because these are the ones you can’t get back.

Listen, I am far from this parent. I know that I can write these words so much more easily than I can put them into action. But this is an aspiration for me. This is me saying, YES I CAN DO THIS! Yes, I can do this on the days I run out of patience and it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. Yes, I can do this on the days I’ve been yelled at, slapped, smacked, bitten, peed on, spit up on and been thrown food on. Yes, I can do this when the house is a mess AGAIN, no one is listening or eating or doing anything they should be! Yes, I can do this because in the end, THIS is all you have. The days might be exhausting and unbearable and even downright miserable at times, but it’s the little moments, the little glimpses of pure joy that make it all worth it. The moments when I’m running around with my husband and our kids on the lawn in the middle of summer having a water gun fight and laughing so hard it hurts. The moments when you almost forget where you are and what you should be doing because you’re just enjoying those precious moments with your kids. Find your ‘yes’ mom and cherish those moments. I know I will.

Moms: Let’s Stop Apologizing

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As moms, it’s in our nature to apologize. We apologize for our children’s behavior. We apologize to family, to friends and even to strangers. We are constantly apologizing for what our children are doing. Why? Why are we apologizing? Because our kids are misbehaving? Because we’re embarrassed? Because we feel like it’s the ‘right thing to do’?

Well I say it’s enough! Moms, let’s stop apologizing. I went to Target solo the other day and had a mom apologize to me on the way out. She was with her four children all under the age of 6 and they were taking some time getting out of the store. “I’m sorry,” she said looking exhausted as she tried to hustle them along. “Please, don’t apologize,” I told her and smiled as I waited for them to get through the automatic doors. I know she felt the need to apologize but she didn’t have to, she shouldn’t have to.

We shouldn’t need to constantly apologize for our kids behavior because guess what, they’re kids! They’re going to dawdle, whine, cry, yell, throw fits, run where they shouldn’t, touch things they’re not supposed to and do a lot of things that we can’t always control but THEY ARE KIDS! Don’t get me wrong, I will never condone behavior that warrants apologies because certain behaviors are unacceptable and do require reprimanding (purposely hitting, smacking, biting, etc.). But let’s just stop apologizing for everything else, okay? Let’s stop feeling like we as moms have to be sorry for how our kids act at times because face it, we’ve all been there. Those of us who have children understand. We UNDERSTAND and we ACCEPT. We accept because that’s what we do as moms. We don’t judge. We don’t condemn. And if we do, then shame on us because one day we might be there!

Prior to kids, I was the ‘please don’t be a screaming kid on this flight’, eye roll to the child crying in the restaurant followed quickly with a ‘when will that kid stop crying’ comment, person turning around to see the yelling child in church and scoffer at the kids melting down in any store. Yep, that was me. I was completely unaware of what it took to be a parent and how difficult it can be to travel and do something as simple as going out to eat (especially with a toddler!). I am embarrassed to say I was judgmental. I didn’t understand why kids acted up or why their parents couldn’t get them ‘under control’. Fast forward to life as a parent and now I know. I cringe for my previous ways of thinking. I am a mom now, and I get it. I get how hard it is to keep your children entertained with public places. I get how hard it is when you’re trying to grocery shop and your children are completely losing it because they want to goooooooo, can’t touch anything and are wiggling (and sometimes physically trying!) to get out of the shopping cart! Kids at a young age are not easy, but they are also incredible to watch with their inquisitive minds, constantly learning and exploring this new world.

So moms, let’s unite together and take a stand. Let’s stop apologizing for our kids being kids. Let’s stop apologizing when we feel embarrassed. Let’s stop apologizing when we feel judged or as if everyone is looking at us and our kids. And let’s especially stop apologizing to other moms who get your struggle. We are not perfect. Our kids are not perfect. And it’s OKAY!

Maybe if we all worked a little harder to live in a more accepting and understanding world, it would be easier as parents not to feel like failures so often. We wouldn’t feel so judged and insecure. We wouldn’t get little or large amounts of anxiety going into public places. And for individuals without kids, please know we realize our children may be an inconvenience or even annoyance to you. We get the looks…but we’re just asking to maybe consider a more empathetic approach to our parenting struggles. Because no matter who we are (parents or not), we are all facing our own personal battles each and every day. Spread the love, find the patience and give the acceptance.

For My Son…

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It’s crazy how much I love you. Every ounce of me just bursts for you. I cried so hard the day we found out you were you. I had a feeling…that mama feeling…and I just knew you were going to be a boy. That, and well God told me, but that’s a whole other conversation:).

You came into this world just perfect and my heart will never be the same. There is something about having a son that no one can really explain to you. It’s so much different from having a daughter. Both are equally joyous, exciting and sometimes terrifying, but the raising of two different genders will definitely be…different.

Yes, I will raise you with faith. I will raise you to honor and praise God above all things. I will raise you to not just know Him, but truly love Him. ‘It’s much easier for a woman to express these feelings than a man’ some would argue, but I don’t believe that, and I’m not going to teach you that either. I’m going to teach you that it’s okay to have feelings and to share them. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be vulnerable. And it’s okay to carry these feelings with you throughout your life.

I will teach you how to respect a woman. I hope you will see that from how your father respects me. We will both teach you about love. Although we cannot teach you how to love, we will show you. And one day, when you find a woman you want to marry, you will love and respect her just the same, if not more.

I will tell you about how the world has changed since I was little. I will tell you that morals haven’t. I will tell you how hard that will be to understand in such a casual and ‘socially acceptable’ society.

I pray for a better world for you and your sister. I pray that bullying comes to a halt and parents take responsibility for their kids and their actions. I pray that teachers get the respect they deserve and used to once have when I was young. I pray that morals make their way back into society and onto television versus what we have now. I pray that prayer continues to keep us together. I pray that you and your sister stay strong in your faith and never get mad at God for things that will happen in your lives because it’s not God’s fault. God does not cause pain and hurt, evil does. So many people will never understand that.

Your smile and laugh light up a room. You are truly such an incredible joy and blessing in my life. Seven months has flown by faster than I could have ever imagined. You have already taught me so much about myself. I hope our bond only continues to grow as you get older. I know God has great plans for you my son. I love you more than words could ever say. IMG_2818

Why I’m a Damn Good Mom

We_Can_Do_It!.jpgAs a mom, how many times a day do you question what you’re doing? Ten? Fifteen? A million?

I feel like I question everything. I am constantly wondering, worrying and driving myself crazy with concern over my parenting skills. And why wouldn’t I? I’m molding a child that I hope and pray will one day grow up to be a good human being. And it’s hard to be good these days. It really is. 

I mean who can our kids look up to anymore? Miley Cyrus? The Kardashians? Pathetic. No thank you. Well, I guess that leaves us as parents so I pretty much need to have my shit together 24/7, which I don’t. And that’s the thing about being a role model, no one is perfect, however these people we call ‘celebrities’ are so insecure they’re actually vain and completely devoid of being anything real so I’ll gladly step up to the plate. At least I can always teach my child what not to be. Sorry if I sound judgy, it’s just hard for me to take people like that serious.

So back to why I’m a damn good mom. Well, most of the time I feel like I’m not. I don’t know what I’m doing. Heck, I’ve never done this before! There is no manual. There is no barometer or scale to rate me. The only way I’ll know is once my child or God willing, children, are grown up. I’ll know then by the person they turn out to be. So for the next 30 years I get to worry about that!

But seriously, moms don’t give themselves enough credit. We think we aren’t doing enough when we are. We are because we care. We care so much that we would literally do anything for our children and that’s what makes us damn good moms. You read and hear about story after story of child abuse and neglect and just downright bad parenting and it’s a reality check that hey, guess what, you’re an awesome mom! Sadly it shouldn’t be that way, but unfortunately that’s how the world works. Do you know that every 10 seconds a child is abused or raped (and that’s only reported incidents)? Think about that. It’s hard to, I know. It disgusts me. Mostly, it makes me cry so I honestly try not to think about it. There are parents in the world who having a dying child and would do anything to save him/her and we have this shit going on in the world.

I was talking to a girlfriend on New Years Eve about being a good parent and how do I know and she said to me, “You know what? When you go first take your child to Kindergarten or Preschool or any sort of school and you see other moms who don’t care, I mean literally do not give a shit about their kids, you know you’re a good mom and you’re doing a damn good job. And that’s sad to say to make such a comparison but it really opens your eyes to how much you do. ” And she wasn’t saying this to boast about what a great mom she is or how other moms aren’t as great, but went to say that the fact I care and worry so much about being a good mom means I am a good one.

I never knew what a tough job this would be. What a selfless, all-giving, all encompassing job I would be taking on, but you know what, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There is nothing in this world that you could offer me to replace my daughter. There is no greater joy. This is it. This honestly is the most joy I’ve ever had because despite all my days of doubt and fear and stress and anxiety, I get this little bundle of joy. I get her. I get to watch her grow and learn and change and become independent and confident and remarkable! I get to do that! You get to do that! I will quote my favorite book I read to my daughter almost every day:

So whenever you doubt just how special you are
and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
listen for the geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)

Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)

Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely… it’s whispering your name again!)

If the moon stays up until morning one day,
or a ladybug lands and decides to stay,
or a little bird sits at your window awhile,
it’s because they’re all hoping to see you smile…

For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn
on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.

~Nancy Tillman, On The Night You Were Born

This is what we feel for our children. This is what love is. And this is why you are a damn good mom.