Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Lesson in Grace for This Worn Out Momma

Mothering young children is a seesaw of emotions. My children are adorable and funny and so sweet. But, they can also be really big jerks. This is the work of parenting and I completely accept the responsibility. Yet, some days I feel like the world's worst mother. 

Before I had children, I would often say I wished I could pop out a five-year-old. It wasn't lost on me the enormous work of rearing babies and small children. It is exhausting. Thankfully, it is also full of mercy and grace. 

I think it may be the winter but this week my kids are being crazy. Crazy y'all! I don't really blame them, I want to put on my flip-flops and run around outside in the warm sunshine too. Colorado winters are not for the weak, which is why I should start packing. 

So yesterday, I cried twice. First, in the car on the way to Bible study. Two key principles for raising my kids are teaching empathy and generosity. It doesn't really matter to me if we don't always eat healthy, their rooms are a disorganized mess, or they are filthy at the end of each day. All those things are surface issues that will become easier as they mature. 

Cultivating a heart for others and an understanding that we are all called to serve one another, those skills will take a lifetime to build. And they are rare qualities. So when my kids are jerks, I take it personally. 

From the time they got out of bed it was whining. "I don't want that cereal," "I don't want to wear that dress," "I will not go potty." Oh my word. I have failed at putting even an ounce of gratitude in these kids. Or at least that is how I felt in the moment.

The straw that broke the camels back? Finally we are in the car and I decide to be nice and play their favorite song, "Let it Go" from the Frozen movie. They like it loud so I turned the volume up. I was ready to improve our mood. And then from the backseat I hear a whiney, tear-strained voice, "turn it up!" 

This was a moment to demonstrate mercy or maybe grace to my children. Instead, I turn off the radio and start to yell at them. Because you know a five and three year old totally understand lectures. I tell them they are ungrateful and that I am mad. I start to cry because I am frustrated and failing. I turn the radio to NPR and ignore their cries from the backseat. I hate being the worst mother. 

The day continues to spiral downhill from here. I drop my son at school and my daughter and I head to a scheduled playdate with a friend. Visiting with my friend is improving my spirits and the kids are playing nicely together giving me a break. 

Then it is time to go, but I miscalculated the time it would take to get from my friend's house to Jack's school. I am rushing out the door when Grace looks at me and says, "I need to go potty." Are. You. Kidding. Me!!!

Now is the moment you pick to decide to finally be interested in going potty. I tell her no and I make her poop in her pants. Thankfully, we are still wearing diapers while we work on potty training. She cries. I rush to school and am four minutes late. All the other parents are gone. Jack is the last kid. 

I apologize to his teacher and ask how much money I owe her for being tardy and she says, "Everyone gets one get out of jail free card. Don't worry about it." Ah, mercy and grace. Then I bend down and hug Jack and tell him how very sorry I am for being late. We walk out of school and I again get down on his level and say, "Mommy was irresponsible. I am sorry I wasn't there on time." And my sweet boy looks at me and says, "It's okay mom. Everybody messes up sometimes." Mercy and grace. 

We get home and I unload the kids and smell Gracie's diaper odor wafting out. I take her upstairs to change her and tell her, "I am sorry baby. I should have let you go potty." And she says, "It's okay. I'll go potty now." Mercy and grace. And then I cry for the second time. 

My children do understand the beginnings of empathy. They may not understand it completely but they taught me a valuable lesson about showing mercy and offering grace. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Ugly of Getting Old

A few years ago I noticed this white hair in my nose. My nose of all places! Every single time it grows back I get out the tweezers and pluck it. Every single time it brings tears to my eyes because it hurts. I don't think we are meant to pluck nose hairs.

After birthing children, I began to notice (or have pointed out for me) my body aging. It isn't pretty. I know we live in an enlightened age where we should be able to grow old gracefully. Um…it doesn't seem so graceful to me. Plus, I am not ready to be old. I don't feel old and I don't want to look old either.

After Grace was born everything in my body changed. I am not sure if it was hormones, stress or just years passing. Suddenly old lady stuff started happening. First this weird thing popped up on my neck. I asked my doctor about it and she told me it is called a skin tag. Ehew! I think it was my first official old lady moment.

I do understand that by today's standards 36 is young; however, a few decades ago it wasn't really considered that young. When my mom was my age she had teenagers not toddlers.

Another sobering moment occurred at the salon. I needed my eyebrows waxed because even though I had just birthed my second child, I did not want caterpillars on my face. I was laying on the waxing table enjoying my moment of relaxation when the lady asked if I wanted my lip waxed. I told her no. Then she tugged at my upper lip hair and said, "I make you beautiful." As my cheeks flushed red, I told her to go ahead and wax it. Holy cow, I thought child birth and plucking nose hairs hurt, but the lip wax may take the cake.

I came home with my ego badly bruised and my husband asked what was wrong with my face. Now at my house we do not share everything. Doors are closed when we poop. I never ever talked to my husband about facial hair. Other than labor where he had to help me pee, we just don't talk about or share our gross stuff. So humiliated and dejected I had to tell him about the lip waxing.

Shortly thereafter, I started noticing gray hairs on my head. I just kept pulling them out. The result was a few months later these short wiry gray hairs popping up all over the top of my head. Now I just let them grow in.

Yes, there is hair color and waxing and even doctors to remove gross skin stuff, but I still know it exists. Old age is starting to creep in and it isn't pretty.

The good news is that the thirties are my best decade yet. The pressure to be pretty and perfect and driven and delightful that I felt in my twenties is gone. I accept myself more, wrinkles and all.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Jack Turned Five!

Sweet Jack turned five the day after Christmas. My how the time has flown. And yet, I don't even recognize the girl I was before I became a mother. Only five years but I feel like a different human being.

Jack at five is fun, adventurous and whiny. Will the whining ever stop or does it just become attitude as kids grow older? I am happy to say that he is almost always a well behaved kid with others.

This year Jack learned to ride a peddle bike. He also decided that his team is the Denver Broncos (and here we thought we were raising the kid right). He is learning to swim and went down the big slide at the pool for the first time. He also earned 865 superhero training points on all of his little guy adventures.

He is an amazing big brother. While he and Gracie can sure tussle, they love each other fiercely. The best complement to my mothering I have ever gotten is when his preschool teacher commented that my kids are always so affection with each other.

Jack adores his dad and loves to do "man work" with Christian. He and Christian go on bike rides and cut grass and kick the soccer ball. They are two peas in a pod and I couldn't be happier with their close relationship.

My favorite routine with Jack (which sometimes does make me want to pull my hair out) is bedtime. I lay down beside him and we talk about his day and what he is thinking about. Tonight he told me about the special golf tee he keeps in his bedside table. "It was the one I hit my first ball off of. Daddy gave it to me."

I love my boy. He is just precious. The way he sees the world and interacts with others is fascinating. Well, maybe not to the rest of you but to me who grew him in my body and watched him grow from a tiny helpless newborn to a kid, it is fascinating to see his personality develop.

As always, I asked Jack a few questions.

What is your favorite color?
all the colors

What is your favorite food?
ravioli with cream sauce

What is your favorite toy?
working trucks

Who is your best friend?
Wynn and Libby

What is your favorite activity?

What is your favorite game to play?

What do you want to do when you grow up?
the kind of work Daddy does, an engineer

What are you most thankful for?
my mom, my dad, and Grace

What is the best thing that happened this year?
the Disney World trip

What do you like about being five?
running faster

Happy Birthday sweet Jack! We love you dearly and are so proud to have you in our family.